By Jemma Howlett
Sometimes, when the hustle and bustle of the city becomes too much, you need to find a way to escape—even if just for a day on the weekend. Beacon, New York, is a great option for a fun, easy day trip from the city that can cost as little as $50. Head up to this quaint town to soak up some upstate sun, admire the glory of the copious trees, enjoy small town vibes, and recharge your batteries.
Beacon sits about 65 miles north of New York City in the Hudson Valley. Situated right along the river, it originally thrived as a busy manufacturing town. Though the city has since transformed into a creative hub, reminders of the industrial past are still embedded in the town’s architecture. Beacon is home to a great modern art museum, local food, hikes, and adorable shops, making it a great day trip destination for NYC locals and tourists alike. We’ve mapped out a day in Beacon for your next day off from the grueling city summer.
9:00 a.m.: All aboard
Trains run approximately every hour from Grand Central to Beacon. Hop on the Metro North headed toward Poughkeepsie. Check the Metro North website to see that day’s schedule. Tickets can be purchased at Grand Central or online for the same price. Just don’t wait to buy your tickets on the train, because they hike the price by $5. A round trip off-peak ticket to Beacon will cost you $32 or $42 for peak pricing.
Spend the roughly 90-minute train ride taking in the views of the Hudson. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice an island ruin as you near Beacon. This is Bannerman Castle, an abandoned military surplus warehouse on Pollepel Island built in 1900 by Scotsman Francis Bannerman VI. The island is now public property and during the summer, you can kayak around and explore the island.
10:30 a.m.: Arrive in Beacon
Once you reach the Beacon train station, located on the riverfront, walk uphill with your back to the Hudson to get to the town center. If you’re there on a Sunday be sure to take a wander through the Beacon farmers market located right behind the train station before you hike up into town.
11:00 a.m.: Take in some culture or nature
Beacon is home to one of New York’s best modern art museums, Dia:Beacon. The Dia is housed in an old printing factory, which allows for an openness and abundance of natural light seldom found in museums. Each gallery is specifically designed around the artist’s work that inhabits it. The 15-minute walk to the museum is clearly marked with signs from the train station. If you want to save your energy, the Dia runs a shuttle bus from the train station. Admission to Dia:Beacon is $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. And if you’re looking for a bargain, Metro North also sells a getaway package deal for $36.50 that includes both a round trip ticket from the city and admission to the museum!
The Bookshop and Café at the Dia are also not to be missed. With offerings ranging from BBQ pulled pork to a black bean burgers, there’s a delicious option for anyone and many of the ingredients are locally sourced at this atypical museum eatery. Prices range from $8-15. This is a great option for lunch after a morning in the Dia.
Not the artsy type? Go for a hike instead! Either walk or take a $7 cab to the trailhead a few miles out of town. This two hour round-trip hike is jam packed with waterfalls, shady trees, and great views of the Hudson at the top; it will leave no one questioning the beauty of the Hudson Valley. If you’re keen to carry on for an extra 1.2 miles, you can even make it to the Mt. Beacon Fire tower for breathtaking, 360-degree Hudson Valley views. To get started, head over to Bob’s Corner Store at 640 Wolcott Ave and the trailhead is just across the street. You can find more detailed directions here.
1:00 p.m.: Hit up the local hot spots for lunch
Grab a well-deserved lunch after your hike or gallery hopping at Homespun Foods. This adorable café is situated in an ivy-covered brick house on Main Street. If it’s a nice day you can even sit out back in a quiet, sun-drenched garden. The homey atmosphere translates into their food; along with classics such as mac ‘n’ cheese and quiche, Homespun offers a wide selection of sandwiches and salads. Their specialty is a vegetarian nut loaf that’s to die for. You can satisfy your appetite at Homespun Foods to the tune of $8-15.
Another option is for lunch is the Beacon Bite food truck that parks on Main Street Thursday through Sunday. Don’t be fooled—this is no NYC falafel stand. The menu is constantly changing, but past offerings of pork osso buco with spicy mesclun, yucca, and a puree of rhubarb, strawberry, braise liquid, and basil should give you an idea what you’re getting yourself into. You can sit and enjoy your gourmet food truck meal at one of Beacon Bite’s picnic tables.
3:30 p.m.: Wander the streets of Beacon
One of the hippest towns in the Hudson Valley, Beacon has its fair share of vintage shops, art galleries, lifestyle boutiques, and bakeries. Keep an eye out for Reservoir & Wood, a boutique that curates items to shabby-chic up all aspects of your life. Warning: you will want to buy everything. Vintage: Beacon offers great finds for anyone seeking a retro look. And it’s not your average consignment shop: all of their pieces are hand selected and you can tell that the owners really care about what they have in their store. Hudson Valley Maker and Artisan Collective is also worth your time. Situated right at the center of town, on Main Street, it is a collective of artists who sell their unique art and handcrafts together. With their focus on “sustainable products and locally sourced materials,” what’s not to like? Other highlights include Ella’s Bellas Gluten Free Bakery, 20th Century Fox Antiques, and Hudson Beach Glass.
If you find yourself in need of a caffeine boost after roaming the streets try Bank Sq. Coffee. A classically hip coffee shop filled with mismatched furniture and all the choices to which New Yorkers are accustomed: pour over, cold brew, syphon, etc. They also offer draft beer, local snacks, and baked goods. Check their Facebook page for special events including live music and discount beer nights. Cash only!
6:30 p.m.: Embrace your inner foodie for dinner
Try The Hop for dinner. This casual dining establishment boasts “craft beer and artisanal fare.” Apps get as wild as buffalo-fried frog legs and escargot, but for the less adventurous there is still a grilled cheese and burger (or veggie burger). There is even a vegan rueben, so everyone should be able to find something. Mains range from $14-29. The beer is of course a major draw; there are 15 constantly changing beers on tap, enough to keep any craft beer snob happy.
8:30 p.m.: Last call
Grab one more drink before you head home for the night. Dogwood is a classic bar in a building that will remind you of the city’s manufacturing past. They have 16 taps, classic cocktails, and live music almost every night. Check their website page to see what’s on!
10:00 p.m.: Say goodbye
It’s time to say goodbye. Walk back down to the train station and start plotting your next trip to this Hudson Valley oasis. The last train is usually a little after 11:00 p.m. Just make sure you don’t miss it and have a relaxing ride back into the city that never sleeps.
Jemma Howlett is a writer, runner, traveller, college student and carb-enthusiast. Check out her coffee blog: thecoffeetravels.wordpress.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @jemmahow.
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