“I love it here in the winter,” said the young waiter as he opened our bottle of wine at cozy Italian cafe Nicoletta’s in Cooperstown, NY. He explained that he grew up in Cooperstown and was back home during school vacations. “Everything slows down and we get the place for ourselves. It’s really beautiful.”
The historic village, nestled on the southern shores of Lake Otsego about three hours from Boston, is best known as the birthplace of baseball and is home to the famous National Baseball Hall of Fame. It is very popular in the summer, when tourists, dressed in baseball jerseys and caps touting their favorite teams and players, flock to Main Street and make their way to historic Doubleday Field. It’s a fun and lively summer destination, but we prefer this little village during the quieter winter months when the crowds are dispersed. Fortunately, there is still a lot to see and do. Here is a plan.
To stay: Treat yourself to a night at the Otesaga Resort, a historic grande dame located on the southern shore of Lake Otsego. The rambling Federal-style building from 1909 exudes the elegance of yesteryear. You can’t beat the location, with lovely water views and within walking distance of the restaurants and shops of the village. There are 132 guest rooms, decorated in traditional decor and updated amenities (thick towels and bathrobes, luxurious linens, Wi-Fi, and flat-screen TVs). The lobby, next to a roaring fireplace, is a good place to relax when temperatures drop and snow flies. There are also several restaurants, including the Hawkeye Bar & Grill, serving upscale taverna fare like edamame dumplings, slow roasted prime rib, specialty pizzas, and gourmet burgers. The Glimmerglass, a cavernous ballroom, is where the resort serves the daily breakfast, either an elaborate buffet at several resorts, or an expanded a la carte menu (depending on current health safety regulations). ). Rooms start at $ 239; The Relax and Unwind package, available Sunday through Thursday through March, starts at $ 179 and includes accommodations, a hot chocolate kit, and additional activities and amenities at the resort.
Player: Of course, you’ll visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, filled with memorabilia, photos, videos and more. A mecca for baseball fans, the three-story museum contains more than 40,000 artefacts. Winter is the best time to visit, when there is a lot more room to stroll and watch. Plus, the personalized tour experience is only available in winter (weekdays, Labor Day, and Memorial Day). This personalized tour includes a private museum tour focused on your favorite squad and players, plus a behind-the-scenes look at artifacts that are not currently on display.
For outdoor fun, head to Glimmerglass State Park, located along the shores of Lake Otsego. James Fenimore Cooper nicknamed the lake in his “Leatherstocking Tales”, calling it Glimmerglass for its smooth, reflective surface. In winter, the park is a popular spot for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and ice fishing. Bring your snowshoes and hike the Sleeping Lion Trail, a 2.5 mile getaway through the woods with pretty lake views. The park also has snow tubing. While in the park, take a look at the Hyde Hall Covered Bridge, the oldest wooden covered bridge in the United States. There is also snowshoeing and cross-country skiing at the Leatherstocking Golf Course at the Otesaga Resort and Betty and Wilbur Davis State Park.
Many shops in the village remain open during the winter, including the Cooperstown Bat Company, where you can purchase a custom engraved baseball bat, team clothing, and plenty of memorabilia. The Cooperstown Farmer’s Market is also open year-round, in a heated indoor facility, and is a fun way to meet local farmers, producers and artisans.
Eat Drink: A cold winter’s night is the perfect time to unwind in the intimate Nicoletta’s Italian Café on Main Street. The family restaurant serves hearty, homemade meals in its warm and welcoming dining room. Homemade sausages, lasagna and pasta dishes are the best sellers, including lobster ravioli and prawn scampi. Mel’s at 22 is a lively, contemporary bistro with an extensive menu of updated classics. Start with a comforting bowl of creamy clam chowder or the grilled shrimp caprese with fresh burrata. Popular entrees include the ultra-rich mac and cheese made with brie, cheddar and Asago, scallops carbonara, and chicken with Indian curry and butter. There are also specialty burgers and sandwiches. Join the locals at the super little Cooperstown Diner; this pillar of the village has just celebrated its 100th anniversary. It’s a favorite spot for a no-frills breakfast or lunch. Stagecoach Coffee serves freshly roasted coffee, pastries and sandwiches for breakfast and lunch. Lovers of craft beers should check out the Ommegang brewery, specializing in Belgian beers, with an on-site café. For a warm nightcap in winter, visit the Cooperstown Distillery. Unwind in the cozy tasting lounge and bar with a handcrafted cocktail, prepared with the distillery’s custom-crafted spirits.