Only a short one and half hour train ride away, a trip from NYC to Beacon in the beautiful Hudson Valley is an easy getaway, even if it’s just for one day. Thanks to Beacon’s many attractions such as hiking, picnicking at the river, shopping at the small boutiques, or viewing modern art, it can easily turn into a multiple day mini vacation!
wander green ratings 0-10:
Hiking difficulty: easy strolls to steep and strenuous hikes
About the Area
The Hudson Valley is known for its rich history, arts and crafts, artisan goods, and delicious farm to table eats. The city of Beacon is nestled between the Hudson River and Mount Beacon about 60 miles north of New York City. The village has a relaxed vibe, some cool small stores and boutiques, and a few great vegetarian-friendly restaurants with locally sourced ingredients. You will find a mixed artsy and alternative crowd, beautiful views onto the Hudson and surrounding mountains, and the famous modern art museum Dia Beacon. And all of this can be easily explored by foot!
The initial inhabitants of the area were Wappinger Indians. In 1683 the first settlers arrived in the area and bought land from the Native Americans.
Early settlers were fur-traders and mill owners. The area was initially known as the villages of Matteawan and Fishkill Landing. Settlers in the area became the number one producers of wheat, flour, and cornmeal in NY State, shipping most of it to New York City.
In 1743 the ferry across the river to Newburgh began its initial operation, and in 1748 river freighting had started and Fishkill Landing developed into a river port.
The city served as a signaling point and fort in the Revolutionary war and also began manufacturing war supplies. In 1800 it became “the hat making capital of America.” The city of Beacon was incorporated in 1913 and prospered until the 1970’s, when a severe economic downturn led to a dramatic decline in the town’s prospects. Until the 1990’s, 80 percent of commercial business spaces and factories were vacant.
The now-famous art museum Dia Beacon, which opened in 2003, was converted from a vacant industrial building and became one of the largest modern museums in the state, featuring a collection of art from the 1960’s to the present. The large space is a perfect place to display the museum’s large-scale installations, paintings, and sculptures.
Where To Stay
Beacon offers a variety of lodging options ranging from boutique hotels to budget friendly sleep quarters. AirBnB has a few inexpensive options that are centrally located and within walking distance to the train station, downtown, and trailheads.
For visitors who own a car, tent, or RV may choose the nearby Clarence Fahnestock State Park as a camping option. The campground is only 20 minutes from Beacon by car and costs $20 for a tent site.
Where To Eat
All restaurants are to be found along Main Street:
Homemade food made with market fresh and seasonal ingredients, many vegetarian and a few vegan options, soups, salads, sandwiches, mac n’ cheese, vegetarian cheese, nut loaf, quiche, and yummy desserts.
Great fresh baked breads and pastries, yummy locally sourced options for breakfast, brunch and lunch including breakfast plates, eggs and omelets, griddle items, homemade yogurt, salads, soups, grilled cheese, and sandwiches.
Locally sourced farm to table menu with produce from their family farm. Some mouth watering vegan and vegetarian options as well as meat choices for carnivores:
Many vegan and vegetarian options: salads, sandwiches, soups, and smoothies.
Things To Do:
Mount Beacon offers great hiking with many miles of trails ranging in difficulty. It takes only about 30 minutes to walk from the train station to the trailhead located at the corner of Wolcott Ave (Interstate 9D) and Howland Ave. The first few miles of the trail up to Mount Beacon is quite steep. Once the first plateau is reached, one can view the ruins of an old cable trolley building that people used to ride up the mountain to visit a casino that once was atop Mount Beacon. There are great sweeping views of the Hudson river and the village of Beacon, Newburgh, and the Catskills Mountains to the north. Most hikers only go to this point and then turn around and hike back down. There’s a nice 7 hour loop that circles a pond, as well as various out and back hikes to the firetower or beyond. There are multiple viewpoints facing different directions along the trails and a 360 degree view from the firetower.
The ambitious hiker can hike into Beacon via Breakneck Ridge. True to its namesake, Breakneck Ridge is known as one of the most challenging hikes in NY State due to its steep ascent. Take the train to Breakneck Ridge (one stop from Beacon, stops there on Sat and Sundays only) and hike up the Breakneck Ridge trail, then continue to Mount Beacon and hike down into the village of Beacon (approximately 7 hours total or 9 miles).
Head to the Hudson’s Long Dock Park, located next to the train station. From there, take a walk along the river on the River Front Trail to Denning Point, a nature preserve on a peninsula with various hiking trails.
Kayak on the Hudson River:
Bring your own kayak or paddle board or rent them at Mountain Tops Outfitters.
Picnic and Ferry Ride:
Take the Ferry to Newburgh and back for some scenic views of the river and surrounding areas. The ferry is located at Pete & Toshi Seeger River Front Park, which is next to the train station. Or bring a picnic and sit at the waterfront and watch the sunset after a relaxing stroll along the water.
Celebrate Dr. Who:
Dr. Who lovers must visit The Pandorica, a Dr. Who-themed restaurant with tasty eats on Main Street.
Take a class in Glass Bead Making:
Take a tour to Bannermann Island and visit the abandoned Castle
Visit Second Saturday:
The city-wide celebration of the arts with special events, gallery receptions, and culinary feasts is held every second Saturday of the month. Most small businesses on Main Street stay open late until 9pm on those days.
Buy local produce and goods at the Beacon Farmer’s Market
Visit the Beacon Flea Market:
Every Sunday from April through November, weather permitting. Only vintage or hand crafted goods are sold at this market, located at 6 Henry Street, Beacon, NY.
How To Get Around
The city is small enough to master the whole area by foot.
Of course you could also bring your bicycle.