Updated: Sep 11, 2019
Walking on Main Street:
The Commuter’s Guide to Beacon, New York
The Hudson River Line of the Metro-North provides numerous escapes from the city and the beautiful towns and stops along the line are perfect for day or even weekend trips. While there are many charming towns and areas right off the station platform, few are as walkable and as friendly towards commuters as Beacon.
First, start off by traveling a scenic one-and-a-half hour northward on the train. The views do their best to showcase the beauty of the Valley, and I recommend a window seat to take in the mountains and cliffs. Beacon is pretty far up on the tracks, and by the time you hit Cold Spring you’ll see the shuffle around you. Beacon is a popular stop, and not all doors open, so make your way somewhere in the middle.
Getting off the train you’ll notice two things. The first is magnificent Mount Beacon, which has a trailhead literally a five-minute drive from the station. Barring having a car, you can walk the two miles to the Scenic Hudson Parking Lot or you can catch the free (Yes! Free!) Beacon Bus Loop, which will take you down Main Street and drop you off right at the start of the trail. The second thing you’ll probably notice is the ferry, ready and waiting to shuttle you over to Newburgh. If you’re spending a few days in the area, catching the ferry across the river lands you on the lovely waterfront, home to the new Hudson Taco and the art film house, Downing Film Center .
One of the foremost reasons NYC reasons visit Beacon is the Dia:Beacon, literally on the same road as the train station, and the first stop on the Beacon Bus Loop. The Dia is a museum of contemporary and modern art and it’s a landmark institution in the area. Until just recently, most of the shops and restaurants set their hours of operation according to the Dia:Beacon schedule. Now, however, traffic to Beacon and the local remote work scene has created a vibrant and bustling Main Street all week long.
After stopping by Dia, catch the Loop to Main Street. You could walk, but it’s uphill and much easier to wait in the Dia cafe for the bus. Main Street is where you want to spend your energy walking. Getting off at the first stop puts you on the crossing of Main Street and Route 9D. Head east, up the hill towards Bank Square Coffeehouse, a kitbash of style and charm, full of art and locals. If you’re not feeling coffee, right across the street is the Beacon Creamery (which has vegan and dairy-free options) or Tito Santana Taqueria. Regardless of what you’re interested in, all three places serve some kind of boozy add-ons, so you’re never far from a cold beer, or, even better, in my opinion, a wine slush from Bank Square.
Further up the street is the famous Hudson Beach Glass, a gallery and store with an attached glassblowing workshop. You can go in and check out the artisans, or even sign up for a class beforehand. If you’re on an art kick, across the way is Clutter Gallery - a designer toy gallery and production agency. It might look unassuming from outside, but Clutter is a world-renowned distributor and organizing force in the artisan world of toys and dolls. It’s absolutely worth looking in, not only for the magnificent sub-section of arts subculture, but also to view the owner’s personal collection, on display at the back of the gallery.
Main Street is home to some truly fun and unique places. Touring Beacon is always a delight, and places like Zora Dora’s Paletas, the Hudson Valley Marshmallow Factory, and the Dr. Who-themed restaurant, Pandorica, add to Beacon’s indie-outsider charm. All this is literally on just the first two blocks of Main Street. It only gets better.
So let's say, before we continue further down the street, that you want to stay in Beacon for a few days. Good choice. There are a few places nearby that are within walking distance, or, better yet, on the Beacon Free Loop. The Inn and Spa at Beacon is a great place for an immersive relaxation experience, a stone’s throw away from the Beacon Bread Company (which has an amazing breakfast menu). Further down are the Beacon Hotel, with a bar and restaurant conveniently attached, and the Beacon Roundhouse, a former factory complex of the Matteawan Manufacturing Company, with stunning views of the man-made waterfall and rushing Fishkill Creek.
Maybe you want to get a little more rustic. Malouf’s Mountain is an all-access, no-car-needed campground on the Fishkill Ridge. You rent your space, tell the family your itinerary, and they provide all the equipment you need as well as a shuttle from the campground to the train station. It’s perfect for people who want to spend a trip in nature but haven’t had the means or the time to accumulate all the gear needed for a night under the stars.
Back to Main Street. At this point, you’ve likely eaten, walked a bit, and are looking for more adventure. Well, continue down to the Eastern end of the road, and you’ll find yourself in some delightful shops and galleries. Once you get past the hulking DMV building, you’ll find more restaurants and bars that are well worth considering. Enoteca Ama is a delightful fire-oven pizza joint with fresh and exciting appetizers. If your party is indecisive you can jump into the newly-opened Hudson Valley Food Hall, where local vendors have booths full of delicious food, from Himalayan cuisine to Southern BBQ.
If you’re looking for a treat, Glazed Over Donuts is a local favorite, a choose-your-own topping joint run by a local family that displays their son’s photography on the walls. There’s also Ella’s Bellas, a gluten-free bakery with fresh-baked bread that people travel across to purchase. Binnacle Books is a great new-and-used bookstore perfect for collectors and casual readers. If you’re into records, Hudson Valley Vinyl is the perfect stop. More about pop culture and comics? Beacon Underground, near the creek, is your shop for comics, graphic novels, and skate culture.
Nightlife happens on the Eastern end of Beacon. Two local showcases are the Town Crier Cafe, a renowned music hall, and Quinn’s Rest N Rant, a Japanese street food-based dive with fantastic local acts taking the stage. The newly-renovated Story Screen Beacon is an independent theater, showing blockbuster releases, old-school flicks, and low-budget films. Their back theater is also used for Improv shows on Saturdays. Next door, the Howland Cultural Center is home to many performances, from four-piece acts to Storytelling showcases. A few more places that are known to bring in musical acts are Dogwood (not on Main Street! But only a block away) and Melzingah Taphouse.
You won’t be wanting for things to do during a daytrip, and as always, poking your head into all the amazing shops, galleries, and local joints are encouraged. These places are all on the same road! Main Street is the place to be in Beacon, and the sheer volume of incredible spots and shops makes it obvious. We didn’t even get to mention that there are a brewery and a distillery in town! (Hudson Valley Brewery and Dennings Point Distillery, respectively.) So catch the train, and get to Beacon ASAP. You’ll probably love it so much you won’t want to leave.