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Beacon, New York City Guide

by Sabrina Smelko

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Just 60 miles north of NYC along the Hudson River, you’ll find Beacon, a charming-and-hip small town with a population of under 20,000. Home to the renowned contemporary art museum Dia: Beacon, which opened in 2003, it has attracted crowds of artists, writers, filmmakers, designers, young couples looking to start families and veteran entrepreneurs. Beacon, an industrial and historic town once known for manufacturing textiles, hats and boxes, has a vibrantly growing locavore community, and myriad new businesses continue to open shop in the historic buildings on Main Street. And through the influx of galleries, craft beer breweries, organic food shops and more, the town has harmoniously kept its industrial character while also preserving the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley. As today’s city guide writer, Euni Figi, explains, “Beacon has it all!”

Euni (who commutes into Manhattan daily where she works as a designer at Caro Home) and her husband have called Beacon home since 2008. They can’t get enough of the relaxed lifestyle and super-friendly community, and today, Euni is thrilled to share a few of her recommendations of things to do, see, and eat. — Sabrina

For those traveling from NYC, take the Metro North Hudson Line towards Poughkeepsie to Beacon. The hour and a half train ride is quite lovely, as it runs right along Hudson River. The best way to see everything downtown has to offer is to walk or bike (rentals are available from People’s Bicycle; best to call ahead) along Main Street from Bank Square to the Round House, then loop back. Taxis are also available at the train station. Beacon is ideal for long day trips and weekends during all seasons.

DO

    • Dia: Beacon (3 Beekman Street) is one of nation’s most well regarded contemporary art museums. It’s truly a must-see when visiting Beacon. Housed in the former Nabisco box factory on the banks of the Hudson River, the galleries are filled with natural light and are industrial in scale with equally impressive artists such as Richard Serra, Sol LeWitt, Gerhard Richter and Dan Flavin.

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    • Once to twice a year, Niche Modern, a luxury lighting company, has their semi-annual Factory Sale where you can snag their gorgeous pendants for 50%-80% off. They also welcome visitors into their incredible studio—once the Tallix metal foundry—to meet principal designer Jeremy Pyles. Sign up for their email list or follow their Instagram to find out more about the event.

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    • Every Sunday—rain or shine—local farm stands, bakers, butchers, gourmet food vendors, and artisans sell their goods at the Beacon Farmer’s Market. In spring, summer, and fall the market is outdoors in front of the train station along the Hudson; in the winter the market runs out of the Scenic Hudson River Center.
    • Founded by friends Sarah Beinstein and Megan Lawrence, Nixie and Sparrow (291 Main Street), is a DIY workshop studio that brings your hippest Pinterest ideas to life. Inside the historic telephone building and now the Beahive shared studio, the handmade DIY workshops range from painting, jewelry making and glass etching, to name just a few (but there are so many more classes to choose from!) It’s a great place to meet other crafters and have fun being creative, all while sipping a mimosa!

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Image above: Photo by Nixie and Sparrow.

    • Beacon Flea Market (6 Henry Street) is open on Sundays from the spring through the fall with a variety of regular and rotating vendors selling vintage treasures from furniture, clothing, accessories, art and home goods. Check out their blog for a sneak peak preview of the sale each week.
    • The Beacon (445 Main Street) is home to 4th Wall Productions, which is undergoing a heartfelt renovation to bring the historic theater back to its original art deco glory. In the meanwhile, check it out to see a variety of excellent entertainment from plays, to films, to concerts.
    • Mount Beacon (parking and trailhead are located at the intersection of Route 9D and Howland Avenue) is rich with history. Once a ski resort and casino, is now a mile-long hiking trail boasting an incredible overlook with a near-aerial view of Beacon, the Hudson River, and neighboring Newburgh. Not a casual walking trail, the hike is a steep incline, so wear proper footwear, bring water, and go at your own pace. The view is well worth the trek!

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    • The Long Dock Park (8 Long Dock Road) is part of the Dia: Museum as a site-specific site art installation designed to engage visitors with the Hudson River at Beacon Point. The park is a relaxing place to enjoy the outdoors and hang out amongst the locals. Kayak rentals are also available by the park through Mountain Tops Outfitters.

EAT AND DRINK

    • Anchored on the corner of Main Street and the 9D, Bank Square (129 Main Street) greets everyone who comes to Beacon. While it’s a place for great coffee and a cozy atmosphere year-round, summer evenings are especially lively.
    • Bakery and bistro, Beacon Bread (193 Main Street), has a relaxed mom-and-pop vibe offering artisan breads, breakfast, and lunch. On the weekends, get there early because the tables fill up fast. The challah French toast is to-die-for.
    • Summer specialty Zora Dora (201 Main Street) is my favorite place to get frozen treats to cool down. All of their pops are organic and handcrafted in small batches with flavors that range from the classic to the unexpected.
    • Respected member of the aforementioned locavore community, Homespun (232 Main Street) has been in Beacon since 2005 serving gourmet brunch, lunch, and baked goods at their Main Street location. Summer is the perfect time of year for patio dining.
    • Dennings Point Distillery (10 North Chestnut) is an artisanal whiskey distillery and shop offering tastings and tours. (The owners also happen to be our neighbors, Karl and Susan!) Try out their varieties of whiskies, vodka and gin, and take a bottle home. Being a design geek, I’m a sucker for their packaging.

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    • My favorite bakery is All You Knead Bakery (308 Main Street), which neighbors our house as well! They bake daily whole grain loaves, baguettes, bagels, muffins, seasonal pastries, and some specialties (the cheddar jalapeno loaf is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G). In the summer, when we have our windows open, I can occasionally smell the bread being baked in the early morning.
    • Beacon Pantry (382 Main Street) is another one of my favorite shops. The boutique pantry carefully selects meats, cheeses, jams, cookies, pastries, and other staples. Since moving to a larger location, they now serve a sit-down menu. During warm months you will see a quintessential orange bike with a basket parked out front—it belongs to the shop owner, Stacy.
    • The Beacon Bite (416 Main Street) is the first artisanal food truck in downtown Beacon and quickly became one of our favorite places to eat. Owned by Dalton Edwards—CIA graduate and Austin, TX native—the Beacon Bite serves a rotating menu of seasonal eats posted daily on his Instagram and Facebook. Open from spring through fall, Dalton spends winters traveling the world, eating and documenting his incredible street food adventures. (Also check out his neighbor, the Beacon Pie cart!)

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    • Ella’s Bellas (418 Main Street) is the neighborhood’s gluten-free bakery and lunch cafe. The decor and atmosphere are tastefully chic while also homey, with communal, farm-style tables with oversized industrial whisks as lighting accents. Also home to Tas Café, Beacon’s local coffee roaster. I especially love the lattes and lemonades while sitting with my laptop in the cafe.

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    • For the beer connoisseurs and foodies alike, the Hop (554 Main Street) is an absolute must, with drafts on tap and hundreds more to choose from in the shop side of the restaurant. Beyond the beer, they have an incredible menu of artisanal dishes, all made with local ingredients. To ensure a table, call ahead for reservations, the restaurant fills up fast!

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SHOP

    • Located on the corner of Main and Cross, in the historic firehouse, Hudson Beach Glass (162 Main Street) has three floors of space devoted to their shop of hand-blown glassware and art gallery. The adjacent glass studio is always open for visitors.
    • Clay Wood and Cotton (133 Main Street) is a boutique specializing in handmade products from ceramics, kitchen textiles, art prints, letterpress cards, and much more. One side of the shop is solely dedicated to a vast selection of yarns and books. It’s a must-see for Etsy lovers!
    • Colorant (145 Main Street) is a seasonal pop-up shop specializing in gorgeous, naturally dyed fashion and accessories for adults and kids.
    • Like the name, Dream in Plastic (177 Main Street) embodies the essence of what Beacon is about. The owners, two childhood best friends with a talent for great gift-giving and a dream, decided to take their shop concept from their Brooklyn basement to brick-and-mortar in Beacon. This cool little shop is filled with amazing treasures, collectibles, and novelty items.
    • From Americana to bohemian to classic biker, each piece at American Gypsy Vintage (362 Main Street) is hand-selected by fashion blogger and stylist Nicole Aylse and co-owner Cabot Bramhall. The shop is filled to the brim with on-trend finds that are a reflection of Nicole’s personal style and distinct point of view on vintage fashion.

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    • At Drink More Good (383 Main Street), Jason Schuler is redefining soda by making it natural and absolutely guilt-free. His company defines success by the good done in the world, not by the bottom line. All handmade production happens in the back of the shop, and in the front, you can buy handmade soda syrups, spices, teas, and bitters. The shop is also a chill place to relax and enjoy a cup of tea.

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    • Once resembling Hudson, NY, Beacon was at one time home to many antique shops as art galleries. Dickinson Antiques (440 Main Street) is one of the veteran storefronts that endured, carrying antique furniture and many other treasures. Galaxy 13 is part of the next generation of vintage antique shops, carrying rare finds with a retro and modern twist.
    • Designer and owner Gail Travis is breaking the mold with a new perspective on fashion with her label NFP (457 Main Street). A true artist and designer, Gail engineers her collections to twist, reverse, or snap so each garment can be worn multiple ways.
    • Reservoir and Wood (460 Main Street) is a lifestyle boutique inspired by both the rustic outdoors and city modernity. R&W is my absolute favorite shop in town with beautiful, independent fashion and accessory labels for women, men, and children, along with domestic and locally produced home wares. Most notably, the boutique features owner Erin Murphy’s designer label {EM} Reservoir.

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    • The little gem, Vintage Beacon (478 Main Street) is the place to for contemporary and luxury vintage, all selected by owner and stylist Angela Hastings, who is simply poetic when describing the pieces in her shop when providing suggestions for her customers. The intimate shop is full of vintage treasures from apparel, footwear and accessories. Follow her Instagram to see what’s new.

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    • After the Barn (508 Main Street) is more than just a family business with stunning handcrafted furniture and vintage barn treasures; they are preserving history by repurposing historic barns that would otherwise fall fate to disrepair or demolition. I am in love with their farm tables and benches.
    • Fabhaus (512 Main Street) is a creative agency and retail shop specializing in 3D fabrication for clients and projects of all sizes. Co-owned by Ricardo Fuentes and Michael Toste, the combined talents of an engineer and an architect, their work ranges from passion projects with local artists to impressive commissions in media, fashion, architecture and more. Their retail shop showcases some of their partnerships with local designers and makers. And in the back of the shop, you can see their inspiring workspace filled with laser-cutting machines and the traces of past projects.

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STAY

    • The Round House (2 East Main Street) is a luxury boutique hotel inside the restored hat factories at the east end of Main Street. With views of Mount Beacon and the Beacon Falls, the surrounding scenery is as beautiful as the interior.
    • Air BnB is naturally a popular choice, especially for those interested in living like the locals. I host an annual overnight “Beacon Weekend” for my girlfriends from the city, and last year we rented a beautiful loft at Beacon Falls. The space had high ceilings, an open floor plan and was filled with a great library of design books. Not to mention, the hosts, Elizabeth and Ken couldn’t have been nicer and more helpful. If the loft is booked, here is another great loft option!

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Suggested For You

Comments

  • Beacon, NY is incredible! What a gem. Rexhill Furniture is based in Beacon as well and they have incredible hand-crafted items for homes, offices, and more. Check them out too!

  • Love Beacon! Great article! So many things to do. Want to give my favorite shop an honorable mention. It’s one of my favorites and has mostly USA made products at reasonable prices.: Lauren & Riley, 462 Main Street.

    http://www.laurenandriley.com

  • What great timing, I will be here in a couple of weeks! Thanks for putting together such an awesome guide. Will have to hit up many of these spots.

  • Last summer I stayed at Hyatt House in Fishkill and used that as a base to explore Beacon, as well as Cold Springs, Red Hook and Rhinebeck. Dia:Beacon and nearby Storm King Arts Center were highlights of the trip. This wonderful list makes me want to return.

  • How could you leave out Joe’s Irish Pub, home of Russ St. George’s Second Saturday Jam. Your host, Joe Condon, is the best bar owner around and strives to keep live music going in Beacon. The Second Saturday Jam is the longest running open jam in the Hudson Valley. Don’t miss it!

  • Beacon was hip before it was cool. Even when it was boarded up storefronts it was an art mecca. But just like all the other river towns along the Hudson on both shore lines it seems like the sun has shinning…

  • Thank you for putting this together! Yes, agreed, don’t forget Gwenno James at 17 East Main. Her apparel is beautiful and absolutely one of a kind.

  • Great article, but I can’t believe you didn’t cover the Howland Cultural Center, which is, in many ways, the cultural cornerstone of Beacon. Built in 1872, and on the National Historic Register, the Howland is home of frequent art exhibits and concerts as well as the home of the Howland Chamber Music Circle (www.HowlandMusic.org).

  • Dont forget to visit The Dance Bag
    314 Main St. in Beacon, New York

    Selling quality Dancewear

    at Great Prices since 2005!

  • I’d like to mention Matteawan Gallery at 464 Main Street. The gallery opened in 2013 and shows contemporary art by emerging and established artists. Recent exhibitions include Sharon Butler, Lilian Kreutzberger, and Ellen Siebers. Greg Slick: Strange Geometries opens on Saturday, June 13. Please note that the Beacon Arts website only lists galleries that are paying business members (a steep price for small galleries) so the list is not complete.

    • Thank you for pointing your readers to BeaconArts.org, an all-volunteer non-profit organization that has promoted cultural tourism and the arts in Beacon for almost 14 years. It was great to see that most if not all of the businesses and individuals highlighted in your Guide support BeaconArts’ mission as members or donors; please know that BeaconArts.org comprehensive events listing is inclusive of all arts-oriented businesses and events whether or not they are Business-level members. http:/www.beaconarts.org/join

  • Point of clarity about Mount Beacon – the section of the mountaintop where the hiking trail winds up (there used to be an incline railway to the top, which is gone) was never a ski resort. The top of Mount Beacon used to have a Hotel, and a Casino – more of a dance hall really. The Hotel and the Casino both burned down in 1927, the hotel was never rebuilt. http://www.inclinerailway.org/history-heyday/

    The ski lodge was located about 1/2 mile to the north on a different section of the mountain.

  • Amazing roundup!! Making Guides about Beacon is so fun, as there are many ways to highlight different gems in and around this city. We have the “Things To Do In Beacon” Guide over at A Little Beacon Blog, which cover everything from eating and shopping your way through Second Saturday, to Shopping, to Summer Day Camps. Thank you for the backgrounds of the business owners! Really enjoyed reading.

  • What great timing! I am traveling to Beacon July 15-18 for work and I am in search of certain places to for my event and staff. This article was very helpful! If you recommend a spot with plenty of room for a brew and a light bite to eat? Post ride with about 25 hungry cyclist!

    • Hi Jen,

      Not sure if I’m catching you in time during your trip!
      The Hop takes reservations for large groups.
      The Beacon Pantry has a private space for large groups – although it’s short notice you could call Stacy in advance.
      Not sure if Homespun can handle a big group like 25 without advance notice, but their patio is quite large. Maybe call ahead and speak with Jessica.
      Enjoy your trip!

  • Great list!
    After visiting all of these wonderful places, come experience Constellation, a large-scale, light-based public art project by Beacon-based artist Melissa McGill. Watch Constellation emerge over Bannerman’s Castle ruin on Pollepel Island in the Hudson River. As the sun goes down, starry lights appear one by one with the stars of the night sky creating a new constellation connecting past and present through this

    Experience the magical transition of Constellation from the shifting light of twilight until the full dark of night from the most spectacular vantage point, on the Hudson River aboard the Estuary Steward. Includes a brief walking tour on the island where you will learn about both Constellation and the history of the site and then experience breathtaking views of Constellation from the water,as the starry lights emerge one by one with the stars of the night sky.
    Fo more info, please visit:
    http://melissamcgillconstellation.com/visit/book-boat-tours/

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