Dotted along the Two Lane back roads of America are small towns waiting to be explored. When we spend time in these secluded places we learn their history, participate in their traditions, and rub shoulders with their community members — experiences that send us to times gone by and places nearly lost. Cooperstown, New York is a town with that magic.
Founded in 1786 during the Revolutionary War, Cooperstown is a one-streetlight town nestled in the foothills of the Northern Catskills. It has culture, state parks, shoppable main streets, baseball, local beer… what more could we ask for?
Here are some recommendations for experiencing the best of America’s Hometown.
WHAT TO DO
Play ball! Cooperstown is home to The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Folks travel from all over to see artifacts and memorabilia from more than 300 of the greatest ballplayers who ever lived. Catching a game at Doubleday Field is not to be missed. Not only have home runs been hit here for almost 100 years but really — what is summer without peanuts and crackerjacks?
When you’re done watching those pop-flies stretch your legs at Glimmerglass State Park or cool off in the clear waters of the 4,000 acre Otsego Lake. Fish, rent a pontoon, waterski, swim — however you prefer to enjoy a day at the lake.
Cooperstown celebrates its history and community pride in many ways. Spend the day at The Farmers’ Museum for an interactive experience with mid-19th century life. While you’re there, you can also tour the historic Lippitt Farmstead and ride the completely hand-carved The Empire State Carousel. Together, these places represent the agricultural and natural resources of New York.
And for adventures in shopping, park the car and treasure hunt on foot through the many antique and craft shops on Main Street. These family-owned businesses are ready to send you home with local goods too! Don’t miss shops like Ellsworth & Sill (operating in the same building since 1898!) Silver Fox Gift Shop, Tin Bin Alley (for hand-made fudge) and dozens more! And speaking of fudge, let’s talk food and drink.
WHAT TO DRINK & EAT
If you’re feeling thirsty, you gotta visit Brewery Ommegang. Not only is it located on an old 140-acre hop farm in the Susquehanna River Valley, but it’s also the first new farmhouse brewery to be established in America in over a hundred years!
If something fruity is more your thing, head to Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard. After a few sips of their cider, you’ll understand why it has been a Cooperstown tradition for more than 150 years.
Recognizing and honoring the area’s agricultural history, the community supports its local farmers by gathering regularly at the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market and Oneonta Farmers’ Market, shopping for the freshest produce to serve up the best of farm-to-table dining.
And if you’re not cooking for yourself, the local restaurants are legendary! Dine lakeside at one of the best-kept secrets in town — the Lake Front Restaurant & Bar. After it reopens on May 23, you can order the famous Triple Play Grilled Cheese at Blue Mingo Grill or for more farm-to-table, minus the do-it-yourself, try Origins Cafe.
WHERE TO STAY
After a long day of eating and exploring, you’re going to be looking for a place to rest — and your choice will depend on how rustic or luxurious you want to be. Cooperstown offers inns, manors, bed and breakfasts, hotels, cabins and campgrounds. We like the Landmark Inn because of its proximity to Main Street and the Hall of Fame. Check out The Cooper Inn, Limestone Mansion, and Cooperstown Bed and Breakfast too!
The Otesaga Resort Hotel, built in 1909, is worth the visit even if you’re not a guest. Its waterfront location on the southern shore of Lake Otesaga makes it a great spot for rocking in a chair on the porch and watching the waves roll in.
Modern accommodations are nice, but sometimes nothing beats camping out and cooking over an open fire. Belvedere Lake Campground & Family Resort and Hartwick Highlands Campground are great places for an outdoorsy experience.
Now that you’ve got all the information you need about Cooperstown, it’s time to pack a bag and have some fun. See ya on Two Lanes this summer!