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Lesser-known Cooperstown

Road Trip

Lesser-known Cooperstown

Lesser-known Cooperstown
Cooperstown Blues Express.

Most Capital Region residents are no stranger to the charming, endearing village of Cooperstown, nestled like a prized diamond in the center of the picturesque Otsego Lake tiara.

For the baseball fans among us, Cooperstown is Mecca, requiring a pilgrimage at least once in a lifetime to worship at the origins of the sport. (Though baseball inventor Abner Doubleday was born in Ballston Spa and served as a Union general during the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War, it was a cow pasture in Cooperstown that was Abner’s playground and spurred the creation of baseball.) For others, Cooperstown brings back school-aged memories of field trips to the Farmers Museum, where students step into 19th century life to spend a day as a blacksmith, apothecary or general store proprietor, or to see the personal collections of James Fenimore Cooper at the Fenimore Museum.

Cover-Icon.jpgBut there’s a lot more to Cooperstown.

Within two hours from most points in the region, you could be in Cooperstown for a day trip, or for a weekend escape. To understand the true essence of the town, try immersing yourself in the culture that is mostly reserved for the locals, venturing slightly afield from the singular stoplight at the intersection of Main Street and Route 80.

Here, some suggestions for you when planning your visit.

Cooperstown Blues Express
136 East Main Street
Milford, NY 13807

Just south of Cooperstown is Milford, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sort of town that is surprisingly rife with hidden treasures. One of those gems is the Cooperstown Blues Express, a three-hour train ride every Saturday night featuring live music, light snacks and a cash bar stocked with local beer and wine. The cash-only operation is for the 21-and-over crowd exclusively, sort of like the Polar Express for grown-ups.

Origins Cafe
558 Beaver Meadow Road
Cooperstown, NY 13326

Driving by on this single-lane road, one would never assume a restaurant was hidden within this garden center and greenhouse. Alas, wind through the twisted path towards the glass enclosure and find a fern, fig and citrus tree paradise tucked away in the backwoods of Otsego County. Origins Cafe focuses mostly on local, seasonal cuisine with plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options. The hummus is a winner, but that is true for everything on this eclectic menu. Start with weekend brunch here to fuel you in a healthful way before a day about town.

Wood Bull Antiques
3920 County Highway 28
Milford, NY 13807

Give yourself a generous window of time (two hours should do it) to walk through Wood Bull Antiques, an arcane, archaic wonderland of oddities and antiques. Start outside, walking through the pastures riddled with statues, farm implements and fountains, then move into the barn, where the sheer number of chairs hanging from the rafters make this antiques and decor shop feel more like a modern art installation than a roadside swap shop. 

Spurbeck’s Grocery Store
1173, 9 Railroad Avenue
Cooperstown, NY 13326

Hidden up the hill from the center of town, Spurbeck’s is a throwback to when your mother would give you change and tell you to fetch bread and milk from the shopkeeper down the street. Stop here for a sandwich -- everything from classic egg salad on white bread to pulled pork from Tickled Pink BBQ -- or a snack and venture to Council Rock landing and take in the lake vistas as you nosh.

The Fire Bar at The Otesaga Resort Hotel
60 Lake Street
Cooperstown, NY 13326

You don’t need to splurge on a room at the grandiose Otesaga in order to take part in the luxury. When the sun sets and the chilly mist rolls in from the lake, cozy up to the oversized gas fire pit that is the Fire Bar on the terrace of the Otesaga. Open through November with a snack menu available through the first week in October, the Fire Bar feels like the secret local clubhouse you always wanted to know the password for.

Sam Smith’s Boat Rentals
6098 State Highway 80
Cooperstown, NY 13326

The best way to take in Cooperstown might be from the water. Whether you are looking for a kayak or a cruiser to voyage across the lake, Sam Smith’s boatyard has you covered. A quirky gift shop leads to Blue Mingo Grill, a waterfront restaurant great for lakeside lunches or group dinners.

Hyde Hall
267 Glimmerglass State Park
Cooperstown, NY 13326

Perched above Glimmerglass State Park is a stunning example of British great houses in American colonial and federal eras. Built by the prominent and wealthy Clarke family, Hyde Hall has been restored and maintained to reflect British culture in a region where Native populations and colonial interests were often in conflict, and today it stands as a stately example of the glory and prominence Cooperstown had in the New World and its appeal to the wealthy gentry classes. Make a tour of the house (and one of its many events, like classic car shows, concerts, and luncheons) an extension of your visit to the state park.


Red Shed Brewery
709 County Highway 33
Coopertown, NY 13326

In the shadow of beer behemoth Ommegang is the Cooperstown tap room for Red Shed Brewery. You won’t find “Game of Thrones”-themed beer or traditional Belgian dubbels, but quality beer from locally-sourced materials is a sure bet, and local food trucks make regular appearances to feed customers on the expansive twinkle-lit patio. While Ommegang gets to claim national headliners for its live music, Red Shed still delivers with area musicians that can get a crowd dancing. (Photo by Leah McDonald: Red Shed Brewery in Cooperstown).


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