A Destination for Relaxation & Entertainment

A Magnet for Pleasure Seekers

Congress Hall Piazza Saratoga’s opportunities for leisure and relaxation have drawn visitors to the area for more than 200 years.

When Gideon Putnam opened his boarding house in 1803, many doubted that he could find 70 visitors to fill it.  Those doubts did not last for long. 

During the 1800s, the combined attraction of the springs, an ever-increasing number of comfortable accommodations, and the cachet of Saratoga as a desirable and exclusive destination brought more and more visitors.

By 1899, Saratoga Springs boasted a total of 128 hotels and boarding
houses, and could host more than 5,000 overnight guests.

Since its establishment in the early 1800s, Saratoga has had its ups and downs, but its identity as a desirable resort destination has shown tremendous resilience.

5 Whether promenading in the latest fashion, taking the waters, betting on a fast horse, or indulging in the luxury of fine food and accommodation, Saratoga Spring’s visitors have built a two-century tradition of relaxation and enjoyment that continues to the present day.

Saratoga Night Life in the 1920s and 30s

Rileys Lake House The advent of the automobile expanded nighttime entertainment options for Saratoga visitors.

Some chose in-town evening destinations such as Jack’s Harlem Club, while others motored out to Riley’s Lake House, the Piping Rock Club, Newman’s, or outlying speakeasies like The Wagon Wheel in nearby Greenfield.

That’s Entertainment

Orchestra The main components of a day’s leisure activity in Saratoga have changed with the times.

During the first half of the 1800s, Saratoga’s predominantly well-bred, aristocratic visitors indulged in relatively simple pleasures, such as walking, visiting, gossiping, flirting, and, of course, taking the spring waters.  The wide verandas offered by hotels such as Congress Hall facilitated simple public leisure activities.  Inside the hotels, lavishly decorated public spaces such as lobbies and dining rooms also catered to the desire of Saratoga’s visitors to see and be seen.

After the Civil War, a new set of pleasures emerged to rival Saratoga’s older leisure traditions.  These new activities, such as horse racing and gambling, were more daring and less decorous, and appealed to a new group of elite visitors - the very rich.

So did another new activity - shopping for luxury goods and souvenirs.  Even as leisure choices were changing, however, one thing stayed the same: Saratoga’s visitors were themselves one of the resort’s main attractions.

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"It was a lovely and gracious resort and I wished that I had more time there. It was very convenient to the town of Saratoga Springs and the Victorian street festival was a bonus. I live in an area that has mostly national retailers and it was refreshing to be able to shop in so many unique local retailers."  ”

– Eileen