Saratoga Springs, New York – Stop and Stroll Awhile

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The race track lured you to this serene Adirondack town of 26,186 located four hours north of New York City. You’ve gambled away most of your money and you’re thinking: now what? Before you pack up and head for home, park the car somewhere and set out on foot. A leisurely stroll is the best way to discover the multitude of charms this “city in the country” has to offer. And who knows? You might even end up staying for good.

Begin your pedestrian adventure on North Broadway, also sometimes referred to as “The Avenue of the Mansions.” These extravagant homes, with their lush, butterfly-filled gardens, rippling fountains, and bronzed horse sculptures, are sure to transform you into a certified gawker. Several of these mansions belong to those who have acquired their fortunes in the horse industry, and at least one is grandiose enough to have its own guard residence on the premises. A guard residence that many of us would be proud to call “home”, seeing as it is a replica, in miniature, of the mansion itself!

The wide, smooth side-walks of North Broadway will lead you directly to South Broadway, otherwise known as the main strip. Has your amble down the “The Avenue of the Mansions” inspired you to dig a little deeper in your pockets for whatever money remains after a few days at the track? On South Broadway, take your pick of restaurants, coffee houses, cafes, and shops that will gladly embrace your dollars. Treat yourself to a new outfit at Ann Taylor, The Gap, or Eddie Bauer. Indulge in an Irish Claddagh ring from Celtic Treasures. Once your wardrobe has been revitalized, what about your book-shelf? Haven’t you been meaning to read War and Peace for years now? Stop into Border’s and make the purchase. Allow yourself to be tantalized and lured by the sweet Italian singing piped out onto the street by Eugenio’s Café Gelato. Settle in for 15 minutes with your new tome and a small, green plastic cup of lemonade gelato. Refreshed, wander up and down the side streets, peering in at popular haunts like Gaffney’s Restaurant and Hattie’s, where you might just see Chef Jasper (winner of the fried chicken Throwdown against Bobby Flay) preparing seafood gumbo in his kitchen. Now you’re getting hungry.

From South Broadway, take a detour down Phila Street. In your single-minded quest for sustenance, try not to be too distracted by the colorful assortment of rayon fashion displayed outside “The Magic Moon”, a self-described “unique metaphysical boutique.” Your destination is Ravenous, a small, cozy café serving both savory and dessert crepes, not to mention the most succulent pommes frites (served with your choice of dipping sauces) outside of Paris.

Blissed out on a ham and gruyere crepe followed by a dessert crepe stuffed with fresh fruit, nutella, and home-made whipped cream, direct your foot-steps towards Congress Park. Once there, stop to admire the historic wooden carousel, restored to its original splendor. Or, if by now you’re feeling really adventurous, take a spin yourself! Meander around the curious “Spit” and “Spat” sculptures, engaged in an ongoing “who can spit the farthest?” competition. Stop to appreciate Congress Spring and Deer Park Spring, two of the springs that give Saratoga Springs its name and fame. If you indulged a bit too recklessly in gelato and crepes, it might be a good idea to sample a little of the spring water, since it is reputed to be good for digestive health.

After exploring the entirety of Congress Park, absorbing the beauty of the round, red globes called crabapples shimmering on the trees, the glorious architecture of the Canfield Casino, and the rainbow trout pools, take time to relax on a bench beside the water. You deserve it after a long day of strolling. When the baby ducks emerge from the water and surround your feet, you may begin to wonder if it’s time to go home, or if, in fact, you’ve found a new home altogether in Saratoga Springs, New York.

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write by Christabel