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The spectacular Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, on the campus of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson (tel. 845/758-7900; www.bard.edu/fishercenter), is the work of the innovative architect Frank Gehry (designer of the Guggenheim Bilbao and Disney auditorium in L.A.). This distinctive and intimate theater, which seats just 900 in the main hall, has featured performances by Elvis Costello, Merce Cunningham, the American Symphony Orchestra, and Ballet Hispanico, but it remains primarily a teaching space. If any public performances are scheduled, it's very much worth the trek. Poughkeepsie's legendary Bardavon Opera House, 35 Market St. (tel. 845/473-2072; www.bardavon.org), which has hosted a variety of classical music, opera, and other musical and theatrical performances since 1869, is one of the top spots in the valley. Programs include music, dance, film, and theater; the schedule ranges from the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and Itzhak Perlman to Lily Tomlin and screenings of King Kong.

Beacon, basking in the attention of the Dia:Beacon Art Center, has initiated a program called "Second Saturdays," where trolleys pick up passengers at the train station and ferry them down Main Street, where art galleries and shops stay open until 9pm on the second Saturday of every month and a number of bars and restaurants feature live music. For more information on scheduling, call tel. 845/838-4243. Newburgh and Kingston's revitalized waterfronts are loaded with bars and restaurants. Both have become real scenes in the past couple of years. A Newburgh-Beacon commuter ferry is in the works, which will make it very easy to cross the Hudson and check out the restaurants and bars of either side. Rhinebeck has a number of congenial local bars, but its cool local art-house theater, Upstate Films, 6415 Montgomery St. (tel. 845/876-2515; www.upstatefilms.org), is unique in these parts. One of the last of its kind, the 1950s-era Hyde Park Drive-In Movie Theater, Route 9 (across from the FDR presidential library and Springwood; tel. 845/229-4738), schedules first-run movies in summer ($7 adults, $4 children ages 4-11; Tues is $5 night).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.