The Eternal Springs: Saratoga Springs, New York
One might think Saratoga Springs would become a ghost town after the famed horseracing season is over on Labor Day. Not so. It's true the stadium looks isolated. Faded into history is the thunder of horses' hoofs and the spectators' jubilant cheers (or the moans of the disillusioned) for the winning horses. However, Saratoga Springs is a year-round destination.
Museums, Performing Art, and Landmarks of Saratoga SpringsThe National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame is across from historic Saratoga Race Course, the oldest operating track in the country and is open all year. The museum's interactive exhibits, trophies and memorabilia convey the excitement of Thoroughbred racing in America. Elsewhere, the Village, the Saratoga Spa State Park (a National Historic Landmark district since 1987) and the Gideon Putnam Hotel remain alive with energy and activity. Performances at The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) run June through September. Located on the grounds of the Park and a short walk from the Gideon Putnam Hotel, SPAC has been home to the Philadelphia Orchestra the New York City Ballet and the Lake George Opera Festival since the opening in 1966. SPAC features performances by popular musicians as well. Then, from October to May visitors can attend theatrical events at the Spa Little Theatre across the road. Saratoga Springs has been known for healthy benefits derived from the mineral properties and natural carbon dioxide gas found in its waters. It's not uncommon to see people from outlying districts filling jugs of water from the wells and geysers in the Park.
FestivalsFestivals keep the city humming even out of season. September brings the Saratoga Food and Wine Festival and the Fall Ferrari Festival, a combined event that draws thousands of visitors from the tri-state area to the Park. For the Food and Wine event vendors highlight an array of exceptional products and local restaurants maintain tables as well. On my visit, Prime at Saratoga National served mouth-watering beef; the Irish Times Pub and Restaurant came prepared with potato leek soup; and Marché at 74 State used farm-fresh products from local farmers to create a salad with sesame-encrusted tuna. Drawing a queue were bite-sized Neapolitan pizzas and antipasti from Café Capriccio, while Chef Dale Miller made the landmark restaurant, Sperry's, proud with a Miso glazed salmon. Sweets topped the tasters' food chain. Chocolate lovers flocked around the Chocolate Springs table, where nibble-sized chocolates and a dark chocolate dipping fountain delighted children of all ages. Everyone came away from the table laden with chocolate-covered cherries and cakes, with faces happily smeared with the rich, dark solution. At the Ferrari show in front of the Auto Museum on the Park grounds were fashion designer and designers of Grand Touring cars. Invited to participate in the show were classes of great Italian automobiles, including Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Maserati, Lamborghini and Fiat-Abarth, which were judged at the end of the event by marque specialists. Whether the fine arts, the art of dining and drinking (there's the Saratoga Beer week in February), the art of relaxing and being pampered, an 18-hole round of golf or the art of betting on a winning horse, Saratoga Springs are enjoyed in all seasons.
Denise Mattia is a freelance photojournalist living in New York City. She is the recipient of two degrees in Theatre and Art and a grant for her work in reef conservation. Her worldwide travel features and photographs (topside and underwater) appear in national and international publications. She is president of the New York Travel Writers Association and an active member of SATW, IFWTWA and PATA.