Located in the Hudson Valley, around 60 miles north of New York City, Beacon is a hip and trendy small city. Easily accessible, it’s a popular day trip and weekend destination from New York City.
Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Hudson Highlands, and with a lively arts and culture scene, Beacon has plenty to offer visitors, whether they’re outdoor enthusiasts, art lovers, foodies or love to shop.
Here are some of the top things to do in Beacon
Enjoy the Outdoors in Beacon
1. Mount Beacon
Outdoor lovers should consider a hike up Mount Beacon, which offers spectacular panoramic views over Beacon and the Hudson Highlands. Start at the ruins of the former Mount Beacon Incline Railway, once the steepest funicular in the world.
A steep 1-mile trail, which includes a set of stairs followed by a rocky, switch-back trail, will lead to the ruins of the Beaconcrest Hotel and Casino, with several observation platforms along the way.
Those with more stamina can continue on to the fire tower at the summit of South Beacon Mountain.
Guided tours of Mount Beacon are available, and also include a tour of other Beacon highlights
as well as area wineries.
2. Long Dock Park
For a more relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors, head to Long Dock Park. This former ferry terminal and industrial site has been transformed into a scenic and popular waterfront park.
Enjoy wonderful river views, rehabilitated wetlands and meadows, walking paths, picnic facilities, the educational Scenic Hudson River Center and a kayak pavilion offering rentals and guided kayak and stand-up paddle boarding tours.
3. Bannerman Island
Located on the Hudson River just south of Beacon, Bannerman Island (also known as Pollepel Island) is known for the towering ruins of Bannerman Castle, a replica of a Scottish castle built at the turn of the 20th century.
Guided tours of the island are available seasonally, between May and October. Special events are held on the island from time to time, including theater productions, movie screenings and live music performances.
Access is by boat or kayak only.
Discover Arts and Culture
1. Dia: Beacon
Located along the bank of the Hudson River, Dia:Beacon houses the Dia Foundation’s renowned collection of modern and contemporary art from the 1960s to the present day.
The space was converted from a former Nabisco box printing factory, and offers both indoor and outdoor exhibition space that showcase large-scale sculptures and installations.
See works by artists such as Richard Sera, Louise Bourgeois, Agnes Martin and Andy Warhol.
Be sure to stroll around the beautifully landscaped grounds overlooking the Hudson River.
There’s also a fantastic gift shop and bookstore on-site.
2. Second Saturday
Visit Beacon on the second Saturday of each month to experience the highlight of the town’s art scene and one of the most popular street fairs in the region.
Enjoy a packed schedule of events, including gallery openings and exhibitions, artist receptions, live music, food tastings and more.
Much of the activity can be found along Main Street. Many galleries and stores will also keep their doors open late (until 9 pm) during the Second Saturday festivities.
3. Clutter Gallery
Located on Main Street, the Clutter Gallery is home to both the Clutter Magazine and a gallery showcasing a sizable collection of designer toy art.
See works by both established and up-and-coming artists in the fields of toy design and customization, modern pop and lowbrow art. Visitors can view the gallery’s exhibitions for free on weekdays.
The gallery also usually debuts new shows during Second Saturday.
4. Madam Brett Homestead
Built in 1709, the Madam Brett Homestead is the oldest building in Dutchess county, formerly occupied by seven generations of the Brett family.
Now a museum, the home features 17 rooms filled with original Georgian and Victorian furnishings, artwork, porcelain, textiles, tools and more.
The estate also includes a lovely garden, a brook and a Big Tree dating to the homestead’s establishment.
Guided tours are available from April through December
1. American Gypsy Vintage
Visit American Gypsy Vintage for a carefully curated selection of vintage and second-hand clothing and goods.
The trendy consignment shop is known for their extensive collection of denim and tee-shirts, but they also offer an assortment of accessories, jewelry, boots and leather goods.
2. Beacon Flea Market
From April through November, the open-air Beacon Flea Market is held every Sunday (weather permitting) at the Henry Street parking lot, located behind the Main Street Post Office. From 6 am until around 3 pm, browse among more than 50 stalls selling vintage items, handcrafted items, antiques, collectibles and more.
You won’t find any knock-offs or mass-produced items here. Just be aware that many vendors here will only accept cash
3. Hudson Beach Glass
Located in a renovated historic firehouse on Main Street, Hudson Beach Glass is both a glassworks studio and a glassblowing demonstration studio.
Find both functional and sculptural glass objects, including bowls, vases, serving pieces, jewelry, wind chimes, decorative sculptural works and more.
See glass being cast in their demonstration studio. They also offer workshops where participants can craft their own glass beads, paperweights and ornaments.
Food, Drink and Live Entertainment Options
Pandorica is the only “Doctor Who” themed restaurant in the Hudson Valley and a must for all Whovians.
Named for a set piece from the popular TV series, the restaurant features decor and a menu inspired by the show, including a TARDIS bathroom door, an Ood and a “Fish Fingers and Custard” dish.
The restaurant also offers an excellent tea selection.
2. Homespun Foods
As the name suggests, Homespun Food is known for their simple but hearty and delicious comfort food reminiscent of home. Enjoy soups, salads and sandwiches as well as larger entrees.
Their cozy Main Street venue includes a delightful courtyard garden that is perfect on a warm day. There’s also a second location inside the Dia:Beacon
3. Denning’s Point Distillery
Located in a historic building in downtown Beacon, this popular artisanal distillery sources all of its grains from local farms. Enjoy tastings from Fridays through Sundays, and public tours of the distillery on Saturdays. Several of their spirits have won awards.
Try their gin, vodka and bourbon in sample sizes or as part of a tasty cocktail. They also offer live music on most
Saturdays, including as part of Second Saturday.
4. Hudson Valley Brewery
The Hudson Valley Brewery is one of the most popular craft breweries in the region. Their tasting room is open from Thursdays through Sundays, and offers a changing rotation of beers on tap.
They’re known for their sour IPAs in particular, which you can take home in bottles, as well as regular and over sized cans. Food from different pop-up kitchens are available from time to time.
In the last few years, a number of renowned dining and craft beverage options have opened in Beacon. Join a small-group guided food tour and try samples at some of the best restaurants and bars in town.
5. Towne Crier Cafe
The legendary café moved to Beacon in 2013. Located right on Main Street, the intimate venue offers a jam packed schedule of live performances spanning rock, pop, jazz, blues, folk and world music.
Enjoy fine dining along with delicious pastries and desserts. Sunday brunch is a great time to visit, and often features a free live show.
6. Howland Cultural Center
Housed in a brick building that dates back to 1872, the Howland Cultural Center, formerly known as the Howland Library, is a key cultural institution in Beacon.
Often referred to as the “Jewel of Beacon,” the center offers a wide range of events and programming throughout the
year, including music, dance, theater, visual arts and fine arts.
How to Get There and Where to Stay
How to Get There
Getting to Beacon from New York City is easy, and the most convenient way to reach there is by train. From Grand Central Terminal, take the Metro-North Railroad’s Hudson Line to Beacon.
It’s also around a 90 minute drive from New York City. For points north of Beacon, take Amtrak to
Poughkeepsie, then transfer to a Metro-North train to Beacon.
Where to Stay
Although Beacon is popular for day trips, there’s enough to do in and around the town that an overnight stay is easily warranted.
Here are some of the top options in town :
- Beacon Bed and Breakfast: Built in 1911 in a Colonial Revival style, the Beacon Bed and Breakfast offers spacious rooms and a seasonal inground pool.
- The Roundhouse : Overlooking Beacon Falls, this boutique hotel offers well-appointed rooms and elegant decor. The on-site restaurant is outstanding and well worth a visit.
- The Inn and Spa in Beacon : Enjoy spectacular views from the rooftop deck, as well as an array of pampering spa treatments. There are 12 rooms available.
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