THERE’S ONE AUGUST RITUAL my wasband and I cherish, and it’s something even being un-married cannot undo: our annual trip to the horse races at Saratoga Springs in upstate New York, followed by ‘taking the waters’ at Saratoga Spa State Park.


Every summer, I admire the amazing two-tone Italianate facade of the 1877 Adelphi Hotel on Broadway, a three-story arched loggia rendered in brick. This year we actually stayed there, and I was not disappointed. The Adelphi is a rare American example of High Victoriana in architecture and decor, with lush gardens, a romantic pool, and endless nooks, patios, and verandahs.






The races, though fun, are the least of it. The track is of the same vintage as the hotel, a real national treasure. It’s a very democratic scene; general admission is $3.


Not being much of a gambler, I conservatively bet on favorites to show, and thus increase my starting cash by enough to buy a beer by the 5th race.


Saratoga’s famed mineral waters — there are 18 naturally occurring springs — are what drew people there in the first place. Pavilions throughout town are often crowded with people filling jugs with water either clear and sweet or smelling strongly of sulfur, said to have various properties from aiding digestion to improving the complexion.


The historic 1933 spa complex at Saratoga Spa State Park, which once included a concert hall and restaurants, is now much reduced, but the Roosevelt Baths & Spa inside one of the Federal-style buildings is open for business.



There are massage and beauty services, which you can get anywhere, and deep, no-frills soaking tubs filled with mineral water drawn to just the right temperature for 40 minutes of muscle-releasing, soul-satisfying relaxation ($25), which you cannot.