Before the Civil War, Ballston Spa outranked Saratoga as a fashionable resort and watering hole. After the war, however, the racetrack and casinos drew the crowds away, and Ballston Spa turned to knitting mills and tanneries.
Today little evidence of any of these industries remains except at the Brookside Saratoga County History Center (6 Charlton St., at Front St., 518/885-4000, www.brooksidemuseum.org, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tues.–Sat., adults $2, seniors and children 5–18 $1.50). Housed in what was once a resort hotel, the Brookside showcases exhibits on the town’s 19th-century spas, 20th-century amusement parks, early African American settlers, and dairy farming.
Also in Ballston Spa is the eclectic National Bottle Museum (76 Milton Ave./Rte. 50, 518/885-7589, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. daily June–Sept., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Fri. Oct.–May, admission by donation). On display are hundreds of antique and handmade bottles, most without signage; a video on antique bottles is featured. June brings the annual 160-table Bottle Show, an impressive spectacle.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition