Smart Vacations

Cooperstown, New York

Big-League Fun and Much More

The National Baseball Hall of Fame may be a mecca for hard-core fans -- and a lot of fun for kids -- but it's just one of many reasons to plan a long weekend in Cooperstown, NY. This bucolic town, 70 miles west of Albany on the shores of Lake Otsego, brims with family-friendly historical and cultural sites.

"We were blown away by how wonderful Cooperstown was," says Andrea Gabor, a New York City college professor who visited a year ago with her husband and two daughters, then 8 and 5. To the delight of her kids, Gabor's family visited Cooperstown during sheep-shearing season at The Farmers' Museum, a living-history museum that includes an entire 1845 village, the Main Barn, and the Lippitt Farmstead, where Gabor's daughters plunged their hands into freshly shorn wool and then watched as it was spun into yarn. Throughout the museum, educators in historical dress bring the past to life, performing such tasks as working antique printing presses, milking cows, and baking bread in brick ovens.

Not far away, the Fenimore Art Museum gives a firsthand look at 18th-century Native American ways. On the lakefront behind the fine-arts museum -- which has a special art room just for kids -- there's a kanonhsa, an Iroquois "bark house." Inside, staffers carve canoes out of logs and make clothing from animal skins, just as Native Americans did centuries ago.

Places to stay include the 15-room Cooper Inn (double rooms start at $185, including breakfast) and the larger, lakeside Otesaga (double rooms start at $325, including breakfast and dinner). Babysitting and family-oriented suites are available; for information on both inns, call 800-348-6222. For details about Cooperstown, call 888-875-2969 or visit www.cooperstowngetaway.org.

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