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The Hudson Valley is a rich agricultural area, supplying produce and farm products, including high-quality local wines, to New York City's open-air Greenmarkets and through shares at local farm stands, farmers' markets, and pick-your-own farms. The area is also renowned for its rich contribution to early American history, literature, and art, as well as to contemporary culture. Along the Hudson's shoreline are numerous historic estates, such as Montgomery Place, Clermont, the Roosevelt family estate, the Vanderbilt estate, and Frederic Church's Olana, all of which are open to the public. Just across the river is the city of Kingston, New York State's first capital, and the town of Woodstock, known since the early 20th century for its artists' colonies, including Byrdcliffe, and an abundance of art galleries.
The countryside surrounding Bard is dotted with small villages dating to the 17th and 18th centuries-Red Hook, Tivoli, Rhinebeck, Millbrook, Germantown, Staatsburg-that together provide a diversity of experiences, year-round festivals, and shopping. There are numerous local theaters as well as fine restaurants, many of them staffed by chefs who graduated from the nearby Culinary Institute of America.
Bard College hosts concerts throughout the year, offering music for every taste, from American Symphony Orchestra performances to jazz, opera, and folk music, including recitals of Bard's Balinese gamelan music ensemble. The Bard Music Festival, founded in 1990, features a prominent composer in a three-weekend program of lectures, panel discussions, and performances. The Rhinebeck Performing Arts Center, Poughkeepsie's Bardavon Theater, and the Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston are all within a 25-mile radius of the campus. The Kaatsbaan International Dance Center is in the village of Tivoli, adjacent to Bard.