The Ultimate Guide to Saratoga Springs/Ballston Spa

Many people who hear “upstate New York” and “Naval Base” may be confused about what Navy sailors are doing stationed in Upstate New York. This area of New York is home to the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command, which is part of the training pipeline for submariners and surface sailors.

We ended up in Saratoga Springs near the beginning of my spouse’s naval career and I would LOVE to go back! Located about 45 minutes north of Albany, this area is known for a variety of year round activities, including horse racing, winter festivals, and seated near both the Catskills and the Adirondack mountain ranges. Even though Saratoga Springs and Ballston Spa feel like a “small town”, there are plenty of activities for single sailors and families.

NPTU Ballston Spa is home to the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command, whose mission is to “train and qualify Sailors to operate the nuclear power plants onboard our Navy’s aircraft carriers and submarines so they may deter our enemies, and win our Nation’s wars”.

NSA Saratoga Springs is a Naval Support installation that includes Fleet and Family services, MWR and administrative support to New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont.

Fast Facts:

  • Saratoga Springs is about 45 minutes north of Albany, NY
  • The Adirondack Park Forest Preserve was originally established in 1892 and is comprised of both public and private land.
  • New York City is about a 3.5-hour drive south of Saratoga Springs. Trains from Albany to Pennsylvania Station take about 3 hours.
  • Saratoga Race Course is a horse racing track which opened in 1863. The Saratoga Race Course is well known, with the meet lasting for about 40 racing days, from July thought Labor Day.

Things to Do:

  • Visit the Saratoga Race Course during racing season! Horse Racing Season lasts for about 40 days over the summer. There is a lot to do in the area when it is racing season, and it gets busy!
  • Head outside and explore the Adirondacks and the Catskills! Go skiing or snowshoeing during the winter, and hike and camp during the summer months.
  • Visit Saratoga Spa State Park. There are two golf courses, picnic areas, trails and an education center. In the Summer, enjoy the Peerless Pool Complex, with it’s Historic Victoria Pool. During the winter, there are 12 miles of cross country skiing trails, ice skating and ice hockey offered at the park.
  • Learn about the history of the Mineral Springs around Saratoga Springs and Ballston Spa. If you want to do a taste-test of the different mineral springs, follow this map. You can even bathe in luxury at some of the Saratoga Mineral Bath locations. 
  • If you happen to be lucky enough to be stationed at Ballston Spa over the winter, check out First Night Saratoga. Due to the pandemic, this years’ First Night Saratoga was cancelled. This is usually a fun filled, family friendly New Years Eve bash, featuring music, good, theater performances, crafts and fireworks show.
  • Take a stroll in Downtown Saratoga Springs.
  • Visit the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs. While it is currently closed to the public, this museum is fascinating and provides a lot of education and history.

Family-Friendly Activities:

While many of the activities above are family friendly, here is a list of some local attractions that are family friendly and for kids. While some of these attractions may be closed for in person events due to the pandemic, some have activities for children to do at home.


Downtown Saratoga Springs has a lot to offer! Below are some of the top restaurants located in the downtown area:

For more information on local restaurants, as well as delivery and pick up options, see this list from Saratoga.

Breweries, Wineries and Bars:

Although many tasting rooms are closed due to the pandemic, some of the breweries and wineries below are offering take out options:

For more local wineries, breweries and bars, check out this list.

Quick Links:

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