Saratoga Springs gets most of its attention from August to the beginning of September every summer, when horse racing season is in full swing. That's a shame, because there are so many other reasons to visit -- but also an opportunity for Northeasterners looking for a picturesque fall weekend getaway.
Now that the hordes have departed, you can take advantage of the ideal September and early October weather to play golf, visit the springs and see the foliage start to change -- at a fraction of the peak season prices.
The Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa was built within the confines of the Saratoga Spa State Park as a depression-era WPA project, but it does't look like any high school building or water treatment plant. The sweeping Georgian manor has 125 guest rooms, a full service spa and a variety of fine dining options.
It also offers a commanding view of the Saratoga Spa mineral baths, a 5,000-seat outdoor performing arts center, Saratoga's vintage car museum and the charming, challenging Saratoga Spa Golf Course. Built in 1936 as another part of the WPA project, the Spa's championship 18 was redone in 1958 by William Mitchell. It rolls out through mature stands of pine trees and offers one of the finest sub-$60 experiences in the U.S.
You can book a package combining accommodations at the Gideon Putnam Resort plus 18 holes at The Spa for less than $350 per night. If you're up for an additional challenge and a short car ride across town, you can opt for a package that includes rounds at the upscale Saratoga National Golf Club for around $250 more per night. Both packages can be arranged through the Gideon Putnam website.
Saratoga Springs is an easy 200-mile drive from both Boston and New York City, and is also served by the Albany International Airport 30 miles away. Temperatures are reliably in the mid-60s in September, and dip into the high 50s the first few weeks of October.
And yes, you can really walk outside the hotel and stick a bottle under one of the free spigots and capture your own naturally-carbonated spring water.