Saratoga Springs is a horse town. It’s a performing arts town and it’s a nightlife town. But it’s also a museum town. If you’ve spent any time in the Spa City, chances are you’ve been to at least one of its museums—maybe the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, the National Museum of Dance, the Saratoga Automobile Museum, the Children’s Museum at Saratoga, the Saratoga Springs History Museum or the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College. Five notable museums in a city of less than 30,000 people is quite impressive, but that’s just the beginning. Here are five more lesser-known, but equally awesome, museums in and around Saratoga County for you to check out this summer.
(1) The National Bottle Museum, located on Milton Avenue in Ballston Spa, is a single room stuffed to the brim with every kind of bottle you can imagine. Exhibits detail how bottles are made, bottle dating methods and what types of bottles are made in each state. Visiting the museum is free, but if you make a donation, you’ll receive an “orphan bottle”—one that doesn’t fit into the museum’s permanent collection but will look great on that shelf in your home! The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10am-4pm.
(2) The Saratoga County Historical Society at Brookside Museum, more commonly known as the Brookside Museum, is also located in Ballston Spa. Originally built in 1792, the building was first used as an inn for guests visiting Saratoga’s mineral springs and is one of the oldest houses in the region. Now, the museum cares for documents, photographs and objects related to the history of Saratoga. The museum is currently running an exhibit called Chickens!: The Exhibition, which follows the importance of poultry (yes, poultry) in Saratoga County. You can visit the museum Wednesday-Friday from 10am-4pm and Saturday from noon-4pm.
(3) Another must-visit for history buffs is the Stillwater Blockhouse. Located southeast of Saratoga in nearby Stillwater, the museum explores what it was like to live in a small town during the battles that took place at Saratoga during the Revolutionary War. You can peek through the portholes that were used for firing at enemies during the war, or just pore through the photos, documents and memorabilia inside the house itself. The museum building is a replica of an 18th-century blockhouse and was built in 1927 from timbers of Revolutionary War-era structures that stood in what is now the Saratoga National Historical Park. The museum is open 10am-4pm on Tuesday-Sunday from May 24-October 12.
(4) For more on the battles of Saratoga—and wars, in general—you’ll want to visit the New York State Military Museum & Veteran Research Center, located in Saratoga’s historical armory building on Lake Avenue, just across the street from the fire station. The museum houses more than 10,000 artifacts dating from the Revolutionary War all the way up to the Gulf War, as well as the largest collection of state battle flags (more than 1700) in the US. The museum is free and open Monday-Saturday from 10am-4pm through August 26, when it will close on Mondays for the rest of the year.
(5) Last up is the Knickerbocker Historical Society, a mansion worth its weight in colonial-era history gold. Located in Schaghticoke, about 35 minutes from Saratoga in Rensselaer County, the museum is housed in a fully restored 1780s mansion that was once home to Johannes Knickerbacker III and his family (Knickerbacker—yes, there was an “a” not an “o” in the original surname—is a lengthy bloodline in the area). The historical society is staffed entirely by volunteers, and all funds raised by the museum are put back into the continual restoration of the mansion. Mansion tours are held every Sunday, May-October, from 11am-3pm, and the society hosts several events, such as a Harvest Festival and holiday bake sale, throughout the year.