Everything Students and Locals Should Do Around Bard College

With a thriving café scene and a never-ending slew of cultural to-dos in the area, students and visitors have so much to choose from in Annandale-on-Hudson.

Front view of Frank Gehry-designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, USA. Wikimedia Commons / Daniel Case

With a thriving café scene and a slew of cultural to-dos, students and visitors have so much to choose from in Annandale-on-Hudson.

It’s hard not to be a little awestruck on a visit to Bard College. To start, there’s the fact that the campus feels like a little academic paradise in the middle of the woods. Grassy knolls and towering trees thrive on the grounds, which are always a hop, skip, and jump from the nearby Hudson River. Of course, the cultural component holds quite the allure as well.

As many a local and New York City dweller can attest, The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts is nothing less than a hotbed for world-class talent in Dutchess County. During the warmer months, it’s home to SummerScape, the multicolored music fest that loops in everything from opera and theater to cabaret, dance, and film.

Regardless of the time of year, Bard is a beauty that hides more culture, intelligence, and talent than its campus can contain. Whether you visit as a new student, a nostalgic alum, or a curious local, you’ll love the chance to wander around the Annandale microcosm and explore all the surrounding area has to offer.


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Tour the grounds at Montgomery Place

Technically part of Bard’s campus, Montgomery Place oozes so much history and Hudson Valley beauty that it’s a must-visit for any incoming student or visitor. The property, which dates back to the early 1800s, boasts a mansion that melds Federal design with classical revivalist architecture. Tour inside the estate from summer to early fall, then take a wander around the accompanying coach house and Swiss cottage. Come spring, the gardens are a wonder to behold (and to ‘gram).

25 Gardener Way, Red Hook, 845.752.5000

Take a breather at Kunzang Palchen Ling

Located a short way away from campus proper, Kunzang Palchen Ling honors Tibetan Buddhist practices in Red Hook. Open to the public during practice sessions and retreat programs, the center offers teachings of traditional Tibetan Buddhism with English translations. Visit the website for a list of upcoming programs, which center around the lunar calendar, then call ahead to let the site know when you plan to visit. P.S. It’s a dream retreat when the stress of finals has you feeling more frazzled than Ms. Frizzle.

4330 Rte 9G, Red Hook, 845.757.5571

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Hit a local festival at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds

When you’re ready to pop the bubble at Bard, venture to nearby Rhinebeck for year-round festivities at the fairgrounds. Beginning in May, the space opens up for car shows, antique fests, and crafting extravaganzas. If you’re around for any summer sessions, hit up the Country Living Fair, which usually takes place in June, or the Hudson Valley Wine and Food Fest, which goes down in September. By the time back-to-school season rolls around, Oktoberfest and the Sheep and Wool Festival will be ready to welcome you back to class.

6636 Rte 9, Rhinebeck, 845.876.4000

Run (or walk) the trails around Bard

With such an abundance of land surrounding Bard, it’s no surprise that the area is a top pick for hiking and walking. Take a peek at the campus trail maps, then chart a route for a Saturday morning when you need to clear your head before an afternoon of studying. If you want to kind of, sort of get off campus, pick one of the routes at Montgomery Place instead. Bonus points if your walk leads you along the Hudson River.

Meander the market at Montgomery Place Orchards

If living in the Hudson Valley gives you a new appreciation for the term “eat local,” then you’ll be all about a weekend trip to Montgomery Place. Not to be confused with Bard’s Montgomery Place, the nearby farm is a mecca for just-picked local produce and treats. Hit the market in autumn for apples, cider, and those oh-so-wonderful sugar-coated donuts. In spring and summer, meanwhile, sweet produce picks like berries, peaches, and tomatoes cover the stands. Like what you see? Talk to the farm crew to learn more. If you’re lucky, you may even get to do a bit of volunteering!

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8 Davis Way, Red Hook, 845.758.5476


Score discount tickets at Lyceum Cinemas

Sure, you could go to a chain theater to catch the latest box office flick. Yet with Lyceum Cinemas only a quick trip from campus, why bother wasting your gas money? Catch the same big-name screening and support local at Red Hook’s community theater. If you go, don’t forget to grab a bucket of popcorn to munch on during the flick. Did we mention it comes with a free refill?

15 Old Farm Rd, Red Hook, 845.758.3311

Find vintage treasures at Hoffman’s Barn

When you need a place to bring your parents or a cheap spot to pick up a few knickknacks for your apartment, you’ll want to make a beeline for Hoffman’s Barn. The family-owned shop stocks a mashup of goods, from chairs and tables to antique dishware, lights, and so much more. Even if you don’t grab anything, you’ll have a blast browsing through the odd assortment of baubles and bits on hand.

19 Old Farm Rd, Red Hook, 845.758.5668


Sip and snack at Taste Budd’s Café

If you crave a change of pace from study sessions in the library, pack up your bag and hunker down at Taste Budd’s Café. The funky eatery is a delight for vegans and gluten-free eaters, thanks to its ample selection of handcrafted sweets. Grab a few macarons (or anything else that sparks your fancy) and a signature latte or tea, then pick your favorite rickety chair or cozy couch to perch for a few hours. If you stick around in the evening, you may even catch a performance from a local music group.

40 W Market St, Red Hook, 845.758.6500

Get your retro breakfast fix at Historic Village Diner

For old-school eats that delight any time of day, make your way to Red Hook’s longstanding diner. The eatery, which has been around since the 1950s, serves up top-tier renditions of breakfast classics, from the corn beef hash and egg platter to the signature blueberry pancakes. Thinking you’ll need a midnight snack at some point? Grab a homemade muffin to go. Don’t worry, you’ll thank us when you’re bleary-eyed and cramming for that midterm.

7550 N Broadway, Red Hook, 845.758.6232

Meow and munch at Morgan’s Cat Café

Calling all animal lovers! Whether you’re on the hunt for a spot to work, lunch, or destress, Morgan’s in Red Hook is the place to be. Scoot off campus for an afternoon to take a break with the town’s furry, four-legged pals. A true cat café, Morgan’s is a non-profit animal adoption center that serves coffee and vegan treats too. Lucky visitors can grab a plant-based cupcake or sandwich for lunch, then get ready to snuggle with their favorite felines. It’s hard to imagine an afternoon better spent.

35 W Market St, 3rd floor, Red Hook, 845.250.2272

Bring the family to Mercato Osteria Enoteca

When it comes time for the ‘rents to visit, bring them to Mercato Osteria Enoteca, the swankiest Italian eatery in town. Situated inside a charming old home, the restaurant delights with an ever-changing menu based on Italian traditions and seasonal Hudson Valley ingredients. Don’t know what to order? Go for the pasta. Mercato is owned by Francesco Buitoni (yes, that Buitoni), so you can expect that the tagliatelle alla bolognese and the penne all’arrabiata will be will nothing short of divine.

61 E Market St, Red Hook, 845.758.5879

Related: What to Eat and Where to Go for a Perfect Day in Red Hook

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