The Saratoga Spa State Park, just minutes from downtown Saratoga Springs, is part of the New York State Parks system. The park is home to some of Saratoga’s most popular attractions, including the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), the National Museum of Dance, the Spa State Golf Course, the Roosevelt Baths, the Victoria Pool, and more.
In addition to all the key attractions in the park it is also a great spot to enjoy the outdoors. You’ll never know that you are less than a mile from the hustle and bustle of downtown or just minutes from the highway.
During the warmer months it is a popular location for running, hiking, biking and even horseback riding. In the winter the park is a great spot for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. The park is also the perfect spot to walk your four-legged friend.
A Bit of History
Mohawk and Iroquois Native American tribes utilized the many mineral springs in the park for medicinal purposes for centuries before the arrival of European settlers to the region. In the 19th century, the park began drawing entrepreneurs who dug wells and bottled the water, and in the 1930s, bath houses, research facilities and a drink hall.
In 1962, the park was officially designated Saratoga Spa State Park. Now, it’s home to many of Saratoga’s top attractions, including Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Spa State Golf Course, Victoria Pool, many of the natural springs, National Museum of Dance
Amenities in the Park
Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC)
A large amphitheater on the grounds of the state park presenting performers during the summer of classical music, jazz, pop and rock, comedy, dance, opera. The New York City Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra both take up residence at SPAC for a series of performances every summer.
Spa Little Theater
A not-for-profit community theater seating 496 people, created to present a diverse range of performances throughout the year at an affordable price.
The Spa Little Theater is home to Opera Saratoga which produces an annual Summer Festival, plus year-round activities, including educational and mentorship programs. This summer, The Pirates of Penzance, Sky on Swings, Madama Butterfly, Petite Messe Solennelle and Sondheim at the Mansion Inn.
The Little Theater is also home to Homemade Theater (HMT) which puts up four major productions, and offers classes for children, teens ,and adults
Roosevelt Baths & Spa
Opened in 1935, the resort opened at President Franklin Roosevelt’s behest (he was Governor of New York then). Today, visitors will find a classic hydrotherapy spa experience with natural healing treatments, many of which utilize the mineral water captured cold from Saratoga’s underground springs.
Victoria + Peerless Pools
Victoria Pool was built in the 1930s, as part of Roosevelt’s hydrotherapy vision; the architecture is noted for its classic brick structure, the arched colonnades and the limestone deck. Check out the E+L Profile on the Victoria Pool for more.
The Peerless Pool Complex was completed in the 1960s, and features a football field-sized pool with a kiddie pool, fountains and water slides; it recently underwent a $2.9 million renovation and facelift.
Spa State Park Golf Course
An 18-hole Championship Course with a four-star rating by Golf Digest. There is also a 9-hole Par 3 Course with a full grass tee driving range and Catherine’s in the Park Restaurant, which overlooks Victoria Pool.
Located throughout the park, there are also 113 designated areas, including a popular pavilion space close to Peerless Pool, and another by the Geyser Brook and rental tents available.
Geyser and Peerless: The Geyser playground is a classic structure, with climbing and swinging activities. Located near a picnic area, multiple trails and Geyser Creek, there’s something for everyone. Peerless has a massive sandbox, and it’s location near the pool makes it a perfect option for families with kids who range in ages and interests.
National Museum of Dance & Hall of Fame
The only museum in the U.S. dedicated to the art of dance.
Saratoga Auto Museum
A celebration of the automobile, with a focus on technical and design aspects of cars, with a focus on the present and future economic and social impact of the automobile.
Hall Of Springs
Located in the Saratoga Arts Center grounds in a historic building erected in the 1930s, the Hall of Springs has become a beloved corporate and private events and wedding destination with a seating capacity of 500 and an in-house caterer.
There are several Pavilions available throughout the park for rental. They’re a great option for graduation parties and reunions. Rentals, along with alcoholic beverage permits are available through the Parks Department.
In the 19th century, there were more than 200 mineral wells operating in the Spa Park area, but the overuse of the springs led to serious depletions, until the state passed anti-pumping legislation in 1908. Now, there are 12 natural springs in operation within the park, with varying levels of salt, minerals and carbonation levels. Take a look at the Spa State Park’s brochure about the springs to learn more, including their locations.
Spa City Farmers Market
A year-round farmers market located within the park. Vendors are outside during the summer, and inside Lincoln Baths in November-April.
THINGS TO DO IN THE PARK
With close to 15 miles of roads and wooded trails, there are plenty of options for exploring year-round.
A 9-hole layout with dual tees; beginner friendly layout.
An 18-hole Championship golf course and par 29 executive course.
There are 8 Har-Tru (green artificial clay) courts available at no cost, on a first come/first served basis.
Great place for a picnic
At one of the many designated picnic areas, or on one of the large fields.
There are several official trails, including the 1.8 mile Avenue of the Pines Trail loop and the 2.9 mile Geyser Trail, which takes you by the Geyser Island Spouter and the Hayes mineral spring.
Two seasonal outdoor rinks, one of Avenue of the Pines, the other near Victoria Pool. Hit-or-miss conditions, depending on weather; hockey is permitted at the Avenue of the Pines location.
The Creekside Classroom on the bank of Geyser Creek offers snowshoeing rentals and guided tours across the park’s trails. Beginner and child-friendly.
Weather permitting, cross-country skiers can be found all over the trails and on the golf course.
Kathleen Willcox lives in Saratoga Springs with her husband and twins. She writes about the culture and politics of food and wine as well as travel and lifestyle; her work regularly appears in Wine Enthusiast, SevenFifty Daily and Edible Capital District.