So we all well know that the #1 summer attraction in town is the Saratoga Race Track, with Saratoga Preforming Arts Center (SPAC) coming in a close second. And we also know that both of these spots are just about closed this summer with cancelled concerts and spectator-free racing. But what out-of-towners may not be so privy to, is that this is actually the perfect summer to explore the area.
Before getting into the reasons why I suggest you think again before canceling your weekend in Saratoga this summer, there are a few things I would like to mention. First and foremost, there is quite clearly still a global pandemic looming over us all, so please, bring your mask, sanitizer, and manners. Second, I did my best to tailor a lot of these suggestions to outdoor and socially distant activities for a safe and happy summer. And lastly, I will be outlining some of the best places in the AREA, thus not solely focusing on downtown Saratoga Springs. So yes, I know that some of these places may not be in the downtown zip code.
So here we go!
Great Dining and Drinking Experiences
From downtown, to waterfront and beyond, Saratoga has some of the best restaurants and bars. And since it is such a popular summer destination already, there are so many outside options to keep the COVID away! Here are some good ones:
- Gaffney’s: This is a restaurant and arguably the most popular bar in the area, offering generous outdoors space with live music, string lights, outdoor bar and fire pits! Located on Caroline St. in downtown Saratoga. Plus, without racetrack travelers you will wait in line a whole 20 minutes less to get in.
- Dock Brown’s Lakeside Tavern: This is a fun spot located right on Brown’s Beach on Saratoga Lake. You can drive, or dock your boat for some family fun. Dining is available indoor/outdoor. And yes, you may bring drinks in plastic cups down to the beach. I know you were wondering.
- Druther’s: Alongside Gaffney’s, Druthers is another staple to downtown Saratoga. This is a great spot for lunch or dinner, plus they brew their own beer! This spot offers both indoor and outdoor dining space, as well as live music. You can expect a wait here as it is incredibly popular to both tourists and locals, but it certainly will not disappoint.
- Longfellows: If you are looking for a great dinner (or hotel) a bit outside the hustle and bustle of downtown, this is the perfect spot. Longfellows offers a very unique and cozy indoor dining atmosphere and delicious upscale food. (My personal favorite restaurant is Longfellows’ sister, The Olde Bryan Inn, located downtown with indoor and outdoor dining. FYI.)
- Wheatfield’s: Because you cannot leave out great Italian from this list. Wheatfield’s makes noticeably awesome handmade pasta dishes, my favorite filet minion, and also has the best happy our in town (BOGO free AND app specials).
- 550 Waterfront: This spot is brand new this summer, taking the place of the old ‘Lake Local’ restaurant that was taken by fire a few years back. 550 Waterfront is easily the most anticipated summer spot (opening June 25th) by locals. Here you can expect the exact menu you would hope to find waterfront with plenty of indoor and outdoor dining space as well as lounge chairs and fire pits.
- The Saratoga City Tavern: This establishment offers multiple levels of themed bars, the most popular being it’s rooftop. It will be a great place to enjoy without the racetrack crowds.
- The Night Owl: Last but not least on the list is another bar with plenty of neat outdoors space. This is also a newer bar this year, right to the left of the tail end of the Caroline St. bars. Definitely worth a visit!
Plenty of Outdoor Fun
Within Saratoga and the surrounding area, you can find some really great spots for outdoor fun. Everything I am going to mention below should be within a 20 minute drive.
- Moreau Lake State Park: This is a small lake a short drive north of Saratoga. Here you can find camping, hikes, kayaking, bbq spots, and a beautiful each. I love to bring my dog here for hikes with her long swimming rope, as the distance around the lake is not too challenging but definitely a good exercise. The beach is kept very clean, and there are very minimal motorized boats.
- Saratoga Spa State Park: Its not called Saratoga Springs for nothing! Check out Saratoga Spa State Park to explore some of the natural springs the town is known for. Plus, yes there is an actual spa here! Book a fabulous massage and mineral bath if you’d like. In addition, you can find many trails, picnic spots, two public swimming pools, a Farmer’s Market, golf course, and more!
- Kayak Shak: This is a super cute spot on Saratoga Lake where you can rent single/double kayaks, and paddle boards for 3 or 6 hour periods.
- Malta Drive-In Theatre: Check out the drive-in movies Friday-Sunday for socially distant family fun! There are food and beverage options onsite, but you can also buy a $5 food and beverage permit to bring your own.
- Lake George: Of course Lake George is its own town, but only a 25 minute drive from Saratoga it is certainly worth mentioning!
If you are a shopper, you will find some really cool spots here!
- Broadway-Downtown Saratoga: One of my favorite pass times is walking up and down Broadway and stopping in all of the little shops and boutiques. Two of my favorites are Lola Saratoga and Lifestyles.
- Factory Outlets of Lake George: This outdoor outlet mall is a great place to score some great deals at Michael Kors, Yankee Candle, GAP, and more! Plus it is only 25 minutes from Saratoga Springs for a fun day of shopping AND fresh air.
- Ballston Spa: Ballston Spa is a great spot for antique shopping, and Milton Ave is the best place to start. You will find a number of cool store fronts for antique treasures. Milton Ave is also home to my favorite furniture consignment shop- Rebuilding Together Saratoga. Milton Ave in Ballston Spa is about a 15 minute drive from Saratoga Springs.
Even though we will be missing the races, the concerts, and the gatherings; Saratoga Springs still has a great summer full of awesome new experiences. Take this opportunity to skip the commotion and craziness that typically is summer in Saratoga and come for a visit!