Sitting on the bay of the beautiful lake Otsego in Central New York, Cooperstown is a destination that has a little something for everyone. This quaint little all-American village is most popularly known for being the home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but there are so many more things to do whether you love or loathe the United States national pastime.
Cooperstown has always been special to me, as my dad has taken me north to the baseball mecca probably a dozen times since I was young.
Best Things to Do in Cooperstown
Cooperstown has something to do for every visitor with its world-class museum, stunning natural scenery, craft breweries, and baseball-centric culture. Here’s our list of 7 of the best things to do in Cooperstown.
1. Check Out the National Baseball Hall of Fame
Baseball is widely regarded as “America’s National Pastime.” The National Baseball Hall of Fame is dedicated to the greatest players that have ever lived. While I personally am a baseball fan, this museum truly can be enjoyed by anyone, baseball fan or not.
In all of our travels to over 45 countries, I can honestly say that the National Baseball Hall of Fame is one of the top-5 museums that I have been to. It’s somewhere up there with the Louvre in Paris, Bodyworks in Amsterdam, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. It is very thoroughly done and designed to be enjoyed by everyone.
My favorite parts of the museum are the movie at the Grandstand Theater that gets played hourly, the Latinos in baseball section, the section filled with screens showing video highlights from history, and the section about the current teams filled with pieces from their recent history. Also, be sure not to miss the sections on women in baseball and black and African-American people in baseball.
2. Indulge Along the Cooperstown Beverage Trail
I love beer. I love wine. In Cooperstown, there is a beverage trail that is filled with vineyards and craft breweries!
Before our visit in June of 2021, I had never headed out onto the Beverage Trail. I didn’t realize what I was missing! While I’ve heard that the vineyards in the area are fantastic, we opted to just check out three of the top breweries on the loop so that we could relax and enjoy our time a bit more.
We grabbed a flight at three places: Red Shed Brewery, the Cooperstown Brewing Company, and Brewery Ommegang. Each place offered a unique trait we loved, and we can’t recommend one place over the other.
Brewery Ommegang is the classiest, Red Shed Brewery is the most relaxing, and Cooperstown Brewing Company is the funnest. Still, check them all out and decide for yourself!
3. Catch a Game at Doubleday Field
Doubleday Field is Cooperstown’s own baseball stadium located right in the heart of town. This stadium hosts many different games throughout the year. They range from occasional professional games to little league games and everything in between.
There is no minor or major league team that is actually local to Cooperstown. So, there is really no set schedule of games that you can find online. One time of the year that you can be sure to catch a game is Memorial Day weekend when several Hall of Famers and other retired players return to Cooperstown to play a game at Doubleday Field and host other meet-and-greet events.
My dad and I have gone to this many times and have met over a dozen Hall of Famers. This is called the Hall of Fame Classic. Visiting over Memorial Weekend to attend this event is definitely the best time to visit Cooperstown.
Be sure to buy your tickets online in advance!
4. Spend a Day on Otsego Lake
Cooperstown is close to the Finger Lake region of New York, and Otsego Lake is similar to the Finger Lakes. In the summer, you can always see people boating, jet-skiing, kayaking, and paddle boarding. I have not had the opportunity to do any of these, but I’ve taken a paddle boat for a spin!
For a place to commandeer a vessel (or rent a kayak) you can head down to the Lake Front Hotel. You can inquire about prices at the booth by the lake.
If you’re hungry, I’ve also grabbed food at their restaurant several times, but more on that in a bit.
In the summer months, having lunch and a couple of drinks on the water is one of the most fun and relaxing experiences that you can have in Cooperstown. The weather really does heat up despite how far north the town is!
5. Peruse the Memorabilia at the Iconic Shops on Main Street
This one is probably a bit more appealing to the baseball fans out there, but I think it’s still something that anyone can enjoy and appreciate for a little. Cooperstown is completely baseball-themed, from the museums to the stores and all the way to the beers.
On Main Street, which is the heart of Cooperstown, there are endless adorable, family-owned shops filled with baseball-themed clothing, food, drinks, and of course, memorabilia.
Whether you’re looking for autographed baseballs, framed pictures, baseball cards, or just a t-shirt with your local team’s logo, you can find it in the shops on Main Street. A couple of my favorites are Shoeless Joe’s and Yastrzemski’s.
When you shop for memorabilia, make sure that you compare the prices between different stores. You can find very similar autographed baseballs by the same guy, for example, that sell for extremely different prices. By comparing at a few different stores you’re more likely to find a good deal!
6. Admire Native American Art at the Fenimore Art Museum
The Fenimore Art Museum is very highly regarded by art lovers. It has a very large section devoted to Native American Art. Cooperstown is located in an area that was heavily populated with Indigenous people at one point, and this is still evidenced by many of the names of locations and landmarks in the area.
The Fenimore Art Museum strives to preserve and admire that history within several of its exhibits. In fact, right outside of the museum is the largest piece in the museum’s collection; a giant totem pole!
In addition to Native American Art, there are many other exhibits in the museum. They range from all different kinds and origins of art, and some of them are very unique. They rotate, and the best way to know what is currently being shown is to visit their website. General Admission tickets are $12, senior citizens get in for $10.50, and people 19 and under are free.
7. Play a Round at the Leatherstocking Golf Course
If you enjoy playing a round of golf, Leatherstocking Golf Course is worth a few hours of your time. This public golf course is located right alongside Otsego Lake.
Leatherstocking Golf Course is located right next to and also owned by the famous Otesaga Resort Hotel. This hotel is widely considered to be the ritziest hotel in the whole area.
A round of gold here definitely puts a dent in the wallet with greens fees ranging from $70 to $127. If you’re a golfer it might be worth it to you. Book your tee time online here.
If you aren’t worried about your budget, a stay at the Otesaga Resort Hotel is about as luxurious as it gets in Cooperstown. This hotel is where all of the Hall of Fame inductees stay during their induction weekend. The hotel offers reduced greens fees to its guests.
The Best Restaurants in Cooperstown
There are loads of great restaurants in Cooperstown. After visiting a dozen times, I have a pretty good idea of which places to recommend to you.
This is not an exhaustive list, and these are all places that I myself have eaten at. I chose not to include anything that I haven’t visited myself.
How to Get to Cooperstown
The closest major airport to Cooperstown is Albany International Airport (ALB), about an hour and a half to the east. This is probably as close as you can get if you’re flying to Cooperstown.
If you’re coming from far away and are looking to score a cheaper flight, you’d probably have better luck flying into New York City and then driving just under four hours to Cooperstown. To save some money on your airfare, check out my detailed guide to finding cheap flights.
In both scenarios, you’d most likely need a rental car. There is no direct bus from Albany International Airport or either of the New York City international airports to Cooperstown.
If you’re looking to drive to Cooperstown, there is ample street parking and hotel parking, so you will not need to worry about paying massive parking garage fees anywhere in town. Most street parking that isn’t on Main Street is free, and most hotels offer free parking to their guests here.
How to Get Around Cooperstown
BY FOOT | TROLLEY
Getting around Cooperstown could not be easier. Firstly, within the town itself, you can walk everywhere and don’t need a car. Main Street is no more than a mile long, and there isn’t much to do immediately off of Main Street.
If you’re looking to come into the town for the day, I highly advise using the trolley system! There is a trolley system connecting three free parking lots on the outskirts of town to a few stops along Main Street.
The three lots are named after the primary colors – red, blue, and yellow. They are each in a whole different area of the town. A quick search on your phone can show you exactly where each one is.
If you want to do things that aren’t on Main Street, like the Beverage Trail, the museums, or many of the great restaurants to the south of town, just drive. Parking outside of town is free and there is no faster way to get around than in your own car.
Is Cooperstown Worth Visiting?
Cooperstown is an adorable little town in New York. However, its baseball-centric theme can be either a major attraction or deterrent, depending on your own opinion of the sport!
The town has a baseball charm like no other, from its memorabilia shops to its restaurants and bars. The entire place breathes baseball, and the Hall of Fame is the center of it all. This is a baseball lover’s paradise, and it is absolutely worth visiting.
If you are less of a baseball fan, there are still plenty of reasons to visit Cooperstown. The town’s location on the tranquil Otsego Lake and its plethora of outstanding restaurants are a few examples. Baseball aside, Cooperstown is a very relaxing, colonial town that deserves a visit from just about anyone.
Our Final Cooperstown Tips
That’s all we have for you about Cooperstown! Hopefully, this Cooperstown travel guide helps you to plan the best possible trip to the baseball capital of the world.
If you’re planning a trip to Cooperstown, let us know. Comment below! We’d love to chat ahead of time and answer any questions you have.