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Family Vacations: Cooperstown


The Baseball Hall of Fame’s mission is to preserve history, honor excellence, and connect generations.
The Baseball Hall of Fame’s mission is to preserve history, honor excellence, and connect generations.

Cooperstown, baseball's holy shrine, is also a walkable, picturesque lakeside village at the southern tip of Lake Otsego, surrounded by miles of rolling farmland. You won't find a Starbucks, a McDonald's, or any chain stores here. Instead, streets are lined with old-fashioned ice-cream parlors, baseball memorabilia shops, quaint bed-and-breakfasts, and historic buildings. You can enjoy the sights while riding an old-fashioned trolley around town.

Three standout museums have earned Cooperstown the nickname, "The Village of Museums." Each museum is a fine example of its genre: American art; the rural life of times past; and America's favorite pastime, baseball.

The Fenimore Art Museum boasts an enviable collection of American folk art, photography, fine art, and Native American arts and crafts. Housed in a spacious mansion built on what was once the estate of writer James Fenimore Cooper, the museum features workrooms where children can sit and draw while parents relax and enjoy the art.

Across the street, The Farmers' Museum celebrates the rural life of the area. The highlight of the museum is its collection of heritage livestock, which are farm animal breeds that were common several hundred years ago but are rare today. Other family favorites include a carousel, old-fashioned games, wagon rides, and a small petting zoo. The museum is set up like a farm village, with houses, barns, and fields, as well as buildings you'd find in town, such as a church, schoolhouse, country store, and doctor's office. On a hill behind the museum is a Native American longhouse.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum pays tribute to the heroes of America's most beloved sport. This three-floor museum of baseball memorabilia is packed with nostalgic exhibits from the game's beginnings to the most current Hall of Fame inductees. Rare old photographs, displays, and timelines trace the history of the game and showcase its most important players, stadiums, and leagues. You'll see Babe Ruth's record-making bat, Willie Mays's glove, Lou Gehrig's locker, and the first known baseball, found in an old trunk outside Cooperstown. The Sandlot Kids' Clubhouse, a popular hands-on discovery area designed for young visitors, has interactive features such as discovery drawers filled with museum artifacts. Very young rookies will enjoy special screenings of the short animated film Curious George Plays Baseball.

Just down the street is Doubleday Field, where baseball was rumored to have first been played in 1839. Although this has been disproved, it's still where the Hall of Fame Game takes place each summer. Other baseball attractions abound. There's the American Baseball Experience and Heroes of Baseball Wax Museum. Several baseball bat companies that produce collectible and professional wooden bats are found on Main Street, as well as shops containing baseball cards and various other sports memorabilia.

Many families will recognize the town's Glimmerglass Lake from James Fenimore Cooper's The Leatherstocking Tales. During the summer months you can tour the lake on The Glimmerglass Queen, a 50-foot tour boat. You can also explore the lake by canoe. Overlooking the lake is The Otesaga Resort's Leatherstocking Golf Course, which has been enjoyed by golfers since 1909. Glimmerglass State Park features a beach, a boat launch, nature trails, a playground, and tent or trailer sites for overnight camping.

Cooperstown Information

Address: Doubleday Field at Main St. & Chestnut St., Cooperstown, NY

Telephone: 607/547-7200 888/HALL-OF-FAME

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • New York State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in New York, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

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