Travel Thoughts By Kim
Let’s go on an adventure together … along Route 20 to Cooperstown!
Making travel plans this year has been challenging, to say the least.
Yes, we’re free to go wherever we want, but … there is so much to consider that we’ve never really had to consider before. Am I comfortable getting on a packed airplane? Will I have to self-quarantine when I return? Does my destination have a quarantine requirement? What, if anything, will be open and available to enjoy when I get there?
Is it all worth it?
Maybe it’ll be OK, maybe it won’t, but everyone has to think about their own comfort level when deciding where to go and whether or not to go. It is definitely a very personal decision, and no one else’s opinion really matters.
So, I thought I’d write about some local adventures that I really loved. There is so much to enjoy right here in our own state, where we can get into our own vehicles and not worry about all the quarantine issues. We have the Adirondacks, the Catskills, the Finger Lakes, the North Country, and so much more.
I’m always amazed at the beauty and versatility we have right here that we can devote a few days or a week to exploring.
In this article, I want to take you to Cooperstown, N.Y. and the scenic drive along historic Route 20 to get there.
Don’t you dare think, “not interested in baseball, so not interested in Cooperstown!” Yes, it’s the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but there are lots more reasons to take the time to visit Cooperstown and everything between here and there. Let’s get started.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame has been on my bucket list for years. In September of 2013, I finally decided to take an overnight trip to see it. The plan was to get an early start, drive down via Route 20 with some quick photo stops along the way, arrive in Cooperstown around noon to explore and see the Hall Of Fame, do a bit more exploring the next morning, and head back home that afternoon.
Well … I love having the flexibility to change plans on the fly! My estimated 5-6 hour drive (with photo stops) turned into 10 hours because of all the amazing things I took the time to stop and see along the way.
I had a reservation at a lovely bed and breakfast in downtown Cooperstown that was happy to accommodate me for a second night so I could do everything I wanted to do and not be rushed. So, my overnighter turned into a two-night, three-day adventure that I’ll never forget.
Taking the scenic route is the best way to go. The Thruway would have gotten me there quicker, but I would have missed so much along the way. I was on the road by 5 a.m. and stopped for breakfast in Canandaigua at about 7 a.m.
My first photo stop was the Montezuma Winery, because the sign caught my eye. Much of Route 20 runs right through the Finger Lakes region, and there are many spots where it skirts along the top edge of most of the Finger Lakes, making for some awesome views and photo opportunities.
I spent quite a while – a couple hours – in Seneca Falls. The birthplace of women’s rights is a wonderful little town with a strong history about the very first Women’s Rights Convention that took place long before the suffragette movement got into full swing. The National Women’s Rights Hall of Fame was not open the day I was there, but I did find the Women’s Rights National Historic Park. This is a nice park and visitor’s center with tons of information and displays, including a grouping of statues of the pioneers of women’s rights that you can stand among for a photo op.
I took a park ranger-guided tour and learned all about the first convention held on July 19 and 20, 1848; and I went inside the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, which became known as the congregation interested in free speech for all groups.
Next, I stopped in Skaneateles and spent quite a bit of time window shopping and sitting in a little park beside Skaneateles Lake, enjoying the beautiful day and views. Definitely an upscale small town that offered lots of shopping and relaxing options.
I hear they do Dickens Christmas weekends that are pretty amazing – I hope to do that sometime.
After driving a while, I took a short rest stop at Cazenovia Lake. There was a small parking lot right on the shore of the lake with only a row of boulders keeping me from driving right into the lake!
Shortly after getting back on the road, I saw signs for Chittenango Falls. I do love a good waterfall, so I decided to take a side trip on Route 13N – a steep, long, narrow winding road to the parking area for the park, where I then had to take a small hike to get to the falls.
Wow – definitely worth the time and effort! It was beautiful! A few years later, I visited the falls again, but I got there from the village of Chittenango, which was a much easier way to find it and is a great adventure story for another time.
Just about 10 hours and lots of memories later, I arrived in Cooperstown in time to check into my bed & breakfast and walk downtown for some dinner. There are several sweet looking B&Bs in Cooperstown.
I chose Main Street Bed & Breakfast on – you guessed it – Main Street. It was the perfect choice for me – a lovely and very comfortable Victorian home with friendly hosts who made me feel like family. It was within walking distance of most of the things I had considered doing during my stay.
I loved Cooperstown. It is an awesome small town on Otsego Lake with all the small town charm and appeal. Of course, it takes full advantage of the Baseball Hall of Fame with lots of baseball-themed shops, restaurants and attractions, but there is so much to love for anyone regardless of their interest in baseball.
After I explored a little and had some dinner, I went to the Baseball Hall of Fame. It was getting late, so I wasn’t sure how much I could see, but I discovered that the purchase of a ticket that late in the day also included access the next day. I spent about an hour and a half that first evening and barely made it through the first of three floors.
The next morning, I returned and spent another three hours going through the second and third floors, and revisiting parts of the first floor. It was really amazing!
The hall of plaques of those inducted in the Hall of Fame was quite an experience. There were several people wandering through, looking at the plaques, but no one spoke above a whisper – it was a respectful and emotional room. I thoroughly enjoyed all the time I spent there. If you’re going to include this in your trip, you should definitely allow at least 3 or 4 hours to see it all.
Other places I enjoyed visiting while in Cooperstown included Doubleday Field – the birthplace of baseball, Heroes of Baseball Wax Museum, Otsego Lake – I was happy to see a lighthouse, and just spending time wandering around downtown. It was September, so the leaves were turning; and the town is so quaint, it just made for such a lovely time.
There are two other main attractions in Cooperstown you should consider including on your visit. They are about a mile outside downtown, so you need to drive there, and they are very close to each other.
The first is the Fenimore Art Museum – an elegant folk art museum sitting on the bank of Otsego Lake. They have a lot of wonderful Native American art exhibits and a café, where I had lunch sitting out on the terrace overlooking the lake and gardens. I think I spent about an hour, plus time for lunch at this museum. (Probably should have spent more time.)
The other attraction is the Farmer’s Museum – a recreation of an 1800s village and working farm. I enjoyed that so much, and I even got to ride the beautiful Empire State Carousel – a hand-crafted carousel that highlights New York State with names of many of the small towns, points of interest, and interesting facts. The animals are not your typical carousel animals – they are all the different animals that can be found in New York State. Plan on at least a couple hours or more to do this museum thoroughly.
Looking for a restaurant recommendation in Cooperstown? I especially enjoyed the Pit Under the Tunnicliff. The Colonial brick building is home to the Tunnicliff Hotel, and The Pit is accessed by the exterior stairs to the basement and is a very eclectic pub with delicious food!
Looking for a two or three-day get away? Consider Cooperstown – take the scenic route – you won’t regret it!
If you’d like to see more photos and information about Route 20 and Cooperstown, visit the four blog posts I wrote about it:
Taking the Scenic Route
Bed & Breakfast
National Baseball Hall of Fame