Conveniently located only 3 ½ hours north of NYC, Cooperstown is the quintessential weekend getaway for the stressed New Yorker. The decidedly slower pace, natural beauty, quaint restaurants and hotels, partnered with the small-town atmosphere make this the perfect spot to take in a true slice of Americana, and to give yourself a break. There is no shortage of things to do in Cooperstown, with a wide variety of hikes, local museums and of course the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Although there is no way to get bored, Cooperstown is the perfect place to do nothing more than wander around main street if that’s what your goal is. Take the time to enjoy yourself by sipping the local craft beer and let all the stress of your daily life go. That’s just what we did so here is our list of the top 9 things to do in Cooperstown.
Listen to a great band at the Cooperstown Distillery
Known as the town’s hippest bar, the Cooperstown Distillery is considered the best bar in town – all thanks to its great local band, warm and lively atmosphere and its seasonal drinks. If you are visiting in the fall try the many apple cider flavored cocktails. We recommend the apple cider margarita.
Have a feast in Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard
Located just a couple of miles off of Cooperstown’s main street, this unique store offers more than eighty free samples to try. As you walk around the store, you can try dozens of different sauces, thirty different seasonal fudge samples, as well as donuts, apple cider, wine and, cheese and much more. Once you finally make your way upstairs, hang around as you watch fresh apple cider be made and then make your way outside to the local lake and duck feeding central.
Stay at the Landmark Inn
Built in the mid 1800s this private home served as the residence to two consecutive town doctors and eventually it was sold to become a boarding house. In 1999, The Landmark was bought by the innkeepers who lovingly restored the house with original detailing preserved throughout the property. Today this bed and breakfast is considered to be the premier hotel and the best place to stay in Cooperstown. During my stay at the Landmark, a few of the guests mentioned seeing green lights on and around the staircase – rumor has it that green light stands for a benevolent energy manifested by healers.
Visit one of the best museums of American art
The Fenimore art museum is considered to be one of the top institutions of American Art. This three floor museum presents a variety of American experiences and artwork. The first floor is occupied by the Native American art, the second by early Americana works and the third by modern artwork. Be sure to check out the humanist photography of Lewis Hine on the third floor. This visionary photographer spent years documenting the immigrant experience from Ellis Island to the sweatshop and the boarding houses of NY. Although he died penniless and alone, his vision lives on and his art is a striking example and testimony to the American experience.
Visit a living 19th century museum
The Farmer’s museum (located just across the road from the Fenimore Art Museum) is host to a reenactment village, complete with charming little homes and the actors dressed in mid-18th century clothing who practice the trades as they were over a hundred years ago. Once you’ve made your way through the village, take a look at the traditional museum exhibits here, focusing on the history of farming. If you’re traveling with kids be sure to stop by to see the antique carousel- it is a big hit with the youngest Cooperstown visitors. Bonus- there is a little store in the front of the museum where you can buy many of the goods produced on premises. The farmer’s museum of Cooperstown is open from April through October.
Try the local brew at Ommegang Brewery
The Ommegang Brewery is one of the highest rated attractions in and around Cooperstown and that’s no surprise. This presently operational brewery is owned by a Belgian beer maker known for its fresh and tasty beer. Take a free tour of the factory (tours run on the hour from 9 to 4) and try a beer tasting – six bucks for six samples is a great deal. After you’ve finished your tour and enjoyed your samples you get to keep your Ommegang class- a great collectible item. Also on the grounds is a delicious restaurant, which means you might need to wait to get seated as it does get rather crowded. The popular brewery will not take reservations so show up a little early to get a spot.
Go for a hike at romantic Brookwood Point
Spread over 22 acres, Brookwood Point Nature Preserve is filled with hiking trails, ponds and several different ecosystems. You can spend the entire day here wandering the trails or just strolling the manicured garden. Don’t forget your camera for some great pictures, as there are some truly beautiful scenes. Parking and entry are free – the site is run by a not for profit group focused on preserving the park for generations to come.
Have dinner with a view at the Hawkeye Grill
The large hotel in Cooperstown is the Otesaga Resort and Hotel. Situated right on the lake this huge complex was originally built in 1909. I have to say, even if you are not staying here, the grounds are worth a visit, as are the art decorated hallways and sprawling golf course. For dinner, stop by the Hawkeye Bar & Grill located on the ground floor of the hotel. Enjoy a selection of fresh local burgers and craft beer. Take the beer outside and enjoy it on the patio attached to the restaurant, warmed by fireplaces and moonlight.
Pay homage to America’s favorite pastime at the National Baseball Hall of Fame
One can’t visit Cooperstown without visiting its main attraction – the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Originally built because legend said baseball was invented here (turns out the legend was wrong) this homage to the great American pastime is a must. Spread over three floors, the museum honors the great players, coaches and empires of the game. Spend hours wandering here amongst baseball’s greatest and learn all about the intimate relationship between baseball and the very heart of America and its history.
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