The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC; Saratoga Spa State Park , off S. Broadway/Rte. 9, 518/587-3330, www.spac.org ) is an outdoor amphitheater with 5,000 seats below cover and more seats available on the surrounding lawns. The preeminent performing arts center of the North Country, SPAC presents the New York City Opera in June, the New York City Ballet in July, the Philadelphia Orchestra in August, and well-known rock, pop, and jazz stars throughout the summer. Picnicking before the concerts is a Saratoga tradition.
The Baroque Festival (165 Wilton Rd., Greenfield Center, 518/893-7527) takes place in July in an exquisite private music hall that seats only 110. Featured is baroque music played on period instruments, among them a handcrafted harpsichord played by director Robert Conant.
Thanks largely to the presence of Skidmore College and the racetrack, Saratoga has a lively nighttime scene. Caroline Street is especially known for its many clubs and bars, most catering to twentysomethings. Desperate Annie’s (12–14 Caroline St., 518/587-2455), a.k.a. DA’s, is a popular college and local hangout, complete with pool table. Around the corner, 9 Maple Ave. (9 Maple Ave., 518/583-2582) is the place to go for serious jazz.
Caffé Lena (45–47 Phila St., 518/583-0022, www.caffelena.com ) is the oldest continuously run coffeehouse in America, founded in 1960 by Lena Spencer. Bob Dylan played here on his first tour of the East; Don McLean first played “American Pie” on the café’s small stage. Lena is gone now, but her legacy continues through the café’s lineup of top acoustic acts—Odetta, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Tom Paxton, and others. Recently named Best Small Venue in North America by the International Folk Alliance, the coffeehouse serves up good music as well as coffees and desserts.
The big and boisterous Parting Glass (40–42 Lake Ave., 518/583-1916) presents first-rate Irish bands. On the menu are 170 beers and Guinness on tap, along with a wide selection of pub grub.
Lively bar scenes can be found at many restaurants, including Siro’s, Sperry’s, Cantina, and the Olde Bryan Inn. Behind the lobby of the Adelphi Hotel (365 Broadway, 518/587-4688) lies a candlelit garden where drinks are served beneath the stars.