Capital -Saratoga A celebration of the Arts, History and Horses
CapitalSaratoga, where dancers twirl and horses run and a patchwork-quilt landscapes surround historic cities rich in cultural treasures and sure bets of great lodging and dining.
Albany, the Capital-Saratoga region is my backyard. If you have a few days or a long weekend, here are some fun suggestions for a short break in the Capita-Saratoga region with a long tradition of history, hats, health and fast horses.
Albany, with its captivating skyline that reflects four centuries of history as well as ultramodern innovation, is a perfect starting point. Check in early at the areas premier B&B, the Morgan State House (statehouse.com), one of the many historic mansions bordering scenic Washington Park. The Morgan is close to Museums, riverside trails, restaurants, theaters and New Yorks Capitol, a magnificent example of 19th-century architecture that took four decades to build. Tour the famed New YorkStateMuseum(nysm.nysed.gov) and get a taste of the states history and cultural reach. Across the Plazzayou will see The Egg, an architectural marvel and premier performing arts center. Nearby Lark Street is lined with eclectic ships and fine dining venues like McGuires (518-463-2100), where you can watch Chef Andrew Plummer in the open kitchen, as he creates a stunning array of cleverly devised, beautifully presented dishes, many with an Asian touch. Pearl Street is home to a thriving entertainment scene with live music in several clubs, acclaimed theater at Capital Rep (capitalrep.org), and internationally-known rock, country and classical musicians at the Palace Theater(palacealbany.com). Across the street, Nicoles Bistro at Quackenbush Square (518465-1111), is one of Albanys most romantic restaurants.
If the weather is agreeable, grab a table at the courtyard. Jacques Oyster House (jacksoysterhouse.com) on State, has been an integral part of Albanys landscape for over 90 years and is still operated by the same family. Warm hospitality combined with the unique cooking style of Chef Dale Miller, one of only 55 Certified Master Chefs in the United States, satisfies a faithful clientele. Long considered the hotspot for politicos and the famous, Jacks ambiance is reminiscent of the clubby New York style restaurants so in vogue todayi; t has been proclaimed Albanys Greatest Restaurant Ledgend and the areas Best Restaurant of the Century.
You can also dine on Broadway: reviewers are raving about Angelos 677 Prime (677prime.com), an upscale steakhouse with hardwood floors and plush leather chairs that draw you into the stylish dining room to enjoy a menu of fabulous steaks, fresh seafood and luscious desserts. Also on Broadway, opposite the ornate University Plaza complex, try the imaginative Contemporary American Cuisine at Franklyns Tower (franklynstower.com). The restaurant was named after a Greadful Dead song, but the buildings history goes back much further. Keep your eyes, ears, and sixth sense tuned: owner Patrick Hall says any empty chairs are taken by ghosts from Albanys colorful past. Across the room you might catch a glimps of Babe Ruth, who hoisted a few here in 1940s. Across the Hudson in Troy, you will find art galleries, antique shops, bakeries, brew pubs and bookstores to poke around in. TroySavingsBankMusic Hall (troymusichall.com) presents top artists in jazz, classical and popular music. Cap off the day with a Captain JP Cruise (captainjp.homestead.com) along the historic riverway, or treat yourself to an Italian feast at Lo Portos Ristorante (518-273-8546), famous for its calamari. Return for the night to The Morgan, with all the comfort of an elegant private home.
Head to Schenectady, the Electric City, to tour the SchenectadyMuseum(Schenectadymuseum.org), and learn all sorts of fun facts about GE products, from household appliances to jet engines. Explore the interesting Stockade National Historic Landmark, one of the nations oldest historic districts. Enjoy an exquisite riverside lunch, with a choice of wines from around the world, at the Glen Sanders Mansion, (glensendersmansion.com), located in nearby Scotia, then tour the fascinating structure steeped in history dating back to 1658. Your evening requirement: a trip to Proctors Theater (www.proctors.org), recently restored to its original 1925 grandeur. Located in the hub of a booming creative district, Proctors features some of the worlds top performers from every genre. For a truly sweet ending to a perfect day walk across the street to the Villa Italia Pasticceria, (villaitaliabakerie.com), home of divine pastries and authentic Italian gelato. Settle in for the night at the upscale Parker Inn, (parkerinn.com), one of the areas finest hotels.
Begin your day with a round at the Saratoga National Golf Club, named one of the best public golf courses in the nation by Golf Diguest. Lunch at the clubhouse, Sargos, (sargos.com), recently awarded Wine Spectators Award of Excellence and the AAA Four Diamond Award. Sink into the pampering services and healing waters of the Roosevelt Mineral Bath, at SaratogaSpaState Park, (guideonputnam.com) or Crystal Spa, (thecrystalspa.com), at the Grand Union Hotel. And, of course, there are the horses! Visit the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, (racingmuseum.org), and, if its racing season, don a fancy hat and head to the track. After the races, Siros, (sirosrestaurant.com), directly adjacent to the trackis the place to see and be seen. Diners range from Saratogians, tourists, horse trainers and owners to movie stars and socialites. The four-star cuisine was praised as the most imaginative in the region by Gourmet magazine. Dining out in downtown Saratoga Springs is a grad tradition. Favorites include Chez Sophie Bistro, (chezsophie.com), a highly praised French restaurant now set in the renovated Saratoga Hotel; The Wine Bar, (thewinebarofsaratoga.com), where Chef Mark Graham creates a distinctive menu to complement the wine list, and Lancis, (lancisrestorante.com), where Chef John Lanci invites you to experience the true taste of famiglia cucina, or family kitchen, and offers unique wine and food classes such as Women and La Dolce Vita. Stop in for a song or two at the legendary Caffe Lena, (caffelena.com), where musicians like Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger got their start. At the SaratogaPerformingArtsCenter (SPAC), (spac.org), you can enjoy outdoor concerts by famous, popular artists and performances by the New York City Ballet. Stay in town at the elaborate Adelphi Hotel, (adelphihotel.com), a rare surviving High Victorian Inn that attracts a clientele of performing artists and notables from the racing world. For breakfast, stroll across the street to Mrs. Londons Bakery and Caf, (mrslondons.com), for freshly baked Viennoiseries-morning pastries and many other tasty delights.
PS: Game of the Kings
The oldest team sport in the world was first played by nomadic warriors over two thousand years ago. This sport, known as Polo, is popular among kings and princes, but today, you dont have to be royal to attend an exciting Polo match. Every summer since 1898, Polo ponies have competed up and down the fields of the Saratoga Polo Club. Prepare for an action-packed afternoon, then as the sun sets, unwind over dinner at the Clubhouse, featuring award winning cuisine.
A Marvelous Melon
August is not only the height of the racing season in Saratoga, it also heralds the harvest of the famous melons grown by the Hand Melon Farm since 1925. Purists would never consider chopping this treasured softball-sized cantaloupe into a salad, preferring to savor its sweetness on the half-shell. The New York Times called them the sweet, juicy luscious muskmelons that some gourmet consider to be the finest melon they have ever eaten. We agree!