35 miles N of Albany; 190 miles N of New York City; 290 miles E of Buffalo; 200 miles NW of Boston
Saratoga residents proudly call their town a city in the country, one that offers the sophistication and culture of a major metropolis, but the greenery and unhurried pace of a rural area. A historic and stately town that saw its fortunes rise with the explosion of casino and thoroughbred-racing tourism in the late 19th century, Saratoga has confidently bounced back from its postwar, 20th-century malaise (when corruption and scandals led to a gambling prohibition, the closing of the race course, and widespread urban decline). Today, Saratoga is again proudly strutting its stuff as a resort hot spot in upstate New York. In warm months, Saratoga hits high stride with the advent of 6 weeks of horse racing at one of the world's prettiest tracks, public parks in full bloom, and an enviable offering of culture, with both the New York City Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra in summer residence. Horse-mad, cigar-smoking track bettors mingle with urban sophisticates in designer outfits at outdoor cocktail parties, while families hit the trails in Saratoga State Spa Park and soak up classical music concerts and outdoor picnics.
Saratoga today is indistinguishable from horse racing and its attendant galas, but its historic importance is well established. Nearby is the site of the most famous battle of the Revolutionary War, the 1777 Battle of Saratoga, which marked the turning point in favor of General Washington's American forces. At the end of the 1800s, Saratoga was touted for the healing properties of its naturally carbonated mineral springs; at its apex, the small town counted two of the largest hotels in the world, each with more than 1,000 rooms. Saratoga lost many of its famous hotels to postwar razing, but this graceful small town retains an outstanding collection of predominantly Victorian architecture. Saratoga Springs remained very popular with the horse set and culture vultures, but over the past decade or so has welcomed droves of new visitors who discover that this delightful town's elegant, time-honored traditions live on.