6 Things To See in Cooperstown (Other Than The Hall of Fame)
Growing up in Upstate New York as a baseball-loving kid, I knew I was very lucky to live a fairly quick car trip away from Cooperstown.
I mean, it's Cooperstown; that legendary place where everyone who ever picked up a bat, ball and glove dreamed of making it one day. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the sleepy little village that comes alive each summer are magical places and represent true slices of Americana.
I bugged my mom each year for another trip to the Hall of Fame. We went a couple times, as I recall. As an adult, I could make my own travel plans and went a couple more times. Then, I got a job covering sports at a newspaper in Utica, New York. It just so happens that Cooperstown sits within the paper's coverage area, and I would get to visit the village and hall many more times, including for induction ceremonies for the latest batch of retired baseball greats to be immortalized.
I suppose I have been to Cooperstown more than 15 times in my life, and I'll always love the connection to baseball that the town owns, but it also features many more options for travelers making the trek to the region. Here are six things to enjoy about Cooperstown other than the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Brewery Ommegang: Beer is always a favorite, and I loved my visit for a meal and sampling of the Belgian-style brews at this fast-growing company. Ommegang offers tours of its facility and pleasant outdoor seating overlooking its farmstead in the Susquehanna River Valley. Tours are free, and a tasting of six types of beer cost $5 and come with a souvenir glass. (656 County Highway 33, Cooperstown)
Fenimore Art Museum: Cooperstown was home to author James Fenimore Cooper, best known for "Last of the Mohicans" and the "Leatherstocking Tales" series. In fact, Central New York is known as Leatherstocking Region. The Fenimore Art Museum is located on the site of the author's early 19th century farmhouse, and the neo-Georgian mansion facility features a huge number of works, including collections of American Indian art, American folk art, American fine art and photography. ($12, 12 and younger free; 5798 State Highway 80)
The Farmers' Museum: This massive property transports you back in time, as the working farm operates as if the year is 1845. Check out the historic village area, a cool carousel, the farmstead (complete with a petting area with farm animals) and an exhibit displaying the Cardiff Giant.
What's the Cardiff Giant, you ask? I remember being very excited to see this legendary figure when I was a youngster on my first trip to Cooperstown. I'll just tell you that legend says he was a 10-foot-tall man who was discovered in his petrified state by workers digging a well on a farm. You'll have to do your own digging to see more on this story (no spoilers here for those of you who aim to visit the exhibit). ($12, 6 and younger free; 5775 State Highway 80)
Glimmerglass Festival: The annual music production has taken place each summer in Cooperstown for more than four decades. The company offers four productions each season: three operas and one work of American music theater, performed in repertory at an open-air theater surrounded by green rolling lawns. Grab a picnic meal and enjoy the shows at the world-renowned festival. (7300 State Highway 80)
Otesaga Leatherstocking Golf Course: Even if you aren't a golfer (and I'm not), you really would enjoy hacking the ball around with friends while walking this unbelievably scenic course along the shores of Lake Otsego and on the grounds of the luxurious Otesaga Resort Hotel. The more than 100-year-old course is rated as one of the most challenging and beautiful resort courses. (60 Lake Street)
Canoe, kayak or paddle: Cooperstown snuggles right up to Otsego Lake, and you can jump into the water to enjoy an active adventure. Bring your own gear or rent a kayak, canoe or standup paddleboard to experience a day gliding along the clear, spring-fed waters that serve at the headwaters to the Susquehanna River.
While Cooperstown is like Neverland for a baseball fan, and I'll always make time for a trip to the hall of fame when I visit, I have discovered so much more to see and do.
More by John Roberts
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