To me, nothing signifies the holiday season like a girls’ getaway weekend in this scenic upstate town only a short drive New York City, Boston, and Montreal. For years, armed with posse of girlfriends, a wallet full of credit cards, and a cooler of our favorite beverages we check into our hotel in mid-December and prepare ourselves for a weekend of decadence. Though the makeup of the group may change annually, there are three things we always do; some type of self-care, lots of holiday shopping, and eating delectable meals that we don’t have to purchase, prepare, or clean up after.
Trust me, starting the season by focusing on yourself is a fantastic way to get in the spirit of giving and creating wonderful memories with others. We do have a few unspoken rules. Nothing is too expensive. No subject is taboo. No calories are counted. And what happens in Saratoga stays in Saratoga!
The Roosevelt Mineral baths
Located in Saratoga Spa State Park by the Gideon Putnam, The Historic Roosevelt Baths & Spa originally opened in 1935 and retains much of its original character. There’s nothing like a private soak in your own candlelit tub submerged in Saratoga’s naturally healing waters to ease your holiday stress. The mineral water is captured cold from underground springs (that’s the bubbly part), then mixed with hot fresh water to a soothing warm temperature for maximum comfort and health benefits. Be prepared-there’s an unusual buoyant quality to the mineral water and the little stool the attendant provides to keep yourself anchored will definitely come in handy! This was my first mineral bath but it definitely won’t be the last; it was heavenly.
Broadway has a plethora of shops filled with all sorts of unusual and interesting holiday gifts. By the time we’d traversed the entire main drag and the side streets, I was loaded down with so many shopping bags I could barely walk. Some of my favorite stops included the family-owned deJonghe Original Jewelry (https://www.djoriginals.com/about-us/meet-our-designers/) where my sister and I bought ourselves stunning necklaces, Soave Faire Art & Office Supplies (did you know belly button lint cleaners were the latest trend in stocking stuffers?), and Putnam Market with its incredible supply of edibles for adventurous eaters. Of course, no shopping trip would be complete for this writer without a stop at a local bookstore. The eclectic Northshire Bookstore was my pick this time around.
Food and Drink
The good thing about vacationing with foodies is their desire and ability to suss out restaurants with chefs that know what they’re doing in the kitchen. Given this, I was thrilled to indulge in several great meals over the weekend.
A short stroll down Broadway delivers you to the front doorway of the Mercantile (https://www.themercsaratoga.com/) a stylish, inviting space with carefully prepared, affordable entrees. Three of us ordered the pork schnitzel, featuring a seasoned (thyme jus!) thin and crispy cutlet, a divine brown butter spaetzle, and flavorful smothered green beans. It was the best German meal I’ve had since living in Augsburg in the early nineties, perfectly complimented by a glass of New Zealand Rose.
This is a restaurant you feel at home in the minute you walk through the door. It has a Southwestern vibe, young, friendly waitstaff, and features Mexican dishes that look pretty, use healthy ingredients, and taste delicious. A bonus is all the chips and salsa you can eat!
My friends drank Margaritas while I tried a local hazy IPA. I ordered the open-face Street Corn Quesadilla to go with it after the waiter classified it as “freaking amazing!” a description I couldn’t resist taste-testing. And it was; the combination of flavors and textures-cheese, beans, cilantro, pickled red onion, charred chicken and, naturally, the street corn itself was exquisite. I’ve never had anything like it in upstate New York. Be sure to stop by and sample it yourself if you’re in the area.
Located off Broadway on Caroline Street, this trendy bar and cocktail lounge is worth visiting for happy hour, a pre-dinner drink, or a nightcap. There’s a good selection of signature and seasonal cocktails with catchy names like the Naughty Nurse and Wake Me up Before you Go Go and a lively (and funny) group of waiters and waitresses. Check out this festive Christmas sweater!
Parking can be tough so if you can book a hotel close to Broadway and the main business district and walk, I’d highly recommend it.
The weather this time of year can change drastically in a matter of hours so pack good walking shoes, boots, a hat, gloves, and scarf, along with your sparkly evening wear!
People in Saratoga are unfailingly gracious and welcoming so do your part to spread a little holiday cheer. Bring cash to tip generously and drop in the Red Kettles or street performers instrument cases. Paying it forward can be as rewarding as treating yourself.
A truly fantastic weekend! Can’t wait to go back to Saratoga next year!