According to the dictionary, a watering hole by definition is a pool where animals drink. Perhaps you have seen pictures or heard of animals in Africa traveling several miles to get to a rare watering hole. Like those zebras and giraffes, here in Saratoga we have something similar- our springs. Tourist near and far travel from all over to experience the health benefits of the seventeen public mineral springs. However, there is one in particular that most of the locals and knowledgeable vacationers flock to that has especially tasty water- the State Seal Spring. Here, you can always find a group of folks filling their jugs and taking home some of the best spring water one can find for no cost. Although it's not a big secret, for me it took almost eight months before I found this well loved watering hole.
Prior to moving to Saratoga Springs, a friend in Georgia informed me that she just loved the spring water. She advised me that instead of buying bottle water or using a water filter, to simply take a clean milk carton or a pitcher to the springs. On our first day here in Saratoga, while waiting for the movers to come, my family decided to take a wintery stroll through downtown. There, we stumbled upon the Harthorn Spring. Remembering what my friend told me, I informed my husband people drank the spring water. However, as we approached it I could tell by the smell I knew I didn't want to try it. Yet, my husband, who is braver then me, took a big sip to only turn around and gag. Needless to say, we just decided that my friend was crazy and to never drink the spring water again.
Several months later, when the snow had melted and the weather was perfect for going for a stroll, I decided to take a walk along the Avenue of Pines located in the Saratoga State Park. It was there I saw a line of people filling up numerous water containers at a spring. Thinking these people were ridiculous, but remembering what my friend had said, I decided to check it out. First thing I did was a sniff test, and to my surprise, it smelled fine. Next I took a reluctant sip. Low and behold it was not only good, but extremely tasty. Turned out my friend wasn't weird, I just went to the wrong spring. Immediately I went home and told my husband that we had been wrong, and there was a more than decent spring that we could get free water from. Since he didn't believe me, later that week I took him out to the Joseph Bruno Pavilion for him to see, or rather taste, for himself. Let's just say, from that point on, I join other locals and curious visitors in filling my pitchers with some of the best free spring water one can find about once a week.
It's pretty safe to say that the State Seal Spring is no tight-lip secret, although it took me several months to find it. Located on the Avenue of the Pines across from the Automobile Museum, you will find a small spring at the Joseph Bruno Pavilion. Turning onto the street that loops around the spring, there's always plenty of parking on the side of the road. There are 6 spouts for the spring water and one spout for the mineral water. The signs on the pavilion ask to only fill up three jugs at a time if others are waiting- although not everyone follows that suggestion- but the rotation of containers moves rather quickly. However, if you're not a patient person, I would suggest going during the week. Weekends can be sort of crowded, although it can be fun talking to others while you wait for your turn.
The State Seal Spring, as much as I don't like comparing myself to a gazelle, is very much like a watering hole. If you ever get the chance, take your water bottle and check it out. It's definitely a wonderful treasure right here in town. And if you ever see a mother chasing her toddler there, it'll probably be just me getting my weekly drinking water supply.