Saratoga Springs and Lake George, New York, are both very popular vacation spots within the Adirondack region located upstate. While my family and I had stayed in Lake George a handful of times in years past, we always wanted to take a day trip to Saratoga, about twenty miles away. However, we never took the time to go. So, this year, we decided to begin our vacation staying in Saratoga to better acquaint ourselves with the surroundings. While we enjoyed our two-night stay there, some aspects differed more so than we’d imagine to our familiar Lake George.

To begin, the shops in Saratoga aren’t open as late. We were dismayed to see so many locked doors after dinner at only 9 o’clock. There were people around listening to outdoor concerts or walking in Congress Park, but so many gift shops were shuttered. The famous fountains in the park, however, were open for soaking or tasting. There are five in the park, and twenty-one in total throughout the city. The Columbian Spring tasted the most like normal tap water (and that’s probably because that’s what it is). The others, all of whom where beautifully structured with similar Grecian pavilions, tasted peculiar, though I unfortunately don’t remember the distinct tastes of each one. The other four are called Congress Spring, Deer Park Spring, and Hathorn #1. Most others were carbonated like seltzer water, albeit through natural measures. Though unlike seltzer, the taste of minerals lingered in your mouth instead of lemon or raspberry. One seemed to be very rich in iron, because of his metallic taste. Another was acidic, thus could contain vitamins. We did not research very much of each spring’s properties.

Jockey Figurine in the gardens of the Holiday Inn | Sheila DeBonis

Other than the fountains, much of Saratoga’s culture seems to revolve around the horse races. Our hotel was Holiday Inn, and an adorable jockey figurine was placed within its gardens.

Of course, nearby, the equine athletes who lead the sport are also commemorated. A Secretariat statue was next door.

Statue of Secretariat | Sheila DeBonis

Commemorationg Secretariat | Sheila DeBonis

In addition to these facets, Saratoga is famous for its artistic and horticultural developments. Within Congress Park, there are several dedications to Spencer and Katrina Trask, a couple with histories in New York City as a banker and author, respectively. Despite their metropolitan ties, they moved to Saratoga to distract from their trauma after the demise of their eldest son. All four of the Trask children did not live past childhood, and as their parents’ grief swelled, the more renovation the put towards the estate, called Yaddo, after daughter Christina’s nickname for the opposite of shadow. Yaddo is today an artists’ colony and garden.  Katrina is even remembered through her very own tea blend at Saratoga Tea and Honey Company!

On our third day in Saratoga, we checked out of the hotel, strolled a bit more within the park and shopping areas, and soon embarked to Lake George. As the lake is 32 miles long, and a town and village within said town share a name with it, the precise location of the vacation haven is sort of nebulous. Many destinations, like the swanky Sagamore Resort or The Great Escape, an iconic theme park acquired by Six Flags Corp in 1996, use their vicinity along the water as a sort of tagline, though reside in the cities of Bolton Landing and Queensbury, respectively.

View of Lake George | Sheila DeBonis

Of the two destinations, we give Lake George the edge. Perhaps we were biased, as we had visited there in the past and loved it, while Saratoga was new to us. We additionally may have picked an inopportune time to visit, as horse racing hadn’t started yet for the season. Still, much of the areas overlap. Both have a confectioner store called Kilwins, both have olive oil shops, Irish stores, and a peculiar connection to its Northeast adversary, Boston. A local magazine in Saratoga, Saratoga Living, had former Red Sox hitter David Ortiz on the front. Lake George’s Bank Café displays a promotional flag from Tostitos with the New England Patriots helmet beneath it along the storefront. It interior displays vintage soft drink ads with Red Sox player endorsements beside them. While many tourists to the Adirondack region are from New York, we’ve befriended increasingly large amounts of vacationers from elsewhere, such as Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, or Massachusetts. The license plates parked in the area paint a wider picture—Maryland, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and even Quebec or Ontario.

Boats in the port of Lake George | Sheila DeBonis

Lake George has many areas available for swimming or other aquatic activity. Our hotel, the Georgian, has paddle boats and kayaks available for rental along the lake. Of course, please be attentive to where you are swimming. Some areas are off-limits, as these portions are part of the municipal taps meant for bathing or ingestion. Please be mindful of signage in your surroundings.

Steamer on Lake George | Sheila DeBonis

Just as water sources alone, lakes are more bountiful than springs, and the same is true for these Adirondack vacation spots named after such streams. Lake George is opulent at any point in the summer, while Saratoga gets its most exciting during racing season or while municipal festivals are happening. Additionally, Saratoga is less accessible towards the middle-class or students and recent graduates. The gift shop pricing was high, and Lake George’s were more reasonable. However, some merchandise in Lake George is crude or flimsy. Still, the Village may have a lot to offer, but there are multitudinous areas along the Lake that may better appease your palate or mood. While there are visitor centers or reference areas on many street corners, waiters, concierges, or park attendants are enthusiastic to give you recommendations to fulfill your desires. This concludes my journey, and more pictures are provided to entice you to the area!

Mentioned sites (by order of their appearance)

Congress Park 1 East Congress Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs 232 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Phone: (518)-584-4550.

The Corporation of Yaddo 312 Union Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Phone: (518)-584-0746.

Saratoga Tea and Honey Company 348 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Phone: (518)-871-1419.

Sagamore Resort 110 Sagamore Road, Bolton Landing, NY 12814. Phone: (518) 644-9400.

The Great Escape 1172 State Route 9, Queensbury, NY 12804. Phone: (518) 792-3500.

Kilwins (Lake George) 143 Canada Street, Lake George, NY 12845. Phone: (518)-685-3437.

Kilwins (Saratoga Springs) 420 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Phone: (518)-682-3500.

Lake George Olive Oil Company 283 Canada Street, Lake George, NY 12845. Phone: (518) 668-0363.

Saratoga Olive Oil Company 484 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Phone: (518)-450-1308.

Molly Malone’s Irish Gifts 295 Canada Street, Lake George, NY 12845. Phone: (518) 668-3363.

Celtic Treasures 456 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Phone: (518) 583-9452.

Bank Café 326 Canada Street, Lake George, NY 12845. Phone: (518) 668-5102.

Georgian Lakeside Resort 384 Canada Street, Lake George, NY 12845. Phone: (518) 668-5401.