The Saratoga Traveler: Day Trips, Weekend Getaways & Hidden Gems

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I like to share "hidden gems" with my readers from time to time, so here's one that is truly hidden. It's called The Georgi, named after the owners of the property. It's a secluded place on the Battenkill river that was owned by the Georgi family. The house has been turned into a museum and what was once used as their garage is now a community center.  

The Georgi is the kind of place mostly known to the locals for swimming, picnicking, tubing, kayaking and fishing. The grounds are gorgeous and have been used for weddings.


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If you visit the Georgi:

Bring water shoes, the river has a rock bottom in places that can be hard on bare feet
Plan on swimming, but bring towels, chairs, sunscreen and a cooler.
Pack a lunch for a picnic. There are a few concrete tables but no BBQ grills or fire pits to cook on. I suggest Yushak's which is next door. Nice little grocery store.
If you kayak or tube there are a couple of places to "put in"
Remember the bug spray! The gnats are especially annoying
If you want to visit the museum, call ahead. It's open only by appointment.
And please and most importantly - treat this beautiful spot with respect. Take out everything you bring in.

The Georgi is a gorgeous spot and I want to thank Karoline (who I work with) for sharing this place with me. The Battenkill is truly an incredibly beautiful river that should be shared but also kept beautiful.

Next time:  The covered bridges of Washington County...

There's no shortage of Farmers' Markets to be found in this area and on almost every day of the week. Take a leisurely drive and check some of them out. Gather a picnic and then take in one of the many parks, lakes or mountains.


Monday
Schroon Lake Farmers' Market
9-1 through October
Queensbury
June through October from 3-6 pm across from Sutton's Marketplace
Middle Granville
2-5 pm through October on Main Street
South Glens Falls
10-1 June through October

Hudson Falls Farmers' Market
from 10-1 pm on Dix Ave.

Thursday
Greenwich
from 2:00-5:30 at the former IGA market parking lot on Main Street, from June through October.
Plattsburg Farmers' Market
every Thursday through October 3-6 at the Church of the Nazarene Parking
lot
Ticonderoga Farmers' Market
every Thursday through October from 10-1
Tupper Lake
11-3 through September

Friday
Bolton Landing
from 10-1 through September
Elizabethtown Farmers' Market
Fridays 9-1 through October
Paul Smith's College
Fridays from 2-5 through September
Speculator Farmers' Market
3-6 through September
Wilmington Farmers's Market
9-1 through August
Fort Edward Farmers' Market
10-1 June through October

Saturday
Keene Farmers' Market
from 9:30-2 through October
Saranac Farmers Market
9-2 through October
Chateaugay Farmers' Market
10-2 through September
Salem Farmers' Market
10-1 June through October at Rotary Park

Sunday
Cambridge Farmers' Market

10-2 Through September

As a food and travel writer I can't stress enough how important it is to support local farmers when you visit a place. Not only are you helping support them but you'll learn about local cuisine and produce. You might even get to meet the people that grow your food. Very unlikely at the local super market. 

Have a favorite farmers' market that is a must visit? Feel free to share it in the comments below. 

Lots to do this week in Saratoga and beyond. Here's a short list of just a few things happening, and don't worry there's plenty of week left.

Saratoga County Fair

Runs through this weekend with all the usual county fair attractions plus some not so usual. The Saratoga County Fair is held at the fairgrounds in Ballston Spa


Saratoga Polo

One of my favorite summer activities is packing up the car with a delicious picnic basket and taking in a polo match.  This exciting sport runs through the summer(Fridays and Saturdays until Sept. 2nd)  at the polo grounds in Greenfield. I highly recommend it.


Saratoga Farmer's Market

Always worth a visit. Lots of activities, locally grown produce and other products and live music just to name a few.  Make a visit and grab all the goodies you need for your picnic basket for the polo match.


Saratoga Race Course

Yes, it's that time again! Opening day is Friday June 20th.  The season runs for 6 weeks but remember there is no racing on Tuesdays.  Not into horse racing but still love horses, then Breakfast at the Track is for you.  This is another favorite of mine.  You'll have delicious breakfast buffet, see the horses exercise and be able to walk around without fighting the crowds. Highly recommended.


That's the short list for the Saratoga area.  Check back soon for another list of happenings in and around Saratoga.

Norman Rockwell Museum


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Sitting in a secluded area in Stockbridge Massachusetts is a museum dedicated to one of the United States most beloved artists -Norman Rockwell.  The unassuming building houses original Saturday Evening Post covers along with the original canvases the covers were printed from.  

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Downstairs is the gallery for the Post covers spanning a time of almost 40 years.  As you walk along from cover to cover your memory will be sparked and you'll say to yourself, either aloud or not, "I remember that one."   Rockwell's work depicted iconic Americana, depicting small town life in the early 40's and 50's and then changing to reflect the times on into the 60's.


Rockwell used props and models to make his work realistic, sometimes even using himself as a model.  Oftentimes you can spot him in the paintings much like Alfred Hitchcock in his own films.  When you walk through the upper gallery and see the works the covers are based on, linger in front of them and take in the detail, the way the paint was laid on the canvas to create depth in the faces. 


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 You don't have to be a art or history buff to appreciate the skill and talent that Norman Rockwell possessed.  Whether it was paint or pencil, ink or charcoal Rockwell captured the true essence of American life.

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Just a short walk down a path from the Museum building is the studio where Rockwell created these masterpieces.  Not a replica of the studio, but the actual studio with a lot of his belongings in tact.  The chair he sat in, the pallet he used, the couch he napped on and the desk he sat at.  The studio looks like it did in the 1960's and has the same view it did before it was moved from it's previous location, over looking the river with a northern exposure.  The studio was moved on a flat bed truck back in the 1970's to it's location on the museum property.  

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There is just something awesome about seeing the works of art you knew as a child and then going into the building in which they were created.  


Stockbridge MA


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Stockbridge is small town America. At first glance the town looks like a bland and boring place, but once you walk up and down the tree lined streets you'll see that isn't true.  Stockbridge is home to the original Alice's Restaurant, that's right the one from the Arlo Guthrie song.  It's now called Theresa's but still boasts it's ties to the famous song and movie from the 1960's.

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The Red Lion Inn also makes it's home in Stockbridge.  A 108 room inn that has been in continuous operation since the 18th century.  The inn also houses a restaurant and a gift shop.  Stockbridge's proximity to many attractions in the Berkshires including Tanglewood makes the inn the perfect place to stay.  They offer lots of different packages including one for Tanglewood and for the Rockwell Museum.

Stockbridge is about an hour and half from Saratoga which makes it a perfect day trip.  You might want to set your GPS so that you take the scenic route to avoid tolls which will take you a little longer but I think it's worth the drive through Vermont and the Massachusetts.




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Sure NYC has prestigious cooking schools, Hyde Park has the CIA but why look any further than your own backyard. Right here in Saratoga Springs you can take a number of cooking classes. Now granted most of them are demonstration cooking classes like the ones held by Price Chopper and Taste of Home Cooking show but they still offer lots of information and prizes. But for me there's nothing like a hands-on cooking class. Right on Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs there is such an opportunity at Forno Bistro where you can learn from a real Italian Mama- Theresa Viva.



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Recently I took a class on ravioli making from "Mama" Theresa.  Who knew that there was a quality, hands-on cooking class right here in Saratoga Spring?.  Mama Theresa isn't a graduate of the CIA or a professional chef but she is a great teacher.  She came to this country from Italy at the age of 5.  She learned  pasta making from her mother and grandmother.  During the class she shares tips she learned from them, including how to use an old key to crimp a ravioli. 


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 After Mama gives you some basic information and lots of useful tricks then it's time to make ravioli.  Sheets of pasta dough are handed out and lots of fillings are available for you to make one of a kind ravioli.  Nothing limits you but your imagination!  Want to get the feel for a pasta machine?  Go ahead and try it out.  What to make a heart shaped ravioli that would be perfect for Valentine's Day?  Mama  has a cookie cutter to use in that shape and lots more.  Want a foolproof method for sealing your ravioli so that it won't open in the water?   You'll learn that and so much more from Mama.




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The classes are informational, entertaining and most important of all - hands-on!


After you create your one of a kind ravioli (actually you will create at least 4 but I think we did a lot more than that) they will be taken to the kitchen, cooked and topped with Mama's own marinara sauce.  The dining room is then set and the feast begins!  Platters of tender, savory ravioli, fresh baked bread and wine! 


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 So if you're looking for a hands-on cooking class with an excellent teacher who will teach you tips and tricks to authentic Italian food with some out right hilarious anecdotes then you must check out the cooking classes at Forno Bistro.

Forno Bistro is located at 541 Broadway in Saratoga Springs.  Give them a call for classes and schedules and tell them you saw it on The Saratoga Traveler!


I'll be taking a ravioli making class tomorrow at Forno Bistro at 541 Broadway here in Saratoga Springs. I'll be learning all the secrets from a real Italian Mama, so don't forget to check back for all the photos and info!!

The Victorian Social Club will be hosting "Setting Sail on the Titanic" where you will learn the social expectations, fashions of the Victorian era through one of the greatest ships ever to sail. Just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Titanic. This program will be held at The Brookside Museum in Ballston Spa from 2 pm -4 pm on Sunday April 15th, the admission is $5.00 per person.

Spring is here. Awakening us from our Winter slumber and beckoning us to come outside.  It's true that the Saratoga area is dotted with lakes and streams that offer lots of activities but nothing really compares to Lake George.  Not only does Lake George offer great fishing, boating and swimming in it's crystal clear waters but it also boasts a quaint downtown with shopping galore plus designer outlets and restaurants ranging from casual to fine dining. The village of Lake George is a major tourist destination in the Summer so why not take in some shopping, eating or recreating before the crowds.  The village may still seem a little sleepy this time of year but you can be sure to get a lakeside seat at a restaurant or find an amazing deal at the outlet mall.


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We have a family member who owns a lake house on the "quiet side" of the lake which offers us the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate after a dreary, cold winter. If you're not as fortunate as us to have a lake house at your disposal then there are lots of opportunities to rent one or a cottage or camp near the lake and even on an island IN the lake.  Labor day starts off the summer season at Lake George so now is the time to plan.  Take a drive to the area and scope it out.  Then make your plans on where you want to stay and what you want to do.

Oh yeah, and by the way.... the fishing is incredible!!!

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More Maple Days

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The weather is getting better and better. This weekend is not only St. Patrick's Day but Maple days continue. In the little town of Salem (about 30 miles east of Saratoga Springs on Rte 29) Dry Book Sugar House will host their celebration of all things maple. Learn how sap is turned into maple syrup, how maple candy is made and even pick up your own maple syrup to experiment with.

Horse drawn carriage rides will be available, pancakes will also be served for $6.

If you're looking for little more of a day trip you can head to Dutchess County. The Department of Public Works Park Division in Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls will be having demonstrations on March 18th from 12-4 pm.

Upstate New York is known for many things -- apples, horses, quaint small towns and maple syrup. This past weekend I spent a day in one of those quaint towns, Thurman New York learning all about what makes New York maple syrup some of the best in the United States. The tour started at Toad Hill Maple, an 800 acre sugarbush run by The Galusha Family, the largest maple producer in Warren County. The operation is impressive with over 3,700 trees, high efficiency evaporator and reverse osmosis machine. The entire operation is automated, including the gathering of the sap itself.
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The blue tubes are taking the sap from the trees in the sugarbush to the pump house.

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The sap comes out of the tree as a clear liquid and after the water is boiled out the syrup gets its better known amber color.
Toad Hill Maple Farm has a gift shop where you can buy assorted maple products or you can also online and have real New York maple syrup shipped anywhere.

The second sugar house we went to was Adirondack Gold Maple Farm.  This farm is more like an old fashioned operation, which was an amazing operation for children (or a kid at heart like me) to learn first hand how sap turns into maple syrup.

Adirondack Gold Maple Farm is run by Marc and Cheryl Kenyon and produces award winning syrup.  

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Sugar House at Adirondack Gold Maple Farm

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How to tell if a tree is a sugar maple or a silver maple by looking at the leaves.

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Drilling a hole in the tree to let the sap flow.  The trees need cold nights and warm days to get the sap to flow.

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Putting the tap in.

Once the sap is gathered in the buckets and through the tubes it's then boiled down to produce the syrup. 

After learning how to make maple syrup it was time for The Thurman Maple Days party, an all you can eat buffet that benefits The American Cancer Society held on the first day of maple days every year.  Nothing will tell you more about a town or a culture than sitting down with people of that community and breaking bread with them.  The dinner was served buffet style where you fill your plate yourself. All the food was donated by members of the community so that 100% of the money taken in was donated to the American Cancer Society.  The long tables were set up so that we could sit among strangers but end up friends by the end of the meal.  And the meal was ended with a traditional treat-- jack wax.

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Warm maple syrup poured over fresh snow or in our case shaved ice.  It's a sticky treat that tricky to eat.

Thurman Maple Days will run for two more weekends in March.  I suggest you get an early start and stop at Valley Road Maple arm on 190 Maple Rd for pancakes being served from 9-1, then off to the sugarhouses to learn how all that maple syrup is made. Bring plenty of cash to load up on jugs of syrup plus other goodies made with the stuff.  I even picked up a cookbook filled with recipes that use maple syrup.
So celebrate the coming of Spring with the running of the sap, the smell of sugar and the sweetness of New York's finest maple.

To get to Thurman exit off of I-87 at exit 23,turn left on Diamond Point Rd and then follow the signs.  Maps can be picked up at the Thurman Town Hall in Athol.

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Kim Bernard

Moved to Saratoga from St Louis MO (home of The Gateway Arch, Baseball Cardinals and of course Anheuser-Busch) with my family for my husband's job. In the last 2 1/2 years we've had the opportunity to explore and discover day trips, hidden gems, along with some of the most beautiful, historic, interesting and curious places in New England. So come with me and look through a Midwesterner's eyes at Saratoga and beyond. I hope you enjoy your adventures and feel free to share yours and together we can feed our travel bug!