Cooperstown oozes Americana.
Nestled in the rolling hills of upstate New York, it resembles a Norman Rockwell painting with cute kids and eager adults walking along a quaint Main Street where flags often fly high.
Cooperstown is often called the “village of museums” due to its three internationally recognized facilities.
One definite accessory should be a baseball glove as Cooperstown is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Even non-sports types get a thrill upon entering the Hall’s Grandstand Theater. The 13-minute multimedia presentation is so vivid you can almost smell the peanuts and Cracker Jacks.
Homage to the “Sultan of Swat” can be found in a room dedicated to Babe Ruth. Hank Aaron’s Gallery of Records honors both the man who beat Ruth’s home run record in 1974 and other great baseball moments.
The story of baseball’s evolution is told from early Egyptians to Abner Doubleday’s 19th century involvement and into the 20th century when women, African-Americans and Latinos forever changed the game.
While ever changing exhibits interest all ages, the Sandlot Kids’ Clubhouse offers children’s activities. Request the special scavenger hunt sheet for those 12 and younger.
You cannot miss the Abbott and Costello recording of “Who’s on First?” Eight decades after its radio debut, the exasperated conversation on confusion over players’ names and their positions still brings smiles.
Baseball at the Movies celebrates Hollywood’s love affair between film and America’s national pastime over the years.
Upon entering the Hall of Fame’s Plaque Gallery, prepare for voices to hush as you wander past commemorative bronzed plaques of baseball’s greats starting with Honus Wagner, Ruth and Christy Mathewson among others.
Step outside the Hall and the brick-lined shops and restaurants along picturesque Main Street give you the sense of a past era.
By hopping aboard one of the village’s free trolleys to another museum the feeling is made complete.
Once, Cooperstown represented America’s frontier.
It was here that James Fenimore Cooper wrote his famed Leatherstocking Tales that included The Last of the Mohicans.
The Farmers’ Museum, one of the country’s oldest outdoor living history museums, showcases New York’s rural life in the mid 1840s. Walk the Historic Village to see restored original buildings, such as Bump Tavern and the one-roomed Filer’s Corners School dating from the early 1800s. Live animals, like sheep and cows, and on-going exhibits of blacksmithing and broom-making complete the bucolic time travel experience.
During warm weather months, a County Fair, circa 1910, comes alive with lawn games and a carousel ride. The carousel was carved by volunteers and is resplendent with iconic state symbols such as an Erie Canal boat.
Art of many styles can be found at the nearby Fenimore Art Museum.
Life masks of Thomas Jefferson, John and John Quincy Adams and Dolley Madison can be seen along with fine art painted by America’s early greats like Gilbert Stuart and Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River School art movement.
The Fenimore also possesses a highly respected folk art collection starting with the country’s first documented landscape from 1733. Quilts, cigar-store figures, and decorated stoneware round out the collection.
The American Indian collection is rich with arts and crafts of North American Native people from the Northwest Coast, the Plains, and the Southwest, California, and Great Basin regions.
Cooperstown’s population swells during the Hall of Fame’s Induction weekend in late July or early August.
One of the best times to visit Cooperstown is from mid to late October when autumn colors maple and oak trees in varying degrees of gold, scarlet and bright oranges.
Perhaps your Samsonite Duffel should also include paints and a sketchpad or two.