It’s time to enjoy the great outdoors! Saratoga County offers so many options for outdoor recreation from parks and playgrounds, to pools and lakes. This guide will help you locate outdoor recreation spots in Saratoga. Find your new favorite Saratoga park, get the scoop on a local playground, find hiking trails and more!
Saratoga Park and Recreation Spots
Congress Park is a gorgeous and historic park in the middle of downtown Saratoga. I love having a park like this in the middle of downtown Saratoga because it’s fun to grab food or ice cream and head to the park for some people-watching on a nice day. With duck ponds, grassy meadows, historic landmarks and a wooden carousel (which opens for the season on May 13th 2012), Congress Park is a great meeting place, picnic spot, or people-watching destination. In July and August, Congress Park is home to live music concerts, arts and crafts festivals, and other special events.
Saratoga Spa State Park is a park to enjoy during all four seasons. The State Park offers a wide variety of walking and hiking trails, streams, a geyser, picnic pavilions, two pool complexes, a golf course, biking trails, snowshoe/cross-country ski trails, ice skating, and lots more. There is an $8 vehicle fee to enter the actual park during the summer, but it’s always free to get into entrance at the Avenue of the Pines. Located within the park is the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), the Spa Little Theater, the National Museum of Dance, the Saratoga Automobile Museum, the Gideon Putnam Resort and Roosevelt Baths and Spa. Trail maps are available at the Park Office. Dogs are allowed on trails on leash only.
You can also purchase an Empire Passport which gets you into just about any NYS park including Saratoga Spa State Park for free. The pass costs $65 but is good until March 2013.
3. East Side Rec, Saratoga Springs
East Side Rec: The highlight at this park is the water! Located on the corner of Lake Ave (aka Route 29) and Granger Ave in Saratoga is East Side Rec. It’s a nice park for a hot summer day because it is one of three Saratoga playgrounds with an interactive fountain; AKA giant sprinkler. Tennis courts, ball fields, and a very small playground located too far from the fountain to enjoy are the general amenities. It does have bathrooms, but they are quite a walk away underneath the baseball field grandstand. Because of the fountain, East Side Rec is a good choice for a hot summer day.
4. West Side Rec, Saratoga Springs
West Side Rec is probably one of my favorite Saratoga playgrounds because in addition to many shaded areas and a decent playground, this park has water! A large interactive fountain sits in the middle of the grass, a refreshing invitation for hot, sticky kids. This park is a good size, and as I mentioned, has plenty of shaded areas, some benches and picnic tables. The playground equipment is basic and there is a good sized sand box. There is a bathroom but it is a bit of a walk and a small step up from a porta potty. Despite that, West Side Rec is a nice spot and well worth a visit.
Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to conserve ecological systems and natural settings while providing opportunities for environmental education and recreational experiences. The SaratogaMama events calendar includes all the special family events happening at the Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park.
6. Geyser Park, Saratoga Springs
Geyser Road Park: Geyser Park is the third Saratoga Playground with an interactive fountain. (East Side Rec and West Side Rec above are the others). The playground is basic and small, but the fountain is the main attraction here. Not a ton of shade either, but nice bathrooms that are very close by. It tends to be less busy than East Side or West Side Rec and a great location for Ballston Spa, Malta, or Milton mama’s.
7. Gavin Park, Saratoga Springs
Gavin Park is located in Wilton off of exit 15. The park is a huge complex with well-maintained fields, courts, pavilions, a gymnasium and a nice playground. There’s tons of parking, bathrooms, and the pavilion right near the playground has vending machines for soft drinks. The playground equipment is very nice and fairly new, and there are swings, a sandbox, and a few different playground options for kids of all ages. Gavin Park offers a wide variety of sports and activites for kids of all ages. Check the Gavin Park website for details on all of that.
Gavin Park also offers a Summer Camp for kids. Get the info on the SaratogaMama Saratoga Summer Camp Guide here.
The Burgess-Kimball Memorial Park is located in Milton on Rowland Street just south of Geyser Road and across from an HSBC bank. There’s a large (and very high!) playground for bigger kids and a smaller playground for little one’s. . Visibility is nice at the BK Memorial Park and it is fenced in so the kids can’t stray too far. There are two swing sets with infant swings, handicapped swings, and traditional. Unique features: a sandbox, seesaw’s (sp?), a shaky bus (see photo) and some different slides. BK also has basketball courts, tennis, baseball, two pavilions, bathrooms, a vending machine, and plenty of parking.
The park’s pavilions are also available to hold an outdoor gathering. For more information contact the Town Clerk at 885-9220 ext. 110.
9. Shenantaha Creek Park, Malta
Shenantaha Creek Park is one of my favorite area parks. In addition to a pretty cool playground, you’ll find tennis courts, basketball courts, two large pavillions, open fields, a fantastic paved bike path (the Zim Smith Trail), some unpaved hiking trails and bathrooms to boot! There’s always ample parking and while it does get busy, it never seems unbearably so.
A good plan of action: Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in one of the shady pavilions. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you can even walk to Stewart’s for some ice cream via the Zim Smith bike path. I think you’ll really like this park!
10. Kelley Park/Kids' Creekside Village, Ballston Spa
Kelley Park playground, called ‘Kids’ Creekside Village’ in Ballston Spa is a mecca for the playground enthusiast. This huge playground was completed in 2008, replacing a very old (and potentially dangerous) wooden playground. The cool thing about it is that it was built by community donations led by a group of volunteers Friends and Neighbors of Ballston Spa or (FANS).
The playground has some standard fare, twirling slides, swings and climbing contraptions, but it has some very unique things too, like giant xylophones with big mallets for kids to play, a large sandbox, and a special area for just for toddlers. It’s located on the Kaydeross River but the actual playground is fenced in. There’s a skate park and some hiking trails as well as a big field. Picnic tables are usually available for lunch or a snack and last year they even put in new bathrooms replacing the porta potty’s- hooray!
This place gets busy on the weekends or school breaks, but is big enough to accommodate quite a few crazy kids. Go early in the day (before 11am) or dinner time to beat the crowds.
Hudson Crossing Park is located just outside Schuylerville on NY Historic Scenic Byway, Route 4. To Schuylerville locals, it’s called Lock 5 because it is on the Champlain Canal Lock 5. Whatever you call it, this park is a nice change of pace from a traditional playground. The area for kids is called the ‘Play Garden’. Many of the ‘play’ items are built into nature and include stumps to jump, a rock maze/labyrinth to navigate, tunnels to crawl through, sand and dirt ‘drums’ for playing, a couple slides built into the landscape and a boat to explore.
It’s amazing how much fun kids can have when they use their imagination and explore their surroundings! Our kids had a blast just being there. They all loved playing in the sand and dirt, and the boat was a hit. The play garden area has a nice pavilion for lunch and a generously-sized porta potty. The park itself also has some hiking trails and the Champlain Canal Lock is kind of an attraction in itself.
It’s a bit of a drive to get there, about 20 minutes outside of Saratoga, but it is worth a visit.
12. Moreau Lake State Park
Located just minutes off of Northway exit 17S is Moreau Lake State Park. I remember coming here as a kid, and love taking the kids. The main attraction here on those hot summer days is the beach, but that’s not all this park has to offer. With wonderful picnic areas, a playground, hiking trails, camp sites, boating, fishing and more, Moreau Lake State Park is well worth a visit.
Admission to the park (during summer months) is $8 per vehicle. Best bet is to carpool with friends if you can. You can also purchase an Empire Passport which gets you into just about any NYS park including Moreau Lake State Park for free. The pass costs $65 but is good until March 2013.
13. Malta Community Park, Malta
The Malta Community Park is a park/playground on Plains Road in Malta. You drive on Plains Road if you’re going through Luther Forest off of Route 9. This park offers quite a bit; tennis courts, basketball, volleyball, fields, wooded walking trails, bathrooms (hooray), two pavilions, ample parking, and a nicely wooded but rather small playground. This is a great park to hit on a hot or humid day because it is very shady.
If you need a venue for a party this summer or fall, consider renting out one of the Malta-area pavilions. It does cost money and you’d have to carry-in/carry-out everything, but it may be a nice alternative to your house or apartment.
Playgrounds are great, but sometimes it’s nice to get out and just enjoy nature. A great spot for this is the Town of Malta Ecological Park. It’s located on Malta Ave about two miles off of Route 9 heading toward downtown Ballston Spa.
The Malta Ecological Park has a couple miles of wooded trails with a few bridges and a little pond. There’s a big field you’ll walk to which would be great for a picnic lunch. Along the trails are nice descriptive nature signs to add an eductional element. Stroller mama’s, it’s best to use a jogger or all-terain here because the trails aren’t paved. I’ve used my Beco baby carrier with my kids and that worked great. Plan ahead, no bathrooms here
15. Bog Meadow Trail, Saratoga Springs
Bog Meadow Brook Nature Trail is one of Saratoga P.L.A.N.’s earliest accomplishments. This two mile trail was established in 1993 by dedicated volunteers and members and follows the path of an abandoned railway. Three distinct wetland communities are present along the trail and visitors are likely to see a variety of wildlife throughout the seasons. The trail, which includes an extensive boardwalk system, may be enjoyed on foot, snowshoes or cross-country skis.
16. Saratoga National Historical Park/Saratoga Battlefield, Schuylerville NY
Open every day from April 1 through November 30, from 9am to 7pm. Cars are $5, hikers and bikers are $3, and an annual pass is $10. Saratoga Battlefield is a beautiful space for a hike, walk or bike ride. You can even take a driving tour through the area and view the Schuyler House, the Battlefield, the Saratoga Monument, and the Victory Woods.
There are close to 15 miles of roads and wooded trails throughout the park, picnic areas and pavilions for large groups, there is enough open space to explore through out the year. There are trails for biking, running, walking, swimming, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Contact the park office at 518-584-2535 for more information.
17. Yaddo, Saratoga Springs
Yaddo gardens consist of both a rose garden and a rock garden. Volunteers of the Yaddo Garden Association do all phases of garden work. The Yaddo Gardens are open to the public seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to dusk.
The gardens feature a variety of plants which peak throughout the season. The roses begin to bloom mid-June and are at peak from about the third week of June through July and then peak again mid to late August. The rock garden is in bloom mid-June through mid-September. The remainder of the estate is private and may be visited only on special occasions.
Yaddo, founded in 1900 by the financier Spencer Trask and his wife Katrina, herself a poet, is an artists’ community located on a 400-acre estate in Saratoga Springs, New York.