>> Cooperstown, NY, is a mountain valley resort community located in the foothills of the Adirondacks and Catskills. It surrounds the Otsego Lake, with the Village at the southern-most tip. Today, Cooperstown is best known as the home of The National Baseball Hall of Fame.
I visited Cooperstown in upstate New York last summer (2003) to research a chapter for Fodor's Where to Weekend Around New York City. Prior to arriving, I expected to be immersed in a baseball theme-park, a problem because I'm not a professional sports buff. Much to my surprise, I found Cooperstown to be a first-class resort destination, with or without baseball making the winning home run.
Briefly, Cooperstown features the crystal-clear Otsego Lake (also called "Lake Glimmerglass"), forests, museums, concerts, an opera house, and personal sport options such as golfing, biking, hiking, horseback riding, and canoeing. It also provides plenty of places to loaf, read, muse, enjoy flowers, snack on fine foods, and meet stimulating people from around the nation. Almost everything in the Village-proper can be enjoyed on foot. You'll need your car, however, to travel around the lake.
This Littleviews' article is about loafing (my kind of sport) and the people who help you do it - the Innkeepers I've met during my stay. For more detailed activities throughout the vicinity, contact The Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce.
Vacation loafing is most comfortably done from first-class locations where you feel wealthy, even if your budget is lean. The Otesaga Resort Hotel as well as the smaller lodgings found throughout Cooperstown, especially those in the Village proper, provide just that.
The cost of loafing is most pricey at The Otesaga Resort Hotel, which features the Leatherstocking Golf Course championship golf course, an in-ground pool, multiple-patios and porches, and acres of flower-filled, lake-front property.
What is amazing about this polished, lake-front resort, however, is that almost all of its facilities, lawns, and lake bank areas are open to the general public for free or at modest prices. Their restaurants, ranging from outdoor patios (one seen above), to a pub, to their very best, serve reasonably-priced meals. Do not feel intimidated by looks! Even their most elegant, breeze-swept, lake-view restaurant charges a pittance compared to up-scale New York dining. The food is great. The ambiance better.
BRYN BROOKE MANOR: BRENDA BERSTLER, INNKEEPER
Many of Cooperstown's Inns are converted 1825-1890s mansions, renting just three or four guest rooms with gourmet breakfasts or bakery included in each bill.
Innkeeper Brenda Berstler (above), for example, turned a hill-top country home just off Lake Street into the Bryn Brooke Manor, a country squire's nest. Updated annually, you never know what new feature you'll see when you return. When I visited, I took note of its brand new professional kitchen (a must-see if you're remodeling) with a produce-filled center island and pot racks. There are also entrance gardens, an in-ground pool, several large, sunny common-rooms, and a breezy breakfast room overlooking the lake. Cats and a large dog amble throughout. This is the kind of place where you never want to lock your room, let alone close your door during the day. My best memories of the Inn include being cuddled by cats while I wrote on my laptop.
Need a shot of energy when you arrive? Brenda arranges tours around town and is the founder of We-Go (the Walking Examples Group Organization) as well as writes the "Footwork" column for the Cooperstown Crier.
BARNWELL INN: TARA AND MARK BARNWELL, INNKEEPERS
Hot Spots: Most of Cooperstown's Village lodgings are on or near Lake Street (a park-like street that runs parallel to Otsego Lake), Chestnut Street (a residential main road), and Main Street (a stretch that contains the four-block business district where The National Baseball Hall of Fame is located). Almost all locations within the Village, however, are within a walkable mile of one another. Outside the Village, the Route 80 lodging area runs around the western-side of the lake and requires a car to traverse it. All that said, Coopertown's Village and areas immediately surrounding the lake are the vacation "hot spots."
Tara and Mark Barnwell, Innkeepers of the Barnwell Inn, own a Village inn near the streets mentioned above. Their inn sits in a very quiet neighborhood on a flower-filled yard of Mark's design. Mark (a Southerner) is a landscape architect as well as a baker who is responsible for breakfast's flakey pies and fruit crisps. Tara is a former advertising copywriter, knowledgeable on everything from baseball to the opera. The Inn, in fact, is very popular with opera buffs, many who've made friends with other guests, returning year after year to rekindle those friendships and listen to music.
The Barnwells take pride in their library, which contains books on the Cooperstown area. And of all their rooms, they particularly love their downstairs suite where I stayed. It's comprised of two rooms, complete with piano and an adjoining porch (see above). Their backyard stand-alone cottage, with its big porch, is also treasure.
DIASTOLES INN: BRIGITTE AND LOU PRIEM, INNKEEPERS
THE MOST FABULOUS PORCH IN COOPERSTOWN
The Diastoles Inn, run by Innkeeper Brigitte Priem with help from her husband, Dr. Lou Priem, is located three miles outside of the Village; one of the few Inns of the east side of the lake, and the only one on thickly wooded land. Most of the property on this side is owned by the Clark family, Cooperstown's patron, who retain it as natural forest. In the middle of that forest is the Diastoles Inn, which sits on its own 21 acres.
This is the Inn to stay at if you want to return to nature, yet have all the refinements of a 1980s country mansion. Pitch black nights are punctuated with the periodic singing of animals, birds and insects. The mansion-wide front porch (pictured) swarms with humming birds. This is a the perfect place to relax while forest animals parade back and forth, and the lake gleams in the background.
Closest to the Glimmerglass State Park, the Diastoles Inn area is also a great place to start a bike trip. Although the Inn is at the base of a steep hill (the Innkeepers will ferry your bikes to the top), flat roads follow. If you'd prefer to stay on the property, you can hike through its private 21 acres, or rent horses in a nearby stable and ride for miles through the forest.
BAY-SIDE INN AND MARINA: STREET LEVEL LODGING
PATH LEADING TO COTTAGES
LAKEFRONT WITH PLAYGROUND, BEACH, BOATS, AND WATER TOYS
The west side of Otsego Lake, which is fronted by Highway 80, is not thickly forested. This route is punctuated by small towns and clusters of motels, most without direct-lake access. The exception is The Bay-Side Inn and Marina, a resort.
The Bay-Side Inn rooms were developed on different levels, with most rooms having lake views. On the top level, next to Highway 80, there are two facilities: a hotel and a long-stretch motel. On lower levels are free-standing cottages. The hotel's common areas (available to all) include an outdoor porch (pictured above), a huge arcade room for kids, a community room with tables (although no food service), and an ever-present pot of fresh coffee.
This motel is closely-backed by the highway and fronted by a multi-tired lawn and lake views. I found the motel to be very peaceful, however, I overheard one guest complain about highway noise. Well, I'm from New York and everything sounds quiet in contrast. If, however, deep silence is what you require, choose a front-facing hotel room or cottage.
The cottages sit on mid- and lower-levels, some of which can house a family of ten. Rooms throughout the facility, however, are all large, with refrigerators, TVs, and kitchen appliances . . . a perfect location for families with children.
The lake-level features a sandy beach, beach chairs, a gazebo, children's swings, small boats, and an assortment of floatable water toys. Wow!
Small Inns, Hotels and Motels in Cooperstown
Small Inns, which are often called "Bed and Breakfasts," usually offer three to five rooms. Inns are memorable for lavish decorating, which is often flouncy Victorian or country squire (think "Pottery Barn") motifs, gourmet breakfasts, and their Innkeepers. The Innkeepers, in fact, contribute the most ambiance. All of the Innkeepers I met (including many wonderful folk not mentioned in this article), talked about the friends they've made with their guests. They also take pride in introducing guests to one another, sparking friendship-renewal return trips.
Large, multi-room establishments (some called Inns, but they are really hotels) are usually historic, meaning that they were built in the 1800s. Furniture leans toward country squire. Only The Otesaga Resort Hotel has on-site restaurants, with a meal plan included in its lodging package. The rest do not have room-related food service.
The Inns on Main Street near the four block area that houses The National Baseball Hall of Fame are in converted stores or stables. As this is the party-section, I'm told that nights are loud. It is, however, a fun street, loaded with baseball-related shops, museums, restaurants, Doubleday Field (where baseball exhibition games are played), and bars. Stay in this area if you want to contribute to evening celebrations.
The motels surrounding Cooperstown are clean, 1950s-type establishments, with many on Highway 80. The Lake Front Motel (right), however, is in the Village itself, situated directly on the shore. It features a nautical-themed bar and restaurant, outdoor eating, boat rental, fishing, and The Glimmerglass Queen, a large tour boat.
That said, I personally visited twenty lodgings, most in the Village itself. If you want to know all my recommendations, please read about Cooperstown in Fodor's Where to Weekend Around New York City. That said, Fodor's chapters are often produced by committee. While descriptions don't always reflect my writing style, you will enjoy all lodging listed. And the rates? In my opinion, they are all very reasonable.
ALL LOCATIONS IN COOPERSTOWN, NY 13326
The Otesaga Resort
-PRO SHOP PATIO
IN THE VILLAGE
JUST OFF LAKE STREET
Bryn Brooke Manor
6 WESTRIDGE ROAD
IN THE VILLAGE
JUST OFF LAKE STREET
The Barnwell Inn
48 SUSQUEHANNA AVE.
IN THE VILLAGE
Diastole Bed & Breakfast
276 VAN YAHRES ROAD
21 FORESTED ACRES
EAST SIDE OF LAKE
Bay Side Inn & Marina
7090 HIGHWAY 80
WEST SIDE OF LAKE
Lake Front Motel
10 FAIR STREET
IN THE VILLAGE
JUST OFF LAKE STREET
Questions or comments?
Article and photos by Karen Little. First published on 6/15/2004. All rights reserved by www.LittleViews.com.