Skip to main content

Where the Locals Go: Insider Tips of Saratoga County

Nobody knows their county and the surrounding area better than the locals do! If you truly want to immerse yourself in the Saratoga scene, it's essential to venture beyond the racetrack and discover these local gems. Uncover these lesser-known hotspots to ensure you make the most out of your Saratoga experience!

Dine Where the Locals Eat

Saratoga Springs is known for its incredible food scene, with many fine dining restaurants, patio dining options, and much more. But if you're a local, you know that these gems located throughout Saratoga County are the place to be:

Mr. Bill's Carhop

people at tables outside of mr. bill's car hop

Located in nearby South Glens Falls, Mr. Bill's Carhop takes diners back to a bygone era where you receive car-side service for burgers, hot dogs, milkshakes, and ice cream. Patrons can also dine outside at the many picnic tables available. Locals flock to this casual eatery whenever the weather gets nice for quality fast food in a nostalgic atmosphere.

The Country Drive-In

people in line at ice cream shop

The Country Drive-In, located in Clifton Park, shares a similar ambiance with Mr. Bill's Carhop. Every year, when they open for the ice cream season in spring, locals eagerly queue up at this beloved burger and ice cream destination. The Country Drive In has proudly served the Saratoga area since 1969, becoming a cherished summer tradition for generations of families.

Hattie's Restaurant

bucket of chicken and pbr beers

Are you in search of a spot in Saratoga Springs where you can savor award-winning fried chicken and authentic Louisiana-style Southern comfort dishes? Look no further than Hattie's Restaurant! A Saratoga institution since the late 1930s, customers relish Hattie's hearty meals and their French Quarter lounge, which adds to the Southern hospitality ambiance. In addition, Hattie's also has a courtyard that is perfect for indulging in appetizers and cocktails.

Peddlers Bar & Bistro

people dining on a restaurant patio

Peddlers Bar & Bistro in Clifton Park truly offers it all: a welcoming ambiance, delectable cuisine, an array of craft beers and cocktails, and typically, a lineup of live music and other events, including karaoke. It's undeniably a fantastic destination for dining and drinks, which is precisely why it remains a favored choice among locals.

Pennell's Restaurant

Fried chicken, hamburgers, and hot dogs are always great when you're looking for something quick and delicious, but where do locals go for more of a fine restaurant ambiance? To Pennell's Restaurant, located right in Saratoga Springs!

Here, you can enjoy high quality Italian food at a restaurant that has been around for more than 100 years. With classic dishes like chicken and eggplant parmigiana, this spot is a no brainer when your looking for a delicious meal.

Shirley's Restaurant

We can't provide a list of restaurants locals frequent without including at least one diner! Shirley's Restaurant has been a favorite of Saratoga Springs residents since the early 1960s. While they are a fantastic diner to grab a hearty meal (particularly breakfast, with their tasty pancakes), what they're really known for is their Montreal smoked meat and poutine.

Discover the Best Local Ice Cream Spots

When the weather gets hot in Saratoga, residents and visitors alike head to ice cream shops. The locals in particular tend to favor these two amazing spots:

DeVoe's Rainbow Orchards

orange ice cream

DeVoe's Rainbow Orchards is more than just an apple orchard and country store, with u-pick apples, fresh produce, and delicious baked goods. They also have incredible ice cream at their ice cream stand, Rainbow Delights, typically open from mid-April through mid-October.

You'll find soft ice cream, hard ice cream, sundaes, banana splits, shakes, and more. This delightful must-stop spot is in Clifton Park.

Humpty Dumpty Ice Cream

Humpty Dumpty Ice Cream is right in Saratoga Springs, and they have an ever-rotating lineup of delicious ice cream every summer! Special flavors change every Friday, a different Dole Whip flavor is featured each week, and they also have the "Only 8" brand of French Vanilla frozen yogurt that is fat free with no added sugar. Humpty Dumpty is the perfect place to enjoy your summer treat without the guilt!

Rock Out to Live Music

Saratoga Springs is famous for being home to SPAC, their major performing arts venue. However, the locals tend to seek out smaller venues for live music in between the big shows. These are some of their favorite places: 

Putnam Place

concert happening on stage

Located right in the heart of downtown Saratoga Springs, Putnam Place offers a full live music experience with a raised stage, amazing sound and light systems, and a huge LED video wall. This venue has hosted big names like Blues Traveler, Rusted Root, Paranoid Social Club, and many more. They also have a full-service bar and an outdoor patio to enjoy.

Caffe Lena

performers at caffe lena

Caffe Lena is a true Saratoga Springs gem - they're the longest continuously operating folk music venue in the United States. The folk club opened in 1960 and has hosted big names like Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, and Don McLean. What's special about this music venue is that guests are just a few feet away from the performers, so you know you're in for a truly amazing show!

Where Locals Go for Entertainment & Weekend Fun

What unique and special activities do the Saratoga locals do for fun? They enjoy a game of mini golf or foot golf, attend drive-in movies, explore flea markets, and make the most of the local parks.

Players Park Family Fun Plex

people at a mini golf course

Have you ever heard of foot golf? It's a fast growing sport, and locals know where to find it: at Players Park Family Fun Plex in Ballston Lake. Foot golf is essentially a combination of soccer and golf, which provides a unique and fun experience.

For those looking for a more traditional game, Players Park also offers the longest miniature golf course in the Capital Region, as well as an ice cream stand with 28 different flavors.

The Malta Drive-In & Flea Market

people at an outdoor flea market

The Malta Drive-In has been the place to go for that an old fashioned movie-going experience since they opened in 1949. The theater is typically open from the last weekend in April through October, and they have a concession stand so you can order some refreshments to enjoy along with the film.

In addition to the drive-in movies, you can also check out the seasonal Malta Flea Market. With up to 100 vendors on 20 acres, this is the perfect place to get your shopping in.

Be sure to check the dates and the weather before stopping in, but if you can, the short drive from Saratoga Springs to Malta is well worth the trip!

Moreau Lake State Park

Moreau lake, with canoes

Although there are a number of preserves and places to hike in and around Saratoga County, if you're looking for a beach experience, you'll want to head to the local favorite: Moreau Lake State Park. This state park is located just 10 miles north of Saratoga Springs in Gansevoort, and you'll find a beach, hiking trails, boat launches, and more.

Savor Your Time in Saratoga

Saratoga County and the surrounding area offer a wealth of dining options, live music venues, and weekend entertainment choices, which can be overwhelming when deciding where to go.

With this insider's guide to the favorite local spots, you can now refine your Saratoga bucket list, ensuring that you experience the very best that this exceptional region has to offer.

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.

Explore more events in the Saratoga area »

« Back to Things to Do in Saratoga