Exploring New York state’s quieter side
In upstate New York, locals are used to the city that never sleeps stealing all the limelight. Yet just a few hours north from the Big Apple waits a picturesque prize for travellers tired of neck-craning skylines. Come springtime, Saratoga and its surrounding lakes and forests offer an altogether more peaceful take on the American adventure. And there’s not a skyscraper in sight.
Spring’s when… the town is at rest
Home to one of the oldest horse racing tracks in America, the pomp and ceremony of the summer thoroughbred season draws people to Saratoga in their thousands. But if you’re visiting earlier in the year, you’ll (almost) have the place to yourself.
There’s few better jumping-off points for your Saratoga sojourn than luxury hotel The Adelphi. This contemporary retreat in an atmospheric Victorian setting puts the town’s bustling Broadway on your doorstep. Lined with boutique shops, artisan eateries and the scenic Congress Park, a more quaint and homely American main street you’ll be lucky to find.
Spring is also the ideal time to sample Saratoga’s famed mineral springs – 21 of which can be discovered across the town. It’s said the naturally carbonated water of each has its own unique taste. Not to mention a range of claimed healing properties from soothing skin to improving digestion.
In 2012, Saratoga’s Broadway was named one of the top ten best streets in America. With its grand Victorian architecture, beautiful landscaping and busy calendar of public events and festivals, it’s easy to see why.
Spring’s when… local food is at its freshest
New York may be 200 miles away, but thanks to some of the city’s top chefs migrating upstate in recent years, world-class cuisine is a lot closer than you think. And with the winter snows long gone – plus temperatures sitting pleasantly in the late-teens – Saratoga’s thriving food scene comes alive in spring. Outdoor festivals pepper the town calendar, new tastes appear on menus, and with the region’s waters warming from March onwards, clams are in plentiful supply. Follow the locals to Thirsty Owl Bistro. The word on the street is it’s where you’ll find Saratoga’s best example of a New England favourite – chowder.
For a taste of the region’s rich agriculture, head to the famous Saratoga farmer’s market. Multicoloured stalls overflowing with local fruits, vegetables, meats and baked goods offer a treat for the eyes as well as the palate. Visiting early in the year, you’ll find the market indoors at the Lincoln Baths Building in Saratoga Spa State Park every Saturday morning. Or from May, head to the pavilions in High Rock Park on Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons.
Spring’s when… the landscape is at its best
The geography of New York state is as varied as it is verdant. Saratoga itself sits in a lowland area between the rolling Catskill and rugged Adirondack Mountains, offering horizon views of impressive peaks. Just south of the town lies Saratoga Lake – a hotspot for locals and tourists escaping the heat during summer, but a relaxing idyll come spring and autumn. If you’re keen to head out on the water, you won’t be short of ways to do it – with kayaks, boats, paddle boards and more available to hire. Just bear in mind the water can be a little on the chilly side this time of year. Fire up the beach BBQ at Waterfront Park if you’d rather enjoy the surroundings from dry land.
For a truly unforgettable experience, there really is no beating the view from 2,000 feet. Located half an hour north of Saratoga, Adirondack Hot Air Balloons offer sunrise and sunset flights from April onwards. So climb aboard and float away to enjoy sweeping vistas with a glass of champagne in hand. What better way to toast this beautiful, lesser-travelled US region?