The Oregon Trail

The 19th-century spa and resort community of Sharon Springs (pop. 530), about 50 miles west of Albany, was once on a par with Saratoga Springs, its spas attracting as many as 10,000 visitors at a time. But for most of the past 75-plus years, the silent streets have been lined by the slowly crumbling remains of once-grand Victorian-era hotels. Sharon Springs has been kept alive thanks to its unlikely role as a seasonal escape for Orthodox Hasidic Jews fleeing the heat of New York City summers. Throughout the ups and downs, the sulfurous, supposedly health-giving waters have continued to flow, bubbling up into a small fountain in the small park at the center of town.

Sharon Springs seems ready for a revival. On Main Street, the white-columned hotels have been undergoing total overhauls. The stately American Hotel (192 Main St., 518/284-2105, $170 and up) has a good restaurant with a stylish cocktail bar. Guests can settle into comfy chairs lined up along the spacious front porch and watch the world go by.