What to Do In: Beacon, NY

Beacon is my home away from home, where I go to visit family during the summers, for holidays, and lazy weekends. Over the past ten years since I’ve gotten to know the area, Beacon has gentrified greatly. Discount shops gave way to art galleries and fast food joints left for artisan Taquerias and Thai restaurants.  An arts scene, replete with many Brooklyn escapees, dominates the social life, with Second Saturdays, a monthly art walk along main street, and the Dia:Beacon modern art museum right off the train, make it a popular weekend getaway for city folk.

The ride on the Metro North from Grand Central is about an hour and a half, with sweeping river views on the west side as the train crawls up the Hudson River. On weekends, a flea market in town and farmers market by the train station make local produce and funky gifts easily available.

Here’s what you should do on your next trip up to Dutchess County’s city of Beacon.

Morning: Hike for the Sights

Head down main street to the Beacon Bagel, a local bakery and coffee shop, for your morning dose of caffiene and carbs. Then drive to Mount Beacon for a hike up a series of switchbacks that lead to the site where an incline railroad used to be, as well as a hotel. The mountain is the highest peak in the Hudson Highlands and is definitely worth the somewhat steep climb on a clear day.

View from the Incline Railroad Site on Mount Beacon
View from the Incline Railroad Site on Mount Beacon
View from Mount Beacon over the Hudson River
View from Mount Beacon over the Hudson River

Midday: Stroll through town

After your hike, or if you are on a tighter schedule, head back to Main Street and take in the sights. Check out some of the local shops and stay for lunch. The Roundhouse Restaurant has views of a small waterfall, also visible from the street and a small walking path.

Waterfall off Main Street in Beacon
Waterfall off Main Street in Beacon

Towards the middle of Main Street on Sundays from 8-3pm is the Beacon Flea, a weekly flea market featuring antiques, crafts and second-hand items. This year the last market of the season is November 15.

If you’re a history buff, or want to learn more about the town, the Beacon Historical Society, which is open on Thursday mornings and Saturdays, is helpful. They often have presentations at the Howland Cultural Center on local history.

Evening: Local music and culture

Try to schedule your visit for one of the Second Saturdays to peruse the shops and get free wine and snacks. If not, the Towne Crier Café, a Hudson Valley music establishment and restaurant, has shows almost every night of the week.

Painting of Pete Seeger in the Towne Crier
A painting of Pete Seeger hangs in the Towne Crier dining room
Performance in the Towne Crier theater
Performance in the Towne Crier theater

After the show, head to one of the many bars along Main Street. For real Beacon flavor head to Max’s on Main for classic American fare and drinks, or Chill Wine Bar if you’re searching for a more relaxed location.

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