An Historic Saratoga Springs Park & Canfield Casino

Hi everyone! A few Saturdays ago, my sweet husband and I took a guided walking tour of Congress Park in Saratoga Springs (NY), a 45 minute drive north of us. Frederick Law Olmsted, of NYC Central Park fame, designed portions of the 43 acre park, and Chester French, the man behind the Lincoln Memorial, designed The Spirit of Life, one of the park’s many statues.

Congress Park Saratoga Springs by Adirondack Girl @ Heart When one hears the name Saratoga, one’s mind typically turns to horses because of the famous track in town, but in its heighday (during the 19th century), it was known for its healing mineral waters. And unbeknownst to me, it was also known as the “Monte Carlo of America,” drawing families like the Whitney’s and Vanderbilt’s to town to gamble.

Frong of the Canfield Casino in Congress ParkThe historic Canfield Casino, built in 1870, sits inside the boundaries of Congress Park. It now houses the Saratoga Springs History Museum, which we had the pleasure of visiting after our walking tour.

Saratoga Springs History Museum by Adirondack Girl @ Heart (45)
I’m going backwards, I know, starting with the museum, but here we are(!). One floor is dedicated to the history of gambling in Saratoga. The “high stakes” room displays a number of games of chance, like this roulette wheel.

Saratoga Springs History Museum by Adirondack Girl @ Heart (55)It is quite opulent.

Saratoga Springs History Museum by Adirondack Girl @ Heart (36)
Filled with many opportunities to lose big money.

Stunny Tiffany Window at the Saratoga Springs History Museum
And a stunning Tiffany window.

"Diamond" Jim Brady & Lillian Russell at the Saratoga Springs History Museum
A separate room tells the story of the seedier side of Saratoga, including the illegal gambling and prostitution that  went on. An enlarged version of this photo of “Diamond” Jim Brady and Lillian Russell fills one wall in the room, giving evidence of Saratoga’s darker past.

The old trolley station in Saratoga SpringsBut let’s go back to the beginning, shall we? Once the city’s trolly station, this beautiful old building now houses the Saratoga Visitor Center. Our 10:30 am tour ($8.00 pp) started at this point.

1b Congress Park Tour Guide (1)Our tour guide did a terrific job describing Saratoga’s history and pointing out all the important features of the park.

3 Mineral water fountains in Congress Park Saratoga at Adirondack Girl @ Heart (5)
At our first stop, he introduced us to Congress Spring, one of several in the Park. It is protected by it’s own Greek Pavilion. Many more such springs can be found in the greater Saratoga Springs area. This spring, perhaps the most famous, trickles with the purest, least mineral-ly water of all the springs I’ve tasted over the years. Our guide supplied us with cups to sample it, and as we stood around savoring the flavor, several walkers, joggers, and bicyclists stopped by to fill their bottles. It’s a very popular spot.

4 Mineral water fountains in Congress Park Saratoga at Adirondack Girl @ Heart (7) As we began to wend our way through the park, we stopped at a second spring that tasted much stronger, fun to try, but not something I need to taste again. [Isn’t my sweet husband handsome?]

5 Mineral water fountain at Congress Park saratoga by Adirondack Girl @ Heart (7)It looks so clear and refreshing, but it’s not! A few of the springs in the area are tapped for baths because going back to Native American days, it was thought the minerals had healing properties. I’d much rather bathe in it than drink it.

7 Congress Park Saratoga Springs by Adirondack Girl @ Heart (24)As I’m sure you can tell, we were blessed with a perfect day for a walking tour.

Grand Saratoga home of Dr. Clark
Dr. John Clark, who bought Congress Spring in 1826 and touted its healing powers, lived in this mansion on the back boundary of the park.

8 Saratoga Springs MansionNot too far down the street we passed this magnificent home.

War Pavillion Congress Park SaratogaOn the back edge of the park, looking down, we could see this WWI Memorial Pavilion.

Large urns with Boston fern at Congress Park, SaratogaSwinging back down into the park proper, we found a small “pool” surrounded by fabulous urns.

11b Congress Park Saratoga Springs by Adirondack Girl @ Heart (30)I couldn’t get enough of them and the Boston ferns that cascaded from them.

13 Pavilion in Pond at Congress Park Saratoga (1)Farther along, we passed the WWI Pavilion, at ground level this time.

Congress Park Saratoga Springs by Adirondack Girl @ Heart (5)
The park has so many lovely features.

Congress Park Saratoga Springs by Adirondack Girl @ Heart (6)
It is extremely popular with a variety of duck species, I’m sure because they are well-fed, despite numerous signs asking visitors to avoid feeding them(!).

Congress Park Saratoga Springs by Adirondack Girl @ Heart (17)The water features throughout the park make strolling through it so enjoyable.

Faun statue in Italianate grotto of Congress Park, SaratogaCurving around toward the a back corner of the park, we passed through the Italian Renaissance garden that included several statues similar to this faun.

Italian Garden in Congress Park Saratoga at Adirondack Girl @ Heart (8)A little further along, we encountered “Spit and Spat,” (Triton & Misenus) in the Triton Pool, which strongly reminded me of Italy.

Italian Garden in Congress Park Saratoga at Adirondack Girl @ Heart (10)
They are carved from Italian Carrara marble by an unknown artist.

Enclosed carousel at Congress Park Saratoga at Adirondack Girl @ Heart (4)In the 1990’s, Congress Park became home to a Coney Island carousel, protected from the elements by this eight-sided building. Rides cost just one dollar.

Spencer Trask memorial Congress Park, SaratogaWe made our final stop at a memorial for Spencer Trask (d.1909), in recognition of his significant contribution to the city of Saratoga Springs.

Spirit of Life Spenser Trask Memorial by Chester French at Adirondack Girl @ Heart (1)As I mentioned, Chester French, who designed the Lincoln Memorial, also designed The Spirit of Life statue that adorns the memorial. His home in Stockbridge (MA), now a museum, is on my “to do” list.

Thanks so much for stopping by to tour Congress Park with me and my sweet husband.
If you enjoyed  your visit, I hope you follow me by email.
Sign up and never miss a post.

Let’s connect!
Blog Instagram
Vintage Shop Instagram


Bye for now,

Always adding new merchandise!

Vintage Shop Button

Our vintage link party is open until Monday at 8 am–

Vintage charm link party button
Pin Me!
Congress Park, Saratoga Springs Collage








Share This:


  1. Thanks so much Diana for sharing your trip with us. I enjoyed it so much and now I really would like to go there too. It would be about a 3 hour drive for us but from you post it looks like it would be worth the drive. And yes, your husband is handsome. 🙂

    Have a blessed day!


  2. Great pictures, especially of the park! Made me wish I was really there. I am a history oriented person so I enjoyed reading your comments. God bless!

  3. Interesting tour & the buildings are gorgeous. I would be interested in all that history! A lovely park with beautiful statuary & plantings. And your hubby isn’t bad either!

  4. What a wonderful trip you took us on. I am sharing on my facebook page so my friends and family from the area can see it and so those who aren’t can see what a beautiflul area it is.

  5. I love these travel/informational posts you write. They are my favorite. Lovely pictures as well. You have a good eye with the camera.

  6. My favorite of your posts are these “local color” visits. Have you ever shared the specs on your camera? Your shots are always lovely. Olmsted designed a series of parks here in Louisville, plus the roads leading into them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *