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View from Mount Beacon with City of Beacon in Foreground  | © Robert Rodriguez, Jr.
View from Mount Beacon with City of Beacon in Foreground | © Robert Rodriguez, Jr.

10 Things To Do And See In Beacon, New York

Picture of Regina Mullen
Updated: 9 February 2017
An easy train ride from New York City, Beacon is an up-and-coming artist community that has successfully risen from the ruins of post-industrial decay. The indisputable hub of Beacon’s cultural revival is Main Street, with many of the city’s unique attractions lining its easy-to-stroll, one-mile span. Both its location in the Hudson Highlands and proximity to the Hudson River also makes Beacon an exceptional destination for those who love the outdoors.

Second Saturday

One of the more convenient and fulfilling ways to take in the splendors that Beacon has to offer is Beacon Arts’ Second Saturday, a citywide celebration of the arts held the second Saturday of each month. The festivities, which feature gallery exhibitions, music, food tasting, and more, continue all day and well into the night, making it one of the Lower Hudson Valley’s most talked about street fairs. Of particular note is the fact that most of Beacon’s countless galleries schedule their exhibition openings to coincide with Second Saturday.

Second Saturday, Main St, Beacon, NY, USA

Gabe Brown Opening at Matteawan Gallery during Beacon Arts’ Monthly Second Saturday Event | Image Courtesy of Matteawan Gallery

Gabe Brown Opening at Matteawan Gallery during Beacon Arts’ Monthly Second Saturday Event | Image Courtesy of Matteawan Gallery

Towne Crier Café

The Towne Crier Café has been serving first class American roots, jazz, and world music since 1972, not to mention its acclaimed dining menu, augmented by a feast of renowned dessert and pastry offerings. Back in 2013, owner and founder Phil Ciganer relocated his legendary nightclub from Pauling, New York, to downtown Beacon’s burgeoning Main Street strip. Every aspect of this exceptional performance venue has grown and flourished in its current location, not the least of which is hosting some of the area’s finest musical offerings. As an added bonus, the Towne Crier’s Sunday brunch generally features free entertainment.

Towne Crier Café, 379 Main St, Beacon, NY, USA +1 845 855 1300

Towne Crier Cafe | © Mickey Deneher

Towne Crier Cafe | © Mickey Deneher

Dia: Beacon

Situated on more than 30 landscaped acres near the banks of the Hudson River, Dia: Beacon houses the Dia Art Foundation’s permanent collection of works dating from the 1960s and 1970s, as well as curating regular special exhibitions and new commissions. Housed in a former Nabisco box printing factory, the industrial building features sprawling open spaces and abundant natural light, making the unique 300,000-square-foot brick, steel, concrete, and glass structure a perfect complement to the museum’s exhibitions.

Dia: Beacon, 3 Beekman St, Beacon, NY, USA +1 845 440 0100

John Chamberlain, Installation View, Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries. © John Chamberlain/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Bill Jacobson

John Chamberlain, Installation View, Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries. © John Chamberlain/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. | © Bill Jacobson

American Gypsy Vintage

At American Gypsy Vintage, curators Nicole Alyse and Cabot Bramhall carefully select only the finest vintage clothing and denim, ensuring that the trendy consignment shop radiates its own distinctive fashion flair; casual, edgy, and tastefully worn-in. The shop specializes in denim and tees, but a wide variety of other unique and stylish items, such as jewelry, boots, and leather, are also well represented in the store.

American Gypsy Vintage, 263 Main St, Beacon, NY, USA +1 845 440 3670

Kayaking from Long Dock Park on the Hudson River | Image Courtesy of Robert Rodriguez, Jr.

Kayaking from Long Dock Park on the Hudson River | © Robert Rodriguez, Jr.

Bannerman Island Tours

Bannerman Island, also known as Pollepel Island, is located on the Hudson River just south of Beacon. Its most famous feature is the towering ruins of a castle compound that once housed David Bannerman’s arsenal of surplus military supplies and ordnance. Now a part of the Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve, walking tours are regularly offered by the Bannerman Castle Trust, which is dedicated to the upkeep and preservation of the fragile site. The island is accessible by water only, with a couple of convenient transportation options casting off from Beacon’s Long Dock Park each weekend. Make reservations ahead of time to travel by boat, aboard the Estuary Steward, or to join a kayak tour sponsored by Beacon’s Mountain Tops Outfitters. Also consider attending one of the island’s numerous special events, such as the Constellation tour and light show on weekend evenings, or one of the regular outdoor theater productions.

Long Dock Park, Mountain Tops Outfitters, 144 Main St, Beacon, NY, USA +1 845 831 1997

Estuary Steward, Long Dock Park, Long Dock Rd, Beacon, NY, USA +1 855 256 4007

Bannerman Castle, #3 Warehouse | Image Courtesy of John Morzen

Bannerman Castle, #3 Warehouse | © John Morzen

Hudson Beach Glass

Housed in a lovingly restored former firehouse near the head of Main Street, Hudson Beach Glass casts and sells stunning glass art, both sculptural and functional. Be sure to stroll deep into the rear of the shop, where magnificent glass artwork dances and sparkles under well-focused lighting. Price tags in the back display room can be steep on some items, but the eye appeal is boundless and unforgettable. Additionally, the building’s former fire engine garage bay, attached to the side of the store, serves as an open-air glass blowing demonstration studio. Sign up for an instructional Hudson Beach glass blowing session, which guides participants through the steps of creating their own beautiful ornaments, paperweight, or beads.

Hudson Beach Glass, 162 Main St, Beacon, NY, +1 845 440 0068

Hudson Beach Glass, Back Room | Image Courtesy of Hudson Beach Glass

Hudson Beach Glass, Back Room | Image Courtesy of Hudson Beach Glass

Mount Beacon Park

If spectacular views and challenging hiking trails are your inclination, consider a trek to the peak of Mount Beacon. The well groomed site is one among a number of Hudson Valley parks managed and maintained by Scenic Hudson, the crusading activist organization credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The journey begins by following the original access road to the now-defunct Mount Beacon Incline Railway, which formerly hauled passengers to the Beaconcrest Hotel and Casino that once sat at the mountain’s crest. The trailhead then continues sharply uphill, first via stairway to the first of numerous observation decks, followed by a steep, switch-backing trail that ultimately joins with the Fishkill Ridge system. Ongoing efforts to restore the ruins of the railway may one day expand access to the mountain’s scenic summit, but for now only the sturdiest hikers are able to indulge Mount Beacon’s breathtaking vistas.

Mount Beacon Park, 788 Wolcott Ave, Beacon, NY, USA +1 845 473 4440

Mount Beacon Observation Deck | Image Courtesy of Robert Rodriguez, Jr.

Mount Beacon Observation Deck | © Robert Rodriguez, Jr.

After the Barn

After the Barn specializes in recycling and re-purposing salvaged planking recovered from old barns and other abandoned wooden structures. In addition to selling reclaimed wood, the talented artisans at After the Barn also craft stunning, one-of-a-kind farm tables, cabinetry, custom millwork, and other small craft items. Do not overlook the numerous display shelves lining the walls of their rustic Main Street storefront, where aficionados of Americana artifacts can sniff out hard-to-find antique barn hardware and myriad other unusual relics lovingly harvested from reclamation sites.

After the Barn, 508 Main St, Beacon, NY, USA +1 845 202 7146

Image Courtesy of After the Barn

Image Courtesy of After the Barn

Clutter Gallery

Drawn to the quirky and offbeat? Then check out Clutter Gallery, which highlights the very best of toy design and customization, as well as modern pop and lowbrow art. The gallery and its exhibitions share space with Clutter Magazine, which itself holds a sizeable permanent collection of eclectic designer toys, and includes the work of POPaganda artist Ron English. Nowhere else is the concept of ‘fun as art’ more self-evident than on display at the Clutter Gallery.

The Clutter Gallery, 163 Main St, Beacon, NY, USA +1 212 255 2505

The DTA Dunny Show at Clutter Gallery | Image Courtesy of Clutter Gallery

The DTA Dunny Show at Clutter Gallery | Image Courtesy of Clutter Gallery

Beacon Flea Market

What distinguishes the Beacon Flea Market from other sizeable flea markets is a strictly enforced requirement that all merchandise be either handcrafted or authentically vintage, absolutely no knock-offs or brand new mass-produced items allowed. Every Sunday from April through November, weather permitting, vendors share their crafts and wares among the market’s more than 50 stalls, which line the Henry Street parking lot, located behind the Main Street Post Office. Sleuths in search of the rare and unusual will revel in the treasures waiting to be discovered within the tabletops and bins and clothing bars on display. Be aware that most vendors accept cash only.

Beacon Flea Market, 6 Henry St, Beacon, NY, USA +1 845 202 0094

Image Courtesy of Beacon Flea Market

Image Courtesy of Beacon Flea Market