TIMESTAMP: MARCH 2019
SWEET SLEEPING @ THE DOWNTOWNER
My hometown. The off-season. Beer. Food. Beer.
Sometimes, juuuust sometimes it’s nice to stick to your own ‘hood and explore what makes your home base a worthy hangout spot. Saratoga Springs is just north of New York’s Capital “city” and just south of one of my favorite outdoor playgrounds…the Adirondacks. It’s a solid jumping off point for all things upstate New York, a hub for culture, and a plethora of old + new eateries and drinkeries to keep you satisfied in between romping around.
The number of people grows exponentially in the summer months, when, for a handful of weeks you can bet on horses at the track and do your best buzzed dancing on the patios of the downtown bars. But there's something to be said about the off-season - when you can enjoy Saratoga like a local.
Saratoga tends to have an air of “fancy pants” due to track season, the ballet and such… where floppy hats, sundresses, and embroidered pineapples on shorts are a thing. However, there is a laid-back version of the ole ‘Toga, and it’s budget friendly to boot. The Downtowner is a great place to start; a refresh on a 100 year oldie with modern amenities, in the middle of the action…all without bustin’ the bank.
The Downtowner is positioned exactly where its namesake suggests…downtown. Don’t be fooled by the olde-timey motel exterior. Lark Hotels has managed to renovate this centrally located lodging while keeping the vintage motel vibe…straight down to the “vacant” sign on the door.
Simple but sufficient, the room does the trick, with some modern decorative details, classic to the Lark Hotels brand. Oh, and quality toiletries, those too. Also the extra large comfy cozy bed; that too.
Three little words: COFFEE. ON. TAP.
Let’s take a moment to appreciate the constant caffeine flow.
… ok, carry on.
Well, not just coffee. Also nitro iced coffee, iced tea, sparkling and still water.
**Manager’s tip: mix the tea and the sparkling water for a fizzy delight-drink.
The common space
a vibrantly modern area to do some tap-tappin’ on your laptop, sip your coffee, or hangout on a rainy afternoon with some cheese and crackers and a deck of cards. And dip your toes in the fake pool, obviously.
THAT VIEW THOUGH
The Downtowner has a bit of a different view. The real star here is the ginormous-lobby-hangout-area. (Pretty sure that’s the technical term.) You’ll feel hip for just stepping in.
As the heart of the hotel, you can choose to exercise your social chops, or just read a book solo. Either way, this homey centerpiece is just begging you to chill.
Strung lights and decorative pillows adorn this weirdly amazing space. Tables and chairs of all sorts are sprinkled about, as well as a nice lengthy communal table, to encourage mingling amongst guests. It should be noted that this table is also cocktail table height…a coincidence? I think not.
The accent wall is a tall boy, and adds an extra punch of fun color zest.
WHAT TO DO…WHAT TO DO
Saratoga has some pretty delish fooderies.
Mercantile: a recent and welcome addition to the nosh line-up downtown, they have all day breakfast and well, that’s all I needed to know. The pancakes are legit, as are the Bloody Marys and the egg scramble kept me filled up for a super solid portion of the day…so you do the math.
Henry Street Taproom: this local favorite fits under both the food annnd beverage sections, but we’ll discuss the culinary one here. The chalkboard menu on the back wall reflects the daily specials that change under categories that do not. There’s a daily pizza, market salad, tacos, flatbread, etc. Good luck choosing.
Druthers: other than their selection of house brewed beer, they’re known for excellence in burger and mac-n-cheesery. But, if you don’t try to the beer cheese dip with pretzels then did you even go to Druthers?
Shirley’s: an old school diner just outside of downtown where even Santa eats every weekend. (Yes, there’s a story here.) I’ve never actually seen Shirley, but she cooks a mean breakfast.
You shan’t go thirsty. Promise.
For fancy cocktails: Morrissey’s Lounge
In the somewhat newly (last year) renovated Adelphi hotel there’s a cocktail lounge where the bartenders wear vests and set crafted cocktails ablaze; that’s how fance it is.
**Budget tip: go for happy hour (M-F 4-6:30).
For craft beer: Henry Street Taproom
Like I said, worth mentioning twice. Friendly bartenders, a solid craft beer tap list, and shuffleboard. The brews range in price from usually $6-10, so affordable is a valid option. On a cold day, try and snag the coveted fireplace seats. But you didn’t hear that here.
For dive bar lovers: Tin & Lint
This gem is every bit a dive bar and the people watching is fulfilling. If you like your beer in pitchers and playing pool after scratching your name in the crooked booth tables, then this might be your jam.
WHAT TO DO…WHAT TO DO
when you’re not stuffing your face with food + drink, there’s a lil somethin’ for everyone in ‘Toga town.
It’s quaint and full of horse statues…why wouldn’t you stroll?
Browse local shops, taste some tea, grab some ice-cream. Saratoga is your oyster.
Stock up on greeting cards at the Northshire Bookstore.
The Saratoga Spa State Park is home to walking trails, the mineral springs, and in the summer, the well-known outdoor music venue, SPAC.
Saratoga is brimming with history from potato chips to the Battle of Saratoga to Don McLean (rumors swirl about where he wrote the famous ‘American Pie’).
The Hyde Collection (in Glens Falls)
I had a picnic with friends and cheese and crackers galore in Congress Park once, and let me just say, ‘twas fantastic. You should do it too.
Take a frolic north to the Adirondacks… upstate NY’s backyard is ready to play.