If your getaway to Saratoga Springs involves a long, stressful drive on crowded highways, next time, consider riding the rails.
During racing season, the train’s a popular way to get in and out of the city. In fact, ridership is generally 85 percent higher during the summer meet, said Amtrak spokesman Craig Schulz.
Every day, two trains arrive at the station from New York City and two city-bound trains depart. There is also one daily inbound and one outbound train that services Montreal. The trains stop at locations between the metropolitan hubs, as well.
From north or south, it’s a scenic ride, with views of the Hudson River and Adirondack Mountains.
“You’re relaxed, you’re enjoying a coffee, maybe reading the paper. You’re not tied up in traffic and worried about getting stuck along the way. Enjoying the trip is half of the experience,” said Todd Garofano, president of the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau.
Measures are taken to accommodate additional summer riders, but if you’re planning to ride the train to Saratoga Springs in the summer, it’s wise to plan ahead.
“Book early to make sure you get the time and space that you want, but also because we use a dynamic pricing policy, so booking in advance generally yields the lowest fare,” Schulz said.
Ticket prices vary, but a one-way ticket averages around $56 from New York City, $44 from Montreal.
The Saratoga Springs train station is not far from downtown. It’s clean and modern and offers free Wi-Fi. There’s a coffee and news stand, an information kiosk, an ATM, an outside patio and a children’s play area.
Taxi service is available from there, and travelers can also make a reservation with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and have a vehicle waiting for them at the station when they arrive, Garofano noted.
CDTA buses pull up regularly at the train station and then head to many downtown locations.
The bus line’s 473 route can bring riders to the loop traveled by the Saratoga Springs Summer Trolley. The old fashioned-looking trolley makes the rounds in the city about every 20 minutes, putting passengers within easy reach of many attractions, including Saratoga Race Course, the Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa, the National Museum of Dance, the Roosevelt Baths, Congress Park, Saratoga Casino and Raceway, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Saratoga Automobile Museum and Broadway’s shops and restaurants.
“It’s a good indoctrination to Saratoga Springs for people,” said Jonathan Scherzer, a spokesman for CDTA.
The train station’s not just a place to visit at the beginning and end of a vacation. The Saratoga and North Creek Railway comes and goes from there, taking passengers on scenic rides in vintage rail cars. There are dome cars that allow for lovely views, and riders have the option of dining on the train.
On Tuesdays during track season — the only day of the week when there are no thoroughbred races — the railway offers a three-hour, round-trip dinner ride that includes a four-course meal, full bar service and sunset views along the upper stretches of the Hudson River.