Saratoga Spa State Park
More European than American in feel, Saratoga Spa State Park (off S. Broadway/Rte. 9 just south of downtown, 518/584-2000, www.saratogaspastatepark.org, 8:30 a.m.–4:30p.m. Mon.–Fri., 8:30 a.m.–5:30p.m. Sat.–Sun., May–mid-Sept., 8:30 a.m.–4:30p.m. weekends and holidays only, late Sept.–October, parking $6) spreads out over 2,200 pristine acres, every one of which is meticulously planned.
At one end is the Avenue of the Pines, flanked with towering green-black trees. At the other, Loop Road leads past a half-dozen mineral springs, all of which have a different taste, depending on their mineral content.
In between are tennis courts, swimming pools, mineral baths, two golf courses, the Spa Little Theater, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and the Gideon Putnam Hotel, a grand Georgian affair built in the 1930s and an interesting spot to stop for a cup of tea.
Though no longer the drawing card they once were, the heart of the park remains its mineral baths. Near the Gideon Putnam are the Roosevelt Baths (518/226-4790, www.gideonputnam.com, 9 a.m.–7 p.m. daily, treatments $18–110). Newly renovated, the place includes a fitness center and private rooms and tubs, where clients relax in bubbling golden-brown waters, indulge in algae body wraps, and succumb to muscle-relief treatments.
Near the park’s center lies the regal Victoria Pool (10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily late June–early Sept., adults $6, children $3), embellished with colored tiles, romantic archways, and a small café. Even on the hottest days, the pool remains delightfully empty, partly because the park also boasts a second, larger pool—the Peerless Pool (10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily late June–early Sept., adults $3, children 5–12 $1.50), adjoined with diving and wading pools.
Nearby, Catherine’s in the Park (518/583-4657) is a good poolside lunch spot.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition