Combining natural beauty with an unhurried pace, Cooperstown is the ideal place to re-discover our nation’s past. For my birthday, I wanted to take a day trip to the gorgeous, scenic, and cultural Cooperstown, NY. When I was young, my family and I used to go to a fabulous restaurant, The Blue Mingo for my birthday every year located on Otsego Lake in Cooperstown. This year, I wanted to show my boyfriend the calming, refreshing and idyllic town that Cooperstown is and take a tour of everything they have to offer!
We packed our day with all of the top things to do there, although I was pretty upset, the Chocolate Studio, where you make your own chocolates was not open on Sundays. Maybe next time! We started out at the massive Ommegang Brewery for tours and tastings. Don’t let those little shot glasses of beer fool you, you will get a little tipsy, but don’t worry, they have a café and gift shop with all sorts of snacks and meals on the premises. The tastings also came with different mustards and pretzels that were paired with each beer, and yes, we bought one of them afterwards! The tour of the brewery was very fun, and it’s amazing to see how many states and stores picked up Ommegang beer to sell in their stores. We were recently in Portland, ME and found some in a local shop!
After the tour, we headed towards the main part of town for some more fun. It was a beautifully warm day without a cloud in the sky, which was perfect for our outdoor experience at the Farmer’s Museum. The Farmer’s Museum is perfect for people of all ages as it’s educational, entertaining, and fun. The employees are all dressed in typical outfits you would find in the rural area of the 1800’s, which meant yes, in the 85 degree weather, they were all dressed in thick pants, dresses, and many layers. The Farmers’ Museum opened its doors to the public in 1944 and at that time, the museum had 5,000 tools and objects. Today the museum’s collections number more than 23,000 artifacts including antique automobiles, instruments that a pharmacist and doctor would use, tools for a blacksmith and seamstress/weavers, as well as original artifacts from lawyers and newspaper publishing offices.
You can walk into any of the houses or offices to see what life was like back then. We had some great conversations with the blacksmith and pharmacist, learning how, without the use of technology, a blacksmith would intricately curve metal for a fence or coat hook. We also learned the uses of many herbs and spices to cure different ailments such as headaches, sore throats, and stomachaches! Fun fact: my neighbors, the Brandreth family, who also own Brandreth Lake and Brandreth Park, one of the oldest family-owned forest preserve in New York State, were famous for their medicine that cured pains of any kind and their “magic” pills were on display in the doctor’s office!
After taking two rides on the carousel (my favorite,) and a stop in the petting zoo (where adorable baby animals spent a few hours in,) we headed over to Fly Creek Cider Mill for some cider tasting and tours. We walked around the grounds, feeding ducks, looking at all of the tractors it takes to make something like this run, tasted a whole bunch of cider as well as different snacks and dips they have on sale in the gift shop, and learned about the cider process itself. By that time, we were almost ready for our dinner reservation at the Blue Mingo! We headed over to my favorite place in Upstate, NY, the grand, beautiful, and royal looking Otesaga Hotel for some pre-dinner drinks overlooking the lake on their sprawling porch complete with tons of white rocking chairs.
As stated on their website, “the Otesaga exudes the charm and gracious hospitality of a bygone era. A magnificent Federal-style edifice with an imposing front portico supported by massive 30-foot columns, The Otesaga occupies 700 feet of lakefront on the southern shore of Lake Otsego, the famed “Glimmerglass” of James Fenimore Cooper’s novels. In its origin, The Hotel was the vision of Edward Severin Clark and Stephen Carlton Clark, two grandsons of Cooperstown’s prominent benefactor, Edward Clark. The family’s other building projects included the famed Dakota apartment house on Central Park West.” I love the fact that the hotel is still owned by Coopertown’s most prominent family, the Clark family, and has continued to provide guests and visitors with the highest class service, while not being stuffy or rude.
By that time, we were starving and ready for our 7:30 reservation at the Blue Mingo. I couldn’t wait to show him one of my favorite restaurants on the lake. The Blue Mingo is a lake-side themed restaurant, with buoys and flags as décor on their front porch perched on the lake. They always have exceptional service, as well as seafood (naturally,) and we feasted on crab cakes, shrimp and lobster dinners, as well as a birthday surprise dessert!
The menu is always written on a blackboard that each waiter/waitress carries to your table. The reason for this is is so the chef can change the menu at his discretion as he’s always creating something new. The Blue Mingo Grill and its creative grill cuisine came into existence in 1994, when its predecessor, Dot’s Landing, could no longer keep up with the local mariners’ demands for some good, wholesome, nourishing food that was representative of the forward-thinking Boatyard establishment.
Wonder where it got its name? Well, according to the Blue Mingo, “the Mingo Indians were among the tribes most feared by early settlers from Virginia to Canada. The name Mingo, assigned by Indians of other tribes, means despised, contemptible and unworthy. Originally based along the Susquehanna River from Otsego Lake to the Chesapeake Bay, the Mingoes were allied at various times with a number of tribes of the Iroquois Nation, and while considered by many whites to be part of that group, the Mingoes were generally shunned by Indians and whites alike as a result of their particularly violent and unfriendly nature.
In fact, one need not be born a Mingo to become one. Evidence suggests that an Indian of any tribe who displayed a high enough degree of evil, dishonor, greed or general wickedness to be cast out of his own tribe, would be welcomed into the Mingo ranks.”
The Blue Mingo provides its customers with an indoor bar/lounge area, gift shop, boat rentals, as well as the fine dining on the porch. It has an air of sophistication mixed with the laid-back feel that you get with any resident that lives on a body of water. The restaurant is not snobby, but still provides you with an air of elegance complete with breathtaking mountain and waterfront views, a perfect way to end anyone’s day!