When nature looks this pristine and enchanting, the urge is to keep staring. Witness the water changing color throughout the day: from a shimmering, antique silver luster at sunrise, to a tropical aquamarine when the sun blazes in the afternoon, and finally, to a pool of pink and blue at sunset, like a mirror reflecting the transformation in the skies above.
Early in the morning, or just after a rainstorm, a misty fog rises above Otsego Lake, which stretches for almost 8 miles in central New York. Early 19th-century writer James Fenimore Cooper described its magnificence in his classic “Leatherstocking Tales,” calling the lake “Glimmerglass.” With the waters nestled between lush, green hills, it looks like a scene from a storybook.
To be rewarded with such a view, one must travel to the village of Cooperstown, New York, where time pauses for you to soak in nature’s spectacle, to enjoy silence, to do nothing. Cooperstown is the kind of place far enough from the big city that you can lose yourself in the serenity of the landscape.
But once you’ve had enough of that, there are plenty of cultural activities to enjoy.
Cooperstown has long been known as a baseball mecca. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is here, which draws scores of fans to the annual induction ceremony. The museum traces the history of the sport through artifacts like Yogi Berra’s Yankees cap, a glove Babe Ruth used during the 1926 World Series, and early handbooks on the rules of the game. Exhibits cover everything from women in baseball, to team mascots, to the evolution of the baseball stadium.
As the mythical birthplace of America’s pastime, Cooperstown satiates fans’ appetites with batting ranges, shops selling collectors’ items, and a wax museum with figures of baseball greats—all on Main Street, within walking distance of each other.
Arts & Culture
Even if you’re not a baseball aficionado, Cooperstown offers plenty to take in. At the northern end of Otsego Lake, the Alice Busch Opera Theater is home to the Glimmerglass Festival, a world-class opera company that puts on three operas and one work of American musical theater every summer. The theater features sliding walls that let in fresh air and a view of the scenic grounds as you watch a performance.
The Fenimore Art Museum, meanwhile, boasts beautiful collections of American fine and folk art, as well as American Indian art, including almost 850 objects like clothing, ritual bowls, warrior armors, and handmade dolls. This season, the museum also has a special exhibit on the early work of American landscape photographer Ansel Adams, featuring small-scale prints that portray landscapes as subjects full of emotion and character.
For those who love animals and learning about American history, The Farmers’ Museum contains a historic village that recreates life in the mid-19th century, with a barn filled with farm animals and a collection of agricultural tools through the ages.
The Otesaga Resort Hotel
Opened in 1909, this historic hotel still retains its grand, old-world charm. Everything exudes American luxury from a bygone era, from the Colonial Revival architecture, to the room furnishings, to the servers in formal black-and-white uniforms. The Otesaga not only provides stunning views of the lake (with a veranda and rocking chairs for you to enjoy), but also has an outdoor heated pool and canoe, rowboat, and paddleboard rentals for guests to take onto the lake. Beyond water sports, the Otesaga is home to the Leatherstocking Golf Course, an 18-hole course designated as a cooperative sanctuary by Audubon International. The hotel also offers spa treatments and bike rentals.
If you so choose, the hotel can even take care of all three meals for you. The onsite fine dining restaurant, Glimmerglass, serves a buffet breakfast, complete with housemade donuts and pastries, airy-light blueberry waffles, and an omelette station.
For lunch, The Hawkeye Bar and Grill serves fresh, seasonal takes on classic dishes, like a Roast Vegetable Napoleon with asparagus, wild mushrooms, leeks, heirloom carrots, and sweet pea purée atop a polenta cake. The vegetables are roasted to perfection to bring out their natural sweetness, while a smear of creamy curry yogurt adds a touch of heat. The beef burger is also a winner, thanks to an in-house butcher who selects meats for the patty blend.
For dinner, it’s back to Glimmerglass for a multi-course menu accompanied by classy, live music. The meal begins with soft, pillowy house-baked bread, followed by light, refreshing salads and satisfying entrees, like the Golden Halibut, pan-seared to flaky goodness, and paired with a rich, nutty lobster emulsion. Leave room for dessert: the housemade oatmeal cookie ice cream and deconstructed cherry blossom cheesecake are to die for.
Cooperstown Beverage Trail
Once known as the hops-growing capital of America, Cooperstown offers award-winning beers, ciders, and liquors that can be sampled along the Cooperstown Beverage Trail.
Cooperstown Distillery is a small-batch company that makes gin, vodka, rum, bourbon, and whiskey from New York corn and grains. Fenimore Gin, made from 14 different botanicals, surprises with its smooth mouthfeel and pleasant fragrance.
Fly Creek Cider Mill is a 160-year-old mill that operates on a water-powered turbine. Go on a free tour to see the historic hydraulic press and learn about the production process. Then shop in the market, packed with specialty mill-made products like fudge, salsas, apple wine, and hot sauce. Finally, make a stop at the food counter, where soups, sandwiches, and apple treats like apple cider donuts, cider floats, pies, and slushies are served.
Brewery Ommegang has soared in popularity and size since its creation in 1997, but still stays true to its craft spirit. Beers are made with unique combinations of hops and spices (like cumin, coriander, and star anise). Dine at the 100-seat cafe for scrumptious Belgian fare, starring ale-infused dishes like mussels in basil pesto cream sauce and Ommegang Witte, and Nirvana IPA-marinated roast chicken. The brewery also holds a summer concert series; this year’s lineup includes popular artists like Norah Jones, The Lumineers, and Ben Harper.
This trip was arranged by Cooperstown Getaway. For more information see cooperstowngetaway.org