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

August 2011 Archives

Three courses - $18.94

Restaurants participating in the celebration of the Traver's stakes are from multiple cities including Albany, Schenectady, Clifton Park and Glens Falls. If you're visiting for the first time or spending the week here, it's a great opportunity to try different restaurants and explore different areas. The price of $18.64 includes 3 course meals. There are a wide selection of restaurants and cuisines to choose from. Which makes it an ideal week to sample some of the best of Saratoga's (and beyond) restaurants.

First Stop- Farmer's Market

If you're new to a city or visiting for the first time a walking tour is a great way to get acquainted with shops, locals and history.  The Saratoga Food Tour hosted by Joe Haedrich gives you an added bonus...not only do you meet shop keepers, local farmers and restaurateurs but you also get to sample their foods.  While walking the streets of Saratoga you'll learn about it's glorious past as a major resort town for the rich and famous of the day.  You'll get insight into some of the magnificent buildings that are still standing and their history.  You'll learn that Saratoga was built not only on springs and historic battles but also by entrepreneurs.

Joe Haedrich who runs the tour will not only take you to some of the best of Saratoga food but will also regale you with the history of  Broadway, Skidmore College and Yaddo Gardens.


Stops include Saratoga Farmer's Market -- Solively Tapenade owned by Kim Klopstock, who also runs 50 South, a restaurant just outside of Saratoga in Ballston Spa.   Argyle Cheese Farm - 4th generation farm where they know the cows by name.  Saratoga Peanut Butter that makes nutritious, preservative free peanut and almond butter right here in Saratoga. From here we went to another cheese farmer, Sweet Spring Farms where they make delicious goat cheese but first we made a stop at Anna Mae's Homemade Jam booth.  Anna Mae makes 100 different jellies and jams all from her homegrown fruit except for the citrus.  She has been at the farmer's market since the beginning in 1978.  Her jams and jellies sell for $4.50 a jar, homemade, no preservatives and all natural.  Anna Mae rings the bell signaling the end of the farmer's market.


From here we walked to the one of the many springs.  The spring water of Saratoga Springs was one of the first internationally sold products and was prescribed by doctors for their healing properties.  The one we sampled was full of iron and wasn't the tastiest.  But I guess it would be good for someone with an iron deficiency.



 After a brief history lesson about the springs and their uses we made our way up some stairs and across the street to The Olde Bryan Inn for a steak bruschetta.  This appetizer was served on grilled bread topped with grilled steak, peppers and small salad on the side.  While we were enjoying this delicious treat we were told the history of The Olde Bryan Inn and the role that it played in the American Revolution.  One of the group asked if the inn was haunted.  Apparently the answer isn't yes or no, but there have been sightings by employees and patrons.  The female apparition's name is either Eleanor, Beatrice or Ida, just in case you see her.

As we walked to the first of the shops along Broadway that we were to stop at Joe told us the story  of Lucy Skidmore Scribner, for whom Skidmore College is named.  Apparently Lucy and her mother came to live in Saratoga and found out that when horse racing season was over the women who worked in the hotels didn't have jobs since the hotels closed for the season.  So she decided to start a school to educate those women.  Once they graduated they were able to type 60 words a minute and take shorthand at 120 words per minute.



The Shops of Broadway

The first store we stopped at was The Saratoga Olive Oil Company a store that specializes in olive oils and balsamic vinegars. The next shop was The Salsa and Spice Company. As the name implies the store is filled with shelves of hot sauces, salsas and other spices.  The tour then finishes at Bettie's cupcakes for a sweet treat, two of their size "a" cupcakes in a variety of flavors to choose from.




The tours are held on Saturdays and cost $40 a person, which includes everything except for anything you'd like to purchase at any of the stops.  The appetizer at The Olde Bryan in is also included in the price however if you'd like an alcoholic beverage that's extra.  The Saratoga Food Tour will take you on a leisurely walk through Saratoga where you'll learn some history, taste some food and make some friends, a pretty great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.


Sweet Summer Memories

Growing up in St Louis I have a lot of memories of summers in the backyard listening to the Cardinals' games on the radio.  Of BBQs, family gatherings and playing catch in the backyard.  Of softball games and of friendly neighborhood games that usually ended up with one of us climbing into the sewer to retrieve the ball.  I've spent many a warm summer night in the bleachers at Busch Stadium, cheering them on and people watching when the action got slow.  So when I had the opportunity to see a live baseball game again I couldn't pass it up - even if it was a minor league game.

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Behind Home Plate

The Tri-City Valley Cats play at Joe Bruno Stadium on the grounds of Hudson Valley Community College in Troy.  The stadium is intimate with only one level of seating and the "suites" that are situated high above the field.  We sat behind home plate.  That was cool, never sat behind home plate before.  The seats behind home plate were protected by nets which was good because there was foul ball after foul ball hit over the nets and into the walkway where the concession stands are and over the roof and even hitting the guttering that lined the "suites".  Which kept the game exciting.  If you're looking to take home a foul ball, t-shirt or other souvenir sit along the baselines and not behind home plate.  There you might even get on the big screen.  The game that night was a doubleheader with the Hudson Valley Renegades. I was thinking that a doubleheader was going to be a long, boring event but I was pleasantly surprised since there was plenty of entertainment between innings, like the barrel roll, the chuck it in the bucket along with a lot of music and dancing.  

The Valley Cats won the first game: 9-4.  Which caused the Renegades to change their uniforms.  Ball players can be so superstitious, but it didn't help because again the lost, this time 4-2. 

There a few games still left if you'd like to watch a live baseball game.  Most nights have promotions and fireworks after the game.  The stadium is family friendly with easy entrance and exit and tons of food options at the concession stands.

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Sitting in the stands on a cool summer night, listening to the crack of the wooden bats.  Watching the umps call the strike outs and walks.  Listening to the crowd as they cheer for the hits and groan for the swing and a miss. It was almost like being back home, watching the Cards play--I almost felt like a kid again.    

Summer is the time for festivals and the Stony Creek Mountain Festival is happening this weekend.  The weekend will be filled with a town wide garage sale, food, music, vendors, kids' activities and more!  The festival begins on Friday and runs through Sunday which will include a lumberjack competition!

If you're interested in the Town wide yard sale maps can be picked up at the information booth in Town Center.

Getting to Stony Creek is easy.  If you're coming from Saratoga just follow the Northway to Exit 23 then turn left.  Turn right onto Rte 9 at the traffic light.  Follow Rte 9 to the junction of Rte 418, the second traffic light.  Cross over the bridge and turn right onto Rte 418.  Follow Rte 418 for about 11 miles to the center of Stony Creek, also known as Four Corners.

There is a new and tasty way to discover Saratoga.  It's called The Saratoga Springs Food Tour.  Starting at The Saratoga Farmer's Market where you will sample locally made cheese, jams and other goodies, the tour will then take you to one of the most historic and delicious restaurants in town - The Old Bryan Inn which is also said to be haunted.  I just know that the food is amazing and the ambiance is cozy and comfortable.  Then it will be time to stroll down Broadway to two of the newest shops, Saratoga Olive Oil, and Saratoga Salsa and you will finish your tour with Bettie's Cupcakes - some of the best cupcakes ever!

The tours happen on Saturdays, rain or shine (umbrellas available) and start at 12:30 pm at the Farmer's Market, now through September 10th.   The cost is $40 per person with a capacity of 14 people for each tour.  The trip will last 2 ½ hours and during the tour you will have a chance to meet chefs and owners and possibly learn some  behind the scenes "secrets" of the food biz.

If you are a first time visitor to Saratoga taking a food tour can be a fun way to discover local specialties.  If you're a local why not take a tour to get a new perspective on Saratoga and maybe try something new.  The tour is appropriate for any age and fitness level, just be sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothing - maybe stretchy pants!

Come back for my review of the food tour. I'll be attending in the next week or so.  Hope to see you there!

Lucy and Lobster


Who Doesn't Love Lucy?

In doing some research I've come across a couple of fun things going on this week, beyond Saratoga.  This week marks the 100th birthday of Desiree Eveline Hart Ball, better known as Lucy Ball and her hometown of Jamestown NY is throwing a one of a kind bash!  The town of Jamestown is trying to make into the Guinness Book of World Records by having the most people dressed like Lucy Ricardo in one place at the same time.  I'm sure that will be a sight to be seen.  Other attractions include headliner comedians such as Joan Rivers (Aug 4th) and Paul Poundstone (Aug 6th) along with world-class Lucy, Ricky, Ethel and Fred impersonators.

The celebration runs from Aug 3rd -7th. Jamestown is located in Western NY in the Chautauqua region.

Lobster Lobster and More Lobster

Face painting, lobster, concerts, lobster, cooking contests and oh did I mention LOBSTER?  That's what you can find and more at the Lobster Festival.  Every morning of the festival starting on the 4th there will be an all you can eat blueberry pancake breakfast for $6 for adults and $3 for children.  Then the day continues with Navy ship tours, special performances and of course lobster.  There will be plenty of activities for the kids.  Free parking with shuttle service.

The festival will be held in Rockland Maine at the Rockland Harbor.  Wednesday there is no admission fee. Thursday through Saturday admission is $8 for adults and $2 for children.  On Sunday there will be discounted admission for adults of $5.  They are also offering discounted 4 day pack of tickets for $25 for adults and $8 for children ages 6-12.

So if you love Lucy head to Jamestown NY if you love lobster make a trek to Rockland Maine.  Either way there's something to love.

Been to Rockland's lobster fest or to Jamestown NY?

Feel free to share your trips and tips. 

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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!