Cooperstown is a small village nestled along Lake Otsego in upstate New York. Most visitors arrive for the baseball tournaments that take place at Cooperstown Dreams Park or Cooperstown All Star Village for thirteen weeks each summer. Families congregate along the main street (aptly called Main Street) and filter in and out of the numerous boutiques and souvenir shops all day long. Thankfully, there is more to Cooperstown than baseball, you just have to know where to look.
We are getting ready to take our second Cooperstown baseball trip this summer. The last time we drove from Chicago to Cooperstown and stopped in Cleveland and Buffalo. We spent a fair time at the Dreams Park complex (which is amazing by the way). Our team ended up 4-4 and had a fabulous time both on and off the field. While our oldest was playing, we had time to tour the area, sample some of the restaurants, and do some souvenir shopping of our own.
This year we will be heading to All Star Village, so I plan on writing about that Cooperstown trip as well. Check back in July for an update.
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Things to Do in Cooperstown NY with Kids
This working museum is a recreated 1840s historic village with a working farm, carousel, livestock, and large collection of historic objects from rural farm life. Visitors can experience 19th century farm life as actors chop wood, milk cows, and complete tasks that would have been common during that time period. My son was able to see first hand how difficult it was to make a rope using a crank and hook device known as a ropewalk. This was a fun place to spend a couple of hours (and you could stay there longer) as there is a ton of information to absorb and the kids loved the animals and demonstrations.
Kids that play at Dreams Park get free admission to the Baseball HOF so of course their families end up tagging along. We took my parents with us and I think my dad would have stayed for two days if I would have let him. There is so much baseball memorabilia in the building, it is crazy. We spent close to two hours there which was plenty, but a BIG baseball fan will want more. Heck, my 12 year old would have stayed longer and he is not a museum fan. There’s a hall of inductees that’s impressive, a locker room area with memorabilia from every major league team, a Babe Ruth room, a baseball short film, and so much more. It’s endless and enjoyable. Definitely worth a visit for all ages.
Every Tuesday (starting in June) and Saturday during the summer just off Main Street is the Cooperstown Farmers Market featuring over 30 vendors selling their wares. The market has a program with the local food bank where they give needy families coupons to use at the farmers market. Last year they gave over $10,000 to families, allowing them to add more fresh food to their diets and helping local farmers as well. This is obviously a winning combination for this community and a forward thinking idea that could be implemented elsewhere. The tomatoes, cherries, and goat cheese we enjoyed were fabulous and the kids raved about the brownies they purchased.
Not far from the fields at Dreams Park, Fly Creek is a great place to visit between games. The place has close to 50 free food samples; from cheese to salsa, jam to fudge, cider to wine. The kids thought they were in food heaven. Outside there was a large goose and duck pond where the kids could feed the birds. Just make sure they watch their fingers! There is also a small playground, a restaurant on site, and complimentary tours of the mill. This is a fun stop for the afternoon.
Window Shopping on Main Street
Downtown Cooperstown looks straight out of a Normal Rockwell painting. Brick buildings line both sides of the main street filled with mom and pop storefronts selling baseball memorabilia, knick knacks, and clothing. Throw in a few restaurants, ice cream shops, Doubleday Field, a CVS, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and essentially you have main street. Parking in town is metered during the day or you can park in one of the remote lots and take the trolley into town.
The town sits on Lake Otsego and it is stunning. The lake is 9 miles by 1.5 miles wide, and 160 feet deep at its deepest point. It is the focal point of the area and a great place to spend the day fishing, kayaking, riding bikes, canoeing, or swimming. There are rental companies on the lake, tour boats, and houses along the shore where you can enjoy its beauty. Our kids had the opportunity to go fishing (but didn’t catch anything) and swim in the lake (which they loved). The water is so tempting, its worth making the effort to explore.
Just outside of Cooperstown and not far from Dreams Park, is our favorite Cooperstown brewery, Ommegang. The Belgian brewery is open for tours, but we didn’t go for the tour, we went for the food. (Although if you want to tour, kids over five are welcome). The food is a mix of small plates, burgers, and sandwiches. We ordered a sampling and shared with the kids. The food was so good (and the setting is gorgeous), we came back another day with my parents. If you are hungry, make a point to stop here for the food, sit back and enjoy the scenery, and stay awhile.
I didn’t know how I would survive for a week without Starbucks, but thanks to a coffee maker at our VRBO rental house and Stagecoach Coffee, I was able to pull through. Stagecoach Coffee has some fantastic flavored coffees. I tried a sugar maple one and a mandarin orange one. Both were delicious. Unfortunately, their food items were not nut safe so we couldn’t eat there with my youngest, but their pastries looked delicious. It’s ranked number one on Trip Advisor for restaurants in Cooperstown for a reason, and I can say I’m a fan.
Located at The Otesaga hotel, the Hawkeye Bar & Grill has a beautiful location overlooking Otsego Lake. The restaurant is casual and family friendly, perfect for lunch. The menu is quite diverse, offering items from fish tacos to burgers to fish and chips. We tried them all and were quite pleased with each dish. Service was a bit slow, but maybe that was so we could enjoy the ambience? Regardless, it’s a must stop for a meal while in Cooperstown.
The Otesaga Resort
The Otesaga Resort is the grand dame of Cooperstown. With its rooms overlooking Lake Otsego, sweeping veranda outfitted with rocking chairs, and grand lobby, the resort is a throwback to a bygone era. Built in 1909, the resort exudes charm and luxury. Visitors feel welcome to explore the hotel and grounds as they wish, taking in the views of the lake from many of the hotel’s gathering spaces. My parents stayed at the resort for their last night and thought the service was impeccable, the morning breakfast (which was included in the stay) was divine, and rooms were well outfitted and spacious. Our kids spent the afternoon swimming at the pool, while we enjoyed time with my parents, and it was the perfect end to our trip.
The lovely Cooper Inn is another great option for a family stay in Cooperstown. A member of the Historic Hotels of America, the Inn is in the heart of downtown, just a block from the Baseball Hall of Fame. Guests will enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast, plus dining and recreational options at the nearby Otesaga Resort Hotel.
Houses to Rent in Cooperstown
Many visitors will find houses to rent while staying in Cooperstown. They use services such as VRBO, airbnb, and HomeAway. This is a nice option for families because they can spread out and make their meals at home if they want. We rented a house through VRBO and we were very happy to have a place to call our own.
While we spent a lot of time in Cooperstown watching baseball, we did have a fair amount of time exploring the town and relaxing at our farm. Our road trip to Cooperstown was worth the time put into planning, the many hours of driving, and the money we spent, for us to be able to walk away with the beautiful memories that we will cherish forever.
Traveling to Cooperstown
Our first visit to Cooperstown, we drove from Chicago to Cleveland to Cooperstown. On the way back we stopped in Pittsburgh. This time we will fly. The closest airport to Cooperstown NY is Albany International airport which is an hour and a half from Cooperstown by car. Greater Binghamton airport is also an hour and a half, the Syracuse airport is an hour and forty five minutes from Cooperstown.
There are rental cars at Albany airport. My plan is to rent a car in Albany and drop it off in Cooperstown. I will drive home to Chicago with the family.
*This post originally appeared in June 2015 and was updated in May 2019.