Visiting the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY

Opening Day of baseball season is almost here and my family has baseball on the brain. If you have fans in your family, visiting the National Baseball Hall of Fame is absolutely worth a trip. But even if you’re not a huge fan of America’s pastime, you’ll find there’s an awful lot to like in idyllic Cooperstown.

National Baseball Hall of Fame

25 Main Street, Cooperstown

Founded in 1939, the National Baseball Hall of Fame has grown into perhaps the best-known sports shrine in the world. Find all things baseball amongst its 38,000 artifacts while learning about the history of our national pastime and about the legends who made a tremendous impact on the sport.

There’s so much to see, from the Philly Phanatic to World Series rings and a piece of old Comiskey Park. There are also exhibits exploring the roles women and African-Americans have played, and an exhibit titled “Today’s Game” that features lockers of each MLB team with recent artifacts.

The museum suggests saving the Hall of Fame Gallery for the end of your visit. Getting into this hallowed space is not easy. Only 217 former major league players have a spot here, one percent of those who have played.

One friend says, “I’m not a huge baseball fan, but I couldn’t help but be impressed. I enjoyed it far more than I anticipated.”

Where to Eat

Doubleday Café

93 Main St, Cooperstown

While there’s not a ton of evidence that Abner Doubleday founded baseball, I do have evidence that the café named after him is a good place to stop for a meal. We didn’t mean to end up there twice, but we did, perhaps because of its proximity to the Hall. The popcorn to munch on if you have a wait can be a life saver for kids who need to eat right away. The burger was solid, and my family seemed happy and fueled up for fun at the Hall.

Cooperstown Diner

136 1/2 Main St, Cooperstown

During our stay, this adorable little (emphasis on little) place was packed to the gills during a bit of a downpour. But the crowds are indication of how good it is, and it’s just so quaint, like the whole town.

Where to Stay

Otesaga Resort Hotel

60 Lake Street, Cooperstown

This historic hotel manages to be both elegant and family friendly (It’s also possibly haunted!). The verandah overlooking Otsego Lake is really stunning and it feels like a step back in time. Breakfast is included and while room rates are pricey, you can check the website for specials. The outdoor pool is heated, and grownups will appreciate relaxing in the Hawkeye Spa.

We walked from here to the Hall, but there’s also a trolley that runs from the Hall to the Museum and it stops here, too. It’s $2/day.

Best Western

50 Commons Drive, Cooperstown

Located just four miles from the Hall, this is a more budget-friendly option that includes free breakfast and an indoor pool.

More to Do

The Farmers’ Museum

5775 State Highway 80, Cooperstown

Visitors to the Farmers’ Museum get to see what rural and village life was like in the 19th century. There is a working farmstead and a recreation of a historic village. The Empire State Carousel is also a popular attraction featuring 25 hand-carved animals that represent the resources of New York State, such as an Erie Canal boat and a scallop shell in honor of the state shellfish.

Hours vary, check website.

Fenimore Art Museum

5798 State Highway 80, Cooperstown

This museum is more aimed at grown-ups, but the collection of folk and Native American art is impressive. You can learn more about the Coopers of Cooperstown, including author James Fenimore Cooper who wrote “The Leatherstocking Tales.”

You can get a reduced-price combination ticket if you’re visiting both the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Fenimore Art Museum.

The Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard

288 Goose Street, Fly Creek, NY

Just ten minutes from Cooperstown, this is a fun place to stop any time of year. It’s an historic, water-powered mill on the banks of Fly Creek that began in 1856. In addition to learning a bit of history about cider making, there are daily tastings of over 40 specialty foods. There’s also a restaurant on site.

Getting to Cooperstown

Cooperstown is approximately a twelve-hour drive from Chicago. It’s about 90 miles from Albany, Syracuse and Binghamton airports.

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