Cooperstown is a charming village set on Otsego Lake in Upstate New York. Filled with literary and baseball history, it draws crowds of visitors each year that enjoy beautiful views, relive baseball’s past, and learn about the town’s famous citizens.
When you stroll down Main Street, it is evident that our national pastime, baseball, is celebrated at every corner. As you travel towards the outskirts, you encounter a historic connection to the town and its most favored son, James Fenimore Cooper.
A personal note about the laminated basswood sculptures (pictured above) of the legendary Baby Ruth and Ted Williams, my cousin, Armond LaMontange, is the artist. I was thrilled and delighted to see them in person.
Note: Some information in this piece was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are my own.
1. National Baseball Hall Of Fame And Museum
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is a bucket list destination for every die-hard baseball fan. Whether our boys of summer are perched at the top of the standings or struggling for a wildcard berth, we cheer and jeer our team with gusto. To see the greatest players in baseball history celebrated is a pleasure to be savored.
I was slightly overcome with a sense of awe when I walked into the Hall of Fame Gallery. The room is quiet, even filled with guests, as they reverently move from year to year searching for their baseball heroes. Each visitor relives their treasured baseball memories as they wander through the years of honored players. Only 1 percent of professional baseball players earn a commemorative plaque in this great hall. It is a collection of the best of the best.
Baseball fans come in all ages, shapes, and sizes. “Megaphone” Lolly Hopkins was a Boston superfan fan who, over the course of 27 years, regularly took the train from Providence, Rhode Island, to Boston to see her beloved Red Sox and Braves play ball. Typically seen with a megaphone to magnify her victory cries, she is among the many superfans immortalized at the Hall of Fame.
Baseball fans will want to reserve several hours to completely immerse themselves in the history of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
2. Glimmerglass Queen
A ride on the Glimmerglass Queen boat as it traverses Otsego Lake is a lovely way to view Cooperstown from the water. The hour-long narrated tour is a delightful way to spend a sunny afternoon relaxing on the tranquil waters.
The boat leaves from 10 Fair Street, just a few blocks from the Hall of Fame.
3. Fenimore Art Museum
Art lovers are in for an unexpected treat at the Fenimore Art Museum. The permanent American Indian art exhibit showcases a rotating representation of original American artisans. Another ongoing exhibit is the American folk art collection featuring paintings, sculptures, and other media pieces.
Additional rotating exhibits enhance the museum’s commitment to bringing beautiful and relevant pieces to entertain and educate visitors. The Fenimore Art Museum is across the street from the Farmers’ Museum allowing you to enjoy them together.
4. Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard
Stop off at Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard for lunch, great shopping, and wine, cider, and spirit tasting. Located on the mill pond, the water-powered mill has been pressing cider for over 150 years. You can view the vintage press from the in-store gallery. It is still used to produce their delicious cider. You can catch the press in action on most fall weekends between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The Mill Marketplace store is an adventure in farm fresh culinary delights, cute country knick knacks, and sweet treats. It was so much fun wandering up and down the isles exploring unique specialty items. After shopping, head upstairs for a wine and spirits tasting. If you have never had a wine slushy — now is the time. They take a childhood treat and adult-it-up, improving the experience exponentially.
Finish your visit with a trip to the observation boardwalk overlooking the mill pond while enjoying lunch or an ice cream from their on-site restaurant.
5. Hyde Hall
The massive and historic Hyde Hall, perched high above Otsego Lake, is a grand historical mansion. It was built by George Clarke — the great grandson of an Englishman by the same name who was part of the colonial government of New York in the early 1700s. The manor was built in three distinct stages and is in an ongoing restoration to bring it back period-perfect.
Open seasonally for tours, May–October, the grand house is a time capsule offering guests a glimpse into the life of the early American rich and famous. The tour is perfect for history buffs, architectural intrigue, and interesting decor.
6. The Farmers’ Museum
As a reproduction living museum, The Farmers’ Museum is a beautiful, historic village. It is the perfect spot to spend a few hours strolling back in time. Early American buildings, some staffed by costumed historians, educate visitors about the New York State farming community. Populated by a weaver, blacksmith, tavern, church, school, and other buildings perched along the main street, it is delightful.
The barnyard is home to an array of farm animals and if you visit in springtime you might spot a four-legged baby or two. The Farmers’ Museum is directly across from the Fenimore Art Museum. Plan to visit on a nice day since you will wander in and out of small, historic buildings. The Farmers’ Museum is open seasonally.
7. Glimmerglass State Park
A shining jewel on Otsego Lake is Glimmerglass State Park. The park encompasses a beach, Hyde Hall, a classic covered bridge, and hiking trails. With camping, hiking, fishing, and playgrounds, it is a great spot to spend a beautiful afternoon.
The easy Beaver Pond Trail is a quick 0.7-mile loop trail. For something a little more challenging, the moderately rated Sleeping Lion Trail is a 2.4-mile loop that will give you a little workout; the first half is a steady uphill climb.
8. Kingfisher Tower
A delightful miniature castle, Kingfisher Tower sits on Point Judith on the shore of Otsego Lake. Built in the 1800s, the diminutive structure is on private property and not readily accessible. The best view is from the deck of the Glimmerglass Queen as you float along the lake.
It is a delightful hidden gem in Cooperstown.
9. Goat Yoga
South New Berlin
Yoga with baby goats is hilariously funny and good for your soul. More about goat love than intricate yoga poses, taking a class with NY Goat Yoga puts you in touch with your barnyard alter ego. There is something sweet and beautiful about sitting on a mat working on your inner zen, while cute baby goats climb on your back and shoulders. A word of caution: They like to chew hair — wear a hat.
Just a short 45-minute ride from Cooperstown, Gilbertsville Farmhouse is home to the goat yoga craziness. They offer lots of special events — many with baby goats — and luxurious overnight glamping experiences.
Where To Stay
I recommend the charming Cooperstown Bed and Breakfast for your Cooperstown accommodations. It is a short walk to all the downtown action, yet located in a quiet neighborhood. The innkeepers are artists and art collectors; every open space is covered in an eclectic assortment of art pieces. Each room is uniquely decorated while maintaining the historic beauty of the 1902 Edwardian bed and breakfast.
Order your breakfast for an al fresco or dining room meal, custom-made specifically for you to start your day off with a home-cooked meal. After touring, sneak into the dining room to raid the cookie jar filled with yummy homemade cookies-of-the-day.
Round The Bases
Cooperstown is a bucket list destination for baseball fans, but it has more to offer than a museum filled with amazing athletes. Cooperstown is surrounded by gorgeous rolling, backcountry hills that typify Upstate New York. While you are enjoying the trip down memory lane, take time to explore all the other gems this pretty village offers guests. Relax on an evening boat ride around the lake, tour a historic mansion filled with beautiful pieces, and sip a wine slushie during happy hour.
About an hour and a half from Cooperstown is New York’s capital, Albany. Make time in your getaway schedule to spend the day and enjoy a visit. Even better, plan an upstate fall foliage road trip and experience the glorious autumnal display.
Pro Tip: This is Cooperstown has all the up-to-the-minute happenings around town. It is a great place to start planning your visit.
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