Sixty miles north of New York City in Dutchess County, a historic town with industrial roots now boasts one of the Hudson River Valley’s most thriving arts scenes, is home to a range of impressive preservation projects, plus has a range of great eateries, shops, and more. Scrimshaw Collective recently spent the day leaf (and art) peeping around the picturesque city of Beacon, NY. Originally settled where the Fishkill Creek meets the Hudson, Beacon became a mill town, operating grist, then quickly acquired a claim to fame (as far as “claims-to-fame” in the 1800s go), as the “Hat Making Capital of the US,” with an abundant amount of hat factories across the town. Now with a stronger touristy vibe than manufacturing scene, Beacon is a quick hour and twenty-five minute Metro-North ride up the Hudson River line – you could drive 90 minutes, but the views of the river from the train are gorgeous, plus everything’s very accessible by foot; leave the cars at home! The station (situated right on the river) is about a 15 minute walk east of downtown and extremely convenient for commuters and visitors alike.
Arriving on the platform just after 10:30 AM, we hopped off the train and headed south to the world-renowned contemporary art museum, Dia: Beacon, home to the Dia Art Foundation’s collections from the 1960s to today. Opened in 2003, with upwards of 300,000 square feet of space, the Dia: Beacon fills a former 1920s Nabisco box-printing factory, and utilizes the space majestically. Admission is only $12, the exhibits are out of this world, and overall very much worth the time. From fluorescent light displays, to sculptures that fill the room, the collection’s pieces truly range in medium and meaning – P.S. Look out for a feature specifically on Dia: Beacon under our “Art” page coming soon!
After an incredible museum visit, it was time to get back outside under the 70 degree October sunshine! We walked back towards the station, crossed the train tracks and entered Scenic Hudson’s Long Dock Park. Tucked along the shore, this park provides a beautiful green space and access point to the river (ideally for kayaks or canoes – so if you’re planning on bringing these, a car might actually be the better transport). A large red barn has been converted in to Scenic Hudson River Center, providing educational programming and events. We hiked south along a trail tucked between the train tracks and river, which eventually bends left (back over the train tracks) and turns up into Madam Brett Park. This preserve hugs the north side of Fishkill Creek (click left for trail map), and features an awesome boardwalk that runs parallel to an abandoned grist mill. A very pleasant stroll through the woods, provides great views of the foliage, a bit of history, and finishes with a great observation view of the Tioronda Falls.
After the falls, we walked about twenty minutes north into town. Fashioned as many Northeastern river towns are, the quaint Main Street is full of solid brick buildings (storefronts with apartments up above). Right along the river were a number of old warehouse/factory buildings, some looking in better condition than others. A newly renovated hotel, restaurant and event space, The Roundhouse, looks over another waterfall, and sits across the street from a dilapidated building, that is proposed to be transformed into luxury lofts; a city folk’s fantasy – a mini-Williamsburg waiting to happen! Plus there’s street art (i.e. sculptures, murals, installed paintings) around every corner, which gives the neighborhoods some serious gusto, which mixes perfectly well with the foliage lined alleys. Perusing down Main St., we stopped some real quality sandwiches at the Beacon Bread Company, a little glass blowing exhibit at the Hudson Beach Glass shop, and finished off the afternoon with apple pie ice cream at the Beacon Creamery.
The full day was exactly what the seasonal doctor ordered, to get our fall on. If you need a quick trip out of the city, and are looking for some funky town energy, great art, and first place foliage, then Beacon is a perfect wanderlust outing for New York’s weekend warrior.