Composed of nine holes nine miles north of town on Route 80 is the Otsego Golf Club (607-547-9290, $20 for nine holes, $30 for eighteen). One of the ten oldest golf courses in the country, the OGC was laid out in 1894 by members Henry Wardwell and Arthur Ryerson, whose great-grandson still runs the place. Similar in feel to Leatherstocking, but without as many uneven lies or tricky greens, the OGC rolls along the northern edge of Lake Otsego, affording water views from six of the nine holes. This layout, thick with old-growth trees, connotes authority. It's a true sleeper.
Not all of Cooperstown's 400,000 annual visitors can stay at the Otesaga (800-348-6222). But you should try. Fresh from a $34 million restoration, the ninety-two-year-old grand hotel features a sumptuous dining room and ballroom, and a white-columned veranda overlooking the lake, pool and golf course. The Otesaga also manages the Cooper Inn (607-547-2567), a Federal-style manor house on Chestnut Street. Other gracious options include The Inn at Cooperstown (607-547-5756) and the Overlook B&B (607-547-2019).
You won't find a better dinner in town than the one prepared by executive chef Jeff Hollen as part of Otesaga's modified American plan (breakfast and dinner are included). The French-American menu changes daily, and gentlemen must wear jackets in the main dining room. The hotel's Hawkeye Bar & Grill is less formal. For years, "leatherstocking" described most of the town's fare, but three newer eateries—Gabriella's on the Square (607-547-8000), The Blue Mingo Grill (607-547-7496) and Hoffman Lane Bistro (607-547-7055)—have changed that. Don't miss Gabriella's panfried lump crab and crawfish cakes, or the Blue Mingo's grilled salmon with red-pepper marmalade. Carnivores will thrill to Hoffman Lane's inspired game preparations.
About five miles outside of town, on the site of an old hops farm, sits the Ommegang Brewery (607-547-8184), which produces a trio of acclaimed Belgian-style ales. Take the $4 tour if you're up for a taste. Cooperstown's best bar is the tap room at the Tunnicliff Inn on Pioneer Street, known to locals as the Pit (607-547-9860). Sit before the stone fireplace, reminisce about baseball, and savor a micro-brewed pint of Old Slugger Pale.
Any trip to Cooperstown requires a visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, where you can admire plaques honoring the game's immortals, as well as countless hats, bats, balls, caps, gloves and uniforms they used. The Hall has rotating exhibits—this year's "Underground Movement" commemorates New York's many subway Series—and interactive pursuits like re-creating a historic radio broadcast, competing in "Hall of Fame Jeopardy" and going on a scavenger hunt for artifacts around the Hall. Post-museum, take the trolley along Lake Street to the Farmers' Museum and the Fenimore Art Museum. From the Fenimore, it's a short walk to the Alice Busch Opera Theater, summer residence of the world-famous Glimmerglass Opera.