Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
From Route 52, head east on Route 17B, through mile after mile of scenic farm country. Just when the land is at its prettiest, you’ve come to Bethel, where the famed Woodstock Music Festival actually took place (as opposed to the Catskill mountain town of Woodstock, which it was named for), on Max Yasgur’s farm in 1969.
The former Yasgur farm is off Hurd Road. Signs off Route 17B point the way to an enormous lime-green field sloping down to borders of dark green trees. A horizontal stone marker near the road reads: “This is the original site of the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair held on Aug. 15, 16, 17, 1969.” The marker goes on to list the festival’s many on-site performers: Richie Havens, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Joe Cocker, Ravi Shankar, Santana, Janis Joplin to name a few.
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (200 Hurd Rd., 866/781-2922, www.bethelwoodscenter.org), opened on July 1, 2006, with a performance by the New York Philharmonic. The $65-million center includes a 4,800-seat covered pavilion, outdoor stage area, theater, inn, interpretive center with impressive multi-media interactive exhibits bringing visitors back to the festival (whether they were ever there or not) and permanent farmer’s market.
The venue attracts an ambitious line-up of performers ranging from the New York Philharmonic to ballet troupes, jazz, legends from the past and pop-music stars, as well as arts workshops and film festivals. During big concerts, area campgrounds are the first to fill, though the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts website offers a comprehensive directory of additional accommodations. Those visiting the museum on concert days should buy advanced tickets to avoid disappointment.
Not far from the new arts center is the exquisite Lake Superior State Park (Dr. Duggan Rd., off Rte. 17B, 845/794-3000, ext. 5002, 9 a.m.–dusk, parking $7 in summer), an all-but-untouched recreation area open for swimming, picnicking, boating, and fishing. Boats are available for rent.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition