77 miles W of Albany; 141 miles E of Rochester; 213 miles NW of New York City

Set along the edge of tranquil Otsego Lake, the little village of Cooperstown boasts an almost unfair amount of history for its size. Locals are understandably proud of James Fenimore Cooper, author of the Leatherstocking Tales and son of town namesake William Cooper. Foremost among Cooperstown's attractions is, of course, the Baseball Hall of Fame. Never mind that almost everybody -- including the man himself, allegedly -- agrees that Abner Doubleday didn't invent the sport here. For fans young and old, the town has long been associated with the heart and soul of the game.

Despite the enormous influx of baseball fans on summer weekends, Cooperstown maintains an easy friendliness, giving the impression of a small community of folks who still all seem to know one another. A sense of nostalgia permeates this place, with its tree-lined streets and beautiful Victorian-era houses. Its idyllic main street feels almost like a movie set -- wholesome, American, ready for a Fourth of July parade. Local shops and restaurants, with few exceptions, are individually run; spend some time on or around the lake, and you get the feeling that you may have just stepped back in time. But don't linger there too long, or you'll miss dinner: Restaurants -- and most places in the town -- shut down as early as 9pm.