Cooperstown, N.Y., is a dream destination for baseball fans. Because, my baseball-loving husband had never been, and I barely remember my childhood visit, we decided to take a weekend trip to the historic village.
With two small kids in tow, we were unsure how much of Cooperstown’s famous sites, we’d be able to enjoy. We were delighted to discover how engaged they were with the history and unique charm of the town. Of course, we had to deal with a few tantrums and crankiness — they are kids after all — but, I left Cooperstown, feeling confident I could recommend a visit to other families.
If you are driving to Cooperstown, and need a good, friendly place to eat, be sure to stop at Feather and Stone. Located about an hour south of Cooperstown, this casual eatery offers comfort food and friendly service. They were especially patient with my kids, something this parent appreciates.
Where To Stay
Do not underestimate the popularity of Cooperstown, especially during the summer months. Yes, “Hall of Fame” weekend brings in the most people, but with so much else going on, hotel rooms book fast. We were very lucky to find a room at the highly recommended Holiday Inn Express.
Conveniently located a few miles outside of the main village, the Holiday Inn Express is great for families. Complimentary breakfast is served as early as 6:30 a.m. — perfect for families with early risers. And, to my kids’ delight, includes a pancake maker. An indoor pool and playground on the premises, are welcome amenities for children who need to get some energy out before bedtime.
Parking near Cooperstown’s top sites can be hard to find. Luckily, the village offers a fun, and convenient way to get around town — the trolley! Park at one of the free lots around town, and enjoy a unique tour of the village. Two dollars provides you with unlimited daily rides and small children ride for free.
What to do
Cooperstown packs plenty of things to see in a small space. Of course, there’s the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum, which attracts visitors from around the world. Give yourself about two hours to take it all in, and even then, you will still probably not be able to see it all. I was pleasantly surprised by how well my two kids handled the visit. What helped was letting my four-year-old use his tablet to take pictures of things he found interesting throughout the museum. (We used this method during other stops on our trip, as well. Keep an eye out for a special post featuring his photos.) My two-year-old was a bit trickier, but even he delighted in seeing some of the funnier mascots of baseball’s history.
Even if you, or your kids, aren’t die-hard baseball fans, the museum has much to offer. I love art museums, for example, so I appreciated the large collection of baseball-inspired paintings, sculpture and photography. I also enjoyed the section dedicated to women in baseball. I mean, who doesn’t like “A League of Their Own?”
After visiting the Hall of Fame, stop by the historic Doubleday Field. Kids can look out onto the ball field, and imagine what it might have been like to watch a game their in the 1900s. My kids also loved running up and down the bleachers.
Speaking of history, want to give your kids the chance to learn about farm life in the mid 1800s? Then, be sure to visit The Farmers’ Museum. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, families can take advantage of a special, interactive tour through the museum’s “Historic Village.” Kids can sit in an old-fashioned schoolhouse, play with some toys from the era, grind corn for chicken feed, and more. Along the way, completed tasks, such as bringing medicine to the farmer, and taking a broken hinge to the blacksmith, helps kids “earn” a free ride on the Empire State Carousel, located right on the premises.
Where to eat (and drink)
The Cooperstown area is known for its beer, and is part of the “I-88 beer trail” running west toward Binghamton, N.Y. If you enjoy good food and good beer, Council Rock Brewery is a must do. I’ll admit, our plan was to visit the more famous, Brewery Ommegang, but it was closed that weekend for a special event. As often happens in life, sometimes an unforeseen change of plans can be a good thing.
Council Rock offers beers by the pint. Or, for those who can’t decide, a flight of five of your choice. Sip on their delicious brews while enjoying some yummy eats, including their awesome pesto fries. Don’t worry, though this is a brewery, the restaurant is kid friendly.
Speaking of kid friendly, what better place to take the family then The Cooperstown Penguin Custom Ice Cream? This delightful ice cream shop serves up custom ice cream creations. Just dream it, and they will make it. My oldest chose vanilla with chocolate chips and M&Ms. I went more simple with chocolate and peanut butter cups. What would your creation be?
Where to play
Miniature golf is a great activity for small children. Both my kids loved the course at Barnyard Swing. Sure there was more ball chasing then holes-in-one, but it’s hard to enjoy yourself on a beautiful summer night with gorgeous mountains providing a breathtaking setting. Barnyard Swing also offers outdoor laser tag, gem “mining” and ice cream.
Just down the road from Barnyard Swing is another great place for a family game night. Cooperstown Fun Park offers mini golf, a bounce house and a small arcade. Because we were the only ones there at the time, the staff was kind enough to let my family use their indoor laser tag maze. We split up into teams — me with the two-year-old; my husband with the four-year-old — and we had a blast chasing one another around.
There is so much to do in Cooperstown, we sadly did not see everything we wanted. If we had more time, and perhaps kids with better attention spans, I would have liked to have seen the Fenimore Art Museum. I’d also check out Glimmerglass State Park and visit the nearby Howe Caverns.
Fortunately, we all enjoyed our trip so much, I know we will be back soon to catch some of the sites we missed and re-visit our favorites.
Have you ever been to Cooperstown? Tell me about it below!