Two months ago my wife and I celebrated a family friend’s wedding at the Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York. Amanda and I were pumped to not only go to a place we had never been but also to attend a wedding at a brewery! This would be a first for the both of us. We figured we knew what to expect for an upstate NY adventure. Backcountry roads, rolling hills, silos dotting the landscape, and plenty of cows roaming rolling fields. We also knew that Cooperstown was the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. We figured, sweet, maybe we will check it out if we have some extra time. Outside of that we really didn’t have too many expectations for our trip.
What I didn’t know before driving into the downtown area of Cooperstown was how special and unique the town that lay ahead actually was. Driving into Cooperstown from the west we passed a handful of BBQ joints all smelling of mouth watering smoked deliciousness. As we turned the corner onto Main Street in this adorable one light town I fell in love. The historic district of Cooperstown consists of a few blocks of beautiful old buildings that line the streets. Giving it that quaint small town charm that I have found in so many other places before. What makes this place different from any other beautiful old downtown is that EVERYTHING is all about America’s favorite past time… BASEBALL! The hall of fame is at the end of the main drag and every store, restaurant, and coffee shop leading up to it is baseball themed.
Now, I am not the biggest baseball fan but even I could appreciate how incredible this place really was. So, what did we do? We explored.
We started by parking the car in a lot off of Main Street which conveniently put us right in front of Doubleday Field. This is rumored to be the birthplace of baseball where the field’s namesake etched the rules of the game into the dirt with a stick. Whether or not this is where the game was originally created it’s a great place to start your Cooperstown adventure.
Fill the Tank
If you’re hungry stop by the Doubleday Cafe just around the corner on Main Street for breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks. The friendly waitstaffs t-shirts encompass the essence of the town stating “A drinking town with a baseball problem.” The restaurant is in the theme of, what else, baseball and serves some outstanding homemade meals. If the bacon mac and cheese is on the specials board GET IT! It is out of this world, but really, everything here is delicious.
Discover Some History
From there head down to the iconic Baseball Hall of Fame that has three floors of baseball memorabilia commemorating the history of the sport as well as plaques of the hall of famers themselves. Admission is a little on the expensive side (adults $23) but, in my opinion, worth the money to see this piece of history that the town is built around.
Be sure to walk a block back from Main Street to check out the waterfront park overlooking the southern portion of Otsego Lake. The view is beautiful so if you have a kayak or paddle board bring it for the trip because you will be so tempted to get on the water.
Wet Your Whistle
After you’ve checked out the town’s main claim to fame it’s time to get to it’s secondary hobby… drinking. The region is saturated with countless breweries, wineries and distilleries so if you’re a fan of any of those three you are in luck. Right in the village of Cooperstown you can find the Cooperstown Beverage Exchange to wet your whistle between your baseball themed activities. If you’re willing to venture outside of the village and take a little bit of a drive you can find yourself within range of the Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown Brewing Company, Bear Pond Winery, Fly Creek Cider Mill, Rustic Ridge Winery and Butternut’s Beer and Ale. Needless to say, you have options.
On the Road Again
Heading back to Boston we took the scenic route. We started out driving along Ostego Lake on County Highway 31 until we hooked up with U.S. Route 20 all the way to Albany. Once on route 20 we stumbled across The Teepee souvenir shop in Cherry Valley, NY. I obviously had to pull over to take a picture. In my opinion kitschy roadside charm is a must for any good road trip.
A little further down the road in Duanesburg, NY we stopped at the Chuck Wagon Diner for a bite to eat. It is my favorite diner to date and for a few reasons. First, the food was delicious. Second, we were greeted with a free cup of minestrone soup from the owner when we sat down. Third, all of the wait staff and customers seemed to be old friends. It was incredibly endearing. Oh, and it was done in the ole Americana style that I am in love with.
Anywhoser, the trip overall far exceeded my expectations. From a happy couple saying I do whilst drinking a beer to an all American town with great charm. And plenty of good roadside kitsch. Everything was perfect. Cooperstown, until we meet again…