The calendar tells me I am getting to the end of the best Major League Baseball year of my life. Did I mention the Astros won the world series? What better way to cap off this awesome year than to take a trip to Cooperstown, New York and visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame? The only think I could think of was taking my son with me on the trip.
As sort of a last-minute plan, we decided to make the pilgrimage to Cooperstown. Cooperstown is a wonderful place, but it is not easy to get there. With only 3 days to make the trip from Houston, obviously we were flying. The commercial airport choices for Cooperstown are Albany, New York City, and Boston. Albany is the closest, but is by far the most expensive. New York City is a little over 3 hours away by car, but the air fare to all New York airports was very high. Boston is 4 hours from Cooperstown and the December air fare was reasonable. I was also able to get a rental car for $8 per day from a reputable company.
We arrived in Boston on a Friday afternoon and begin the 4-hour drive. I have been to Boston many times but somehow forgot about the dense and congested roadways. It took us a while to get out of the city. Once on the Mass Pike, the driving was much easier. One complicating factor is the Massachusetts toll roads. There is no longer a cash option to pay tolls in Massachusetts. Supposedly they take a photo of the license plate and bill you later. My rental company indicated I could just pay the tolls later, but, there was also mentioned a lurking administration fee. I found out at the counter that this fee was $45. For me it made sense to rent an EZ Pass sensor for $4 per day, especially since we were also driving in New York. Each situation is different, but it is important to decide how you will manage tolls when driving a rental car in Massachusetts and New York.
I was concerned about the December weather in upstate New York. We were blessed with very cold temperatures, but very little snow. The roads were okay in most places. Google maps did take me on a “shortcut” over a dark, snow covered road. We were okay, but I probably should have listened to my common sense more than Google Maps.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Cooperstown, it was located about 1 mile outside of town. The hotel is fairly new and was just fine as it met my criteria of free WiFi, breakfast, and parking.
Cooperstown is a beautiful town, particularly when it is covered in snow. I have often wondered why a shrine like the Baseball Hall of Fame is in such a remote location. Once you arrive in Cooperstown, it all makes sense. Seeing the Hall of Fame building in this small-town setting makes the occasion all the more memorable.
For any baseball fan, the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum is the top of the mark. Baseball is an old sport steeped in rich history and tradition. Most of that history is on display at the museum. Replica is not a word seen very often in the Hall of Fame Museum. Everything is the real deal. You find yourself suddenly looking at Babe Ruth’s bat, Walter Johnson’s glove or Hank Aaron’s uniform. Observing the actual implements of great baseball feats seems to directly connect the visitor with the event. For the baseball fan, this place makes history come alive like nothing else. We also visited the actual Hall of Fame where we saw the plaques of recent Astro inductees Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell.
We spent the entire day at the Hall of Fame, which was just enough time. After making our souvenir purchase, we started the 4-hour drive back to Boston.
Finding a reasonably priced Hotel in Boston was more challenging. The hardest part was finding a suitable location combined with free parking. We settled on TownPlace Suites in Chelsea. This hotel was in a terrific location. The only issue was their WiFi was quirky.
Our one baseball related activity in Boston was touring Fenway Park. I have seen 3 baseball games in Fenway, but never been on a tour. Our tour started at 10am at gate D in front of Fenway. Parking at Fenway in December is easy. It was a frigid day, but we were dressed warmly for the tour. The tour guide was a lifelong Red Sox fan and spoke reverently and enthusiastically about Fenway. The highlight for me was touring the visitors’ locker room where the Astros held their celebration after winning the ALDS. Fenway seems much smaller than it appears on television. Given the trend towards building modern baseball stadiums, Fenway is a unique national treasure that can be enjoyed by all.
For the rest of the time we visited some typical Boston tourist sites. We toured The Old North Church, Bunker Hill, Old State House, USS Constitution, Kennedy Presidential Museum, and Faneuil Hall. We used Uber/Lyft to travel to most of these sites as the parking was very limited.
We also ate some great food while in Boston. One item of note was the lobster roll and clam chowder at Belle Island Seafood. The food was excellent, and the location is right on the water. Note this restaurant only takes cash.
A visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame is a must for any fan of the game. It is a bit of a challenge to getting to Cooperstown, but well worth the effort.
Make the most of this day!