The Saratoga Race Course is one of the world’s finest sports venues, and it is a fantastic day out for families as well right here in our very own city. There are many different ways to do the track as a family, and I’ve got the definitive Saratoga Guide for taking the family to a day at the races!
The track is open every day except for Tuesdays and there are a few different ways to “do” the track. Admission to Saratoga Race Course is free for children under 12 when accompanied by an adult any day of the meet throughout the season. You can sit in the clubhouse or sit in the backyard and both are great for kids. At the clubhouse you can reserve a table and have lunch, which is how we usually do the track. Either on The Porch (ground level in the clubhouse with a great view of the track) or up in Turf Terrace (also with a fabulous view), it’s out of the sun with a nice breeze coming through and you can have a yummy lunch and a comfortable spot to sit for the entire day. We usually pop in and out, checking out the horses getting ready in the paddock, the playgrounds and watching some races from the rail. There is a dress code for dining in the clubhouse, ranging from the more casual Porch to the more dressed up Turf Terrace. You can find more about how to reserve a table in the clubhouse and what to wear here.
Breakfast at the track is always a hit with the kids. You can get in there nice and early (gates open at 6:45am) before it gets too hot and crowded and have a sneak peek while the horses warm up for the races. Every racing day from 7 to 9:30am a buffet breakfast is served on The Porch of the Clubhouse while the thoroughbreds get ready. You don’t have to dine at the track to enjoy “breakfast at the track” though, you can bring your own or eat beforehand too. Mary Ryan, a lifelong horsewoman, provides expert commentary for the workouts. Entrance is free for Breakfast at the track, and the buffet is $17.00 per person, $9.00 for children ages 3-12 years, plus tax & gratuity. (There is no breakfast at the track on Travers Day, August 23rd). Make sure to take advantage of the free walking tour of the stable area while you’re there for breakfast (weather permitting). The first tram that takes you to the stable area leaves the main Clubhouse entrance at 7:30am with additional trams leaving approximately every 15 minutes. The last tour departs at around 9am. (The Tour is available every race day except Travers Day and Labor Day) Get on the trams the earlier the better since trams are often full to capacity way before departure time, there are no reservations for the trams, and it is first come first served. The tram tour is roughly 45 minutes long, so take a bathroom break beforehand if you have little ones!
In the backyard you can bring folding lawn chairs and a picnic blanket and stake out a spot (picnic tables are first come first served). You can bring coolers with food and drinks (glass bottles and containers not permitted) and there are tons of great food vendors there as well. Make sure to check out “Taste New York” held each Sunday of the racing season at the track from 10:30am to 5pm. Located inside the entrance to the Reserved Seats Box Office near the Carousel, the market will feature 13 vendors and artisans. And vendors won’t just be from the Capital Region, vendors from the Hudson Valley, Mohawk Valley and Western New York will all be featured.
You can also grab a burger and fries at Shake Shack, get your Hattie’s fix and have some Grasso’s Italian Ice, there are a TON of great vendors to try out that are there every day.
Also new this year is the all-new Berkshire Bank Family Mondays, weekly family festivals which will be held each Monday of the meet at the Saratoga Pavilion, located inside the entrance to the Reserved Seats Office near the Carousel, from noon to 4 p.m. Admission to Saratoga Race Course is free for children 12 and under when accompanied by an adult any day of the meet throughout the season.
Each day-long event will include free face painting, arts and crafts, mascot appearances and bounce inflatables. Additional activities will supplement these weekly staples, as outlined in the following lineup (subject to change, current at time of release):
Monday, July 21: The first Berkshire Bank Family Monday will invite attendees to participate in a puppet building workshop with The Puppet People.
Monday, July 28: Families will get a glimpse at what life was like for children at the end of the 19th century with a mobile version of the “Days Gone By” exhibit from the Scotia-Glenville Children’s Museum. The exhibit will feature various toys, game, appliances and horse-related items from the 19th century.
Monday, August 4: Kids and families will enjoy the Mad Science interactive exhibit with putty, slime, dry ice, and other hands-on activities.
Monday, August 11: The Children’s Museum of Science and Technology will present its educational and explorative Leaping Lizards and Rocking Reptiles exhibit. Kids will have a chance to meet the cold-blooded creatures, while learning about their behaviors, habitats and lifestyles.
Monday, August 18: Families will once again enjoy the “Days Gone By” exhibit from the Scotia-Glenville Children’s Museum.
Monday, August 25: Saratoga Race Course will take a look to the future with a hands-on robotics demonstration from students at Shenendehowa High School.
Monday, September 1: On closing day of the 2014 meet, families will enjoy a special magic show and learn simple tricks from magician John Green.
For a complete and up to date listing of all special events at Saratoga Race Course, click here.