Always A Good Bet

By  Melanie Carden

Saratoga Springs is a unique village in Upstate New York, just three hours north of New York City. Most notably it’s famous for being the home of America’s oldest and most popular thoroughbred racecourse, which attracts large crowds during the summer season. Local attractions include naturally carbonated mineral spas, harness racing, polo, fifteen golf courses around the county, ten historical museums, and an award-winning downtown for dining, shopping, and nightlife.

Saratoga Arms is a gilded treasure box of an inn, spilling over with antiquarian eye candy—from its ornate ceiling medallions to its vintage horse racing collections. The brick structure—a gorgeous example of Second Empire architecture—was built in 1870 and boasts a magnificent wrap-around porch. Inn seekers relish its ensuite baths and seamless use of historic preservation with modern-day flourishes.

Each nook of the 31-room inn tells a story. The front dining room’s chandelier dates to a 1923 remodeling of the space, and guests will find curated mini collections throughout, including nods to the area’s horse racing heritage. Many of the original clawfoot tubs remain, and in the original building, each shower is adorned with a hand-painted tile featuring Saratoga trivia and quotes. Between all this and the grand staircases, it’s quite unexpected that one of the most exquisite details are hinges. The entry doors and parlor windows boast Cloisonné hinges and hardware. When the door leading to the wrap-around porch opens, it unveils the most dazzling Lapis blue hinges—a reminder that the property is full of little surprises.

In addition to the local art, daily newspapers, and Beekman 1802 amenities, the Complimentary Guest Pantry infuses each stay with quiet luxury. Far from a few cookies and bagged nuts, it’s readily stocked with nearly two dozen items, including sweets, snacks, beverages, and gluten-free goodies. It’s as functional as it is whimsical.  

Gorgeous rooms with comfortable bedding, and not only the expected inn breakfast, but the warm weather allows guests to dine on the porch. The property also offers beer, wine, small plates such as Prosciutto and Melon, charcuterie-style cheese and fruit, and Heirloom Tomato and Burrata.  

Broadway’s shops and restaurants are at your feet when you leave the inn. From Forno Bistro’s Pappardelle Osso buco to Boca Bistro’s incredible Spanish tapas menu, this buzzy stretch adds flavor to the Main Street USA ambiance. And it’s easy to walk off a delightfully indulgent meal because perusing the shops could take the better part of the day. Some showstoppers include Saratoga Tea & Honey, consisting of a honey-tasting room that smells heavenly with its endless rows of fresh tea. Keeping with the gourmet theme, The Savory Pantry is another fan favorite. And you can’t go wrong diving into the fabulous rabbit hole of Northshire Bookstore.

A visit to Saratoga Springs always includes the area’s deep equestrian heritage since it’s home to Saratoga Race Course, the oldest horse racing track in the country. The roots of racing culture took hold in 1847, and in 1864, the larger modern-day track was created. Spend a day at the races or stop by for a tour, which includes a visit to the stables. Wherever you go in town, you’ll find elements of horse racing—from luxury jewelry to quaint equestrian tchotchke and antiques. 

Though sometimes overshadowed by the pomp and circumstance of horse racing, the area is named Saratoga Springs for a reason. Visitors can embark on a self-guided driving tour of the twenty natural mineral springs, which spring up from the ground, are mineral-rich, and naturally carbonated with carbon dioxide. It’s worth the time to make an appointment at Roosevelt Baths & Spa, one of the last historical bathhouses from the 1930s. Named for President Franklin Roosevelt, who played a crucial role in preserving the area’s mineral gifts, guests can experience a mineral bath in the well-preserved rooms of the spa, which also offers massages, facials, and wellness treatments.  

Those looking for something unique can book an outing with Saratoga Corinth & Hudson Railway. Book a ticket for the Moonlight Moonshine Express for a beautiful night of old-time train glamour, live music, and moonbeam-dappled memories. The experience begins in the parking lot before boarding. Folks arrive early for tailgating before being whisked off in a perfectly restored train. After a short ride, the train arrives at a beautiful house in the woods—twinkling lights, bonfires, and live music await. Fossil Stone Vineyards is on hand with moonshine, wine, and beer.  

Trade the stars for a sunny walk in the woods but add goats! Just down the road, in Grove, NY, Into the Woods Farm hosts wilderness walks with their many goats. It’s a leisurely walk, but you’ll smile so big that your cheeks tingle. You’ve likely heard of the benefits of “forest bathing,” a calming, Zen-like walk or hike. Well, this provides similar benefits, delivered through the silliness and splendor of goats trotting with excitement, munching on leaves, and bleating loudly in delight. 


It’s an exciting time at Saratoga Race Course as they prepare to host the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival. Due to ongoing construction, the famed race event, held at Elmont’s Belmont Park, will be hosted in Saratoga Springs in 2024 and 2025. The 2024 festival is set for June 4-9th, with racing beginning on the 6th, including 24 stakes races with record-setting purses of 10.25 million. The 156th Belmont Stakes—the third leg of the Triple Crown—is set for Saturday the 8th at a 1.25-mile distance, an exception to the 1.5-mile standard.

The race is legendary for its strenuous test of meddle—for both the horse and jockey. This American Grade 1 stakes race is called the Test of the Champions. The endurance-taxing 1.5-mile distance is the critical differentiator, yielding iconic performances from history’s most beloved racehorses, such as American Pharoah and Secretariat, whose 1973 record remains at 2:24-flat. The 31 lengths win also remains the most significant victory in the history of the race.  

One of the highlights of the festivities is Belmont on Broadway festival, created in conjunction with the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Network with artists, buy memorabilia and procure original works from some of the country’s top thoroughbred racing artists. Not all festival artists work on canvas or print; country music star HARDY performs at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Friday, June 7th. 

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