Taking the waters

Lincoln Baths. Photo credit: Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau/Tom Stock Studios

Saratoga Springs got its name from  its famous mineral waters. The Iroquois Indians were first attracted to the Saratoga area because of the great hunting. The high salt content in the water attracted animals to the area. When the Iroquois discovered the springs, they soon realized that the water had healing powers.

The spring in Congress Park was discovered in 1792 by Nicholas Gilman, who served in the first U.S. Congress.

In 1823, New Yorker John Clarke bought the spring and bottled the water to sell around the world. (And you thought bottled water was a 1990s thing!) He also turned the swampland into the landscaped gardens visitors enjoy today.  

By the mid-1800s, bathing in the mineral waters had become a popular health treatment, with several bathhouses in operation. In the 19th century, well-heeled folks like Daniel Webster, Martin Van Buren, Washington Irving, Andrew Jackson, Franklin Pierce, the Vanderbilts, Whitneys, Rockefellers, J.P Morgan, “Diamond Jim” Brady and Lillian Russell came for the restorative powers of the naturally carbonated waters. During this time, Saratoga was known as “Queen of Spas.”

So where does the water come from? The mineral waters all originate in a layer of limestone that lies beneath the shale. The original springs appeared at the surface through faults or cracks in the shale. Faults in the shale provide a release for the gaseous waters and pressures, pushing the waters to the surface through these cracks.

To enjoy the benefits of the mineral water today, visit one of the several spas in Saratoga for a relaxing bath and massage. No extra charge for the history lesson!


 Saratoga Springs, New York  

Batcheller Mansion Inn, Saratoga Springs, NY

Getting Around
Saratoga Springs is  about a 3½  hour drive from New York, Boston and Montreal. It’s a half-hour drive north of Albany and about the same distance south of Lake George and the Adirondack Mountains.  No car?  Enjoy the train ride from New York City on Amtrak. Peak season in-town parking can be tricky, so take advantage of the free visitor trolley. In town, paved paths provide safe travel for bicyclers and walkers. Almost every attraction in town is accessible by foot or public transportation. The Saratoga Horse and Carriage Company will take you clip-clopping through the town. Boat and car rentals are available for sightseeing on your own, and taxis are also an option.

When to Go
Summer is peak season in Saratoga, with an active music and dance schedule, plus the famous six-week racing season, extending from late July to early September. Rates during racing season are at least double the regular rates, with three- to four-night minimum stay requirements as well. Special Skidmore College events tend to fill up most B&Bs, so check for details. Don’t hesitate to visit during other seasons to enjoy glorious fall foliage, winter snow and spring flowers, plus affordable luxury at some great B&Bs.

Sights & Activities
Outdoor activities:
 The Saratoga Spa State Park is home to the nationally-known Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the only geyser east of the Mississippi, two golf courses, running and walking trails, ice skating, cross-country skiing and more. Saratoga Polo is one of the four oldest clubs in the nation. Polo season traditionally runs from mid-June to mid-September with matches scheduled five days per week.
Food and shopping: Don't miss the famous springs and mineral baths at Lincoln Mineral Baths in Saratoga State Park, and soak in the warm, naturally carbonated water. The historic downtown shopping center has many boutiques and quaint shops, with only a couple of chain stores, so you're sure to find a piece of Saratoga to take home with you. Be sure to ask you innkeeper for advice on the best chef-owned restaurants.
Museums: The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and the Saratoga Harness Hall of Fame celebrate Saratoga's equine history. The National Museum of Dance is devoted exclusively to professional American dance, the only facility of its type in the country. The Saratoga Performing Arts Center is the summer home of the New York City Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra. For the kids, the Children's Museum offers interactive exhibits and colorful surroundings.

For more Saratoga Springs information, visit Saratoga.com or the Saratoga County Chamber.

For a related BedandBreakfast.com Report on the southern Adirondacks, click here.

B&Bs and Inns

The Saratoga Room at Fox 'n Hound Bed & Breakfast, Saratoga Springs, NY

Many wonderful B&B are located close to the racetrack, historic downtown and Skidmore College. For a complete list of Saratoga-area B&Bs, click here. Below are a few we visited:

Mansions don’t come any more elegant than the Batcheller Mansion Inn, a Victorian confection built in 1873 and painstakingly renovated in 1994. Centrally located, it offers lush common areas and guest rooms, a helpful staff and memorable architecture.

Innkeepers Dieter and Michele Funiciello needed three years of painstaking renovation to return the Circular Manor B&B to its original Queen Anne beauty. Set on a quiet residential street, it’s just a short walk to all downtown attractions. Guest rooms balance period charm with modern comforts for an ideal getaway.

The Fox ‘n Hound offers the ideal blend of Victorian charm and European hospitality. Innkeeper Marlena Sacca, former chef instructor of the Culinary Institute of America, treats her guests to exceptional breakfasts and comfortable, well-decorated rooms, ideal for business or leisure travelers (complete with in-room Wi-Fi).

"Our guests tell us the
Geyser Lodge is their favorite home-away-from home,” explain innkeepers Sandy Macica and Norm Bovee. Their 1896 restored Victorian home is just a mile from Saratoga attractions; winter guests can snooze by the fire, while warm weather visitors will enjoy the gardens and swimming pool.

In the heart of downtown Saratoga is the Saratoga Arms, a fully restored 1870 Second Empire brick hotel, combining historic ambiance and elegant décor with the attentive hands-on management of innkeeper Kathleen Smith.

Longtime innkeepers Stephen Ramirez and Kate Benton of the Six Sisters B&B know just about everything there is to know about Saratoga Springs.  It’s across the street from the Saratoga Thoroughbred Race Course, so during the season, you can enjoy a pre-breakfast viewing of the horses’ workout.

The recently restored Union Gables is a beautiful Queen Anne Victorian home built in 1901 with a central downtown location, and is one of Saratoga’s few pet-friendly B&Bs.

Impeccable attention to detail is a hallmark of the Westchester House, a Queen Anne Victorian home set in a quiet but convenient residential neighborhood.


More Saratoga Springs B&Bs…

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