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

July 2011 Archives

FIRST IMPRESSIONS



P7250184.JPGHyannis MA sits mid-cape on Cape Cod.  Made legendary by the Kennedys, Hyannis is a mecca for boating and ocean fishing and attracts thousands and thousands of tourists each summer.  Located on Lewis Bay, Hyannis offers limitless amounts of fishing, harbor tours and other water activities right from its harbor, or you can take one of the ferries to Nantucket Island or Martha's Vineyard.

HYANNIS HOLIDAY MOTEL

After hours of research on the best place to stay I decided on the Hyannis Harbor Motel, located directly across the street from the harbor.  This is a simple but unbelievably clean motel.  The rooms are large but basic (we had a double room) and do not offer amenities like ironing boards or hair dryers.  When I booked the room online it said that this room did not have a bay view but much to my surprise it had an amazing view, with a concrete patio and chairs to enjoy it.  

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The hotel feels old but is well kept and the staff is friendly and accommodating.  Check in time is 4 pm and we were early so we were shown to the "breakfast" room where we could have coffee, watch tv and use the bathroom until the room was ready.  We decided to take that extra time and go for a walk, so they took our cell phone number to let us know when the room was ready.  When we checked in we got a quick orientation on where things are and two coupons to save money on dinner or lunch for the two days we were there.
Hyannis Holiday Motel has two pools, one inside and one outside, free Wi-Fi with a password (one needed for each device you have) and  free pastries and coffee in the morning.
It kind of reminds me of the motels we used to stay at when I was kid on trips to the Ozarks or Florida, but with an amazing location.  We came to Hyannis to deep sea fish and the dock for the boat was a short walk away, saving us on having to find parking.  The one complaint I would have about the motel (and it's minor) is that it's two floors (we were on the first floor) and we could hear someone running back and forth upstairs.  I assume it was kids. 
For what we needed it just fit the bill: affordable (and they take AAA discount), clean and in a great location.  What more could you ask for?

HELEN H FLEET
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I loved the motel but the fishing.... not so much.  No fault of the Captain and crew of the Angler one of the many boats in the Helen H Fleet, it just wasn't a good fishing day for me or my husband.  It was the first time for both us deep sea fishing and really never got the hang of it.  Although we both caught a sea robin which kind of looks like an algae eater that you put in your aquarium.  Others on the boat did catch sea bass, and keepers too.  After the trip the crew cleaned and filleted their catches.  We didn't have any luck but it wasn't for lack of trying.  The captain changed our locations three times to give us all a chance.  All I seemed to catch was another fisherman's line.  Next time I think we will try a boat with fewer people so it will increase my odds.
When you book a trip on the Helen H (we took a four hour trip for sea bass and fluke) the price includes bait, rods, reels and the license.  All you have to do is show up and if you're optimistic you might want to bring a cooler to take your catch in with you.

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Just happy to be on the open sea, even if he didn't catch anything.

FOUND A FAVORITE RESTAURANT
Even though there was a restaurant right across the street from the motel (we ate there before the boat trip), we decided to check out a restaurant recommended by a Food Network Chef, Duff Goldman.  The Marshland is located in the town of Sandwich (Chef Goldman's hometown) and is an unassuming little shop with amazing food.  We had to try the stuffed quahog which is a clam that has a stuffing of bread, onions, green peppers and linguica.  It's served as an appetizer but my husband at the whole thing after sharing a bit with me.  I got the award winning clam chowder and I can see why.  The chowder was chunky and creamy, some of the creamiest chowder I've ever had. The potatoes and the clams were cooked perfectly -- amazing.  I followed my chowder with fish and chips, one of my weaknesses.  The fish was lightly battered and fried to perfection, the cole slaw and fries were delicious.  Mark followed his quahog with a lobster roll.  I've never seen a lobster roll that big before.  The lobster was tender and not chewy and seasoned with a little mayo.  Again-- perfect.  The bakery is next door to the restaurant and even though he ate the whole quahog and a huge lobster roll, Mark just couldn't pass up the Boston Creme Pie.
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If you're going to Hyannis:
Tip 1: Try to schedule it so that you stay on a Sunday, Monday and Tuesday since most hotels and motels even during peak season will lower room prices after the weekend.
Tip 2: If you are a AAA member be sure to ask about the discount.  Won't get it if you don't ask.
Tip 3: Use the expertise of the locals for restaurants and getting around.  Make friends with the staff at the hotel.  They live there, they know the area.
Tip 4:  Don't be afraid to go out and explore.  Do some research, use your GPS and go!  You might find an awesome beach or restaurant that you wouldn't have otherwise.
Tip 5:  Budget more that you think you will need.  This is true of any trip that you take.  There's nothing worse than running out of money or going into debt because you didn't plan ahead.
Tip 6:  Have fun!  Don't stress it.  Don't think you have to see everything. Pick an activity and do it.  After all it's a vacation enjoy yourself.  That's what you've worked for.

Been to Hyannis?  Share your tips.

PLANNING

Hyannis Massachusetts is known as the home of the Kennedy compound, beautiful beaches, seafood and a gorgeous harbor. Some place that sounds heavenly to me. So I've been doing some research to see just how I can take a long weekend trip (frugally) and have fun too. One travel site that I always depend on to find good deals is travelzoo and once again they didn't disappoint. They were offering a four hour deep sea fishing trip that included everything.... bait, rods, reels and the license for half price -- much too good a deal to pass off.
So after talking my husband into it, I bought the deal. 

Hotel Hunting

 Now it was time to find a hotel. This proved to be a little more tricky. We called the fishing company to see if they had a special relationship with any hotels that would be close to the harbor (being unfamiliar with the area we didn't want to be too far away and possibly get lost) so that maybe we could get a special rate. This strategy didn't work mostly because of the time of year. If it would have been off-season then this usually works, but it never hurts to ask. We did get a lead on hotels that are close to the harbor with views (expensive) but other rooms in the same hotel without the views were a little more reasonable.  If you're going with a family or with a few couples you might want to think about renting a house or a condo. When splitting the cost, it can prove to be more cost effective, and with a kitchen you can also save on meals. 

Hotels might also have other perks such as discounts with local restaurants or coupons for area attractions.  Be sure to check the hotels website to see if they have any promotions going with other businesses in the area and also for leads on activities to do.

Packing

I like to pack light.  If there is anything that I've forgotten I can always pick it up at a store, Walmart is everywhere -- right?  But it does make more sense to have everything with you.  You can't count on the hotel having free toothpaste or toothbrushes, shampoo and mouthwash.  For a trip like the one we're going on I'm planning on shorts, t-shirts (the weather is suppose to be hot), a jacket for the evenings, rubber soled shoes, bathing suit and possibly one nice outfit for dinner out.  The most important thing for me since I write while I travel is to be sure that I have Wi-Fi available. I also make sure to pack my computer, and of course my camera.  I take all my cables and cords to be sure that I can keep the batteries charged, download my photos and write my posts.

That's about it,  besides cash and my cell phone.

Then We're Off

It's very important to plan a route for a day trip like this.  Going to Massachusetts from Saratoga Springs there will be tolls, so be sure to either have an E-Z pass or cash to pay the tolls.  I always like to have extra cash for little things, always over plan on what you think you might spend.  Nothing spoils a trip faster than being short on cash.... trust me I know.

I also like to have either mapquest or a GPS to plan stops ahead of time for gas and food. I like a GPS better since you don't have to take your eyes off the road to check the map.  

By planning ahead, using the internet or guide book, packing appropriately you can have a flawless vacation.

So plan, pack and go!


Have a travel tip you'd like to share?

Here is the second half of the list I promised. Hopefully the things on the list will be something you've heard of and always wanted to do. Or that you've never heard of and still think, "Wow, now that sounds like a good time!"

Hudson Valley Cats Baseball

Not going to Cooperstown but still have a hankerin' for a good old fashioned baseball game without all the hassles of going to the city?  The Valley Cats are your answer.  A minor league team that plays at The Joseph L. Bruno Stadium all summer long.  They offer special promotions, Tunes for Tuesday summer concerts and even fireworks!  There are still a few home games left this month but they play until Labor Day weekend.  They offer a range of different ticket options too.  So get a group together (or your family) and check them out!  You'll  be smiling through the seventh inning stretch.

SPAC- Saratoga Performing Art Center

SPAC is one of the most unusual venues you will come across.  Where else can you see The NYC Ballet, a jazz festival, chamber music, Lil Wayne, Motely Crue Toby Keith and  Barry Manilow to name a few.  Plus a wine and food festival with one of the most well known celebrity chefs making an appearance-- Marcus Samuelsson.  That's the type of entertainment you can expect to see on SPAC's schedule.  The Amphitheater has covered seating but also offers a sweeping lawn that's perfect for a picnic.  Have one made up at one of the local downtown shops or put together your own.

4th Ever Pig Out in Troy

Want to 'pig out" on some great BBQ from some of the best professionals in the country?  Then The Pig Out in Troy is a must do!  On Saturday July 16th and Sunday July 17th the Pig Out will host  professional teams from all over the country in this BBQ competition.  There will be a People's Choice Rib competition, Saturday, where for $1 you can sample and vote on your favorite team's ribs and raise money for The Kidney Foundation.  There will also be chef demos, live music and fireworks.  The Pig Out will be held on River St. Saturday at 11 am -10 pm and Sunday from 11 am- 4 pm  Admission is free.

Pick Your Own

One thing we loved to do with our kids when they were younger was pick apples.  But did you know that in Saratoga County you can not only pick apples but also strawberries, blueberries and pumpkins.  And most orchards and pick your own farms have farm stands, while others have family friendly activities like live music, petting zoos, wagon rides and don't forget those amazing cider donuts!


Hyde Collection 

I've written a whole blog post on the Hyde Collection in Glens Falls but I think it bears repeating.  If you want to see a magnificent personal collection of well known Masters then this gallery is for you.  You can get inches from works of art from almost every century not to mention statues, tapestries and furniture.  A perfect way to spend a rainy (or sunny) afternoon.  Believe me, my husband drug me there and I can't stop talking about what an amazing place it is.


Well that's Part 2.  Hope there is something on the list that pique's your interest.

Have a special activity or event you want to share?

Upstate Update

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I've come across some interesting, fun things that will be happening in the next couple weeks so I thought I would share them with you.

Baseball Hall of Fame Induction

Do you love the Great American Pass Time?  Then a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is in order, and on July 22nd-25th The Hall of Fame will be holding it's induction ceremony.  Along with the induction there will free programs at the Doubleday field.  If you're driving you might want to take advantage of the trolley system that will bring you right to the museum.


Saratoga County Fair

This year will be the 170th Saratoga County Fair.  It runs for 6 days starting on July 19th and running through the 24th.  There will be a variety of activities and vendors.  The fair is held in Ballston Spa at the Fairgrounds and expects at least 100,000 people over the 6 days. 

Tickets are $8 for adult (Tues-Thurs.) and $10 for adults (Fri-Sun)


Racing Museum

The racing museum is located across the street from The Saratoga Race Course and is a nice way to spend Dark Tuesday when the horses aren't running.  There are several displays and you can even get your photo on a racehorse!  Bobby Flay will be at the Racing Museum on August 12th to give a keynote speech.


Scenic Railway

Originally scheduled to begin on July 14h The Saratoga and North Creek Railroad is scheduled to start running on July 23rd.  There are seven stops between Saratoga Springs and North Creek allowing for passengers to get out, do some shopping or sightseeing.  The railway offers a dome car that offers the best view of the spectacular Adirondack scenery.

Tickets are $13 adult (one way, coach)  $27 adult (one way, dome)

$11 for seniors 65+ (one way, coach)    $25 (one way, dome)

children $9, ages 12 and up (one way, coach)   $23 (one way, dome)

An all day pass can be purchased for:

Adult $19, coach and $40, dome

Senior  $17 coach and $36 dome

Children $15 coach and $32 dome


That's a few things going on during the next couple of weeks.  Next time I'll have a few more! So stay tuned...

Have a favorite activity or event that I should know about?

Been to those listed above and want to share your experience?

Feel free!!


Hyannis MA

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We've planned our first ever deep sea fishing trip in Hyannis MA. We've never been to Hyannis and we've never been deep sea fishing. So here's my question:
Has anyone been to Hyannis (Cape Cod) and know of any "not to be missed" things we should see or do? Restaurants? Sites? Activities?
While we're in Cape Cod I've love to take the ferry to Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard. So here's another question: Is it worth it?
We'll be there for just a couple days so I'd like to plan ahead so we don't waste any time.
Any information or insights would be appreciated. I'll be sure to check out all of them and report back in detail.....well at least as much as I can in a couple days.

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Was the question asked by the announcer as we waited for the start of the Painted Pony Rodeo.  The crowd cheered and it was obvious that yes we were!  
Is there anything more American, more red white and blue than a rodeo?  Cowboys ropin' and riding' bucking broncos bareback and bulls with names like Frankenstein.  Cowgirls barrel racin' and ropin calves.  And don't forget the clown!

Rodeo and the Northeast just don't seem to go together but if you're looking for something exciting and fun to do on a Wednesday, Friday or Saturday night during the summer then The Painted Pony Rodeo in Lake Luzerne is the place to go!  It has been in continuous operation since 1953 and hosts competitors from all over the country -- Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Connecticut and of course New York to name a few.  
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The Painted Pony isn't just a rodeo but also a BBQ-- Texas BBQ-- cooked low and slow, the way it should be.  As soon as you get out of your car you smell the smoke from the BBQ pits cooking chicken and ribs.  The BBQ is served buffet style so you can help yourself to as many servings of the smoky delicious meats, vegetables and salad that you'd like.


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We found a table under the pavilion where we could hear the music playing in the Longhorn Saloon, setting the mood for the night.  The Longhorn Saloon has a cash bar and is open after the rodeo so you can meet all the contestants up close and personal.  Once you are done eating all the BBQ you could possibly want then it's time to head over to the arena.  BBQ not your thing?  There is also a full snack bar with burgers, fries, fried dough and other tasty treats.
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The seating is bleacher-style made from long boards.  It takes some coordination to maneuver down the "steps" and along the "seats" to find the perfect one.  You might want to bring a cushion because the wood gets "hard" after two hours.  The arena seems small but that just makes for a more intimate experience, and you're able to see all the action even from the back row.  The intimate setting also means you might have someone sitting right next to you or with their knees very close to your back -- but isn't that a good way to make friends.
Since this is an All-American event, it couldn't start without some old fashioned pageantry.
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The contestants ride out into the arena carrying the flags of the sponsors, for the first and only time they will be in the arena at the same time.  The Parade of Contestants is then followed by a tribute to America.  A very pretty cowgirl holding a giant American flag rides into the arena and circles several times while the announcer reads a tribute to the United States .... very moving.  After the Star Spangled Banner (sung by a 5 year old little girl, then it was time for the action to begin.
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While the cowboys were getting ready in their chutes we were entertained by Sal the Rodeo Clown.  He told jokes while bantering with the announcer
There was a break in the action and out came a trick roper who spun lassos.  Then it was time for one of the highlights of the rodeo -- the boot and shoe race.  All children ages 8 and under were encouraged to come down to the middle of the arena.  Sal then instructed them to remove one shoe and drop it in a pile in the middle of the arena.  They were then to go to the other end of the arena (some were hopping so they wouldn't get their bare foot muddy) and line up.  It had been raining and raining hard for most of the day so the arena was very muddy not to mention that horses and steers had been out there doing what horses and steers do under stress... if you know what I mean.  So the kids were all lined up at the end of the arena and the point of this is to race down, get their shoe, put it on and race back and give Sal a high five.  But since it's a race it's important to stretch.  Sal instructed them to reach for their toes and stretch side to side.  Then of course he wanted them to do the most important stretch of all, the full body stretch -- lay on the ground and roll from one side to the other side-- yes- in the mud and other stuff.  It was hilarious!  The winner was given a t-shirt which I guess was a good prize for rolling in horse manure and then running a race with one shoe!
With the rodeo now in full swing it was time for the two most exciting events - cowgirl barrel racing and bullriding!  A classic and dramatic way to end the rodeo, since it had been raining earlier, fog had drifted over the arena making the last bull ride very climactic.

For more photos and video from The Painted Pony Rodeo "like" my facebook page From My Corner of Saratoga  You can also follow me on twitter @kimberaka for more blog updates.

The Painted Pony Rodeo is located in Lake Luzerne and runs every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night until Labor Day -- rain or shine
Tickets are:
Rodeo only:  Adults $14, Children $8
Rodeo and BBQ:  Adults $26, Children $14
Tickets can be purchased online.  If you buy your tickets on the day of the event there will an additional $2 charge.  They welcome large groups too.
So if you're looking for something fun and different to do with your kids, in-laws or friends from out of town don't miss The Painted Pony Rodeo.  
It's a Buckin' Good Time!!

Monday is 4th of July and Saratoga has All American Celebration activities for the entire weekend.  But as for me and my family we have a number of other things planned:

1. Albany/Saratoga Race Track 

Located in Malta has stock car races every Friday on a recently paved 4/10ths of a mile track and has been continuously hosting stock car races since 1965. This will be a new experience for me. Hope I can take the noise and excitement! Tonight is Super Soaker night (so bring your water guns) and it's $20 a car admission. There will also be their biggest fireworks display ever! The racing season runs through the summer with lots of special events.

2. Painted Pony Rodeo
Located in Lake Luzerne is an authentic western style rodeo and Texas BBQ buffet. Their season opens July 1st and runs through Labor Day Weekend. The Painted Pony Rodeo is the oldest weekly rodeo in the U.S. and is one of Rachael Ray's favorites!
Tickets range from $14.00 for the rodeo only for adults and $8.00 for the rodeo only for children. But why not go for the whole experience (like we will) and add the BBQ buffet making adult tickets $26.00 and children $14.00. Children 3 and under are free.

3. Lake George

Lake George has so many activities, restaurants and shops that there is never shortage of things to do.  One of our favorite activities is fishing and luckily we have the perfect spot....a lake house.  But if you don't have a lake house or a relative with a lake house or a friend with a lake house then why not venture out on your own.  With a little research you just mind find the perfect spot to cast a line.  Or you can rent a boat or charter a fishing trip at one of the many marinas.  Not into fishing?  How about hiking or parasailing or maybe just sunning on the beach?  Looking for a restaurant? Casual or fine dining?  Lake George has many to pick from.

So whatever you decide to do this holiday weekend or the rest of the summer be sure to share.  Curious about another area or activity in the Saratoga area?  Been somewhere and want to share your experience?  

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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!