48 Hours in Beacon, New York
Just 60 miles from Manhattan, once-sleepy Beacon has reimagined itself as a world-class haven for contemporary art lovers — and adventurous young New Yorkers' idyll of choice in the Hudson Valley.
Hudson Valley Brewery
Welcome yourself to town at Hudson Valley Brewery, where John-Anthony Gargiulo opened his doors to thirsty visitors in early 2017 (and promptly earned a nod from Hop Culture magazine as a new favorite to the beer scene). Housed in a once-abandoned brick factory building that dates back to the 1820s, the 60-seat taproom is a sour lover’s paradise with playful offerings like Horizon Loop (a sour double IPA made with milk sugar, apricots, lemon myrtle and Simcoe powder, reminiscent of "Marino’s Italian Ice, pink lemonade [and] white gummy bears").
Built in 1929 as a printing plant for Nabisco, the 300,000-square-foot steel, glass and concrete factory space — donated to Dia Art Foundation in 1999 — is now one of the largest and most celebrated exhibition spaces for contemporary art in the United States. Dia: Beacon’s gargantuan galleries boast large-scale works by artists like Richard Serra, Andy Warhol, Louise Bourgeois and Michael Heizer (whose jaw-dropping North, East, West, South is pictured here) — and serve as an elegant antidote to urban museums’ jostling crowds. Arrive early for free-with-admission guided tours at 12:30 and 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Hikers in the mood to celebrate a climb to the top of Mount Beacon — sure, the Casino Trail is just two miles, but those two miles are no joke — go shoulder to shoulder with the locals at Dogwood, a come-one, come-all neighborhood hangout that pairs comfort food with 16 craft-beer taps and live music. On a golden afternoon, you’ll often have room to spread out and try one of everything — but as the evening wears on, this place gets packed.
With Beacon’s best view of the falls on Fishkill Creek, The Roundhouse — once a factory complex built by the Matteawan Manufacturing Company in the early 1800s — is now a local landmark that houses a thoughtfully-restored boutique hotel, restaurant, lounge and event space. As weather permits, head to the outdoor patio (early, for a prime seat) and order up a cocktail like the Beaconcrest (made with Maid of the Meadow herbal/honey vodka from Beacon’s Denning’s Point Distillery, American Fruits Sour Cherry Cordial from neighbors Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery, lemon juice and house-made honey-chili syrup). On rainy (or snowy) days, grab a spot by the fire in the complex’s 2EM Lounge.
Kitchen Sink Food & Drink
Hudson Valley native Brian Arnoff worked with James Beard Award winner Barbara Lynch in Boston, honed his skills in Italy, dreamed up CapMac (one of Washington, D.C.’s first and most celebrated food trucks) and returned home to Dutchess County, where his Kitchen Sink Food & Drink showcases the best of what both regional purveyors and Truckload Family Farm & Orchard — the family business in Hyde Park — produce. Don’t let the casual, family-friendly vibe fool you: With an eclectic, ever-changing menu of seasonal offerings (like this peach and pepper salad) and a killer local wine, beer and cider menu, Brian and his team are dead serious about preparing unforgettable food.
Towne Crier Cafe
Locals in nearby Pawling mourned when Towne Crier Cafe, a beloved 40-year-old music venue, lost its lease in 2012 — and rejoiced when it found a second home in Beacon. (It’s a particularly fitting one, as the Towne Crier helped launch Beacon’s own Pete Seeger.) Wind down in the venue’s front-room dining area with one of its Salon Stage’s free, open-mic showcases, or book tickets (with or without dinner reservations) in its cozy main concert space for weekend performances. Their guestbook of visiting performers is impressive, to put it mildly.
Glazed Over Donuts
New York City’s ongoing donut wars face a formidable new combatant upriver: Beacon's Glazed Over Donuts (named 2017’s "Best Donuts in the Hudson Valley" by Hudson Valley Magazine readers) invites visitors to name homemade glazes, toppings and drizzles of their choice, then prepares custom orders on the spot. (Seriously, you can watch them through the viewing window in the kitchen.) They also offer donut sandwiches, sundaes and a one-of-a-kind Donut of the Day (featured in their Instagram feed).
The team of "artists, chefs, farmers, butchers, and beer and coffee freaks" at Stock Up's ultra-kid-friendly eat-in-and-takeaway space fills Beacon’s bellies with pitch-perfect sandwiches, salad, deli-case and butcher-counter offerings. Stop by in the morning for a Downstate BEC (house-smoked bacon, cheddar, fried eggs, and "Mt Beacon Sauce" on ciabatta — also available sans bacon, of course), then make like a hobbit and order a second breakfast for later (try the Carrozza: fried fresh mozzarella, Hunter peppers, olive tapenade, white bean hummus, peppery greens and garlic sauce on organic-grain bread).
Beacon Farmers' Market
Open rain or shine from 10-3 p.m. on Sundays in spring, summer and fall, Beacon Farmers' Market — located just off Main Street beside the post office — is the ideal place to stock up on farm-fresh produce and artisanal foodstuffs for an impromptu picnic. It’s also just around the corner from Beacon Flea Market, where fair-weather Sundays attract both regular and one-time vintage vendors between April and November. Come early, leave...well, who knows what you’ll leave with?
Storm King Art Center
Sprawled across 500 acres of rolling hills, woodlands, wetlands and fields, Storm Art King Center — across the Hudson in nearby Cornwall — celebrates modern and contemporary art by presenting massive works in breathtaking, carefully-cultivated natural settings chosen to complement them. Its collection of more than 100 sculptures includes iconic pieces by artists such as Alexander Calder, Sol LeWitt, Andy Goldsworthy, Roy Lichtenstein and Mark di Suvero (whose Pyramidian is pictured here). While it would be difficult to put one’s finger on the most beautiful trek in the Hudson Valley, it’s nearly impossible to top an afternoon wandering the grounds at Storm King — and at the peak of fall foliage season, it could be the loveliest "museum" on Earth.
Liberty Street Bistro
A savvy Storm King visitor concludes his or her afternoon at the art park with dinner at Newburgh’s Liberty Street Bistro, established by Culinary Institute of America grad (and Bouchon Bakery, Gordon Ramsay at the London Hotel and Batard alum) Michael Kelly, who also cooked at the James Beard Foundation after opening his bistro in 2017. Food & Wine Magazine praised Kelly’s application of "classic, French technique to quality Valley produce," and his elegant seasonal menus are well worth a stop before heading back to Beacon. (The Bistro also happens to be across the street from Washington's Headquarters State Historical Site, where General George awaited word of the accords that would end the Revolutionary War and began to plan the republic that would follow.)
Walkway Over the Hudson
If wanderlust seizes you on the way out of Newburgh, head north along the river to Highland for a stroll along Walkway Over the Hudson. Opened in 1889 as a railroad bridge to Poughkeepsie, it was rebuilt and reopened in 2009 as a state historic park and walkway—and spanning the Hudson at a dizzying height of 212 feet, it now offers one-of-a-kind views all the way from the Catskills to the Hudson Highlands. More than half a million visitors amble, run and bike across the walkway each year — and it’s rather easy to see why.