Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Catskills in upstate New York, on the shimmering shores of Otsego Lake, lies Cooperstown. The village is known for its ties to America’s pasttime, and offers visitors numerous opportunities to enjoy the game of baseball, but there are plenty of other diversions to entertain families. Cooperstown is culture and history, nature and exploration, but also a place for families to spend time together and enjoy a slower pace of life. While baseball may be the impetus for families to visit the area, it won’t be the reason they fall in love with the town.
What to See & Do with Families
Journey back in time to an 1840s farming village at the Farmers’ Museum. The museum is one of the oldest rural life museums in the country. It allows visitors to experience 19th century life through hands-on exhibits and watching workers demonstrate trades of the time. Visitors will enjoy riding the Empire State carousel, observing the “townspeople” in action, and interacting with the various farm animals. farmersmuseum.org
To get a full overview of Otsego Lake and its impressive beauty, embark on a cruise aboard the Glimmerglass Queen. The Queen is a double decker boat that offers stunning views of the lake from every vantage point. The one hour tour provides a brief overview of the area’s history, before piping in elevator music for the duration. The idyllic scenery does not disappoint, especially at sunset.lakefrontmotelandrestaurant.com
At Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard exploring the marketplace is part of the experience and families can indulge in over 40 samples of jams, cheese, fudge, salsa, dips, and ciders before heading off to tour the cider mill. After learning about the process, many children will want to run outside to the millpond where they can feed the ducks and geese. There is also a small playground and restaurant, making the entire place a perfect afternoon outing. flycreekcidermill.com
When families want to connect with nature they go to Glimmerglass State Park to hike the trails, play on the beach, and swim in the lake. Those that hike to the top of the partially wooded hillside trail are rewarded with a panoramic view overlooking Otsego Lake and the shoreline. Families that enjoy biking, kayaking, fishing, and camping will be thrilled to discover this park located just eight miles outside of town.
A trip to Cooperstown would be not be complete without a visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The museum will appeal to everyone from die-hard fans to those only casually interested because of the richness of the storytelling and the history of the game. Visitors are transported through time with video footage, audio soundbites, and memorabilia highlighting everything from the origins of the game to the present day. baseballhall.org
Family Friendly Dining
The Doubleday Café on Main Street is popular with locals and tourists alike, and its dining room is generally packed. Don’t be turned off by the wait, the food will be worth it. With a varied menu featuring everything from prime rib to veggie wraps, there is a dish to satisfy every palate.
For a restaurant with a waterfront view, head to The Blue Mingo Grill on the shores of Otsego Lake. Located in the marina about 3 miles from Cooperstown, the outdoor seating isn’t the only reason for the steady stream of diners. The delicious daily menu is written on the chalkboard out front and specialties include creative locally sourced dishes such as the Rainbow Trout Tower and Blue Mingo bar steak. People may come for the view, but they return for the quality food. bluemingogrill.com
While many visitors head to Brewery Ommegang for a factory tour, lunch at the cafe is equally rewarding. The cuisine is quintessentially Belgian with a few basic dishes such as mac and cheese and Caesar’s salad thrown in for good measure. Families will enjoy dining al fresco while overlooking the idyllic landscape and hops garden. ommegang.com
Cooperstown prides itself on the fact there are no franchises within the village proper. This means no Starbucks on the corner, but Stagecoach Coffee fills the void for those looking for a java fix. Not only do they have fresh-roasted local brews, they also have homemade baked goods, pastries, and sandwiches. A great place to stop in for breakfast in the morning or a quick lunch after touring the Baseball Hall of Fame. stagecoachcoffee.com
Accommodation for Families
The Otesaga Resort Hotel has been welcoming visitors to Cooperstown for more than a century. With its prominent location on the south shore of Otsego Lake, the stately red brick building with its towering white pillars is an architectural throwback to a more gentile time reminding one perhaps of a southern plantation. The hotel is elegant without being pretentious, offering daily activities and breakfast each morning, making families feel welcome and comfortable while surrounded by luxury. otesaga.com
While there are a few chain hotel options in Cooperstown and numerous small inns, families may prefer to rent a home. There are many on-line and local services that can arrange accommodations. Staying in a private home allows families to prepare their own meals, enjoy the extra indoor and outdoor space, and live like a local. Some homes may offer swimming pools and/or lake access, making time spent in Cooperstown even more special.
– By Kirsten Maxwell // Photography provided by the Otesaga Resort Hotel