Cooperstown is an idyllic village in Otsego County of upstate New York. It is best known as the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The town is beautiful at any time of year, with colonial houses nestled alongside the glistening Otsego Lake.
We did a day trip during the summer and explored the town with our toddler. Here are our top 4 things to do on a visit to Cooperstown with kids.
1.Visit Farmer’s Museum
This is a living museum that also functions as a working farm.
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Historic Village: Set up as a typical village from the 19th century, the buildings have been restored brick by brick from remainings of actual structures obtained from rural communities in upstate New York.
The buildings house commercial and domestic practices that are typical of early American life. This is a great opportunity for kids to understand how life functioned back in the day and learn in an interactive atmosphere.
A blacksmith shop where farm tools were being built, a dispensary with a herb garden, and a printing press where printing was done with molds and ink were a few of my favorites.
Lippitt Farmstead: Located at one end of the village, the farm contains of two barns, several outdoor animal shelters and a farm house. As a typical farm from the 19th century, hops, an ingredient used for beer making and a valuable plant at that time, is cultivated as the main crop. Farm animals such as horses, cows, pigs, hens, sheep and rabbits are being raised and can be observed as you walk through the stalls
The farmers encourage kids to ask questions and are eager to explain about their farming practices from long ago. My son was delighted at the chance to manually grind corn for the hens and to pet a rabbit for the first time.
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The Empire State Carousel: The hand carved carousel depicting the natural resources of New York is the center piece of the museum. Known as the museum you can ride, every detail is related to a fact about te Empire State.
Toddler Play: The kiddie tractor park opposite the carousel has a collection of mini farm vehicles that toddlers can ride with ease. Our little one loved being pushed around within the enclosed space.
The main museun building has a collection of children’s classics like the Little Blue Truck in large prints. When the kids are tired of being outside, it is a good place to cool down and have some relaxing time.
2. Explore Downtown
You can take a ride in the trolley or drive to downtown area and explore Main Street. There are plenty of restaurants, candy stores and souvenir shops to entertain the little ones in between activities.
We had lunch at the restaurant at Tunicliff Inn which is housed in the spacious basement of the hotel and can accommodate large groups. The bistro fare and kids menu offered a good variety for a casual lunch with our toddler
3. Visit Baseball Hall of Fame
If you’re a baseball fan like my husband, visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame will be on your bucketlist. Seeing your favorite stars immortalized and celebrating their achievement will be unforgettable for any fan.
Sharing the love for the game with your kids and building their enthusiasm for your preferred team is also a great bonding experience. My husband was eager to point out anything RedSox related to my son hoping he will grow up to be part of the RedSox Nation despite living in Yankee territory.
But for someone like myself who barely follows the game, it was a cultural experience to see how deeply rooted baseball is in American life. I really enjoyed the Babe Ruth exhibit about one of baseball’s greatest players and one of the first five inductees to the Hall of Fame.
Listening to the commentaries, looking at photographs and reading newspaper clippings about his achievements in the field as well as his contributions to the community was window into the life of an America hero we could all admire despite having no knowledge of the game.
The museum has also created a Kids’ Club areaon the first floor with young visitors in mind. Our toddler loved sitting on baseball glove shaped chairs reading books and flipping through the channels on the monitors. It provided a space away from the crowds with engaging activities. Parents could also take turns going through exhibits while kids entertained themselves. The outdoor sculpture garden is another fun space for kids.
4.Visit Fly Creek Cider Mill
The best place for a snack and play time is the historic water powered cider mill on the banks of Fly Creek. Located a few minutes away from Cooperstown, this place is definitely worth the drive.
If you’re looking for home made ice cream they have a variety of flavors. The birthday cake flavor was a big hit with us. You can also have a picnic lunch with offerings from the bakery and deli.
The Tractorland play area (for ages 2-6) with different types of vehicles that he could ride was a huge hit with our son. He could have spent hours taking pictures at the face cut out photo stands, watching ducks at the near by pond and riding around trucks.
A visit to the store to taste fresh made goodies was a highlight for us. There were free samples of various food such as jelly, flavored butter, salad dressing, pasta sauce, cheese, fudge and of course cider. You will be sure to leave the store on a full stomach even if you don’t purchase anything. It is also a great way to try local products and get ideas for new recipes.