COOPERSTOWN, New York (Reuters Life!) - Until someone writes an opera about Babe Ruth, opera and baseball might seem like an odd couple, but one small town in upstate New York offers both — and more.
Cooperstown, New York, which is located on Otsego Lake, the latter fictionalized as Glimmerglass Lake in the novels of James Fenimore Cooper, is home to The National Baseball Hall of Fame and The Glimmerglass Opera, a festival of opera and song.
Two other attractions are The Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmer’s Museum, across the street from each other.
Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors make the most of a short visit to the town where carefully maintained Victorian homes give it its character.
Noon - Arrive in advance of a 3 p.m. check-in at the Otesaga Resort Hotel or at any of Cooperstown’s charming and less pricey bed & breakfasts.
12:15 p.m. - Stroll over to Cooperstown’s most famous attraction, The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The museum’s collections allow visitors to appreciate the historical development of baseball and its impact on American culture. Visit the Hall of Fame, honoring the sport’s most distinguished players.
1 p.m. - Attend the Hall of Fame’s Authors Series, included with admission.
2 p.m. - Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s permanent exhibits, including those on The Negro Leagues, baseball writers and “Viva Baseball!,” which celebrates the talent of Latin American players.
3 p.m. - After the museum relax with a cool drink on Main Street at The Cooperstown Diner, The Doubleday Cafe, Danny’s Mainstreet Market. Or enjoy some fresh cookies at Schneider’s Bakery. A pumpkin spice cookie with chocolate chips is recommended.
4 p.m. - Return to your hotel for a rest before dinner.
5:30 p.m. - Visit the Hawkeye Bar and Grill downstairs at the Otesaga Resort Hotel where you can eat inside or on the outdoor terrace, enjoying a close-up view of Otsego Lake.
6:45 p.m. - In July and August, catch the Trolley in front of the hotel for a 7:30 p.m. performance in the Glimmerglass Opera Festival’s intimate 914-seat Alice Busch Opera Theater, on the shore of the lake.
In autumn, enjoy a ride on the Cooperstown Blues Express from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. featuring rolling live Blues music on the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad (607-432-2429) or - at 8:00 p.m. - an evening of contradance at the First Presbyterian Church featuring fiddler Henry Jankiewicz and guitarist Tom Hodgson, with Bob Nicholson calling. No partner or experience necessary.
8 a.m. - Walk through Cooperstown’s scenic streets. Get a cup of coffee and a morning newspaper on Main Street and pick up some fresh produce at the Farmers’ Market before returning to your hotel for breakfast.
9:30 a.m. - Take the Trolley to The Farmers’ Museum at 5775 State Highway 80. One of the oldest rural life museums in the country, it includes a working farmstead, a historic village, and The Empire State Carousel, a popular ride for children as well as a work of art.
11:00 a.m. - Take advantage of the Farmers’ Museum special program on bees and honey (and make some yourself)!
11:30 a.m. - Cross the street to The Fenimore Art Museum to see the John Singer Sargent exhibit: “Portraits in Praise of Women,” as well as “Empire Waists, Bustles & Lace: A Century of New York Fashion,” and “In Our Time: The World as Seen by Magnum Photographers.”
The Fenimore’s permanent exhibits include “The Coopers of Cooperstown” about the family of James Fenimore Cooper, born in 1789 and considered America’s first novelist, “The Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art” and “American Memory: Recalling the Past in Folk Art.”
1:00 - Enjoy a light lunch at the Fenimore Museum’s cafe. Choose an outdoor table and take in the peaceful atmosphere and perfect view of Otsego Lake.
2:00 - Hop on the Trolley back to Main Street and see more art, this time displayed on the porch and lawn of the Cooperstown Art Association by the Association’s members.
The indoor gallery features “The Art of the Vessel,” a craft invitational show exclusively for New York State artisans. There is also a solo show, “The Myth of Creation,” by artist Amir Hariri.
4:00 p.m. - Browse and shop on Main Street. Pick up some reading material at Willis Monie Used and Rare Books at 139 Main Street. Check out Brenda Berstler’s gift shop, Savor New York, devoted to items made in New York State. Almond buttercrunch, mango peach preserves and locally made scented soaps are just a few of the items she stocks.
6 p.m. - For dinner, try the continental cuisine at Alex and Ika’s Restaurant at 149 Main Street or Italian food at Nicoletta’s Italian Cafe at 96 Main Street. There is also a themed dinner at 7 p.m. at The Smithy-Pioneer Art Gallery where the concert series presents Baye Kouyate’s African drum band.
8 p.m. - If you like American country music, go to the Sugarland concert at Cooperstown’s Doubleday Field. Vocal group Little Big Town & singer-songwriter Ellis Paul are guests.
10 a.m. - Walk to Lakefront Park to enjoy stunning views of the lake. Take a one-hour Otsego Lake tour on The Glimmerglass Queen Tour Boat, departing from Lakefront Park. (Reservations: 607-547-9511)
Noon - Walk to the Otesaga Hotel for brunch. Sit indoors in the formal dining room or outdoors on the expansive porch. Make a reservation and request a table with a view of the lake.
2 p.m. - Enjoy the one-hour concert at the hotel of the Cooperstown Community Band, an ensemble that has entertained the greater Cooperstown area for 149 years with popular tunes and patriotic marches.