Acres of parks and woodland on one side of town, an elegant racetrack with a splendid Victorian grandstand on the other. On a summer day in Saratoga Springs, you might be forgiven for thinking that, with the exception of ladies' hats, little has changed in this 19th-century spa town 30 miles north of Albany.
Adelphi Hotel 365 Broadway; 518/587-4688, fax 518/587-0851; doubles from $110. A time capsule of Gilded Age decadence and Victorian clutter. The bar is the place to gather after ballet performances. Open May 18—October 20.
Gideon Putnam Hotel 24 Gideon Putnam Rd., Saratoga Spa State Park; 800/732-1560 or 518/584-3000, fax 518/584- 1354; doubles from $99. The 120-room grande dame of Saratoga hotels.
Chez Sophie Bistro 2853 Rte. 9, Malta Ridge; 518/583-3538; dinner for two $80. Housed in a stainless-steel diner. Wonderful fish and veal dishes cooked by French-born Sophie Parker
Sperry's 301/2 Caroline St.; 518/584-9618; dinner for two $80. Popular with trainers and other horse people.
Chianti il Ristorante 208 S. Broadway; 518/580-0025; dinner for two $100. This charming northern Italian restaurant near the turnoff to the harness track is a Saratoga favorite.
Graham's Restaurant & Bar 63 Putnam St.; 518/580-0500; dinner for two $80. Frequented by New York chefs such as Bobby Flay and Danny Meyer.
Mrs. London's 464 Broadway; 518/581-1834. Old-world bakery and café. Mrs. London's husband, Michael, knows all the local gossip—old and new..
National Museum of Dance 99 S. Broadway; 518/584-2225. Housed in a 1918 Arts and Crafts—style building that used to be part of the public baths complex, this museum has changing exhibitions and permanent Hall of Fame installations.
National Museum of Racing & Hall of Fame 191 Union Ave.; 518/584-0400. Offers a freshman course in a sometimes mysterious sport. A new wing includes a "heroes" room, with souvenirs of great races and racing personalities.
The season runs from July 10 to 28. For tickets to New York City Ballet performances in Saratoga, log on to www.spac.org, or, after May 13, call 518/587-3330.
Held every day but Tuesday from July 25 to September 3. The first major contest of the season is the Whitney, followed by the fillies-only Alabama. The most important race, the Travers, takes place the last weekend in August. For dates, check www.nyra.com/saratoga or, after July 25, call 518/584-6200.
TAKING THE PLUNGE
Lincoln Mineral Baths S. Broadway, at the entrance to Saratoga Spa State Park; 518/583-2880. Don't leave town without a spa treatment at the baths, a no-frills operation in a 1930's building that resembles an English country manor.