Baseball in November

I know when most people think of Cooperstown they think of summertime, but we decided to check it out in the fall and it was lovely!  It was a beautiful drive seeing the hills dotted with early snow and some golden leaves still remaining on the trees.  There were no crowds clogging up Main Street, we easily got a dinner reservation and we could take our time and linger as we checked out the baseball memorabilia at the Hall of Fame.

We stayed at the fantastic Otesaga Hotel and I would have been happy holing up there for the entire weekend.  While I am sure the hotel is amazing in the summer, it was still pretty special in the middle of November.  

As you enter the front door, you are greeted by a large room with a crackling fire and lots of space to relax with a beautiful view of the lake beyond.

I only wish it had been warm enough to sit out here with a cup of coffee (or a cocktail)...

As we walked from the elevator to our room I felt as if we were walking back in time (in a good way), but our room was very modern while still maintaining the historic feel of the hotel.

Our room overlooked the heated outdoor pool and the lake beyond.

We, meaning Jack and Ava, took advantage of the pool Sunday morning.  They loved walking out in coats, stripping down to their swimsuits, and jumping into the warm pool.  However, it wasn't so thrilling to climb out of the pool and get dressed in the cold. 

After checking in, we headed over to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  The kids were given a scavenger hunt that required them to search each room for the answer to a trivia question and return the answers to the gift shop for a pack of trading cards.  This was great as it gave them something to focus on as we moved from room to room and held their interest all the way to the end.  

Along the way we took in some of the best parts of baseball history such as the first baseball, Babe Ruth's New York Yankees uniform, a Honus Wagner baseball card, and one of Madison Bumgarner's jerseys from the most recent World Series.

Downtown Cooperstown is small but has loads of charm.  On the day we were walking around, townspeople had come out in the rain to decorate for the holidays.  Each family took a lamppost and decorated it, with their own ladders in tow.  They were also getting ready for Santa's arrival by sprucing up his adorable gingerbread Victorian cottage, complete with a small potbelly stove inside.

While most of the shops sell baseball memorabilia, there are some great places to stop in to.  Schneider's Bakery sells freshly made breads, doughnuts and all kinds of delicious cookies and cupcakes.  For a latte or hot chocolate to go with your cookies, head over to Stagecoach Coffee.  They also serve breakfast and lunch and everything that was coming out of the kitchen when we were there looked yummy!

The Lemon Tree Shop has a well-edited selection of kitchen goods and gifts such as towels, candles, hand soaps and lotions.  They also had beautiful wrapping and tissue paper for the holidays.

For dinner, we went to Alex & Ika's and were not disappointed.  The menu runs the gamut and while there is not a kids menu, we found plenty to please everyone.  The old reliable, mac & cheese, is available as well as burgers and fish and chips.  The chef uses only local, sustainable ingredients and changes the menu seasonally.

On Sunday morning, we headed over to the Fenimore Art Museum, housed in a beautiful 1930's neo-Georgian mansion.  The museum's smaller size along with it's eclectic collections make it conducive for a stop with kids.  It has a nice American folk art collection and one of the largest Native American art collections in the country as part of its permanent exhibitions.  When we visited, they also had costumes from the Metropolitan Opera's performance of Madame Butterfly and a series of photographs by Dorothea Lange (both on display until December 31), which were very moving and sparked a conversation with the kids about the Depression.

There is a nice children's room on the third floor with lots of art books and supplies if the kids need a break from "look, but don't touch."  

Across the street is the Farmers' Museum, which is closed for the season except for a few seasonal happenings.  It is one of the oldest rural life museums in the country and is made up of several buildings such as a stone barn, a working farm, and a carousel.  It looks like a great place for families and we were sorry to miss it.  The museum store, Herders Cottage, was open however, and it is definitely worth a quick stop.  The cookbook selection is incredible and a large variety of locally-made jams and jellies are on offer.  The stone barn is on the National Register of Historic Places and I wish we could have at least gotten a peak inside.

On the way home we made a slight detour to Sharon Springs, home of Beekman 1802.  Fans of The Amazing Race will remember the owners, Josh and Brent, as the winners a few seasons ago, but this is what they do in their real lives.  The shop is perfect, anchored by products (soaps, cheese) made from milk their goats produce back at the farm.  They have a new furniture and linen line upstairs and I wanted to buy it all and completely redecorate our house, but I settled for some soaps, and one jar each of their small-batch peanut butter and raspberry rhubarb jam.