Yesterday we took a little road trip about 70 miles up the Hudson Valley for a three-tiered adventure, each leg of which cost us a bargain-basement $10.

First we arrived at the Dia:Beacon, a celebrated contemporary art center on the west bank of the Hudson River. Friends had described the place to us before, but nothing could really prepare us for the sheer scale of this museum. This former box factory has a staggering 300,000 square feet of gallery space, lit almost entirely by natural light from the sawtooth skylights that cover most of the building. The galleries in the spooky basement are lit mainly by the art, which was mostly neon light sculptures and film installations by Bruce Nauman. We wandered through the building for a few hours, awed equally by the art (my favorites were the galleries devoted to Agnes Martin and Sol Lewitt; Will was having fun with Richard Serra and Michael Heizer) and the unbelievable sweep of open space. Unfortunately, photography isn’t allowed there, and there seems to be a dearth of photos on the gallery’s Web site. So you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Next we headed back across the river and about ten miles south to the Storm King Art Center, which again bowled us over with its scale. This unusual museum is actually a 500-acre sculpture park (for my local folks, that’s bigger than Prospect Park, to give you an idea) with enormous sculptures that would certainly never fit inside any building and would really be out of scale in most traditional sculpture gardens. See, for example, Mark di Suvero’s Pyramidian:

Those are full-grown (20- to 30-foot) trees to the left of this piece. I was absolutely transfixed and spent most of my time there hanging out at the base of this sculpture. Click on the photo for the full slideshow. This place was really amazing.

Following that, we headed back up to Beacon to watch the Hudson Valley Renegades get a thorough pounding from the Staten Island Yankees (click on picture for full photoset).

Despite the home team’s poor showing, the game was attended by a record 5,111 fans, about 5,000 of whom seemed to be small children. There were goofy little contests and give-aways between each inning, silly sound effects spilled from the loudspeakers every few seconds, and many people were waving stuffed raccoons in the air (the mascot is Rascal the Raccoon). It was a fun, small-town night out–many people seemed to know each other, kids were having fun, and nobody seemed to mind very much that their team was getting schooled.

So for a total of $30 each in admission fees, we managed a solid eight hours of entertainment and new experiences. It pays to get out of the city every now and then.