During this winter of our temporary discontent—i.e. COVID—it’s going to be that much more important for all of us to find fun activities within a snowball’s throw of our Capital Region abodes. So Capital Region Living would like to step in and do some activity planning for you. Enter our newest series, One Wonderful Weekend, in which we’ll be taking you on a whirlwind tour of some of the Capital Region’s best towns, cities and villages. Our first stop? The Village of Ballston Spa.
Thirty or forty years ago, Ballston Spa was just another little-village-on-the-verge outside of Saratoga Springs. Nowadays, travelers flock to it for its quaint, unpretentious vibe, fabulous food and antique-hunting haunts. In the pages that follow, find an itinerary for one wonderful weekend in Ballston Spa.
Whether you’re virtual or in-office these days, you’re likely going to be coming from work on a Friday—and thankfully, B-Spa (as locals know it) has a plethora of top-notch dining options. We’ll separate the wheat from the chaff, though, and suggest you get a reservation at Next Door Kitchen & Bar (nextdoorkitchenandbar.com). Executive Chef Jeff Strom plates multinational fare there—you can get Asian (Kung Pao Broccoli), Italian (Hand Rolled Gnocchi) and American (steaks and burgers) all on the same menu—and the restaurant’s cocktails are, in a word, glorious (try the Maple Old Fashioned or the FEW Manhattan). Top off your meal with one of Next Door’s next-level desserts like Cider Donut Bread Pudding or a Dessert Flight Trio (three sweets for the price of one). Prepare to roll yourself into your car—and eventually, bed!
Now that it’s officially the weekend, we suggest getting an earlyish start and grabbing breakfast at The Whistling Kettle (thewhistlingkettle.com). For the full effect, put in your monocle and grab your top hat before ordering the positively English Afternoon Tea (served all day), which comes with so much food (choice of a sandwich, salad or quiche, plus soup/salad, plus scone/tea bread) that you’ll need a few à la carte beverages—a hot tea, perhaps?—to wash it all down with. Close by is Amazing Finds Boutique (amazingfindsboutiqueny.com), a stylish women’s clothier that sells everything from clothing and accessories to candles and jewelry. If your significant other isn’t into the latest in haute couture, send him (or her!) to the geek den down the street that is Excellent Adventures Comic Books (excellentadventurescomics.com), which specializes in back issues, ultra-expensive rarities and vintage toys (hot tip: check out the bookshelves near the front for cheap, old paperback science fiction novels). Round out your afternoon antique-shop-hopping up and down Ballston Spa’s main drag, stopping at spots like the Ballston Spa Antique Center (at 217 Milton Avenue) and Daisy Dry Goods (daisydrygoodsballstonspa.com), conveniently located next door to where your day started at the Whistling Kettle.
Sundays were made for long, lazy meals, so get your Sunday brunch on at Iron Roost (ironroost.com), which national business publication Insider rated as having the best waffles in New York State. The Roost serves up both sweet (Bananas Foster) and savory (a waffle grilled cheese sandwich) waffle options—and has countless other brunch favorites, if for some ungodly reason, you’re not a waffler. Afterwards, we’d suggest heading over for a quick fix of culture at the National Bottle Museum (nationalbottlemuseum.org), which is chock-full of vintage bottles and free to visit. (We can almost guarantee someone has already sung the “99 bottles of beer on the wall” song inside it, so just don’t.) Put a little extra pep in your step by picking up a cup of joe (or a mid-afternoon crepe) at hip café Nomad Coffee & Crepes (facebook.com/NomadCoffeeCrepes), and then head over to the Medberry Inn & Spa (medberryinnandspa.com), where you can get a relaxing, therapeutic foot bath—you’ll need it, after all that walking!—among other spa treatments.