Nestled in the foothills of the Northern Catskills of New York, the village of Cooperstown is a perfect weekend family escape. Probably most widely known for being the home of the National Museum of Baseball, there is this and so much more for family members of all ages.
Located in Otsego County, Cooperstown is 70 miles west of Albany. We’ve made the trip in approximately four hours from Manhattan on weekends. It’s easy and picturesque drive straight up the New York State Thruway.
The village is small with family-run bed and breakfasts and inns providing most of the local accommodation, but there is also a classic, large lakeside resort called The Otesaga and chain ,motels, such as Best Western Inn & Suites, popping up on the outskirts of the area. www.cooperstownchamber.org, the online home of the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, offers a detailed overview on places to stay.
Some of our favorite things to do while in Cooperstown are:
Seasonal Festivals – Check out the above Chamber of Commerce Link for the full calendar. Our favorite is the Pumpkin Festival (this year Sept 24-25) which features a pumpkin growing contest, pumpkin decorating, local pumpkin foods and a popular pumpkin boat race in Lake Otsego. They actually carve out candidates pumpkins from the growing contest which can run anywhere from 500 to 1,000 pounds and put a navigator with oars inside to race in the lake. It’s really funny and everyone gets into cheering.
The Farmers Museum – A small historic restoration that features a working farm with animals, like horses and goats, a church, tavern, general store, school house, and smithy. They have great exhibits for children including a puppet show, model milking cow and a NY State-themed carousel featuring wooden hand carved animals indigenous to New York State. www.farmersmuseum.org My daughter loves to ride the Adirondack bear, and my son is a fan of the mini ride-on John Deere tractors that kids are welcome to take enjoy on the grassy area surrounding the carousel.
Alex and Ika’s Restaurant or the Cooperstown Diner – The first is a wonderful restaurant that my husband and I like to frequent when we can get a sitter for our children. Its casual enough for older children, but the food is so amazing that I really like the time to savor our meals and catch up. The rack of lamb with roasted tomatoes, on a bed of risotto is heaven on a plate. The diner is like taking a step back in time. Housed in what looks like an old trailer, the entire restaurant can only seat about 25 people snuggly. They serve specialties, like milkshakes, sweet potato fries and pancakes all day. My kids love it.
Fenimore Art Museum – A gem of a small art museum that specializes in regional art. This summer, I viewed a great Edward Hopper exhibit while my 4 year old daughter took a children’s art appreciation class at the museum. There is also a great permanent exhibit of Native American art. www.fenimoreartmuseum.org
Glimmerglass State Park – Lake Otsego offers great swimming and boating and has miles of undisturbed shorelines. Glimmerglass State Park has a kid-friendly sand beach with picnic facilities and clean, modern bathrooms and showers. The park also features camping, hiking trails and winter activities, like ice skating and a really fast snow tube course. http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/28/details.aspx
Ommegang Brewery – Just a short drive from Main Street in Cooperstown is a European escape without the cost of airfare. The Ommegang Brewery features Belgian style farm buildings, a real working brewery, brewery tours and a café feature Belgian specialties, such as frites, crepes and authentic Lieges waffles. There is a huge grassy field in the back perfect for picnicking or tossing a Frisbee while the adults sample the local brews. The Brewery also features festivals and events throughout the year. We’ll be headed up for a Waffles, Puppets and Cyclocross event in October – I’ll eat waffles, the kids will watch puppet and my husband will join the bike race. Perfect! www.ommegang.com
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