Looking to squeeze in some last-minute splashing before summer fades? How about taking the family out for some fun on the lake? Take the crew up to Cooperstown, New York, famous as the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame but offering so much more along the shores of Lake Otsego. Or, for a quick jaunt, stay close to home and check out the small-town charm in the lazy lakeside retreat of Montgomery, Texas, one of the oldest towns in the state.
By Plane: Cooperstown, NY
Go ahead and let the sports lovers in your family think you planned this trip just for them; you’ll know that Cooperstown is way more than a baseball lovers’ dream destination. Nestled in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains on the shores of Lake Otsego, Cooperstown can best be described as a Norman Rockwell painting come to life. Classic charm and the unhurried pace of a simpler time are the hallmarks of the city, where you can not only check out the Baseball Hall of Fame but enjoy a retreat into nature along the lake. Glimmerglass State Park boasts breathtaking views of the New York countryside as well as family-friendly beaches and boating activities. The park hosts a scavenger hunt geared toward kids ages 5–12 that features a tour of the countryside, including the oldest covered bridge in the United States. Leave the shores and enjoy the water aboard the Glimmerglass Queen Tour Boat for a tranquil journey filled with local lore, including the stories of James Fenimore Cooper. If it’s treasure you seek, take your pick and head to the Herkimer Diamond Mines, where you can keep any of the diamond-shaped quartz crystals you find.
Where to Stay
The Otesaga Resort Hotel has welcomed visitors for over a century of hospitality reminiscent of a more genteel and refined era. The historic property is conveniently located just two blocks from Main Street in Cooperstown but is also tucked into the beauty of Lake Otsego; take time to relax in a rocking chair along the crescent porch that surrounds the lake. With casual breakfast and formal dinner included in the room price, families will have a chance to put on their best manners each day, but daily activities, a sprawling pool and a variety of watercraft ensure that there is plenty of fun to go along with the elegant atmosphere.
Where to Eat
Perhaps no place captures the Main Street U.S.A. feel of Cooperstown better than DiMaggio’s Cooperstown Hot Grill. Parents will love relaxing on the patio to enjoy the scenic mountain surroundings while the kids play in the expansive lawn. When dinner is ready, you can expect New York- and Chicago-style hot dogs for the kids and homemade eggplant parmesan and New York strip steak for the more sophisticated palettes. Dessert is covered with enough Italian ice, gelato and ice cream to feed a hungry baseball team. Cousin Joe would be so proud.
By Car: Montgomery, Texas
What to Do
The small town of Montgomery, Texas, has plenty to be proud of, including the birthplace of the Texas flag and claims of the most Bigfoot sightings in Texas, but it is Lake Conroe that attracts visitors to this Piney Woods city. Step on board Southern Empress Cruises for a 1800s-era paddleboat tour along the lake. Or, take your own ride with the North Lake Conroe paddling company, which offers sit-on-top kayaks that are easier for kids and beginners and even include specially designed seats for little ones under 5. For fun on solid ground, head to Three Palms Extreme Sports, a motocross and dirt bike training facility. Not only can you check out the action during the weekly races, but you can be a part of the action with professional riding instructors on hand.
Where to Stay
Book a room at La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa for lakeside luxury combined with family fun. Kids are greeted with tokens at check-in to exchange for ice cream, and a cookie party is offered each afternoon in the lobby. Burning off the sugar high will be easy in the expansive Aqua Park, which includes five different pools (including one for adults only), a lazy river, a splash park and speed slides. Nighttime means a chance to gather around the fire pit for Crazy Candy Lakeside S’mores and then relax in an inner tube as you enjoy a family-friendly movie. Or, if Mom and Dad want a date night, drop the kids off at Kids Night Out for an evening of fun activities while you sneak off to enjoy a lakeside meal at the elegant restaurant Prime.
Where to Eat
The best barbecue in Texas is even better when eaten on the shores of Lake Conroe. The County Line has quickly become the “go-to” place for dining on the lake at the end of the day. Heaping helpings of slow-smoked meats are served a la carte or all-you-can-eat. Sides include potato salad, coleslaw, beans, bread and more, but the real star of the menu is the desserts: homemade pecan pie or bread pudding served with Blue Bell Ice Cream.