NY travel on a budget
Gas prices and general inflation got you down? Maximize your hard-earned money by following these money-saving vacation tips when staying in the great New York state Village of Cooperstown
Enjoy dining out without having to take out a second mortgage If budget-busting hand-rubbed garlic chicken with a drizzling of some obscure oil isn't your meal-ticket, then Cooperstown offers some real dining bargain The Cooperstown Diner (136 1/2 Main Street, Tel. (607)547-9201 beats most of its competition at what they do by offering hearty breakfasts, lunches and dinners at low prices that would have Alan Greenspan scratching his head on how they can be so affordable in this day of age. It's a charming diner -- small, friendly and full of great conversation, coffee and food. T.J.'s Grille is a populist's favorite offering great meals from morning to late evening, including great scrambled eggs, a phenomenal roast chicken dinner and fruit pies. The Doubleday Cafe (93 Main St., Tel. (607)547-5468 may be on the more expensive side of "cheap" at dinner, but its surprisingly creative flair at relatively less expensive prices make it a hometown and tourist's dream. Lunch is always a good value at the Doubleday, also. The Stagecoach Deli (31 Pioneer St., Tel. 607-547-6629) might just be the best-run eatery in Cooperstown, offering quick, efficient service and terrific wraps and paninis, baked goods, coffee and ice cream. They also have a relaxing backyard patio, perfect for a leisurely summertime lunch. Dimaggio's Cooperstown Hot Dog (4561 State Highway 28, Milford, Tel. (607) 547-5400) does fast food the right way. Located directly across from Cooperstown Dreams Park on the ever-expanding Route 28 Southern corridor, Dimaggio's (open only in the summer) serves tasty, full-bodied hot dogs, substantially-sized burgers, excellent salads and some very large portions of ice cream. The dining room is spotless, the service quick and courteous, and the atmosphere family-oriented. It's a great choice for a quick and affordable meal. New York Pizzeria (75 Chestnut St., Tel. (607-547-2930)), offers a clean and personable restaurant setting with some of the best made-from-scratch Italian-style pizza we've sampled anywhere. The homemade sauce and cheese blend, as well as the truly fresh eggplant and red pepper toppings, were absolutely phenomenal -- and quite noteworthy, given we are from the Boston area where some of the most renowned pizza places reside (Pizzeria Regina, Santarpio's, etc.). Take-out seemed to be the preferred mode when we visited, but New York Pizzeria (with its flagship restaurant in Richfield Springs, N.Y.) also features very pleasant, nicely renovated dining rooms with a moderate amount of seating. It's nice that Cooperstown finally has a pizza place that is running on all dining cylinders!
Sometimes, dining on Main St. during the summer in Cooperstown, NY, brings elevated prices and crowds that call for finding a place to eat off the beaten track. The Depot Deli (21 Railroad Ave., Tel. (607) 547-7130) is just that place, just a few minute's walk from the downtown -- although feeling like miles away. Spotlessly clean and with very friendly service, the Depot Deli features a wide variety of breakfast and lunch items, perfect for the family. It's not overly expensive, which is also a benefit for the family on vacation. Locals we've talked with acknowledge that this is a great dining option in Cooperstown. We're sure vacationers will find the same experience. We strongly suggest trying the Deport Deli out. It's a nice walk there, you'll be greeted more warmly than some of those downtown places, and the food is just as good if not better than other area restaurants serving breakfast and lunch. We loved the turkey with pesto and the tasty ham and cheese sandwiches. Nothing fancy, but the Depot Deli is terrific at making a very good sandwich -- and with ample portions. What a great find! Down the road in the pleasant and interesting city of Oneonta, NY, is Brooks Bar-B-Que (5560 State Highway 7, Tel. (607)432-1782), famous for some of the best barbecue chicken, pork spareribs, beef, pork and steaks this side of the Mason-Dixon line. Brooks isn't one of those "Johnny-Come-Lately," trendy barbecue joints that serves, wimpy, watery rotisserie meats. With the largest indoor charcoal barbecue pit (38 feet in length) in the East, Brooks Bar-B-Que certainly isn't for the macrobiotic, vegetarian crowd as this 300-capacity family-oriented restaurant serves high-quality, hearty portions that never disappoint. The great food, low prices, efficient service and cleanliness make Brooks a must-visit dining spot when visiting Cooperstown, even if it is a half-hour away.
Catch a free ball game at Doubleday Field (25 Main St.) The thrill of watching America's Favorite Pastime at a true American ballpark never gets tired. With free admission and ball games going on all day during the baseball season, Doubleday Field is a throwback to an era when baseball was played for the love of baseball and nothing else, set in a family-friendly ballpark.
Get active at the Clark Sports Center (Susquehanna Rd., Tel. (607) 547--2800) If only every community had something as special as the Clark Sports Center, located on a scenic country road minutes from the center. Here, you can buy a $8.00 day pass ($4 for children) to use the Olympic swimming pool, weight training room, track, bowling alley, and climbing wall and racquetball and basketball courts.
Ride the Cooperstown trolley Two dollars for adults and half of that for kids will get you on the Cooperstown trolley, taking you to some of Cooperstown best attractions, as well as the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce information center. On the way, you'll see some amazing old homes, the charming downtown, Otsego Lake, great neighborhoods and many other landmarks, attractions and ways-of-life that make Cooperstown a special place. It's a great tour!
Spend the day at Lakefront Park (bottom of Pioneer St.) Whether it's a Tuesday night free summer concert or just having a quiet picnic on the expansive green lawn overlooking beautiful Otsego Lake, Lakefront Park proves you don't have to spend money to bring home lifetime memories. To many, Lakefront Park seems like the nicest place in the world, given its amazing scenery and relaxing location.
Discover Kid City playground (Walnut St. behind Elementary School) With an extensive, earth-friendly play system and a swing set, Kid's City will keep the kids happily busy for hours. The location is nice, too, behind the Cooperstown Elementary School with great views of surrounding scenic hills.
Enjoy the truly special old-fashioned Cooperstown Village Library (Corner of Main and Fair Sts.) The old-book smell, the pleasant, dedicated staff, the historic looking hall way and stately tall pillars supporting this old-time building lend a wonderful old-fashioned experience. One might not think of going to the library during vacation, but why not? It's leisurely, relaxing and is well integrated into the charming Village of Cooperstown as a community landmark.
Patronize the fine arts For a small Village Cooperstown has an amazing amount of culture, including many art galleries. Check out the local talents of artists at the Cooperstown Art Association (at the Cooperstown Village Library), Smithy-Pioneer Gallery and Leatherstocking Brush and Pallette Club (both on Pioneer St., in the downtown).
Go swimming at Glimmerglass State Park For $6.00 a car, your family can enjoy one of the cleanest lakes in New York State and wonderful rural scenery. Glimmerglass State Park's beach has coarse sand and a large shallow swimming area. There's also changing rooms, a refreshment stand, crackerjack lifeguards doing their jobs, and some truly lovely park area, perfect for camping, hiking and barbecuing.
Support local businesses at the Farmer's Market (Pioneer Alley, downtown Cooperstown) This non profit market located showcases, in the summer and early fall, the products of local farmers and producers. This includes fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, flowers, herbs, potted plants, prepared foods and crafts. It's always a great experience meeting the hard-working, nice, decent people that earn money through their works of love.
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Unless otherwise stated, all VisitingCooperstown.com articles written and photos taken by Eric H.