Upstate New York is the antithesis to the bustling hubbub that is New York City—where the city is action-packed, upstate is relaxed; where the city is steel skyscrapers and closely packed buildings, upstate is forested mountains and untouched vistas dotted with small, charming towns; and where NYC is all noise and excitement; upstate is all quiet nature and scenic splendor.

While both definitely offer their own brand of distinctive fun, there’s no doubt that ‘upstate’—whether it’s the Catskills, the Hudson Valley, the Buffalo/Niagra area, or practically any area that’s not NYC—is definitely the place to be for visitors who enjoy vacations that are quiet, low-key, naturally beautiful, and a bit off the beaten track.

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And Saratoga Springs is just one such place. Nestled among the beautiful Adirondack Mountains, Saratoga Springs is a quiet city in New York State—and like many other cities and towns in the area, is a popular resort vacation destination. Now mostly known for its famous racing venue, the Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga was named for its mineral springs that have brought visitors to the area for over 200 years. And due to this rich past, Saratoga Springs has become the perfect blend of upstate bliss: natural wonders, epic history, eclectic culture, and small-town charm that make it one of the best spots to check out when venturing upstate.

A Historic Heritage

Saratoga Springs has a place in the American history books, and an illustrious past dating back to the Revolutionary War—the Battle of Saratoga was famously fought nearby and is considered one of the war’s most decisive battles. The area was subsequently built up in the 19th century after the arrival of the railroad, making it a tourist destination for those looking to bask in its healing mineral springs; and the rest, as they say, is history. Saratoga was (and is still), a popular resort destination, drawing visitors who want to bask in its natural beauty and historic heritage that offers a distinctive slice of Americana.

  • Stop in at the New York State Military Museum, home to thousands of artifacts dating back from the Revolutionary War to today, with a focus on New York State’s military forces and their contributions
  • For such a small city Saratoga’s museums have something for everyone—from the National Museum of Dance & Hall of Fame, to the Saratoga Automobile Museum; the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame to the Saratoga Harness Museum, visitors can find an eclectic mix of topics that embrace and explore the area’s history
  • One of the best places to learn about Saratoga Springs and its rich history is at the Saratoga Springs History Museum
  • Located just a short drive away in Stillwater, NY is the Saratoga National Historic Park, a monument to the namesake battle that was the ‘turning point’ of the Revolutionary War

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Saratoga Springs’ Art And Culture

The city’s performing arts spots, theaters, and art galleries make it an eclectic and exciting place to visit—the perfect combination of small-town charm and rich cultural heritage.

  • The Saratoga Performing Arts Center has been a popular destination for over 50 years. Known for its summer music and arts festivals, this beautiful spot showcases the co-existence of natural beauty and culture in the city.
  • Caffe Lena is a popular music venue and concert hall committed to “keeping live music alive,” and with a diverse roster of artists, there’s always something fun to see and do here.
  • The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery has numerous collections, interactive exhibitions, and exciting programs that promote both learning and community engagement with contemporary art.
  • Saratoga Arts is a cultural institution in the city—home to art exhibits, shows, and classes, the Arts Center also holds concerts and live performances that bring the best local art to Saratoga Springs.

Eye-Catching Buildings And Stunning Natural Beauty

If Saratoga Springs is a marriage of natural beauty and distinctive history, then these attractions are the perfect spots to visit to truly experience the best of this gem in the Adirondacks.

  • Saratoga Spa State Park is a National Historic Landmark known for both its classic, impressive architecture and its lovely grounds that offer numerous recreational opportunities. Wander down to the nearby stream for some great hiking or walking in the summer, and lace-up those skis (or skates) for some cross-country skiing or ice skating in the winter.
  • Visit the most famous spring in Saratoga—Congress Spring. Located in Congress Park, the spring was discovered in 1792 and is one of the springs that made the area famous. There are other springs nearby, too; and the flower-lined pathways and peaceful atmosphere make this a favorite spot for both locals and tourists.
  • Impressive gardens await at Yaddo Gardens, home to a curated area of beautiful, colorful flowers and gardens sprawled across an almost 400-acre estate.
  • Take a hike: there are many hiking opportunities in and around Saratoga Springs, many of which showcase the springs the area is known for. Looking for something easy? Try the Geyser Creek Trail in Saratoga Spa State Park, a scenic area stroll replete with natural beauty and historic merit.

Saratoga Springs is a small city in New York State’s Adirondack region that upon first glance, may not seem like a bastion of cultural and historical activity. However, Saratoga isn’t just about its stunning natural beauty; it also offers the perfect mix of historic and artistic attractions perfect for anyone looking to round out their tranquil, relaxing trip in this small town with a taste of the area’s rich cultural heritage—the perfect combo for a memorable upstate getaway.

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