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- 2. Shop for Baseball Memorabilia or Catch a Game
- 3. Step into History at the Farmer’s Museum
- 4. Taste Americana at Fly Creek Cider Mill
- 5. Scout the Art at the Fenimore Art Museum
- 6. Order a Burger at Cooperstown Diner
- 7. Dine at a Baseball-themed Restaurant
- 8. Explore Otsego Lake
- 9. Embrace Outdoor Pursuits at Glimmerglass State Park
- 10. Enjoy the Glimmerglass Festival at Glimmerglass Opera House
- 11. Sip Your Way Along the Beverage Trail
- 12. Attend a Family-Friendly Concert or Event at Ommegang Brewery
- 13. Ride the Rails with Rail Explorers
- 14. Play Mini-Golf at Barnyard Swing
- 15. Sleep in Luxury at Otesaga Resort Hotel
- It’s Baseball Season! Want More?
Located in Central New York four hours north of New York City and just 1.5 hours west of Albany, the historic village of Cooperstown presents Americana at its best. Founded by William Cooper, father of novelist James Fenimore Cooper and home to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Glimmerglass Festival, lakefront parks and more, there’s something to entertain the whole family. Here are the 15 best things to do in Cooperstown, NY with kids.
It’s baseball season, the time of year when moms, dads and grandparents spend hours in the bleachers watching their little sluggers play baseball. When my son was young, I logged many of those hours. These days, I watch grandkids play their best games. As America welcomes baseball season, we’re spotlighting the village that is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum – Cooperstown, New York.
1. Celebrate America’s Favorite Pastime at the National Baseball Hall of Fame
Tucked away on the village’s main street, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum displays more than 38,000 artifacts honoring baseball’s history. For baseball fans, visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame is bucket list-worthy. Seeing your favorite stars immortalized will be unforgettable for any fan. If your grandkids play baseball, even better.
Find Your Favorite Player
A highlight, the Plaque Gallery, showcases Hall of Fame members’ bronze plaques honoring their achievements. It’s fun to watch people looking for their favorite players – mine was Babe Ruth. As a big fan of the movie A League of Their Own, I also enjoyed the 20th Century Baseball Timeline which highlights women in baseball and the African American league. Sharing these historic events with the grandkids presents bonding opportunities and opens important discussions centered around equal rights.
Plentiful interactive exhibits and activities in the Sandlot Kids’ Clubhouse keep younger kids engaged. Toddlers and younger children enjoy sitting on baseball glove-shaped chairs reading books and flipping through the channels on the monitors. It provides a space away from the crowds with engaging activities. The outdoor sculpture garden is another fun space for kids. Of course, the museum’s collection of more than 135,000 baseball cards is sure to leave collectors of all ages drooling.
2. Shop for Baseball Memorabilia or Catch a Game
Baseball spills out into the street where quaint shops are filled with baseball-themed souvenirs and memorabilia. At the center of the village is the place widely recognized as the birthplace of America’s pastime, Abner Doubleday Field. Cooperstown Dreams Park hosts tournaments throughout the season bringing kids from all over the country together for a baseball dream experience. During the spring and summer, there are plenty of little sluggers roaming about the village.
3. Step into History at the Farmer’s Museum
One of the oldest rural museums in the country, the Farmer’s Museum is a true treasure. This open-air living history museum depicts rural life in America in the mid-1800’s. More than 40 authentic buildings dot the grounds where interpreters in period costumes demonstrate life from days gone by. Learn how to bake bread over an open hearth. Discover how herbs were used to make medicine at Dr. Thralls Pharmacy. Or watch a blacksmith demonstrating this 19th century craft.
Located at one end of the village, Lippitt Farmstead contains two barns, several outdoor animal shelters and a farmhouse. Farm animals such as horses, cows, pigs, hens, sheep and rabbits reside here and can be observed as you walk through the stalls. The farmers encourage kids to ask questions as they explain farming practices from long ago. Kids of all ages delight at the chance to manually grind corn for the hens and to pet the docile animals.
The Farmer’s Museum also houses the gorgeous Empire State Carousel. Jump on the Empire State Carousel for a spin or two with the grandkids. Then, be sure to spend a little extra time checking out the carvings. Often referred to as “the museum you can ride,” the carousel boasts 25 hand-carved animals representing the agricultural and natural resources found in New York State. At its center, eight-foot curved murals depict moments in New York history.
Designer and master woodcarver, Gerry Holtzman cleverly carved his face here and there throughout the carousel. Docents aid in the discovery of all kinds of secrets within the carousel. As our guide, Gus, said “The cuteness factor is off the charts.”
4. Taste Americana at Fly Creek Cider Mill
A fixture in the community since 1856, Fly Creek Cider Mill has been producing delicious sweet apple cider for 150 years, but that is just the beginning. The Mill Store Marketplace is filled with culinary delights like apple salsa, New York cheddar cheese, homemade fudge, pickled garlic and even apple wines and hard ciders.
With a bakery and deli on-site serving daily specials…you definitely won’t leave hungry. Craving a slice of that all-American apple pie? Order one here. In addition to the sweet and savory treats, a seasonal apple press demonstration and resident ducks keep everyone entertained.
5. Scout the Art at the Fenimore Art Museum
For art lovers, the Fenimore Art Museum is a must-visit. Permanent exhibits include an extensive collection of folk art including weathervanes, stoneware, paintings and more. With more than 850 objects, the American Indian Wing showcases a spectacular collection of American Indian art. The American Fine Art wing displays authentic American landscapes alongside history-focused works. And, in the Coopers of Cooperstown section, you’ll find the history of 10 generations of Coopers along with the literary works of James Fenimore Cooper including The Leatherstocking Tales.
6. Order a Burger at Cooperstown Diner
Personally, I think hamburgers are every bit as American as apple pie and baseball and the tiny Cooperstown Diner on Main Street serves them up in a delicious way. The diner is so small it only has half an address but they will fit you in and serve you all the comfort food you can eat. I could have sworn I heard the cook shout “batter up” when my burger was ready.
7. Dine at a Baseball-themed Restaurant
For a more expanded menu, check out the Doubleday Cafe just steps from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Doubleday’s menu includes burgers, soups, Mexican entrees, fish, steaks and vegetarian options along with sandwiches and daily blackboard specials. Be sure to sample one of the homemade desserts.
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8. Explore Otsego Lake
Accessible from several public parks as well as the stunning Otesaga Resort Hotel, Otsego Lake stretches7.6 miles, adding even more family fun to a spring or summer visit to Cooperstown. Glacially-formed, Otsego Lake’s crystal clear water beckons swimmers, boaters and kayakers. Kayak rentals are available seasonally. But, if paddling’s not your thing, book a lake cruise on the Glimmerglass Queen.
Perched above Otsego Lake, historic landmark Hyde Hall showcases the architecture of a neo-classic country mansion. Tours are available and the views of Otsego Lake below are breathtaking.
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9. Embrace Outdoor Pursuits at Glimmerglass State Park
Located ten minutes outside of Cooperstown Village at the opposite end of Lake Otsego, Glimmerglass State Park provides an outdoor playground. The park offers camping facilities and a great beach. Swimming, fishing, biking and hiking keep grandparents and grandkids busy.
A favorite hiking trail, the Sleeping Lion climbs Mount Wellington on the eastern shore of Otsego Lake. From the south, it resembles a sleeping lion – hence the trail name. The 2.5-mile loop trail begins in Glimmerglass State Park and leads to a moderately steep climb through the forest amid majestic white pines, hemlocks and hardwoods. The descent on the west side of the mountain showcases gorgeous views of Otsego Lake through the trees.
10. Enjoy the Glimmerglass Festival at Glimmerglass Opera House
NYC caliber opera performances are an unexpected treat in the small village of Cooperstown. But each year from early July through mid-August, the Glimmerglass Festival showcases opera and musical theater events in a stunning venue. Check out the festival schedule and introduce the kids or grandkids to this new experience.
11. Sip Your Way Along the Beverage Trail
The Cooperstown Beverage Trail introduces the over 21 members of the family to the tastes of the village. Once the hop growing capital of North America, Cooperstown is now home to several breweries. Along the beverage trail, you’ll sample the products of Bear Pond Winery, Ommegang Brewery, Cooperstown Brewing Company, Cooperstown Distillery and Fly Creek Cider Mill.
12. Attend a Family-Friendly Concert or Event at Ommegang Brewery
Although beer-focused events aren’t accessible for kids, Ommegang Brewery schedules several seasonal family-friendly concerts and events where the under-age kids and grandkids are welcome. Combine Sunday brunch with bingo or compete against the kids at Jeopardy night. Check out the schedule and book a little extra fun for the family.
13. Ride the Rails with Rail Explorers
One of our favorite Cooperstown experiences, Rail Explorers transforms old abandoned railroad tracks into a fun outdoor experience. Utilizing custom-designed rail bikes with power assist, we pedaled our way along a 12-mile stretch of the tracks passing farmland, baseball fields and forests along the way. The quad cars — which seat four — worked perfectly for taking the grandkids along.
14. Play Mini-Golf at Barnyard Swing
Featuring an 18-hole outdoor miniature golf course with water elements and other fun fixtures, an afternoon at Barnyard Swing is definitely one of the fun things to do in Cooperstown NY with the kids. It’s also a budget-friendly attraction at just $8.50 per round (ages 0-4 play free) and a group rate for 10 or more people at $7.50 per game. Along with mini-golf, Barnyard Swing offers laser tag and gem mining. Picnic spots and the Sassy Cow Icecreamery add delicious treats to this fun-filled attraction.
15. Sleep in Luxury at Otesaga Resort Hotel
You can’t miss the stunning Otesaga Resort Hotel ideally situated on the shore of Otsego Lake. An elegant icon of Cooperstown, the resort’s bountiful amenities offer something for the whole family. Play a round on the Leatherstocking Golf Course, rent canoes or paddleboards to explore Otsego Lake or pamper yourself at the Hawkeye Spa. Every traveling mom or grandmom can appreciate the value of that!