Cooperstown, NY is well known as the “Birthplace of Baseball,” which placed it high up on the list of places our kids wanted to visit this summer. After spending a summer weekend there recently, we explored all that the charming town and local culture has to offer, making this a summer weekend well spent.
This post is sponsored by Cooperstown/Otsego County Tourism. As always, all opinions are my own.
With two baseball-loving big kids (and Dad), we were excited to set out on an adventure to the homeplace of our nation’s favorite pastime. Our itinerary was loose, the weather was perfect, and we had a whole weekend ahead to explore.
Where to stay in Cooperstown, NY
Bayside Inn and Marina | This peaceful lakeside inn felt comfortable and well-equipped to keep a family with kids busy. A small private swimming beach drew our kids like moths to a flame as soon as we arrived. The water was perfectly clean and the beach wasn’t crowded at all. We liked that the water was mostly shallow, so Tom and I could let the kids play while we sat and chatted with a drink. Our room was spacious and clean, and we used a rollaway bed for Isla, which she liked just fine. Sometimes finding rooms that can accomodate a family of five can be tricky, but the Bayside Inn was happy to accomodate us.
Must see & do: Rent the free kayaks and canoes and paddle around the lake
What to Do in Cooperstown, NY
National Baseball Hall of Fame | Tom and the boys were intent on exploring this legendary museum. With three floors to wander and many interactive exhibits, we spent the better part of the morning there. I loved that there were displays to engage kids of all ages. The exhibits walk you through the history of baseball and the legends that our kids look up to today. We took our time and wandered the three floors, enjoying the look back at American history. Leaving the museum and walking past the historic Doubleday Field brought us back to 1920, when the first games were played here. I loved watching the kids soak up the history of the game. If our kids loved baseball before, now they felt it in their hearts how the sport has shaped American history.
Don’t miss: The Baseball Hall of Fame shows a movie at various intervals about the history of baseball that was the perfect way to start our exploring at the museum. Check out the Pride and Passion exhibit telling the story about segregation in baseball, and the Women in Baseball exhibit for a teachable moment.
Cooperstown Dreams Park | A trip to Cooperstown would not be complete without a visit to the Cooperstown Dreams Park, a world-renowned tournament facility a short drive from the museum. The enormous park is dedicated to developing skills in young players, with teams coming in from all over the country. We arrived at the beginning of an exciting skills competition and left hoarse from cheering, making this a huge highlight of the trip for the boys.
Main Street Shopping | All the baseball-themed shopping you could desire line this quaint street with a small-town feel. Every piece of baseball paraphernalia you can imagine is housed in the shops from bats and signed baseballs to vintage baseball cards and pennants. We browsed around the shops for about an hour and left with what the kids proclaim are the coolest commemorative hats around.
Don’t miss: The Cooperstown Bat Company fits players for the perfect bat, which is a fun experience. We stopped at Schneider’s Bakery for homemade donuts, pastries, and coffee and were not disappointed!
Cooperstown and Lake Otsego | As soon as we arrived in town, I was captivated by the charm of historic homes and streets and the gorgeous scenery of Lake Otsego. From fishing, boating, swimming, and more, the lake was busy being enjoyed and we were eager to join in the summertime fun.
Must Do: Rent fishing equipment and bring a picnic basket for a day on the lake, or rent a boat or kayak to spend the day on the water.
Jerry’s Place | On our way into town we stopped at Jerry’s, a relaxed, family-friendly restaurant and arcade. We ate our (huge) burgers and fries outside on the patio, then headed back in to let the kids play for awhile in the arcade. Tom was a pool shark in his glory days, so it was fun to see him teach the kids a thing or two. Great spot to eat and stretch your legs after the drive.
Must try: Order a milkshake – you won’t regret it! The kids’ eyes lit up when they saw the Mason jar it’s served in. I also loved the pickles on my burger – completely new to me, they were half sour and half sweet. So good!
Mel’s at 22 | We came for the fabulous seafood and fresh ingredients and we were not disappointed. Located in a beautifully preserved historic building, Mel’s strikes just the right note of family-friendly yet sophisticated experience we were looking for on a Friday night. We ordered the crispy potato skins to start, a divine B.L.T wedge salad, and the best halibut I’ve ever had. The sauce was flavorful and tangy and I ate every bite with relish. Even with a tired little one eventually climbing on my lap for a nap, we stayed for awhile and enjoyed the live music on a beautiful summer night.
Origins Cafe | Set in a lush garden atmosphere, Origins Cafe was one of the most unique and delicious lunches we had. What first started as a food truck, the family-run Origins quickly grew into a favorite local sit-down restaurant. We learned a little about their mission to partner with local farms to provide good food and a thriving community-focused business. I ordered the lemon dill hummus with fresh veggies to start, which I am excited to try to recreate at home! Tom ordered the Chicory Creek Organic Chicken Panini and I had the Burrito Bowl and we gobbled them both down with a quickness.
Of note: Try the blueberry lemonade – so refreshing! The smoothies looked incredible, too. There is no kids’ menu, but our server was happy to make grilled cheese sandwiches and salads for the kids.
Brook’s House of BBQ | Traditional sweet and tangy chicken BBQ is Tom’s love language, so to say he was excited about this dinner choice is putting it mildly. We all ordered something different: Tom ordered the BBQ chicken and baked potato, with a trip to the salad bar. The kids ordered BBQ ribs and pulled pork, and I had my BBQ chicken on a fresh bed of mixed greens. Messy and delicious! All the meals came with a slice of spiced apple on top, which was a treat.
Of note: be sure to walk by the charcoal pit, the largest indoor pit of it’s kind in the East, and pick up a bottle of their famous BBQ sauce to bring back home.
Next time: On our shortlist for next time we visit, Brewery Ommegang.
What to do in Cooperstown
Barnyard Swing | Show me a child who doesn’t love mini golf, and I’ll be shocked. Our kids were thrilled to stop by Barnyard Swing for some family fun on their 18 hole miniature course. This is the place we learned that Isla has a great golf swing, although she was distracted half way through by the gem mining. We finished our golf game and headed over to mine our bags of “gem rough” in a sluice of water. The gems were a huge hit and we left with happy kids holding their gem treasures.
Of note: There was something for everyone to enjoy, from laser tag, pottery painting, a game room, and then Sassy Cow Ice Cream to top it off. Great place to let kids run around after a day at the museum.
Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard | Known for their cider, still made on sight 163 years later, Fly Creek is a fun stopping place for tasty snacks and exploring. We took full advantage of over 40 samples set out daily while we took a tour of the working cider mill. The kids liked the duck racing almost as much as all the fudge and cider samples.
Must try: So many snacks! Apple salsa, fudge, cherry apple wine, pies, and apple syrup were some of our favorite tastings. I also love the Fly Creek Cider Mill Cookbook I brought home, which features more than 100 local apple recipes.
Farmers’ Museum | This was one of the highlights of the trip! The museum is a historic village from the late 18th and early 19th centuries filled with actual homesteads and buildings from the time period. We arrived just as the village opened and chores for the day began. We were fascinated watching what families did each day to make sure they stayed fed and warm all year long. Preparing and harvesting the garden and fields, chopping firewood, and preserving foods was backbreaking work but necessary for the times. We saw how they made cottage cheese from their milking cow, collected food from the garden, spun wool from their sheep for clothing, and baked the daily bread and meals.
Kingfisher Lavender | Not much is more calm and peaceful than sitting at the top of a mountain on a small lavender farm and breathing in the lightly scented air. We stopped here briefly on the way home to see the delicate blooms and shop for lavender-scented soaps, body butter, and dried bunches to decorate.
Of note: Carve out some time to sit and take in the view and the breeze. You won’t be disappointed!
Next time: Visit the Fenimore Art Museum
I’d love to hear about your favorite Cooperstown memories or places to visit! This was such a fun trip for us, we’re making plans to return again soon!
Thank you again, Cooperstown/Otsego County Tourism, for inviting us to visit!
Originally posted on: https://www.willowcrestlane.com/a-weekend-well-spent-in-cooperstown-ny/