For young and old, men and women, boys and girls, a great getaway can be found in Cooperstown, NY. Named after James Fenimore Cooper, the famous author of such classic writings as The Last of the Mohicans and The Deerslayer, Cooperstown is a wonderful retreat to days gone by. With its National Baseball Hall of Fame, Farmer’s Museum, and Fenimore Art Museum, there is so much to do for just about any interest.
One of my favorite things to do, wherever my travels take me, is to try the local wines and beers. Heck, send me to Russia and I’ll likely indulge in sipping their vodka. In the Leatherstocking Region of New York State sits the Cooperstown Beverage Trail. Actually also known as New York’s first “Cuisine Trail”, this compilation of wineries, breweries, and cider mills is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
First on the Trail is the Fly Creek Cider Mill. This is a great place to stop first because besides the cider samplings, they have food and snacks, along with more food and snacks. And best of all, many of the things they sell can be sampled for free. From fudge to cheese, ciders to fruit wines, the Fly Creek Cider Mill is a flashback to the early General Store days.
Next on the Cooperstown Beverage Trail is the Brewery Ommegang. I swear the first time I visited the brewery I heard angels sing from above as I drove up the majestic path to its welcoming archway. The award-winning Brewery Ommegang offers several great-tasting beers, including Rare Vos, Hennepin, and the unique Three Philosophers. Ommegang’s tasting building is spacious and offers a nice variety of lunch selections as well.
A third stop on my “nearly-annual” tour is the Cooperstown Brewing Company. Though modest in exterior appearance, the CBC is a fun place to gather with friends to taste a wide-variety of brews. My favorites are found in their line known as the Lil’ Slugger selections.
Rounding out the Trail is the Bear Pond Winery. Their wine selection ranges from a Spumante to a Riesling, to a Pinot Grigio, to a sweet strawberry May wine. Tours at the Bear Pond Winery allow visitors to stroll the vineyards, watch the bottling process, and then follow the grape to its final destination by tasting the wine in the inviting Bear Pond tasting room.
In addition to the Cooperstown Beverage Trail there’s The National Baseball Hall of Fame opened in June of 1939, with its induction of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, and Honus Wagner. Since that day, Cooperstown plays host to more than 350,000 visitors each year. The Hall of Fame celebrates the accomplishments of the game’s greats every summer during Hall of Fame Weekend.
Cooperstown isn’t all baseball though. The Farmer’s Museum offers a slice of the past with its many hands-on exhibits of the mid-1800’s. Visitors to the museum can see candlestick makers, blacksmiths, and more artisans work their craft in the 19th century surroundings. The Heritage Gardens section of the Farmer’s Museum offers a glance at everyday life over 150 years ago. Spending a day at the Farmer’s Museum will seem like an hour.
The Fenimore Art Museum is made up of eleven galleries that contain the finest in American folk art and North American Indian art. The museum is also the home of the largest collection of James Fenimore Cooper memorabilia and original documents. Visitors to the museum will not only enjoy the variety of collections, but will be in awe of the museum’s structure itself.
Cooperstown is also the home of the famous Otesaga Hotel and Resort, an experience that one should enjoy at least once in a lifetime. Adjacent to the Otesaga is the Leatherstocking Golf Club, a magnificent test of golf in meticulous surroundings. Of course any baseball fan shouldn’t pass up a visit to Doubleday Field, the Home of Baseball. History tells us that it is here where Abner Doubleday first invented the game.
Shopping and dining in Cooperstown is seemingly endless. The four blocks of Main Street are lined with tiny shops and eateries, most (but not all) with a baseball theme. Pictures, memorabilia, and autographs of baseball’s greats are packed into every nook and cranny of the village. Whether you’re in need of fine dining or just a snack, the village’s restaurants will certainly accommodate your appetite. My favorite stop for lunch in Cooperstown is Danny’s Market. I love the feel of a traditional NYC deli, and the food and company inside is one of a kind. Of all the times I’ve stayed in Cooperstown I find myself going back to the wonderful accommodations of The White House Inn. Owned and operated by Ed and Marjorie Landers, this fabulous B&B annually accommodates Hall of Famers in town for visits and autograph signings. All of which have even autographed the wall leading up the main staircase.
So this summer, whether the kids are complaining that there’s nothing to do, or you’re just looking for a quick escape as a couple, consider Cooperstown as a weekend getaway or a week-long stay. It is most assuredly a time that will add to your summertime memories for years to come.