Today, Saratoga Springs is known as one of the best places to live in New York State. With its charming streets and small to midsized population of between 25 and 30,000 residents, Saratoga is dressed to impress in any season, with a charming atmosphere to boot. Did you know, however, that the area has a rich history? Like most locales on the East Coast of the US, Saratoga has a long history of various occupancies, and it’s also been a tourist destination longer than you might think! Today, we’re going to take a look at the history of the Saratoga area, and go through some locations you don’t want to miss when passing through or planning a visit.
The Saratoga area was, like much of the coast, inhabited by Native Americans before Dutch and English settlers moved in. These settlers would form the first ‘Fort Saratoga’ in 1690 along the banks of the Hudson River. At the time, the area was simply known as ‘Saratoga’ to other surrounding settlements. Fast-forward to 1767, when the injured British soldier William Johnson was taken by Native Americans to nearby waters thought to have healing powers, and we start bringing the “Springs” part of the name into the equation. The original spring where Johnson was “healed” is known as High Rock Spring, and can still be visited today!
Just over a decade later, during the revolutionary war, the historical turning point “Battle of Saratoga” took place 15 miles to the south of the actual Saratoga Springs. The town today is known as Stillwater, and families dropping by can explore a museum dedicated to the battle. From 1819 onward, the western portion of Saratoga became known as Saratoga Springs, and began to attract tourists as a resort vacation. Hotels were constructed to accommodate visitors to the springs and their families. Saratoga Springs was, in particular, home to the Grand Union Hotel, which was the largest hotel in the world at the time of its construction. Shortly after, the Saratoga Race Course opened, and horse betting brought another wave of income to the area.
In the 20th century, the area developed further as a visitor hotspot, and began to focus on the arts, installing a Performing Arts Center where New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra performances can be caught in the summer.
For those passing through in the modern day, be sure to check out the town’s two popular race tracks with associated bars, restaurants, and even a video gaming facility called the Racino. For leisure of a different kind altogether, you may want to book a tee time with one of the area’s several gold courses, including the Saratoga Spa Golf facility.
For those looking to get out into the weather, there are – of course! – numerous springs for you to visit, including several geysers that, depending on the weather, will offer up a welcomed or chilling spray. Finally, for arts, entertainment, and history, don’t forget about the town’s historical museums, including art galleries, racing museums, and exhibits designed specifically for children. If you have experienced most of what Sarasota Springs has to offer you should consider a trip to the historical landmarks at Lake Placid.