Many baseball fans dream of one day visiting Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Before I ever played in my first Little League game, I wanted to stand in front of the uniforms of great players like Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, and so many others. It took me 40 years to finally make the trip to Cooperstown and I’m so thankful I made the trip with my kids.
There’s more to do in Cooperstown than the National Baseball Hall of Fame. You can take a day and visit the Hall of Fame, or turn it into a relaxing 3-day vacation and enjoy the beautiful town and the peaceful Lake Oswego. The itinerary my kids and I used helped us see everything we wanted to see while still being able to relax. If you’re planning on visiting Cooperstown, look over my itinerary and it will probably work for you.
The Farmers’ Museum:
The Farmers’ Museum sits on land that was once owned by James Fennimore Cooper and has been a working farm since 1813. The museum opened to the public in 1944 and continues to educate city folk like me on what farming life looked like years ago, and what it’s like now to work on a farm.
There are many buildings on site, with each one serving a purpose; such as a blacksmith shop, chicken coup, stable, and even an old church. Employees are stationed throughout the farm to answer questions and to demonstrate farming life. As we moved around, I shared some stories I knew about my grandfather and great-grandfathers. There was some equipment that I recognized from visiting my great grandfather when I was a little boy and I did my best to explain their purpose.
Tickets for adults are $7.50 on the weekends and $5 Monday – Friday. For kids 7-13, tickets are $3.00. Kids under 6 are free. The museum is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame:
When we picked up our tickets to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, my kids received a scavenger hunt sheet full of questions with answers found in the exhibits. My 16-year-old acted like he didn’t want to fill out a paper and volunteered to help his younger siblings, but if kids fill out the paper and turn them in at the end of their visit, they receive a packet of baseball cards. Since I wanted everyone to have their own pack, I filled out the questionnaire my oldest received. This sheet helped me by entertaining my kids so I could spend more time perusing the plethora of baseball memorabilia. As we toured the museum, it was obvious I wasn’t the only dad filling out a kid’s sheet. Everywhere you looked, there was a dad holding a paper and pencil while their kids wandered around. Occasionally, I would greet other dads with a smile of acknowledgment.
As I walked around the Hall of Fame, it took me back to being that kid on the floor of my bedroom who loved baseball. I relived staring at my TV during George Brett’s pine tar incident while looking at the bat that caused the controversy. Nolan Ryan’s jersey hung before me and I recalled being in awe of his 5,000 strikeouts and the cool baseball cards all the kids wanted to collect, which included his name and statistics. Pete Rose’s shoes and bat brought me back to glorifying his playing style and being heartbroken by his gambling and exit from baseball. Cal Ripken’s helmet sat behind the glass, and I was once again admiring his commitment to baseball and to the fans. We also walked through exhibits discussing Baseball’s racist past, the Negro Leagues, and the great Jackie Robinson. We walked through other exhibits honoring Latin players and the women who played. With each stop, I talked to my kids about the players and the memories they stirred.
Tickets are timed and it’s recommended to buy your tickets ahead of time. You don’t want to show up and try and purchase your tickets the same day. It’s possible you will not be allowed to enter.
Kids under 6 are free.
Adults and Seniors are $25.
Juniors are $15.
Veterans receive a $7 discount with proof of service.
To purchase your timed tickets, click here.
The museum is open 7 days a week from 9 am to 5 pm. (Subject to change once COVID restrictions ease.)
When you’re vacationing with kids, the place where you sleep needs as much consideration as what you do while on vacation. Because I have 4 kids, not only do I need to find a place where all my kids can sleep comfortably, but I need a place that has onsite activities. The hotel/motel/B&B that we choose is a place to come back to and unwind after touring. Since I am a travel blogger, I need to do a little work while traveling. To get work accomplished, I need to wear out my kids. The Lake ‘N’ Pines Motel in Cooperstown fit all of our needs and was the perfect place for us to stay.
Lake ‘N’ Pines sits alongside Otsego Lake and boaters can tie their boat up at the dock. Guests can also rent kayaks to take out on the lake right from the Lake ‘N’ Pines dock. Our room had a deck overlooking Otsego Lake, that I used as a workspace while listening to all the lovely lake noises. The deck and lake background was also a pleasant spot to enjoy a glass of bourbon from Cooperstown Distillery.
To book a room at the Lake ‘N’ Pines Motel, click here.
Cooperstown Bat Company:
Often, when on a vacation, there is an unexpected moment that occurs when everyone is uplifted and has a great time. This happened to my family when we visited Cooperstown and made a stop at the Cooperstown Bat Company for a tour of their factory.
Before we left for Cooperstown, our conversations revolved around the Baseball Hall of Fame and hiking. Our visit to the Cooperstown Bat Company scheduled tour was a stop we were looking forward to but wasn’t part of too many discussions. After our visit, it was the number one thing we talked about.
We arrived at the Cooperstown Bat Company knowing nothing about the company other than they made bats. Soon after we stepped inside, it was obvious we were among people passionate about baseball and loved their jobs. While we were watching a craftsman create bats out of a block of wood, he told us how great it felt to know that a bat he made was used to hit a home run in the World Series and was on display in the Baseball Hall of Fame. We also watched how another employee carefully decorated bats and how another worker dipped bats in paint with precision. My kids and I loved watching the process of how a bat goes from a block of wood to the moment it is ready to be shipped.
118 Main Street
Cooperstown, NY 13326
Factory location and information:
3152 County Highway 11
Hartwick, NY 13348
Demonstrations are free and groups of 10 or more should schedule ahead of time and call (607-547-2415)
Hours are Monday-Friday: 9am-Noon, 1pm-3pm
Fly Creek Cedar Mill
Eating lunch at the Fly Creek Cedar Mill is a must for visitors. Like most kids, mine at times can have trouble staying still. Lunch at the Fly Creek Mill is laid back and kids can stand up and eat or walk around. There are ducks to look at and feed. Leave room in your belly though for ice cream or other tasty desserts. The Fly Creek Cedar Mill also has a store on premisis, where I dropped a lot of money on apple butter, wine, and various sauces.
Candlelight Ghost Tour
I love taking ghost tours of cities and not just because they offer up eerie tales of ghosts and of things that go bump in the night. I love ghost tours because you get a deeper knowledge of the town and its people. The Cooperstown Candlelight Ghost Tour did just that. Our tour guide told stories of people who have died and how their voices are still heard today. My youngest still loves telling the story of Jenny and her painting. Want to know the story of Jenny and the painting? Go on the tour.
Hyde Hall was constructed between 1817 and 1834, a mansion designed by Philip Hooker was built for George Clarke. Clarke was a wealthy landowner who inherited a fortune from his grandfather. Before construction began in 1813, Clarke married Ann Low Cary Cooper, a wealthy widow from a prominent New York family. George named his home “Hyde Hall” after his ancestral home in Cheshire, England.
Like most mansions and historic sites we visit, I spent a lot of time telling my younger kids, “Don’t touch that,” and “Don’t sit there.” Thankfully, our tour guide was fantastic and understanding of my kids’ needs to reach out and touch everything at eye level. We are a history-loving family and appreciated learning about the inhabitants of the house and those that worked inside the mansion.
Hyde Hall sits next to Glimmerglass State Park and is gorgeous. Give yourself time after visiting Hyde Hall to have a picnic, go for a swim, and enjoy the beauty of Upstate New York.
Barnyard Swing Mini Golf
If you’re not too tired, head over to Barnyard Swing Mini Golf to put the final nail in the fun coffin. I love to end a trip on a glorious note. The last day of a vacation can be stressful with shoving everything you can into a short amount of time. Taking a moment to relax and enjoy a round of mini-golf is a great way to say goodbye to Cooperstown.
Here are the restaurants we ate at:
Brooks House of Bar-B-Q in Oneonta, NY – A restaurant about 30 minutes away from Cooperstown and serves outstanding BBQ..
Jerry’s Place in Hartwick, NY – A laid-back diner serving sandwiches and ice cream.
Mel’s at 22 in Cooperstown, NY – This is where you go for a nice steak dinner while in Cooperstown.
Fly Creek Cider Mill in Fly Creek, NY – The perfect place to take kids for lunch.
Bocca’s Osteria in Cooperstown, NY – A Lovely Italian restaurant that will make everyone in the family happy.
Throughout our time in Cooperstown, we enjoyed walking along Main Street and stopping in all the shops and bakeries. There are several baseball card stores on Main Street where collectors can try and find that elusive card they’ve been desperately searching for.
We also spent some of our time hiking through Cooperstown forests, looking for James Fennimore Cooper’s cave, but couldn’t find it. If you enjoy hiking, look through this list of great hikes in the area before you visit.
Disclaimer: I partnered with This is Coopertown for this story.