As Major League Baseball heads toward the end of baseball season and the World Series, thoughts of baseball lovers everywhere turn to Cooperstown, New York, best known as the home of The Baseball Hall of Fame.
Before I headed there for a quick weekend family vacation, I always thought there was little to Cooperstown besides The Baseball Hall of Fame. Turns out the village, on Otsego Lake, is one of the most charming, and beautiful small towns anywhere, with enough activities to fill a weekend, and leave you wanting more.
Baseball Hall of Fame
No visit to Cooperstown would be complete without a stop at the Baseball Hall of Fame. So head first to the shrine, where you will see more baseball paraphernalia on the visitors than you do at a baseball game.
My kids, who could differentiate a Mets logo from a Yankees logo at birth, were pleased to see a strong representation of their team – well, MY team –as well as jerseys from around the country. Actually, the girls were more interested in the athletic boys and young men wearing the jerseys, but that’s another matter.
Unfortunately, there is little to touch at the museum, and few interactives; the Hall is all about the sport and the men (and some women) who played it. But you can watch clips from baseball movies, like Bad New Bears (the good one), and see the entire Abbott & Costello skit, “Who’s on First?” The introductory film is pretty cheesy, though, so skip if you have low tolerance for this. The Sandlot Kids’ Clubhouse has more film clips, and kids can watch them seated in baseball mitt chairs.
Besides the Baseball Hall of Fame
My daughters actually aren’t very big baseball fans, but they indulge me. They do love to shop, and Cooperstown’s Main Street is lined with boutiques – selling more baseball paraphernalia. Not for them. But the Dollhouse Hall of Fame is more their speed, with 60 miniature buildings and dollhouses. Best of all, admission is free, although you can spend a bundle at the great gift shop.
The Farmers’ Museum is so much fun that you might not want to tell kids it’s educational. There is a replica of a 19th Century village and farmstead with a petting zoo, old-fashioned games, and a carousel with 25 hand-carved animals.
Across the street, The Fenimore Cooper Art Museum has easily accessible folk art and American Indian Art. Family programming includes drop-in art projects and hands-on tours of the Mohawk Indian Bark House. If you are here in the warm weather, eat at the outdoor café overlooking the lake. There are many kid friendly lunch choices.
The Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard, a couple of miles outside Cooperstown, has a working cider mill and market with lots of food samples. The restaurant has a bakery with specialties like apple dumplings, cider doughnuts and apple pie.
Glimmerglass State Park has year-round activities, from a beach in summer to ice skating, cross-country skiing and showshoeing in winter. Hike the trails; the self-guided Beaver Pond Nature Trail has lots of wildlife. There are also open areas where you can play ball.
In summer, you can ride on Ostego Lake with the The Glimmerglass Queen Tour Boat Company.
Where to Stay in Cooperstown
The Otesaga is the premier choice, with a golf course, tennis, a pool and swimming in the lake, plus canoes. The hotel has a Modified American Plan, which includes dinner and breakfast, plus afternoon tea and cookies.
A less expensive, choice, The Inn at Cooperstown has suites and adjoining rooms for families, but no roll-away beds. The inn, built in 1874 and fully renovated, provides a full breakfast and, in summer, cookies and lemonade or iced tea on the porch, where you can sit in a rocking chair.
Where to Eat in Cooperstown
Danny’s Main Street Market sells farmer’s market produce, which it also uses to make fresh sandwiches and salads. You can find excellent gluten free muffins and scones here, too.
Hoffman Lane Bistro has salads, pasta, fish and meat. Try the blue pasta – linguine with blue cheese & onions. Also, there is an excellent roasted beet salad with goat cheese.