Beacon is one of my favorite little towns in the Hudson Valley. We were introduced to this town by a friend and we have been back so many times since. It is a really cutesy, walkable town with great restaurants and shops. There are many things to do in Beacon and you could easily spend the weekend here.
Beacon, New York is located in the Hudson Valley and has a great deal of history surrounding it. It was inhabited for a long time by Native Americans prior to Europeans arriving. The location of Beacon was key in the Revolutionary War for being both along the Hudson River, but also have the high point of Mount Beacon. Many factories were here in the 1800’s, so much so that it was at one point deemed the “Hat Making Capital of the US.” In the past 20 years, Beacon has transformed into a haven for artists and visitors.
How to get to Beacon
One great thing about Beacon that is different than other towns in the Hudson Valley and Upstate is how accessible it is to reach, even if you don’t have a car or private transportation. Beacon is reachable by car, train, and ferry pretty easily.
Beacon is easily reached by car. When you arrive to Beacon, there is street parking throughout town both on the Main Street and side streets. The Main Street has parking meters that only require payment at certain times of day on certain days of the week, so be sure to read the meter where you park for the latest info. While Beacon can be crowded, there is always a lot of parking available on side streets if you can’t find anything on Main Street.
New York City to Beacon: 67 miles, 1.5 hours
Train is a very popular way to arrive to Beacon from New York City. The train that stops in Beacon is Metro North leaving from Grand Central Station. The ride is really pretty as the tracks follow the Hudson River all the way to Beacon. If you want to see the pretty sights on the train, when getting on the train from Grand Central Station and entering the train boarding area from the Main Concourse, take a seat on the LEFT side of the train.
Grand Central Station (New York City) to Beacon: 1.5 hours
There is a ferry that runs from Newburgh to Beacon. This option is most useful to you if you are not wanting to park in Beacon or if you are coming from Westpoint Military Base and do not have access to a car. The latest ferry schedule can be found on the NY Waterway website.
Things to Do in Beacon
Shop on Main Street
When we visit Beacon, we often spend the entire day walking through the main street shops and grabbing treats from our favorite places. Although there are many things to do on this this list, you could easily spend your entire trip relaxing and enjoying the shops and restaurants of Beacon. I recommend starting at one end of Main Street and walking the entire way down and back on the other side of the street if you are able to. On the south end a good starting point is the intersection of Main Street and South Street. If starting from the North End, a good starting point is Main Street and Wolcott Avenue. Starting at one end of the street, you will be able to see all the town has to offer without missing anything. Our first few times here, we started walking the street in the middle and ended up missing a lot of places that we found later on and really love.
One of my favorite shops on the entire Main Street of Beacon is Flora Good Times. Flora Good Times is a super cute little plant shop with so many amazing plants and garden related items. Every time we go to Beacon, I make sure we stop here. They sell many different types of plants for both indoors and outdoors and also so many different plant cuttings to propagate. You can even bring your own plant cuttings to trade here. I love the vibes in here and the employees here are so kind and helpful, even if you’re a houseplant newbie (like me).
Some other shops that I love and recommend on the Main Street of Beacon are Binnacle Books (wonderful independent bookstore), Mountain Tops Outfitters (nice outdoor gear in a rustic setting), and Hudson Beach Glass (beautiful blown glass made by artists locally). There are also various different art galleries throughout the Main Street of Beacon. Vintage clothing and antique stores can be found throughout the Main Street, with the largest concentration of these types of shops on the southern end of Main Street.
No matter what you’re looking for, I am sure that you can find it on the Main Street in Beacon.
Dia Beacon Art Museum
Dia Beacon is an art museum located in Beacon that is the counterpart to the Dia Chelsea art museum. The Dia Beacon is located in a building that at one point was the Nabisco (think oreos and ritz crackers) box-printing factory in the mid-1900’s. Most of the museum has skylights in the ceiling, allowing natural light to guide you through the museum. To visit, you must make reservations online. If you are from Hudson Valley, you can visit the museum for free on the last Sunday of the month.
Walk Along Hudson River
There are several waterfront parks and walking trails along the Hudson River. To the north there is the Pete and Toshi Seeger Riverfront Park, then in the middle there is the Scenic Hudson’s Long Dock Park, and if you take the Riverfront Trail south, you can reach the Dennings Point State Park. If you arrive by train, you will get off at the station right beside the Hudson River and already be on the waterfront, but if you drive by car to Beacon, you can easily walk or drive down to the waterfront from Main Street.
Tour Castle Ruins on an Abandoned Island
If you’re interested in visiting huge castle ruins on an abandoned island on the Hudson River, then Bannerman Castle might be the place for you. Bannerman Castle is located on Pollepel Island in the Hudson River. The tour leaves from Beacon by boat and will take you to Pollepel Island where you will have a walking tour around the island and the castle ruins. The tour is around 2.5 hours in total. This is definitely one of the activities that most people visiting Beacon don’t do, but it would be a great unique addition to your trip to Beacon. Tickets for the Bannerman Castle Cruise can be found on the Bannerman Castle website. We have not visited Bannerman Island, but it is definitely on our New York bucket list.
Hike Mount Beacon
If you’re wanting to find some hiking while visiting Beacon, one place you should totally try is Mount Beacon. A cool feature of the Mount Beacon hike is that there is a fire tower at the top! We love visiting fire towers as they can give you some amazing views where you least expect it. There are several different trails to do, but going via the Casino Trail is the shortest at 3.6 miles round trip.
If you are visiting Beacon by car, a great place to stop is Fishkill Farms. Fishkill is a town close to Beacon and nearby is the wonderful Fishkill Farms. It is a very popular place for apple picking in the fall, but they have so much more than just apples! In the summer and fall they have a wide range of pick-your-own organic fruits and vegetables including strawberries, raspberries, peaches, squash, and tomatoes. A full list of their pick-your-own offerings can be found on their website. They also have a shop and brunch on the weekends at any time of year. Since it is so busy, make sure that you make a reservation online before your visit. In the summer they also have an outdoor grill and apple cider donuts. Parking is in a large grassy field, except if you’re apple picking in which you can drive to the apple orchard fields (they will direct you where to park).
We visited in the fall for apple picking and it was so busy, but they were very organized. Even though there are so many people, once you walk out into the fields to pick apples, it is much quieter and peaceful. They have many different varieties of apples to choose from. We picked apples and pears and filled the giant red bag they gave us when we entered the orchard. There was also a large pen of chickens near the parking area that we enjoyed watching for a while. We loved our visit here and think that it’s totally worth a stop if you’re in the area.
Places to Eat
Beacon Creamery is an absolutely delicious ice cream shop that a friend told us about, and we’re so glad we stopped. They have amazing ice cream in unique flavors. Be sure to get a double scoop and sit on their wooden bear bench outside. If it applies to you, they had military discounts when we were there.
Glazed Over Donuts
Glazed Over Donuts is a super cool donut shop that lets you customize your own donuts (like a Subway but for donuts). You get to choose a glaze, a topping, and a drizzle for each donut. When you walk in, you get a clipboard with a sheet to choose from all of their options. If you rather have someone choose for you, they have specials each week, already made with the perfect combinations. With all of the options you have, there are over 1000 combinations that you can make! Once you order, you can watch them make your donut to the right of where you order. All the donuts we have tried here have been amazing and we totally recommend.
Big Mouth Coffee Roasters
You must try Big Mouth Coffee Roasters if you love coffee and aesthetic coffee shop vibes. Big Mouth Coffee Roasters ranks up there with being one of my favorite coffee shops ever. They have great pastry options (both savory and sweet) and wonderful coffee. There are many tables for sitting here and even a cute corner with leather couches and vintage rugs to hang out at. They showcase art from local artists that is constantly changing (there has been different art pieces every time we visit). Even cooler, they roast their beans in house with the roasting room being on display and large burlap bags of raw beans piled up ready to be roasted. I love the ambiance here and hope you can visit.
The Bagel Shoppe
The Bagel Shoppe is located more on the southern end of Main Street and they have great bagels. We visited here with a friend and weren’t disappointed. We tried their lox everything bagel (salmon cream cheese on an everything bagel) and it was so good. They have many different items aside from bagels too if bagels aren’t your thing.
Beans Cat Café
Beans Cat Café is a cute little cat café located near the middle of Main Street. From outside you can peak into the windows and see the cats up for adoption happily playing around. Inside they have a café area where you can order coffee or other beverages. In the cat lounge area, you can sit and play with the cats. All of the cats they have are up for adoption from a local shelter. To reserve your time in the cat lounge, visit the Beans Cat Café website.
Hakan is a chocolate shop that has the most amazing chocolates. Each of the chocolates that we tried has its own instructions for eating. All of the chocolates that we tried were absolutely incredible. I recommend stopping to try even just one of their chocolates.
Other Notes on Beacon
Many of the attractions in Beacon cater to out-of-town visitors and therefore some places are only open on weekends or evenings some days of the week. On the weekends Beacon is very lively and full of people. If visiting on the weekend, be prepared to have longer waiting times for restuarants or having many people around you while walking down the street. On weekdays and mornings, while many shops are closed, it offers a much different, more peaceful experience. Visiting on a weekday is a great option for you if you are looking for a more relaxing experience hanging out in a coffee shop (like Big Mouth Coffee Roasters!) or leisurely walking along the Hudson without many people around.
Have you been to Beacon before? I’d love to know your experience or questions down below in the comments!
Thanks for Reading!