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Plan a Fun, Budget-Friendly Visit to Saratoga Race Course

Going to the Saratoga Race Course is a must-do Saratoga activity every summer. But with lodging and dining, it can turn into an expensive outing. Use this budget-friendly guide below for a Saratoga Race Course trip on the cheap.

crowd of people at saratoga race course
Photo credit: Jeff Nudi

Stay at One of These Budget-Friendly Properties

If you’re traveling from out of town, you may need to allocate some of your trip funds toward lodging. Fortunately, staying in Saratoga doesn’t have to break the bank.

sunshine inn bedroom

Only 15 miles from the Saratoga Race Course, Sunshine Inn LLC is the perfect place to have fun at the track and explore the surrounding area. Its prime location gives you convenient access to the track, SPAC, hiking trails, and many other staples of the region. 

As one Google reviewer puts it, "Forget the fancy hotels half an hour away, all you need is a little bit of sunshine!"

Hyatt Place Saratoga/Malta, a modern hotel with all suite-style rooms, is another excellent place to stay if you’re looking for clean, comfortable, and budget-friendly accommodations. It also has a pool, a barista bar, and other food and beverage options.

One TripAdvisor reviewer, who was concerned about staying somewhere that didn't "compromise comfort and cleanliness," found this to be an "impressive hotel with top notch staff, convenience, food, and cleanliness."

Or, if you’re leaning toward finding a unique lodging experience, check out Saratoga Escape Lodges & RV Resort. Spend the day at the track and then your evening camping under the stars at this property in Greenfield Center. They have budget-friendly tent and RV sites, efficiency cabins, plus luxury glamping for when you do want to splurge.

Take a Stroll Down Broadway

couple walks down broadway
Photo credit:

It doesn’t cost a dime to stroll down Broadway in downtown Saratoga. There are plenty of opportunities to window shop for treasures, and maybe even rest a bench to people watch a bit.

northshire bookstore on the left, lyrical ballad bookstore on the right

Duck into an art gallery like Crafters Gallery or Spa Fine Art, pop into a bookstore like Northshire Bookstore or Lyrical Ballard Bookstore. Enjoy browsing, or find an inexpensive read to pick up - both stores carry Saratoga and horse racing books!

Lyrical Ballad Bookstore carries used books and is divided into multiple rooms, so you feel like an explorer as you wander through all the displays. As a Google reviewer put it, "A cool used bookstore with what feels like never-ending rooms. . .there is something for everyone here."

If you plan on shopping during your stroll, we suggest using your cash to pick up some snacks for your big day at the track. A stop at the Saratoga Candy Company will leave you with good treats for the rest of your trip. 

A Google reviewer said, "Inside this charming shop there was a little of everything, from vintage candies, gift baskets, sugary options, fudge, and all things chocolate."

yellow boutique storefront

If you have leftover money from your trip, you can always grab a gift or souvenir. One place to stop for gifts is the Yellow Boutique, which one Google reviewer called "a must-stop on Broadway."

Order Takeout and a Bottle of Wine

Save your money for the track and spend your first night in. Enjoy a delicious takeout pizza from Beer Wine Pizza or 9 Miles East. Before returning to your hotel, stop by Purdy’s Discount Wines & Liquors, Inc., for a bottle of wine or liquor for your favorite cocktail.

packaged salad on the left, pizza with mushrooms, peppers, and onions on the right

9 Miles East is often commended for using clean and fresh ingredients, resulting in delicious food. "By far one of the best places for pizza (and other food) in the city," said one Google reviewer. 

With such good food, you will not miss out on a night of good eats by staying in. There’s a fun-filled day at the track waiting! Staying in on your first night could be the best and cheapest way to prepare.

Grab an Inexpensive Breakfast to Fuel Up for the Races

People say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and when preparing to kick back at the track, they’re right! Get a flavorful omelet from Compton’s Restaurant for under $10 or chow down an egg sandwich at a price you can’t beat from Saratoga’s Broadway Deli.

Customers rave about the quick, quality service at both restaurants, making them great places to stop on your way to the track. Fill your tummy up and save your bucks for the betting.

Learn About the Race Course's Rich History

You can take a 45-minute tour of the track for $5 per person and $15 for a group of 4 or more. After your tour, stay to watch the horses as the jockeys escort them through the barn and out to the track. Walking tours are available daily during the racing season except for Travers Day and Labor Day mornings.

two men on horses at saratoga race course

Walking tours are a great opportunity to learn interesting, insider information about the track's unique features. Ever wonder why there is a canoe in the infield lake or why they ring a bell 17 minutes to post? Take the tour to find out!

Don’t Leave Your Cooler at Home, Pack a Picnic

people in the picnic area at Saratoga Race Course

With a little preparation, you can keep lunch on the low by packing a picnic. Get to the track when the gates open at 7:00 AM to stake your claim on a picnic table. Once you’ve added your colorful tablecloth, you can head back out until later.

italian sub

Coolers brought in can be 12"x 18” at maximum, a size just right for packing some sandwiches and snacks from Cardona’s Saratoga Market or Market 32, and enough drinks to keep you hydrated. Glass bottles and containers are not permitted, but cans and plastic containers are fine.

Enjoy your lunch surrounded by the buzzing excitement of everyone gearing up for the races!

Bet on Horses on a Budget

horses racing on a dirt track

Betting is tons of fun, but it can be easy to get carried away by the cheering, the racing, and the gambling high. Rather than blow through your money on the first couple of races, set a limit and stick to it.

Did you know that you can bet on several races if you plan correctly? It’s fun to have a hand in each race, and you can do so by betting small and being involved the whole day. Learn more about betting at the racetrack.

Drinks Taste Better When They Don’t Cost a Fortune

Close up of drink in stella artois glass garnished with lemon and greens with beach in the background

Sip a reasonably priced cocktail at Dock Brown's Lakeside Tavern to celebrate your wins or smooth over your losses. Browse their list of cocktails, all for $10 or less, or pick from their extensive list of bottled and canned beers.

They also have a food and drink menu that you can enjoy, along with a gorgeous view of Saratoga Lake. Wrap up your time with a toast to the races and excitement for your next return.

Stop in for drinks and experience what one customer called a "great find!" 

Did You Win or Lose? Dinner Depends on It

sunset at carson's woodside tavern patio

If today’s betting didn’t work out for you, here are a few budget-friendly dinner options to consider. Grab a sandwich or salad at The Hideaway, or drop into Carson’s Woodside Tavern, just 7 miles outside Saratoga Springs, for great patio dining.

For our horse betting winners, it’s up to you to decide whether a splurge is warranted. If so, you may consider going to The Brook Tavern for fine dining and specialty-made cocktails or to Wheatfields Restaurant to indulge in pasta, salmon, and steak.

Whether you win big or aren't as lucky, these dinner options are a great way to end a fun day. 

When You’re Heading Out…

different scones, muffins, and cinnamon rolls at a bakery

At the end of your trip, be sure to treat yourself to some pastries at Sweet Mimi's Cafe & Bakery for under $6, or pick up a scone or muffin from Bread Basket Bakery. Go cheap on the coffee by sticking to a simple order or dropping by a local Stewart's Shop.

We hope this helps you plan a fun and memorable trip to Saratoga Race Course. Most importantly, remember to enjoy the simple things during your time in Saratoga Springs.

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