I don’t think there’s a way to adequately express how much I love Saratoga. I’ve gone every single year of my life (except when I was working on a Thoroughbred farm in Australia in August and a weekend jaunt to upstate New York was … unfeasible) and there’s a reason for that: the place is magical. Whether you’re a die-hard horse racing fan or new to the game, there’s something for you to fall in love with at Saratoga.
The first question is: how do you get there? Well, if you live in or around New York City, I suggest hopping on the Amtrak for a scenic trip. It’s absolutely beautiful, as Saratoga is nestled in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains and you get to pass some seriously breathtaking views on the trip there. Otherwise, the Albany airport is just about a half-hour trip away from Saratoga, making it a really easy way to get to Spa City.
OK! So you’ve arrived at the happiest place on earth: Saratoga! (Sorry, Disney, but you have nothing on Spa City.) Why is Saratoga called Spa City, you may wonder? Well, it’s because old-timey people went there to restore their health via the town’s many mineral springs. You can still sample the healing waters at the track at the Big Red Spring:
Or, actually, take a friend there, tell them how delicious the water is, and then laugh at them when they spit it out. It’s pretty gross, to be honest, but it is good for you! However, if you’re thirsty I recommend drinking a yummy bottle of Saratoga water instead- it’s available pretty much anywhere in town and is really delicious and refreshing. Plus I really dig the groovy bottle.
Image via delucasmarket.com
Once you’re in town, it’s time to head to the track! There really is so much to do there: you can hang out in the back yard with your own picnic (and you can bring your own food and alcohol, too! Click here for the rules of what you can bring.
There are even ample shopping opportunities on-track, including hats, art, souvenirs and more.
A great thing about being in the back yard, too, is that you can see the horses in the paddock as they get ready to head to the track. The Saratoga paddock is legendary for its beauty, and it’s the perfect spot to pick your winner in the next race.
You can also do some celebrity spotting in the paddock; here’s celebrity chef Bobby Flay talking to Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Graham Motion and Brad Weisbord last summer. Cool, right?
I have a funny anecdote about the paddock in Saratoga. This one is incredibly embarrassing, so enjoy: I was in the paddock a couple of years ago, and this really, really familiar-looking woman was standing a few feet away from me. She had on a great dress and hat, and I just knew I knew her from somewhere but couldn’t remember where. Because I am the world’s most awkward human, I decided that the best way to hide my confusion would be to go up and say hi so that she would never know that I couldn’t remember her name.
So I toddled on up to her, complimented her outfit, asked how her summer was going and started chitchatting away. She was giving me the total side-eye the entire time, and I started to feel even more awkward; so I asked if she wanted to meet my friends and me out for a drink after the races since I was now convinced she knew that I’ve forgotten her name and therefore I wanted to buy her alcohol to make up for my transgression. This is my version of logic.
Anyway: she politely declined, told me to have a great day and walked off. Then another friend of mine came up to me and asked me what on Earth I was talking to Ashley Judd about for so long.
Well, I did say I knew her from somewhere. The somewhere just happened to be from the movies. I was horrified. Horrified. She must have thought I was some kind of terrible stalker. But it was still pretty cool that I got to talk to Ashley Judd at Saratoga!
Now that I’ve adequately humiliated myself, I’ll leave you with a link. If you want a complete guide to all things Saratoga, check out this blog I wrote. It has tips on everything from where to sit at the track to where to stay in town, where to party and what sights to see in the area. Enjoy, and I hope to see you in Spa City this summer!