If Cooperstown just offered its
tree-lined neighborhoods off Main Street with beautiful Victorian and
Colonial homes, that would be enough to make Cooperstown a truly
If Cooperstown just offered the beautiful views
of Otsego Lake at Lakefront Park -- just off the village center -- that
would be more than enough to make Cooperstown a special village.
combining the colorful Main Street, beautiful tree-lined neighborhoods
and Otsego Lake all into one, however, makes Cooperstown our favorite
family place in the whole wide world!
Cooperstown may be a tourist
destination, but ultimately it is small-town America at its most
beautiful. Seventy miles southwest of Albany, NY, and 45 miles
southeast of Utica, NY, Cooperstown is a place where people proudly
live in well-maintained homes, and close-knit family-oriented
neighborhoods --close to Otsego Lake and the toy village-like charm of
Main St. From the big but not ostentatious homes on Nelson Ave. and
Pine Blvd. to the peaceful tree-lined residential streets like Beaver,
Eagle, Delaware and Elm, Cooperstown never overwhelms you.
authentic village void of corporate America leanings, fast food chains,
and most importantly, the faster pace of life we know all so well in
the suburbs and urban areas we call home. You can see the pride of the
people, be it a long-time Cooperstown native viewing the pleasing
sunrise above the scenic Susquehanna River, or the new residents
trading the Big Apple rat race for a walk with the family and an
eternal small-town smile to the world.
What's more, Cooperstown
possesses the ability to please everyone on a family vacation. Far
beyond just a "baseball town," Cooperstown pleasantly combines a scenic
rural setting with world-class culture in the form of museums, music
and art opportunities. So, you can enjoy your swimming, hiking, fishing
and boating, for example, with cultural institutions you'd expect to
find in the big city. Add some truly wonderful restaurants,
terrific kid-friendly bed and breakfasts, motels and inns, boutiques
and spas for Mom, and a touch of miniature golf, snack bars and
go-karts and you'll have no malcontents on your Cooperstown vacation.
The Village appears to be Norman
Rockwell fully realized, in living color. Three elderly brothers walk
the streets in baseball clothing, as close as can be. Little children
stare, for extended amounts of time, at the range of baseball
memorabilia at stores. Mothers walk their babies down "Main Street USA"
and fathers see their boyhood baseball heroes through the windows of
their souls--first their eyes, then beyond the glass displays in The
Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Romance indeed lives, not in a
Shakespearian sense, but in "It's a Wonderful Life" way--small town
America coming together. Perhaps
James Fenimore Cooper said it best in 1837, about his beloved
surroundings: "Lying, as it does, off the great routes, the village of
Cooperstown is less known than it deserves to be. Few persons
visit it, without acknowledging the beauties of its natural scenery,
and the general neatness and decency of the place itself. ...
Everything shows a direction towards ... an improving
A Sunday morning in church on
peaceful Elm St., a seat in the Adirondack chair overlooking Otsego
Lake at the Blue Mingo Grill, or a walk--just a walk-- is enough to
inspire sunshine in one's soul that is brighter than the sun. There may be only one traffic light
in town, but no matter where you spend you time in this quaint
village, the green light is always on to have a great time.
The Village takes care of its
residents quite well. Sometimes towns with tourists lose vision of the
people who live in town, all in the name of the mighty buck. This is
not the case in Cooperstown, as can be well evidenced by community
pride and services often seen in larger communities -- for example, the
highly developed, state-of-the-art Bassett Healthcare (a network of
three hospitals and 21 health care facilities located across Central
New York, with the main facility in Cooperstown) and the modern Clark
Sports Center, which offers residents and visitors comprehensive
recreational opportunities ranging from a swimming pool to a well laid
out workout area.
Tourism does boom in this quaint,
friendly small town, as baseball souvenir shops have grown considerably
over the past 15 years to align with the National Baseball Hall of Fame
and Museum's stately and historical presence on Main St. Thousands of
families visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum every
summer crowding the streets in a sea of happiness, ice cream, and
wide-eyed, kid-like wonderment on how a small town can bring such big
joy. The city and suburbs just can't do this.
of the great testaments to a
community is never feeling like you've completely walked the entire
community, no matter how many times you have strolled the area. The
splendid and myriad Victorians gracefully lining Chestnut St. deserve
more than one look. Some are stunningly well-preserved residential
homes, while others are grand places to stay like the Inn at
Cooperstown, Barnwell Inn and Cooperstown Bed and breakfast (read more
about places to stay in Cooperstown at our Lodging
Getaway Vacation sections). Turning Chestnut St. onto Main
St. and seeing the
colorful hanging baskets, wide sidewalks, well-maintained interesting
and colorful shops needs to be retraced at least 10 or 20 times a day.
On the corner of Main and Chestnut
Sts. is a splendid and inviting introduction to the town: Schneider's
Bakery. A long-time Cooperstown favorite, Schneider's has the heavenly
smell of donuts (far better than those chain stores offering the
slightly fresh version) and other handmade baked goods piercing through
the old fashioned windows.On the Chestnut St. side, bakers can be seen
through the window making their sugar-themed magic. Inside is a
comfortable little shop that looks the way it did many years ago. A few
doors down from Schneider's, Hubbell's Real Estate displays inviting
affordable-to-extravagant Cooperstown real estate offerings in its
window, drawing myriad couples considering a move to a simpler life.
Cooperstown shopping experience nevers fails to amaze us. It's ironic
that in a world where people buy things to be seen, those same
individuals prefer not to be noticed by shop owners and employees when
shopping. The right to remain anonymous and not be bothered by friendly
help has sadly become a way of life in our society. It simply gets in
the way of cell phone calls, impending business meetings and other
self-perceived important items of the day. That is why the
"superstores" are so popular -- you can get in and out without any
social interaction, except saying "credit" or "debit" to the cashier.
a deep breath and strolling down Cooperstown's Main Street serves as an
antidote to this fast-paced lifestyle. Nearly all the colorful shops
are independently-owned, some for generations. Most shop owners take
the time to say "hello," offer a friendly smile and lend their
expertise. They even remember that returning customer, six or even 12
months down the road.
Customers love the attention. The slower
pace and more personable approach breeds a connection to each other,
taking us away from the one-hour, fast food,
got-to-get-there-as-fast-as-we-can mentality. It is life the way we
used to know so affectionately.
Shops like Ellsworth and Sill
(women's clothing), Willis Monie Books, Tin Bin Alley Country Gifts,
the Cooperstown General Store or one of the many baseball shops
(Mickey's Place, Cooperstown Bat Company, etc.) embody this spirit so
well that the employees' attitudes serve as a reason for customers to
return just as much as the quality merchandise.
critics calling a film "The feel good movie of the year." The retail
version of this phrase can be found so endearingly in Cooperstown.
Shopping never felt so good.
shops spanning a few blocks on Main St. indeed represent individual
locally-owned Americana. The
Cooperstown General Store is huge and
carries everything from socks to Adirondack chairs. The help is always
friendly and emphasizes service -- the way its predecessors McCrory's
and Kresge's conducted their business in this exact location.
Davidson's Jewelry/Augur's Bookstore is comprehensive in its genres, is
old-fashioned and also favors service. Whether it is
a wedding diamond ring or a book written by Yogi Berra, the staff makes
sure to help the customer. In its display window, there are books on
how Walmart is destroying America, but you would never know it by the
way locals and tourists support local businesses on Main St. Down the
street the Willis Monie bookstore has books piled up to the ceiling. It
is a fascinating trip back in time, including that old book smell we
remember from elementary school.
The Book Nook, close to the National
Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, evokes memories of the old-time book
store, but keeps up to date with the latest books For women, Ellsworth
and Sill brings back a nice selection of women's traditional clothing
in a nice, unpressured atmosphere. The older women managing the store
and the racks of discounted clothing at the outdoor entrance make for a
warm shopping experience.
While your significant other shops at
Ellsworth and Sill, a short walk to National Pastime is mandatory.
National Pastime has a marvelous collection of baseball art work,
photographs, cards, prints, clothing and more. For the baseball fan,
this small shop with a great layout and detail to the history of the
game will give the true baseball fan goosebumps. It's sort of the
retail version of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, as the
history of baseball merchandise is well displayed.
Across the street is Danny's Market,
which celebrates the glory of community-oriented food shopping in a
small, old-fashioned store, where, somehow, one can find anything. The
anti-supermarket superstore, Danny's has a beautiful green and tan
awning out front, and inside, an impressive deli counter, on the
premise hearth-cooked breads, delicious baked goods, and a few seats to
eat while reading the paper under the ceiling fans.
on the subject of food, we absolutely love the Doubleday Cafe in the
heart of Main St. With high ceilings, big picture windows
overlooking the lively Main St., baseball seemingly always on the
television, popcorn on the table,
and terrific breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Doubleday Cafe seems to
best catch the spirit of Cooperstown in a family-friendly
restaurant/bar setting. For more dining options, read our Cooperstown for
Kids Restaurant Guide.
Abner Doubleday Field, one of the
best-kept baseball fields known, is a great place to catch amateur
baseball games for free, all day during the summer. The combination of
sun, charming village homes, churches and trees surrounding the park,
the picture-perfect green grass on the field, an old-fashioned
scoreboard, and some baseball being played by people truly interested
in the game, makes for a relaxing, slow-pace-in-the-best-sense
Before, during or after the game,
there are well-run Village ice cream shops to enhance your Cooperstown
stay, including Carmen Esposito's Italian Ices serving addictive
flavored ices, homemade ice cream and gelati -- root beer
with vanilla gelati is the recommended choice.
The National Baseball
Hall of Fame
and Museum, one of the great treasures in our country,
on Main Street in a stately large, brick building with a new, inviting
outside entrance. The National Baseball Hall of Fame Hall and Museum's
mission is to "relive the history of the National Pastime, through
artifacts from historic records, to the plaques of the game's greatest
players in the Hall of Fame Gallery," according to its literature. Once
inside, that mission comes to life whether it be the incredible New
York Yankees displays, an Abbott and Costello "Who's on First," movie
clip, a wonderful baseball card display, or, of course, the memorable
and historical Baseball Hall of Fame where one can read plaques all day
on all the great players inducted into this illustrious museum.The
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum has a wonderful library and
an appealing park area, perfect for a short stroll or yet another
perspective on Otsego Lake. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and
Museum is a must-see for the baseball fan or anyone with an interest in
history. It is, simply, one of life's great joys.
visitors do not tak the time to take a few minute's walk off Main St.,
to the Clinton Dam and Lakefront Park. We recommend you to to realize
one of New York State's most stunning lake scenery at Otsego Lake! A
great introduction to Otsego Lake starts at the end of Lake St., near
Lakefront Park. Take the steep stairs to the Clinton Dam, a wonderfully
serene area where the beginning of the Susquehanna River meets Otsego
Lake. With a small park area -- perfect for sunning, and an an
incredibly peaceful aura, the Clinton Dam, while not a well-known spot
to tourists, is highly recommended as a great example of Cooperstown
beauty.The absolutely tranquil Lakefront Park, with a multi-level
stretch of park land and stunning views of Otsego Lake, is just a short
walk from the Clinton Dam (going from Lake Street to either Lower Fair
St. or Lower Pioneer St.). The walk down to Lakefront Park is a
treasure with beautiful gardens in front of splendid lakeside homes At
Lakefront Park, you can sit on a bench and see that Otsego Lake is more
than just a body of water. It represents a way of life for Cooperstown
residents who appreciate the beauty of their town. A great way to
appreciate this grand lake is taking an hour tour on the The
Glimmerglass Queen Tour Boat , which departs from Lakefront Park, en
route to a wonderfully relaxing tour of Otsego Lake and views of all
the great rolling hills and greener-than-green lands.
Walking nearly outside the village
will bring you to another source of enjoyment, The
which portrays rural life in early times. An herbal pharmacy,
blacksmithing, weaving, printing, stickball games, music, the great
Empire State Carousel, farming, -- with many different animals -- and
more make for a lively afternoon. Unlike other places of
this ilk, it's not forced or hokey. Everything seems authentic.
Virtually across the street is the Fenimore Art Museum,
"home to one of
the country's premier folk art collections, and now the American Indian
Wing with a dazzling collection and galleries 'any museum in the world
would envy.'" (The New York Times). The Fenimore Art Museum also has
great kids activities; we particularly enjoyed the gingerbread
house-making class. So did the kids.
The museums attracts visitors year
round for special events such as the Farmer's Museum Candlelight
Evening in December. The Candlelight evening represents the true
essence of the holiday season with a beautiful Christmas tree, musical
performances by local schools, delicious wassail, a wonderful Santa
Claus telling great childrens' stories, horse-drawn carriage rides,
warm, comfort food in the tavern, thousands of lights illuminating the
beautiful countryside, and beautiful voices either singing holiday
songs. The weather might be cold, but the feeling is ultimately warm at
this grand Farmer's Museum event.
The overall feeling that Cooperstown
offers goes beyond the written word. If the words sound appealing here,
your Cooperstown vacation will bring that special feeling out for your
family looking for the perfect village and vacation.