Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cooperstown and Howe Caverns

As I was trying to decide what my next Everyday Traveler entry should be I asked Vivian, my wife, what I should write about. She suggested writing about something we had done a few years ago and fit perfectly with the theme of this blog and lets us share something about what we do at the same time.
In the summer of 2007 Vivian and I were discussing where to go for our first anniversary. After talking for a while, we decided to use our anniversaries to go somewhere fun, not that far away and inexpensive. Vivian came up with the idea of heading to central New York, to Cooperstown, to hit the Baseball Hall of Fame and, on the way back, to visit Howe Caverns. This sounded fantastic, and as we planned it out it looked better and better. We both took off work early Friday and I took Saturday off so we could enjoy the entire weekend and not feel rushed. As our anniversary is in late November we would be avoiding the majority of tourist and holiday traffic, which to us is ideal.
When we started planning we first looked at the area and discovered that Cooperstown rests at the southern tip of Otsego Lake. Because of this we researched hotels and went with the Lake View Motel (http://www.lakeviewmotelny.com/), about a third of the way down the western shore of the lake. They had great offseason rates and a choice of rooms, suites or cottages, their Web site has pictures of all rooms for each of these. They also offer some nice packages depending on what you want to do while in town. As we were only staying one night and would be arriving fairly late we decided to go with a room, which was very comfortable and had a beautiful view of the lake. Breakfast was included and there was a nice selection of hot and cold cereal, make your own waffles and fresh fruits.
Next we looked more into the area and found that there was a wine and beer trail that, depending on how long the Hall of Fame took, we realized we could hit some or all of on our way to Howe Caverns. There were also a number of other things to see in Cooperstown that we decided we would get more information on when we were there.
Next was looking into Howe Caverns. Vivian had been there years before and, for the sake of convenience, we stayed at the hotel at the Caverns themselves- again, being off season, we were able to get a good rate. As a note, the Lake View closes for the winter so check dates ahead of time; Howe Caverns are open all year. The area around Howe had several choices for dining so we weren't locked into everything there.
So now for the trip itself...we got going in the early afternoon, anticipating about a 3 1/2 hour drive to our hotel. We ran into snow on the way up so it took closer to 5 hours, including a stop for dinner- the snow was a nice addition. The Lake View was a very nice hotel with what we discovered the next morning were beautiful views of the lake. It was funny seeing the people in the room next to us with Texas plates trying to figure out how to clean off their car from the inch or snow that had arrived overnight as I quickly cleaned off the car with the snowbrush which we keep in the car year round. The hotel office had a good number of area brochures which we looked through during breakfast, enjoying the view through light snow showers, then got going.
Downtown Cooperstown was a short, pleasant drive along the lake and we found the Hall of Fame easily. Cooperstown is a charming little town right at the southern tip of the lake and the Hall of Fame was a block from the water. Since we hadn't found any online discounts we bought our tickets at the door and made it through the museum in about 2 hours; it was very quiet, not very crowded at all and we were able to take our time, enjoy and get tons of pictures. The gift shop had the expected memorabilia, then we headed back out.
Since the Hall of Fame had been so quick we decided to hit the wine and beer trail, which led from Cooperstown down towards I-88, which led to Howe Caverns. We enjoyed ourselves, trying several places, stopping wherever we thought was interested and enjoyed the drive to Howe, about an hour away from Cooperstown by the most direct route (which we avoided).
We got to Howe midafternoon and, after checking in, explored nearby Cobleskil. Because of when we arrived we decided to wait until the next morning to do the tour of the cavern itself, as that was our actual anniversary. Unfortunately the room wasn't up to the standards of the one the night before- it was one of the more uncomfortable beds we've ever slept on, especially in a hotel, and when we go again we'll stay somewhere in the area. We got a package, which is why we stayed at the caverns, but we will pay the extra next time to stay elsewhere.
The next morning after the included breakfast, which was excellent, we toured the gift shop/learning center then our turn came for the tour. The cavern was beautiful and the tour guide was great, it was a lot of fun. We got a great picture to remember the trip by deep in the caverns and we learned a good bit too. The little boat ride in the depths of the cavern was pretty cool, and it was scary how dark it was the one time the tour guide shut off all the lights.
After the tour we headed home, about a 3 hour drive. The whole trip was enjoyable, close by and inexpensive. Total drive time was about 8 hours, including all the side and back roads we took sightseeing. It was a good weekend trip, close enough that we were able to do it easily without being tired by the drives or lose a day just in traveling and we didn't break the bank doing it, so it met Everyday Traveler criteria also!!! I hope you enjoy this installment and, if you decide to go, have as good a time as we did. Until next time this has been...

The Everyday Traveler