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

March 2012 Archives

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.


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!!!




More Maple Days


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.


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.  

Sugar House at Adirondack Gold Maple Farm




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


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.


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.


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.

Maple Days are Here!


March means one thing in the North Country -- maple syrup. I'll be heading out soon to travel to Thurman NY for their celebration of the golden, sweet syrup.

I'll be visiting a number of sugarhouses where I'll see the operation from start to finish, and sample everything that can be made from maple syrup. It's not just for pancakes. The weather is clear, although cold and it should be a fun time. So be sure to check back for the complete story with lots of photos and maybe even a recipe or two.

During the month of March there will be other maple sugaring activities all around the region. So if you miss it this week there will be others.

Next time: Maple Days and Restaurant week.

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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!