The 2015 Major League Baseball season is in full swing, with every team battling it out for their place in the World Series. But a month from now, one of the most important baseball events will be held, and it’s not even in a ballpark. Every July, the heroes of baseball are honored by being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The annual event is held in Cooperstown, New York, and though it might be difficult to find a seat at the induction, there are plenty of other attractions to see in Cooperstown, especially the Hall of Fame itself. If you’re thinking of visiting this world famous shrine to the American sport of baseball even after the induction ceremonies are over, this baseball-centric travel guide to the historic village of Cooperstown can provide you with some choice ideas of what to see, where to stay and where to eat.
How To Get There
The most convenient major airport to Cooperstown is Albany International Airport. Ground transportation services include hotel shuttles, taxi and bus service and car rentals. The airport is approximately 70 miles from Cooperstown.
There is no direct train service to Cooperstown, with the closest Amtrak station in Utica, 40 miles away. Three Amtrak routes serve the Utica station – Lake Shore Limited, Empire Service and the Maple Leaf. Several car rental agencies operate in Utica and neighboring Yorkville, including Avis, Budget and Hertz.
Cooperstown is located 200 miles north of New York City and a one-way trip is estimated to take four hours. The closest interstate highways are 88, with a connection to State Route 28 and 90, with a connection to State Route 166.
Where To Stay
With one of the nation’s most storied attractions in town, visitors have many great options for overnight accommodations. Many of the best are located within walking distance of the Baseball Hall of Fame or along the shores of Otsego Lake. Here are five recommendations: Otesaga Resort Hotel, The Inn at Cooperstown, The Cooper Inn, Bayside Inn and Marina and Cooperstown Lakeview Lodge.
How To Get Around
Cooperstown operates a low cost trolley running approximately every 20 minutes from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Posted hours of operation are from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and all day passes are just $2 per person. Because parking can be scarce in Cooperstown during the peak summer months, visitors are urged to park in any of the three free perimeter parking lots. Car rentals, taxi services and guided tours are also available locally.
Where To Dine
With more than 50 restaurants, visitors have many affordable choices for dining. Here are five of the best spots to consider visiting: Alex and Ika Cantina de Salsa, the must-see Brewery Ommegang, The Cooperstown Diner, Lakefront Restaurant and DiMaggio’s Cooperstown Hot Grill, owned and operated by the DiMaggio family.
National Baseball Hall Of Fame
The top attraction is, of course, what draws the majority of visitors to this small lakeside community. Established in 1939, the Baseball Hall of Fame is one of the world’s most famous sports shrines. The top highlight is the gallery of the Hall of Fame members, immortalizing the greatest athletes ever to play the game of baseball. Only one percent of all major league ball players are bestowed the sport’s highest honor with induction into the Hall of Fame. The Hall’s museum features more than 40,000 artifacts, including baseballs, bats and uniforms from players such as Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams and Willie Mays.
Named after the man often credited with inventing the game of baseball, Doubleday Field is known as “baseball’s home park.” The historic ballpark is named after Abner Doubleday, a Civil War Union Army officer who, for decades, was erroneously credited as the inventor of the game of baseball. The field is reportedly recognized as the birthplace of America’s pastime, however, this is also in dispute. The park first opened in 1920 and has since undergone expansions to its present day capacity of nearly 10,000. From 1940 to 2008, Doubleday Field hosted the Hall of Fame game, traditionally held during the weekend of the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. Now known as the Hall of Fame Classic, this annual event is a feast for the eyes of any baseball fan, as living legends gather to run the bases and swing those bats one more time.
Heroes Of Baseball Wax Museum
Featuring life-sized wax figures of well known personalities associated with baseball, the American Baseball Wax Museum is a nice complement to the Hall of Fame. More than 40 wax figures are on display, including such notable figures as Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, Babe Ruth and Abbott and Costello, who are forever known for one of the most famous baseball-comedy acts in history – “Who’s on First?” Also at the wax museum is a Baseball Bloopers Movie Theatre, showcasing some of the funniest moments in baseball history, the Cooperstown Souvenir Shop and the All American Café, serving lunch and dinner daily. Almost directly across the street is another notable baseball attraction worth visiting – the Cooperstown Bat Company.
Extending nine miles along State Route 80, Lake Otsego is bounded by Glimmerglass State Park to the north and Cooperstown in the south. With outdoor recreation, a well-manicured park and sweeping views of the countryside, the lake is a popular spot for both residents and visitors. Popular things to do on the lake include canoe and kayak rentals, fishing charters and a tour of the lake on the Glimmerglass Queen Tour Boat.
Fenimore Art Museum
Managed by the New York State Historical Association, the Fenimore Art Museum houses an outstanding collection of American folk art and Native American art. The museum is named after famed American novelist James Fenimore Cooper, who lived on the site during the 19th century and whose father founded Cooperstown. Amongst the most interesting, permanent exhibitions are The Coopers of Cooperstown featuring many of James Fenimore’s written works. In addition, the Fine Art from the Permanent Collection, featuring such leading American artists as Thomas Cole, Edward Hicks, Ralph Fasanella and William Sidney Mount is a sight to see.
Visiting Cooperstown, New York makes for a wonderful vacation for both the baseball aficionado as well as the whole family. There is much to see and do in this town that goes far beyond baseball. So consider bringing the family out this summer to enjoy the sights and the sounds.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.