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

July 2009 Archives

These aren't necessarily hidden gems but more like "oh yeah" kinds of places, to get away from the track crowds or to take visitors for a different experience.  I know, I know track season is Saratoga's bread and butter, and I'm sure you're thinking what does she know, she's an out of towner herself.  Well that's true, and let me tell you that when I first moved here people told me "track season-- just wait-- its crazy!!" And they were right.  But its crazy in a good way.  More people means more money for local businesses and that means more jobs in general.  I have nothing against track season, as a matter of fact I think its pretty cool!  But some of you might be a little irritated with tourists and might be looking for something to do that well.....maybe they don't really know about.
Now I'm not claiming to be an expert but since I'm not originally from here I wanted to explore the area and get to know more about it in all aspects.  This is a beautiful area and sometimes  when you live in place you forget all the fun, quirky and beautiful places that make up your hometown. So here I'll try to name some that I know about that maybe a reminder to you or maybe you've heard about but have never been there.  Whichever it is I hope this list will give you some ideas and maybe a break from track madness!!

For history buffs-- Saratoga Battlefield Park, Ft. Ticonderoga, Crown Point, tours of Saratoga

The last time we had family visit my husband took two of them to the battlefield.  They spent all day soaking in the whole experience.  They went from marker to marker and read everything, but they are true history buffs.  

Which brings me to Ft Ticonderoga at Lake Champlain.  I like history but not as much as some, but I love Lake Champlain and I think that Ft. Ticonderoga is fascinating.  So even if you think you're not a history buff Ft. Ticonderoga might change your mind.  Not too far from Ticonderoga is Crown Point.  Not really much more than a ruin but was the first fortification in North America, and its close to the Vermont border so you can take the bridge and be in Vermont in a matter of minutes.

You also might to consider taking a tour of Saratoga.  I know it sounds touristy but you just might learn something about our town.

Restaurants to try- Leon's Mexican Restaurant, Fortunate Cup, Stadium Grill, Wings over Saratoga, Corner Pizza (formerly Mom and Pop's)

I really like Leon's for Mexican food better than any others around town.  The food is better and so are the prices.  Even though its close to the track its still worth it.

The Stadium Grill is awesome, there is no other word for it.  Its the one place we always take visitors.  If you don't want to brave the crowds downtown, they do have another location on Congress Street.  Same great food and atmosphere but with fewer crowds. Don't forget to try the Saratoga chips and my personal favorite, the steak salad.
If you really want to beat the crowds why not check out some of the restaurants on the west side?  A couple of my favorites, The Fortunate Cup for great coffees, teas, salads and sandwiches, along with some of the best biscotti--ever!

Wings Over Saratoga is a great place for lunch.  They have buffalo flavors ranging from wimpy (my choice) to after burner-- well you get the idea.  But the wings also come in other flavors like teriyaki, barbeque and garlic parmesan just to name a few.  The wings come with or without bones and for lunch they can't be beat.  You get over a pound of wings with fries and a soda for about $8.  Good value and great food.

If you live near Greenfield or Porter Corners there is Corner Pizza, formerly Mom and Pop's.  In my opinion they have the best chef salad and boneless wings around!

Ice Cream-- Humpty Dumpty, The Ice Cream Man, Dairy Haus

I know that Northerners love their ice cream, as do I.  And I have found that Humpty Dumpty on West Ave is the best.  Coming in a close second is the Ice Cream Man in Greenwich and Dairy Haus on Maple Ave.  Try all three and then you decide.

Shopping--Wilton Mall, Aviation Mall

Downtown Saratoga during track season is crazy, that's just a fact so if you want to avoid the crowds, why not try the Wilton Mall or if you don't mind a short drive then there are a multitude of shops in Queensbury including a super Kmart.  There is also Aviation Mall which is loaded with shops, restaurants and a movie theater.

Museums-- Canfield Museum, Racing Museum, Automobile Museum, New York Military Museum and the Children's Museum

Who knew that Saratoga has so many museums?  Might be a good chance to check some of them out.  The New York Military Museum is free and very interesting.  But why not check them all out?

Recreation-  Spa State Park, pools, hiking trails, fishing, beaches at the lake, camping, picnic in Spa State park, Yaddo Gardens, Moreau State park, camping, garnet mine.
The Saratoga area is a wealth of recreation opportunities.  Spa State Park is a jewel, where you can bring a picnic basket from Putnam Market (located downtown) or even get all the ingredients for a cookout at Price Chopper and then enjoy this spectacular park.  Just remember that there is a $6 fee per car.  So load up the whole family!  And while there you can enjoy one of the many pools, walking/biking trails or play a round of golf.
If you think Spa State Park will be too crowded then try Moreau State park, which is just a little further north on Rte 9 (there is also a $6 fee per car), don't forget your fishing license and gear.
Looking to go camping, then the Saratoga area has an abundance of campgrounds like those at Sacandaga Lake or Schroon River.

Oh and did you know that there is a garnet mine about 45 minutes from Saratoga-- Barton Garnet mine where you can spend a fun afternoon looking for garnets?  They also have a gift shop where you can buy ready made jewelry.  A fun day for any rock hound.

None of those sound interesting?  Then why not visit Yaddo Gardens?  A relaxing stroll through the garden might be just what you need.

A Dog Friendly town--
When I first moved here I was astonished at just how much of a dog friendly town Saratoga is. I was pleased since I'm a dog lover myself ( I have 2 doxie children) and can find just about anything for them at Sloppy Kisses downtown or at Paw Lickers on Rte 9 in Greenfield.

Spa Deals during track season--
Okay, so you like Saratoga during track season-- its possible.  One reason might be all the great deals that can be had at the local spas.  So call around you might just find yourself one you can't pass up!

Breakfast at the Track--
Before the maddening crowds gather for the actual races have breakfast at the track.  Here you can get up close and personal with the thoroughbreds, take a leisurely stroll through the grounds and have a delicious, relaxing breakfast in a beautiful atmosphere.

Now I know this list barely scratches the surface of the great things available in Saratoga.  But like I said, maybe it's the beginning of a list you can make for yourself of places you've meant to see or things you've meant to do.  And track season might be the perfect time!
There is plenty of summer left so if you're looking for a long weekend or even maybe a full week, why not consider the Boston/Plymouth area. Boston is chock-full of history and Plymouth while not only the start of the country with the landing of the pilgrims but also is a gorgeous harbor. 

Boston is only about 3 hours from Saratoga and Plymouth is about 45 minutes from Boston so each can be easily visited in a weekend but if you have more time there are other sites that might be of interest--Plimouth Plantation, Walden Pond, Lexington and Concord, Marblehead, Cape Cod, Mohawk Trail, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket Island - or each of these could be done as a separate trip. 

Boston is easy to navigate. All the high spots of American History are on the Freedom Trail, a tour you can take by foot that has a marked path so there is no chance of missing any event. The trail will take you to the site of the Boston Massacre, The Old North Church (where Paul Revere saw the lights in the steeple, you know one if by land and two if by sea), Quincy Market, Fanueil Hall, Paul Revere's house, which is now a museum, just to name a few. And since this is a walking tour you can take your time and stop and stay as long as you like. You can do some shopping along the way or even grab a bite to eat. 

The North End of Boston is a favorite of mine. This is where you will see the Old North Church, visit Boston's Little Italy (where you can take a separate culinary tour) with over 80 restaurants you're sure to find something to fit your taste. The North end is also home to the Paul Revere Mall where you will find a magnificent statue of Paul Revere and the walls of the mall have plaques that commemorate the contributions of north enders throughout American history. The mall also has a fountain and benches, so it's a nice place to rest while walking the trail. The Old North Church is a special stop for any American history buff. The pews are called box pews and had to be purchased as long as the family kept up with their rent then they could decorate the pew however they liked. 

If you want to delve deeper into Boston's history take a look at Copp's Burying Ground on the north side or better yet wander through the Granary Burying Ground on Trenton St. In this cemetery you will find the graves of John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Thomas Paine, the parents of Benjamin Franklin and even Mother Goose! 

Once you've explored Boston why not take a side trip to Plymouth, one of my favorite places. 
Plymouth Harbor (south of the Mayflower)
The Mayflower II Replica
Plymouth Rock (under the pavilion)

The harbor there is beautiful and just right for taking lots of fantastic pictures. While there you can see Plymouth Rock, and the sarcophagus that holds the remains of some of the original settlers. (insert photo) I would suggest taking an entire day or day and a half in Boston and then maybe another day in Plymouth. There is so much to see and do in both places. You might want to add Cape Cod to your trip to Plymouth although there enough to do at both places to make them a separate trip. 

When we went to Boston we camped. We stayed at the Minuteman campground which used to be a KOA. It was nice and clean, I highly recommend it. When we went to Plymouth and Cape Cod we stayed at an actual KOA, it was okay but not as nice as the Minuteman. Camping is an inexpensive way to see a lot of sites. If you find a campground that is centrally located then you have a base camp, so to speak and can travel to the sites from there. Hotels and bed and breakfasts can be expensive so do you research before you book. With the end of summer coming close you might be able to find good deals especially after Labor Day. Most hotels in the are open until the first part of October. Boston is a fun, historical place that has something for just about everyone. Cape Cod is great for beaches, restaurants, art museums and the like. Plymouth, well in my opinion has it all!  

If you visit Boston remember: There are lots more historical and interesting places than I have mentioned. Do some research and I'm sure you will find something that will make it a worthwhile trip. (While we were there a few years ago, they were filming The Departed with Robert Dinero and Leo DiCaprio. Actually while standing on a street corner I almost walked into Leo DiCaprio, so maybe you might spot some stars during your visit too!) Bring plenty of money for souvenirs and a camera with either lots of memory or lots of film because there are photo ops galore Try camping. Its an inexpensive way to find accommodations and will leave you more money to spend in Boston Try a culinary tour of the north end, there are lots of companies that offer these so check the internet to find one that suits you. 

If you visit Plymouth remember: Explore. There are homes that were built in the early 1700's so take the time to walk around town. You never know what you might find. There are lots of other things to see and do in the area so if you have a week try these suggestions: Walden Pond: The fabled home of Henry David Thoreau. Not really a pond, but more like a huge lake. There is a replica cabin there so the you can just how rugged and beautiful Thoreau's life was there. Bring your bathing suit because there is a small beach and other ways to access the pond for swimming. Concord's North Bridge: Remember "the shot heard around the world" from history class, well here you can visit that very spot, along with the Minute Man statue by Daniel Chester French, quite impressive. Minute Man Park: This is a national park. Here you can walk the Battle Road Trail, a five mile trail that connects sites that launched the American Revolution. There is no charge to walk the trail. Whether you decide to go to Boston, Plymouth, Walden Pond, Cape Cod or all of then I'm sure it will be a memorable trip. Just another reason I love living in the Saratoga area. All these great and beautiful trips are just a few hours away!


Yesterday was beautiful day to walk up and down Broadway in Saratoga Springs.  We found a place to park in one of the parking garages and then walked toward Broadway.  Traffic wasn't too bad so we first headed to the Army/Navy store which is having a huge sale because they are moving.  My son found something so off we were to the next store.
I always like to window shop but there were lots of sidewalk sales and in store sales going on.  I can't seem to go downtown without buying something!
I've heard so much about Spa City Cupcakes that well....I just had to stop in.  The place is pretty nondescript but the cupcake selection was interesting.  The girl behind the counter (not sure if she was the owner or an employee) was eager to give us a description of each cupcake, they included snicker, s'more, peanut butter banana, raspberry, key lime and variations of the traditional chocolate cupcake.  My husband had the raspberry, which he loved and I tried the white cake with chocolate icing--in a word-- YUMMY!
Afterward we strolled down the street stopping at Impressions, one of my favorite gift shops and then it was off across the street.  We passed the Aldephi Hotel which has always been a curiosity to me, will have to check it out sometime.  Someone on commented that its a "trip in a time machine".  We also went by Spa Cascada.  I picked up one of their flyers--Hmm might have to try them for manicure or a pedicure or maybe both.  Further down Broadway is a store I wanted my husband Mark to check out for sure, since he's an artist.  Its called Soave Faire, a quirky little place with a great selection of art supplies for just about any medium.  Along with unusual gifts, books and cards.  If you haven't gone in they are worth a visit.
We ended our trip in of all places the Sunoco gas station on Broadway.  We were pretty low on fuel and since we shop almost exclusively at Pricechopper we were able to get 50 cents off each gallon of gas.  That's quite a savings!  And did you know that Stewarts Shop has moved in there too.  Now we are talking bargain!

Have a favorite place downtown that you like to share?  Leave a comment and share your story.

I'm sure almost everyone knows that the Great Escape is located in Lake George, and I'm sure that most everyone knows that the Great Escape is part of Six Flags.  And I'm sure most everyone knows that the Great Escape is lots of fun for all ages.  But did you know that the Great Escape takes season passes for all Six Flags parks which includes parking?  Or did you know that there is a town just for kids to play in?  Or did you know that although small the Great Escape is easy to navigate, it's still full of fun rides?

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Since my niece Laura (yes I'm still writing about them for at least a couple more blogs--hey they were here 2 weeks) and her family have season passes to Six Flags she decided to check out the Great Escape.  She was pleasantly surprised.

There weren't many long lines and there was a good ride selection.

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And Garret really enjoyed the kid's town, even though he doesn't really look like it in the picture.

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My daughter was brave enough to ride the Buccaneer, wouldn't have believed if I didn't have the proof.

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All in all they had lots of fun.  The Great Escape

might not be as big as Six Flags near St Louis but I think they liked it just as much. 

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So if you are looking for a great way to spend one of the cool summer afternoons we've had recently then check out the Great Escape and maybe you will agree it's a hidden gem!

Mystic Connecticut is worth the trip even in the pouring rain.  A few weeks ago we decided to take a day trip to Mystic Seaport.  We had been there in May and the weather was glorious, we weren't so lucky this time.  On the way through Massachusetts it started to get very foggy and rainy.  So foggy that I chickened out and had my husband Mark drive when we stopped at a service center.  The further we drove the less the fog became but the rain increased.  And it rained and rained and rained, all the way through Massachusetts into Connecticut. 

Once we got into Mystic we could see that it had rained quite a bit there before we even got there.  The streets were puddled with rain and some of the parking lots were flooded.  Since we couldn't go to the Seaport we thought we would try Mystic Pizza (we had planned on eating lunch there anyway) since it was past lunchtime.

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Mystic Pizza, the same pizza place from the movie of the same name from 1988, is a quaint, cozy, kitchy place with excellent service and even better pizza.   The walls are decorated with memorabilia from the movie and where we sat they had a flat screen tv playing the movie.  It was fun to see Julia Roberts and Vincent D'Onofrio ( Detective Goren on Law and Order Criminal Intent) so young.  We started our meal with a antipasto salad, which to me was the same as a chef salad except this one was huge with lots of meat and cheese rolled up together and the house dressing which was a creamy garlic was just delicious!  Then we ordered our pizza.  We decided on the house special which has pepperoni, sausage, meatball, onions, green peppers with mozzarella cheese - a large was only $16.25. We gobbled up every bite.

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 After lunch we went into the gift shop area where they sell t-shirts, coffee mugs, magnet etc.  Took lots of photos but didn't buy a souvenir.

The rain had slowed just a little but since the Seaport was out of the question, my niece Laura suggested we try the aquarium.  .  Since there had been so much rain the aquarium parking lot was flooded and they were not going to let anyone else in the aquarium but when they found out that my niece, her husband and son had come all the way from St Louis not only did she let us in she let us in for FREE!

The aquarium is made up of several complexes--outside and inside.  We went inside first where there were exhibits made up of sea creatures from all over.  My favorite was the coral reef which is on the top floor.

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Letting you look down into the reef  to see all the colorful fish swimming back and forth not to mention the HUGE eel.

We found out that there is a sea lion show also on the second floor so we decided to check it out.


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The theater where the sea lion show was held was small and intimate, and the show was not only informative but very entertaining.  

After a couple of hours of looking at all the exhibits inside we saw that the rain finally stopped so we decided to check out all the exhibits outside.  First stop was the beluga whale exhibit,  these playful creatures did not disappoint as they would swim by as curious about us as we were about them.

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The next stop was more sea lions along with a guide full of interesting information about the residents.

As we walked around there was the penguin exhibit, although unfortunately under construction we saw a rather comical view--penguins inside a huge glass window--totally out of their element.

Some of the other exhibits were closed but they reopened the touch tank full of stingrays.  They would glide across the water coming up close enough for someone to occasionally touch them.  Much to my surprise one came up right in front of us and seemed to climb the side of the tank--a little frightening I must admit.

After a full afternoon of sea life we decided we would leave.  When we did we saw what the rain really did.  The entire parking lot used for the aquarium was flooded.  I guess it's a rare occurrence since the local news was there.  Cars were being towed out and people were frantically making calls to their insurance companies.  I'm sure that more than one of those cars were totaled.

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 With the weather finely cleared Laura asked if we were going to Rhode Island.  Its was still early enough so we thought, why not?

We had been to (Warrick, home of the Ghost Hunters) Rhode Island the first time we came to Mystic so we decided to try somewhere different.  Rhode Island has lots of beaches so we thought we would try to find one.  We found three actually and they were all flooded, so Mark said, let me try something.  He drove us to Westerly Rhode Island to the beach there.  It was magnificent. 



The coastline is rocky but there was enough sand to make it a real beach.  With skies clear and the breeze blowing warm it was the perfect way to end our Connecticut/Rhode Island day trip.


If you go to Mystic remember:

Eat at Mystic Pizza, its well worth it.  They get crowded so try going in the off hours.  They don't except reservations.

If possible try Mystic Seaport, its interesting with all the ships you can climb aboard and explore.  Kids will love it.  There is a charge for admission so check their website for events and fees.

The aquarium is great, just remember there is a charge for admission unless you're lucky like we were!

Most importantly if you are going to Mystic for a day trip get an early start.  Its about 3 hours away.  If you would like to make a weekend of it, there are plenty of hotels to stay at.



If you go to Rhode Island:

Try the beaches.  Rhode Island has some of the most beautiful landscapes and coastline in New England.

 Next time:

Great Escape -- is it really a hidden gem?

The Baseball Hall Of Fame is located in Cooperstown NY, about 1 ½ hours from Saratoga.  According to our GPS there really isn't any direct way, actually it took us through very beautiful countryside as the shortest distance there.  On the way back we took a different route which we often do.

Cooperstown is a beautiful little town that is home to not only the baseball hall of fame but also Glimmerglass State Park (that has a gorgeous marina), The Glimmerglass Opera and The Farmer's Museum and the Fenimore Art Museum.  But the main draw is the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Once inside the Hall of Fame you enter the Gallery, which very impressive but that's not all to the Hall of Fame.

Bob Gibson Plaque-- Photo by Laura Mann

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Yogi Berra Plaque-- Photo by Laura Mann

Every floor is packed with dioramas, replica lockers and lots and lots of facts about baseball players, teams and history.

Photo by Laura Mann
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Photo by Laura Mann

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 Photo by Laura Mann
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What might seem to some as a dry subject are somehow made interesting and exciting.  They brought back memories of when I was kid in St. Louis, summers in our back yard when my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins would come over for a cookout and the ball game would be blasting on the radio.  As we walked around reading about the different teams, it was like a blast from the past--names my husband Mark and I grew up with--Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Stan Musial ( all members of the hall of fame) along with more recent greats like Tim McCarver, Jack Clark, Ozzie Smith and Albert Pujols.

 In the last section of the hall of fame there is a display of  baseball cards, from the very beginning of baseball cards--just take a look to see if you had any of those growing up and don't kick yourself if all you did was put them in the spokes of your bike!

After you walk through your childhood be sure to take a trip up and down the streets of Cooperstown.  There you can visit all kinds of gift shops and maybe pick up a souvenir of your trip and if you're lucky you might be able to catch a minor league game on a nice, warm summer afternoon.

After we spent hours at the Hall of Fame it was time to head back home.  As I said before we took a different way than we got there, sorry GPS lady.... 

Once we got to Galway we thought we would try Village Pizzeria, a place a friend of my husband's raves about.  Well at first we weren't too impressed.  It took me finding someone to be seated after standing there for more than five minutes.  And after that the service was very slow.....We ordered the BLMT salad which is Applewood smoked bacon, iceberg lettuce, maytag blue cheese and tomato with a creamy blue cheese dressing.  I have to say it was very good and big enough for two to share, which we did.  After that we ordered a large pizza with the works:  sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, peppers, olives and anchovies.  A huge pizza for $19.00.  Once again the service was very slow but the pizza came out hot and absolutely delicious, and we had plenty to take home.  The name Village Pizzeria is deceptive since there is a lot more on the menu than pizza, including pasta dishes, seafood, pork, steaks, veal, chicken and sandwiches.  The Village Pizzeria is easy to find, its exactly 12 miles west of Saratoga on  Rte.  29.  The food is worth the drive if you can stand to wait.  Not only do they offer seating inside but also outside which might be a nice addition to your Cooperstown trip.  You can even add a game of bocce ball.

If you visit Cooperstown remember:

There really isn't a direct route so don't be surprised if the GPS takes you around and through the countryside.  Might be better to plan your own route.

There is a charge to enter the Hall of Fame but they offer discounts to military personnel and AAA members.

Parking is difficult although there are parking lots that offer a shuttle service back to town for a small charge.  We just found a place on the street, which is possible most of the time.

Allow yourself at least 2 hours to go through the Hall of Fame, maybe longer for a first visit and if you can stay longer in Cooperstown then there are Bed and Breakfasts, hotels and campgrounds nearby, then you can take advantage of the other attraction Cooperstown has to offer.

If you visit Village Pizzeria remember:

They are a busy place and the seating times and services might be not be great, but I'm sure you will agree its worth the wait.

They offer carry out if you would rather not chance getting a seat.

The menu is more than pizza if you're in the mood for something more or something not as heavy.


For the first day after their long drive from St. Louis I decided to take my niece Laura and her husband Bob to the fishing pier at Ballston Lake.  Ballston Lake is south of Saratoga down highway 50 to Outlet Rd.  Once you take a left onto to Outlet Rd you will pass the hiking, biking trail and shortly after that on the left is the parking lot for the fishing pier.  Be careful crossing the street, there is more traffic than you would think.

Once you cross the street and walk down the wooden walkway surrounded by cattails and lily pads you will see the best view of the lake.  On the pier there is a rail all the way around except for on the right side where you can put in a canoe or kayak or even an inflatable boat. view from fishing pier.jpg 

The lake is not only full of fish but also huge snapping turtles, geese and the occasional heron

When we were there, there was a family with two small girls later joined by a grandma and two small boys.  The girls would squeal and the boys would holler when they would catch a little bass or sunfish.  It was cute to watch.

As we were walking down the wooden walkway to leave the fishing pier we stopped at one of the cattail lined pools.  There we saw two turtles sunning themselves on a log.

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We walked down the street (again watching for traffic) to a small bridge.  There we stood and watched more turtles and fish jumping in the water.  There were small boats with fishermen and kayaks on the lake.  It was such a pretty sight, since the weather was clear and warm that day.

After our walk we decided it was time for lunch.  We chose to take them to The Good Times Lakeview Restaurant.  My husband Mark and I have been there before and really liked it and thought it would be the kind of place that Laura and Bob would like too.  Good Times is a non pretentious restaurant,  warm and inviting, with a large fireplace and cozy seating.  But the best thing about the interior is the view.  If you go ask for a seat by the window-- there you will have a great view of the lake, but not only that the windows are lined with a huge bird feeder.  While you are waiting for your food you can watch goldfinches, red winged black birds and the more comical squirrels and chipmunks         

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The menu at Good Times in huge.  We ordered Saratoga Chips to start with (we always do whenever we see them on the menu), and the waitress commented on how they are a house specialty.  The chips were served hot and crisp with a cheese sauce.  I have to say they were some of the best chips I've ever had.

I ordered something I thought was an unusual combination a turkey sandwich with blue cheese.  It also had caramelized red onions and spinach on it.  And the turkey--real roasted turkey, one of my weaknesses!  The sandwich was huge and delicious!  Mark ordered the bruschetta, which we had before as an appetizer.  It's tomatoes and herbs with mozzarella cheese all on fresh Italian bread.  Very good--I think it's the balsamic vinegar that makes the difference.  Bob ordered a burger and fries--he raved about the fries being so good I had to order a half order just to try them--and he was right!

Laura got the chicken quesadilla that came with a salad, both a substantial portion.   She ordered her salad with the house dressing and liked it so much she bought a bottle to take home!  We thought about dessert but lunch was way too filling.

After lunch it was back home, warm from the sun, feeling good from our walk and our bellies full of good food from Good Times!

If you visit Good Time Lakeview Restaurant remember:

The portions are large

They offer mystery dinner theater, details at the restaurant

There are no free refills on soda but there is on tea

If you like the salad dressing, buy a bottle.  The bottle itself is unique and reusable.

If you visit the fishing pier at Ballston Lake remember:

Its free!!  But you must have a license to fish

Please don't litter.  There is a garbage can for bait containers, soda cans etc.  Please use it.

But most importantly:  Enjoy it!  Its a beautiful place to spend an afternoon

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Pemaquid Point Lighthouse in the fog
                                                                               Bob and Garret on the rocks
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Finding sea creatures in a tide pool
                                                           House rental at Pemaquid lighthouse
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Loading a lobster boat in New Harbor ME
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                                           Lunch at Shaw's Seafood Wharf
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Hardy Boat cruise sign-- where we took the Puffin cruise

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Pete, from the Audubon Society.  He narrated the puffin cruise.

Puffin on the water
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                                                                                 Closer puffin shot

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      A hut on Eastern Egg Rock, where the scientist live for about 6 weeks to study the birds

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A day at the beach, within walking distance of the campground

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                                 Bob reading the sign for Rachel Carson's Salt Pond--
                     Rachel Carson was the founder of the environmentalist movement.

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From inside the salt pond

                                                                                     Moonlight over the harbor
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The Mann family after four days in Maine.  They look happy.  I think they had a good time!

Yesterday was amazing!  After a late breakfast we went into town, Damariscotta to pick up a couple things at Reny's which is like a variety store.  We got some more sparklers and some mosquito coils (the mosquitoes are fierce around here) and a few other things.  Then we went into New Harbor which is about 5 miles away.  Once there we headed over to Shaw's Fish and Lobster Wharf, a restaurant right on the bay.  Their dock overlooks the water.  The menu is diverse but of course the main attraction is the lobster.  You can buy a single lobster dinner (as of yesterday) for $14.95 which comes with drawn butter, slaw or salad and a roll.  Fantastic!  But those non-lobster eaters (and I can't imagine who that could be) there is fish, steaks and chicken to choose from.

After lunch at Shaw's and more souvenir buying we headed back to Damariscotta for a couple hours before the Puffin Cruise.  Which was the amazing part.  The puffin cruise leaves New Harbor at 5:30 every day on the Hardy Boat III.  The cost is $24 per adult and $15 for children.  On the boat itself there are bathrooms and a small snack bar.  Our cruise was narrated by Pete, a member of the puffin project which is run by the Audubon society.  He was very knowledgeable and was full of corny jokes.  We were able to spot harbor seals, terns, seagulls and at one point someone said they saw a porpoise (Pete's joke: at least now our trip has a porpoise!) and of course we saw puffins.  On Eastern Egg Rock there are 101 pairs of puffins that nest there along with terns, seagulls, and guillemots.  During the summer for about 6 weeks members of the Audubon society stay on the island.  Its very rustic with huts and compost toilets.  While they are there they count birds, tag birds and watch their habits and compare the data to that of the year before.  A portion of the cost of the cruise is donated to the project.

Near the end of the cruise we spotted a puffin floating on a wave.  Captain Mike turned the boat around so that everyone got a clear view.  The puffin stayed and turned, what a ham!--he looked like he was posing.  After about 10 minutes Captain Mike said we needed to leave and apologized for us being about 20 minutes late, but we didn't mind.

After leaving the harbor we took Laura, Bob and Garret for a ride around New Harbor.  It wasn't quite sunset so we got some spectacular pictures.  We even took a short side trip to the Rachael Carson Salt Pond.  Rachael Carson started the environmental movement.  The salt pond is a small pond surrounded by rocks that is filled with small marine creatures.  But let me warn you to climb around on the rocks you need sturdy shoes, take it from personal experience!

Then it was back to the campground for a quick dinner and to try some more sparkler experiments.

Next time:

A picture collage of Maine



Hi All!
I'm writing to you from the Maine Coast Book Shop in Damariscotta Maine.
The last week has been a whirlwind so I will have to catch up when we get home.  So far we've been to Ballston Lake and Good Times Restaurant, Mystic Pizza and the Mystic Aquarium, got a pedicure at Hair and Body Essentials and left to go camping in Maine!

This is what we've done so far in Maine:

Happy 4th of July from Pemaquid Point Maine.   We brought my niece, Laura; her husband, Bob and her son Garret along with my daughter Jocelyn's best friend Kristi to one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.


We started out from Saratoga on Friday morning around 10 am and got to a rest stop about an hour and half from Boston, where I saw someone I know from Saratoga!  If you're reading this--Hi Courtney, Brendan and Jeb!  Anyway, once we left the rest stop we headed on into Massachusetts and then into New Hampshire where we ran into heavy traffic in Portsmouth.  Once through that traffic it was on to All Points Maine!

Kristi, who had never been out of New York State, was excited when she saw the harbor and the boats.

Once we got into Maine we got into traffic at Bath and Wiscasset and then it was on to Damariscotta. We were traveling in two cars and they were about 10 miles behind us so we pulled over behind some stores along the Damariscotta River to wait for them.

It's a beautiful river and where the fireworks should be tonight.

We pulled into the campground about 6:30 and immediately got set up.  We brought a big tent for the kids and the adults were using the travel trailer.  About 30 minutes later we were all set up.  I was anxious to get down to the lighthouse for lots of photo ops, but as we got closer to the point we saw fog, and lots of it.  But that didn't deter the Midwesterners from climbing the rocks almost down to the surf.  What a great time they had!  About an hour and many photos later they were tired and ready to eat.  We came back to the campground--Sherwood Forest, a basic campground, that is the closest to the beach.  The site was big enough to accommodate our large tent and our 19-foot travel trailer, along with our two vehicles.

Dinner was quick, hot dogs, smoked sausage and chips--and of course s'mores for dessert.

After we finally got the campfire going we all turned in and slept until after 8 am. 

The next morning we got up to a breakfast of sausage, hash browns, eggs and toast and hot, hot coffee.  We then packed up and headed back to the lighthouse.  This time not only did they climb the rocks (since the fog wasn't as bad) but they decided to climb the top of the lighthouse for the most spectacular view.  We went into the gift shop for a few souveniers and a snack; back to the campground and then off to the beach.  A thunderstorm threat cleared the beach but it was short lived.  The sun came back out and then it was off to the pool.  The water was cold at the beach but that didn't stop 7 year

old Garret who jumped on the boogie board and rode the waves, even at the pool the cold water didn't stop him.  He jumped off the diving board much to the amazement of some of the other families there, even when he jumped off, slipped and hit his back.

We then settled back in at the campground where I made a big pot of green pepper soup (recipe to follow) and biscuits.  We debated on whether or not to go back into town for the fireworks but decided to stay at the site.  From the site we were able to see fireworks through the trees, at least some, so the kids walked down toward the beach where they   got a better look.  All the small communities had fireworks so we were basically surrounded by the lights and sounds.  We had a huge bon fire going again and so we did our own fireworks--sparklers--in the most creative ways, first we started out holding them, then we decided to stick them in the ground in different designs and then we got the idea to put them in the fire.  That turned into an experiment--we laid them on the logs and we put them in the boxes with them sticking out and let the fire light them.  The kids got a lot of enjoyment from trying different ways to light the sparklers.  We finished the night off with camper pies  (recipe and pictures below) bread filled with different fillings and then cooked in the campfire, a new twist on s'mores.

 All in all it was a good day in Maine.


Green Pepper Soup


1 ½ pounds of ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

1 ½ green peppers, seeded and chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 large cans tomato soup

½ cup minute rice

salt and pepper to taste


In a large dutch oven brown the ground beef but don't drain.  Add the onions, garlic and green peppers.  Cook until soft.  Add the cans of soup and heat to boiling.  Pour in the rice and cover.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Thin with a half a can of water if needed.  Season with salt and pepper.

Serve in cups with biscuits.


Camper Pies

You will need a camper pie maker.  You can order them from camping supply stores.  They are cast iron, round or square on a long handle.  The pie maker part is hinged together.  Open the pie make and oil with either spray or butter.  Place a slice of bread in either side then fill with whatever filling you like.  We used Hershey bars and marshmallows and strawberry jam and Hershey bars.  After you choose your filling then close the pie maker and put it in the fire.  As it cooks the edges of the bread will cook off and the pie will seal.  It takes only about 5 minutes, but be sure to check it and turn it often.  Then enjoy!!


Today will be going on a puffin cruise and then eat lobster if the weather holds out......

Lake George Opera Company, continued......
I just received photos of Madame Butterfly taken by Gary Gold.
The season starts today July 2nd.....

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Yunah Lee and (as Madame Butterfly) and Brady Miller
as Sorrow

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Yunah Lee, Mika Shigematsu (as Suzuki) and Brady Miller

                                             Eric Fennell (as Pinkerton) and Levi Hernandez (as Sharpless)
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Madame Butterfly death scene
Yunah Lee

Next opera is Don Pasquale

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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!