The locale: A community of 1,800, about 4 hours east on I-90.
The scoop: If ever a village were synonymous with its main attraction, it’s Cooperstown, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Several businesses and attractions play off the brand — Cooperstown Bat Company, Doubleday Field, Heroes of Baseball Wax Museum, 7th Inning Stretch Memorabilia Shop. But this community also has a lot going on off the field, downtown and within a few miles. So, whether you head east for Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, July 28-31, or some less-congested time, make sure to venture beyond the hallowed hall of baseball-dom. Cooperstown is a great place for a lakeside vacation, whether you choose to camp, splurge at the Otesaga Resort, or pick something in between.
The hit list
The Otesaga Resort Hotel, 60 Lake St. — The village’s nod to luxury, the Otesaga is known for its golf course, stunning views, Sunday brunch, hospitality and refinement.
The Inn at Cooperstown, 16 Chestnut St. — Consider checking out one of the “experience packages” the owners develop to ensure that guests have a getaway they’ll remember. Themes have been built around such things as baseball (of course), breweries, bat-making and tin ornament creation.
August Lodge, 259 Seminary Road — For a totally different feel, check out this two-story timber-frame hotel about five minutes from the general hubbub.
Cooperstown Beverage Trail — Distilleries, breweries, cider mills and wineries dot this 37-mile route. Pick and choose, if you must, but don’t pass up Brewery Ommegang, six miles south on Route 33. Other nearby sites include the Cooperstown Distillery, 11 Railroad Place; and Pail Shop Vineyards and Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard, both about 4 miles northwest of town. (A tip of the hat to the trail for providing a list of recommended ride services.)
Culture/history — The Fenimore Art Museum, 5798 NY-80; The Glimmerglass Opera Festival, 7300 NY-80; and the Farmers’ Museum at 5775 NY-80, are three of the best reasons to plan to a multi-day visit to Cooperstown. It’s rare to find such opportunities for enrichment in such a small rural setting. The Farmers’ Museum is especially inviting for children, with an historic village depicting 18th and 19th century life, interactive exhibits, and the Empire State Carousel, with 25 hand-carved rides representing the state’s many resources.
Mel’s at 22, 22 Chestnut St. — A bit of a surprise amid downtown’s tourist haunts, Mel’s upscale décor invites patrons to relax while enjoying everything from a hamburger to vegetable ravioli to a stuffed avocado.
Cooley’s Stone House Tavern, 49 Pioneer St. — This Irish pub is known for the best chicken wings in town.
Nicoletta’s Italian Café, 96 Main St. — Not only is the food a big draw (try the pasta with white clam sauce), it could be a top spot for celeb sightings. The café boasts hosting some of baseball’s biggies, plus stars and media personalities from James Earl Jones to Connie Chung and Larry King.
Origins at Carefree Gardens, 558 Beaver Meadow Roads — This lovely, seasonal farm-to-table café is in a working greenhouse at Carefree Gardens. It’s family-run, and the owners — who are dedicated to improving the world at home and abroad — travel off-season to find unique recipes and ideas.