Cooperstown, New York, (population 1,853) is recognized by most Americans as the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. But it is the delightful small town of rural traditions, restored historic buildings, and myriad cultural attractions that visitors tend to remember just as much. Located in the central region of the state, Cooperstown was settled in the late 18th century by William Cooper, father of novelist James Fenimore Cooper, whose novels were set in and around Cooperstown. The aesthetic centerpiece of Cooperstown is beautiful Otsego Lake, which author Cooper nicknamed the Glimmerglass.
Surrounded by magnificent wooded hills and situated on the lake’s shores, Cooperstown became a popular summer retreat by the middle 1800’s. Many of the estates and houses built during that time are still in use today, as is the Otesaga Hotel, the gracious keystone of Cooperstown which was built in 1909. The hotel is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and is a member of Historic Hotels of America. Fully restored with historic integrity, it has 137 rooms, several meeting rooms for business conferences, and a patio overlooking the lake.
Today Cooperstown is a “village of museums,” including the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which opened in 1939 with the induction of Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Ty Cobb, and other baseball legends. The Farmers’ Museum, one of the country’s oldest outdoor living history museums, showcases rural life in 1845 in its village of historic trade and craft shops. The Fenimore House Museum is home to one of the country’s premier folk art collections. Other cultural attractions include the Glimmerglass Opera, New York State Historical Association, National Art Association Show, Gallery 53 Multi-Arts Center, Cooperstown Brush and Palette Club, and several small art galleries.
Cooperstown’s Main Street provides residents and visitors with shopping in unusual clothing and gift emporiums, lodging in quaint bed-and-breakfast inns and working farms, and fine and family dining in a variety of restaurants. The town’s Trolley System features five old-fashioned trolleys that carry visitors to Main Street and the museums in town. Cooperstown’s special events range from an annual canoe regatta and baseball games at Doubleday Field to crafts shows, harvest festivals, car shows, special Christmas activities, and golf tournaments at the Leatherstocking Golf Course.
A twice weekly farmers market brings farmers and their wares to Main Street from June to October, and other area attractions include the Fly Creek Cider Mill and Brewery Ommegang. During the summer, hourly boat tours of Otsego Lake include viewing the scenic wetlands at the Goodyear Sanctuary. Three Mile Point Park and Fairy Spring Park bordering Otsego Lake offer picnicking and swimming from Memorial Day through Labor Day (weekend only Memorial Day through end of June and then open 7 days a week, while Glimmerglass State Park offers camping, and winter sports such as cross-country skiing, ice skating, and tubing, making Cooperstown a town for four seasons.