Make the most of the summer – it’s not over yet! – and plan your last-minute vacation or weekend getaway in the Saratoga area. We’ve highlighted five reasons why you’ll want to feel those summer vibes in Saratoga this year, and we’re starting with the lake.
1) Saratoga Lake: For On- and Off-the-Water Fun
The mineral waters aren’t the only “waters” that visitors can enjoy in Saratoga Springs – don’t forget about Saratoga Lake! While much of the shoreline is privately owned there is public access at the state boat launch at the northern end for boaters, there are several private marinas, and there’s Brown Beach and Waterfront Park.
Brown’s Beach is open for 2020 at half capacity from 10am to 7pm daily through Labor Day Weekend. There’s a $3 entry fee for the beach, with kids 12 and under free. Waterfront Park is an ideal spot to enjoy a summer picnic by the lake or get out on a kayak. Speaking of which…
For those looking to enjoy the classic pastime of paddling on the lake check out Kayak Shak. Book a reservation online (no walk-ups at this time), arrive 10 minutes before your designated time, and get ready to enjoy some fresh air, sunshine, and exercise on Saratoga Lake!
A little-known, unique water sport activity is also available on Saratoga Lake, for those who are seeking some summer adventure: check out Extreme Hydro Flight, which allows you to fly five to 15 feet above the water’s surface.
Waterfront dining awaits at Dock Brown’s Lakeside Tavern, open Monday to Saturday 11:30am to 9pm and Sunday 11:30am to 8pm. Reservations are required. We recommend the fresh fish tacos or the lobster roll, which comes with a quarter pound Maine lobster stuffed in a brioche roll.
2) Downtown Saratoga Springs: For Prime Walking & Dining Opportunities
Summer is the perfect time for a stroll in Saratoga Springs, particularly downtown along Broadway and through Congress Park. Check out the newly renovated Saratoga Marketplace, which has over 14 retail, lifestyle, and restaurant businesses like Bella and Lindy and the Saratoga Chocolate Company.
Pop into Northshire Bookstore or Lyrical Ballad Bookstore to pick out your next beach read. Visiting with kids? Stop by G. Willikers to let your little ones pick out a Ravensburger puzzle, kid-friendly science laboratory, or one of the handmade and eco-friendly BlaBla Dolls.
And, did you know? There are four self-guided walking tours that take you through Saratoga Springs: Congress Park, the East Side, the West Side, and North Broadway, and they all have downloadable maps. You’ll visit historic monuments, sample several mineral springs, and see stunning architecture on these strolls.
When you’re ready to grab a bite to eat there’s a plethora of outdoor and indoor dining opportunities in the Spa City this summer, including rooftop dining at Saratoga City Tavern, a new menu (oysters are back!) at 30 Lake, and your favorite sweet and savory crepes at Ravenous.
3) Ballston Spa: For the Unique On-the-Street Dining & An Immaculately-Maintained Trail System
Ballston Spa has taken a creative approach to outdoor dining this summer – every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening Front Street is closed from 4pm to 10pm so restaurants can expand their seating.
Restaurants in this immediate area include the reputable Next Door Kitchen & Bar (we recommend the Brussels sprouts appetizer), Front Street Social Club, Henry’s Irish Tavern, and Sunset Grill. Public parking has also been expanded.
Make sure to plan for a stop at The Real McCoy Beer Company, which expanded from Delmar to add a second taproom in Ballston Spa in 2019. They’re open Wednesday to Friday 5pm to 10pm, and Saturday 12pm to 8pm, and have outdoor and indoor dining.
They specialize in light and hoppy ales like Hallwood Pale Ale that has just a hint of sweetness and Waterhouse Pale Ale with a touch of citrus. Or, check out their dark and malty ales like the Saoirse Irish Stout for an earthy, floral taste.
The Bottle Museum is also open, Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 4pm. Take a deep dive into this little-known but fascinating industry that’s related to the mineral waters of Saratoga County – millions of glass bottles per year were manufactured by hand for Spa City’s famed waters.
Our other recommended must-visit spot in Ballston Spa is the 100 Acre Wood. While you may not find Winne-the-Pooh here, you will discover an impressively groomed trail system.
There are multiple access points for hikers and the easy-to-traverse trails are just about two miles long. The area is mostly flat terrain with a couple short, steep sections. There are several bridges, sets of stairs, and benches throughout the hike.
(Please note there are no bikes allowed in the 100 Acre Wood, and because it is so well maintained visitors are asked to be extra diligent in carrying in and carrying out/leaving the park the way they found it.)
4) Schuylerville: For the Park That Has It All & To-Die-For Margaritas
You will not want to miss out on the Hudson Crossing Park in Schuylerville – this comprehensive park has: over two miles of hiking trails, including a Riverwalk Sensory Trail along the Hudson River, which is designed for individuals who have mobility issues or are visually impaired; solid birdwatching opportunities with over 150 species having been spotted; the historic Champlain Canal Lock 5, the walkable Dix Bridge that joins Saratoga and Washington Counties; a swing set, slides, bug hotel, and entire play garden area for kids; and more!
Find more summer fun on a farm at Winney’s Blueberry Farm, where blueberries are in season and are typically available for u-pick through the end of August. Expand your u-pick thinking beyond apples and check out this family-owned farm between 8am to 6pm daily. Note: they only accept cash or personal checks.
When it comes to food Schuylerville is known for having one of the best Mexican restaurants around, Amigos Cantina. Every bite of their authentic Mexican fare is delicious from the chips to the tacos to the chimichangas, and this summer they’re offering outdoor dining. There are no reservations, but they have plenty of seating for you on good-weather days, and limited seating under a tent in the event of inclement weather.
While they boast fantastic food they are also highly renowned for their margaritas. If your favorite summertime drink comes in the form of tequila mixed with fruity flavors this is the restaurant for you! Amigos Cantina serves up a fabulous house margarita with gold tequila, triple sec, and sour mix. They offer a $2 add-on option for fruity flavors – add raspberry, strawberry, peach, pomegranate, melon, mango, pineapple-coconut, or blue curaco, or choose from one of their other mouthwatering margarita options. Amigos Cantina is open from 4pm to 9pm Tuesday to Friday, 12pm to 10pm Saturday, and 12pm to 8pm Sunday.
5) Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park: For 7 Trail Systems in 1
Did you know? Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park in Wilton comprises seven separate trail systems: Camp Saratoga, Edie Road Trails, Fox Parcel, Kalabus-Perry Preserve, Neilmann Parcel, Old Gick Farm, and Opdahl Farm. The entire preserve is spread out over 2,400 acres of protected land, so there are plenty of opportunities this summer to try different trails and see what each section has to offer.
The Neilmann Parcel, for instance, has a trail that borders on Miller Swamp, the largest wetland in the Town of Wilton. The Kalabus-Perry Trails consist of two circular trails that meet in a figure eight formation; one loop is in the Town of Wilton and the other is in Northumberland.
Camp Saratoga is perhaps the best-known part of the preserve. The property encompasses woodlands, wetlands, open areas, streams, and Delegan Pond, where you can take a break from your hike to enjoy the scenery and perhaps observe a great blue heron or belted kingfisher.
Explore an area of Saratoga you haven’t before and make those summer plans before the season slips by!
This article is sponsored by Saratoga County Tourism. Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or view of Saratoga County Tourism or its members.