A day in Pleasantville, USA


Idyllic is the word that comes to mind.

And that’s not a word to be tossed around lightly. It brings with it images… of peace… of scenery… and perhaps most specifically, of everything being just about exactly what you would expect it to be. Everything is tranquil. Everything is maintained. Everything is right about where you would look for it to be.

Welcome to Cooperstown, New York. And for the sense of idyllic… welcome to Cooperstown, New York, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The city and landmark are intertwined, and for the sake of the setting, impossible to separate. And quite honestly, I don’t see any reason you would want to consider one without the other. Unlike so many partnerships that are heavy, forced, or lopsided, here it works far too well.

Baseball is timeless, in more ways than we will cover. For now… the game has no clock… it unites generations… its heart and soul are on display during the long summer days when the sun rises early and sets late.

Teams can play a game… two people can play catch… a person in a field with a stick can take some swings at a few rocks.

The drive into the village establishes everything you would need to know about your visit. Tree lined roads. The occasional cider mill and ice cream stand. Boat docks and tractors far more prevalent than any signs for recognizable chains of restaurants or stores. Not only is it a relaxing path to navigate, it almost seems to possess a supernatural power for removing any and all complex thoughts from your mind. It is almost meditative nirvana.

There is an argument to be made that the immediate region is phenomenal and filled with unique attractions. Lakes… The Farmer’s Museum… Fenimore Art Museum… nice. Breweries and wineries and apples and more. Great stuff. Places that provide opportunities of interest for even the most difficult to interest.

When you arrive on Main Street though, any and all questions about the heart and soul of Cooperstown are revealed. The stores are overflowing with baseball-related merchandise. Restaurants beg to be enjoyed during a break from your visit to the Hall or in the evening of an overnight stay.

I have had the pleasure of spending several days in Cooperstown on multiple visits. And I will admit that each was based around the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Parking was easy enough to find. While it might not have been directly in front of the Hall, it was within a leisurely walk. A few hours in the Hall… back out to address the parking and meter… off to lunch and perhaps a few stores… check on the car and then back to the Hall to finish the visit. A pretty sweet day.

There’s more to Cooperstown than that however.

For whatever reason, the trees and buildings and everything else just seem right. Cooperstown is clean and maintained and… it almost seems like Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon should be on the sidewalk across from you. It seems pleasant. And when looking to recommend a way to spend an afternoon, that’s a pretty great place to begin.

The Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard invites a return at another time, in another season.

Jerry’s Place offers itself up as an ice cream and grill establishment, and the perfect treat on the way home.

Cooperstown is inviting and welcoming, intriguing and fun, completely open about itself while hiding enough to create curiosity for the future. There is no need to check your watch. It celebrates parents and children. It is a town of all seasons, while paradise on a summer day. Few places… if any… can match the balance.

Idyllic is the word that comes to mind.

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