New York City. Bright lights. Bustling streets. A city that’s constantly on the move. But if the city that never sleeps is perhaps a bit too much, there’s a mountainside getaway full of rustic charm a little over an hour away. Enter Beacon, N.Y. A former industrial city of mills and manufacturing warehouses, Beacon has undergone a creative revival in recent years, transforming into a blossoming community of galleries, farm-to-table restaurants and independently owned artisan shops nestled in the Hudson Valley. Start with a Cayman Airways nonstop flight from Grand Cayman to JFK, and from there, it’s a quick car ride or trip on the Metro-North Railroad via Grand Central Station.
Industry to Artistry
At the heart of Beacon’s renaissance is Dia:Beacon museum. Occupying an old Nabisco box-printing factory, it opened in 2003 and helped put Beacon on the map as a burgeoning creative destination. The 300,000-square-foot building showcases Dia collections and installations from the 1960s to today. Nearby AfterEden Gallery is home to antiques, furnishings and vintage advertising from the 18th through the 20th century — with a whole floor dedicated to all things superheroes, including figurines, collectibles and film props.
For live tunes, check out the Towne Crier, an intimate venue that’s been presenting an eclectic line-up of jazz, blues, folk and world music since the 1970s. And enjoy a colourful medley of arts and entertainment during Second Saturday Art Walk. Main Street is the central artery for the event, which includes exhibition openings, food tastings and live music.
Beacon is home to proud Hudson Valley eateries that source local ingredients with creative flair. Start your day at the Beacon Bread Company, where fresh bread is baked every morning. The bistro serves breakfast and lunch dishes that are as local as they come, with ingredients often gathered from their own garden. Their Scratch Kitchen sells jarred and canned items, from raspberry butter to jalapeño vinaigrette. The Roundhouse offers hearty cuisine served alongside a gorgeous waterfall view. For a taste of the sea, try the lobster rolls; or for more classic flavourings, choose the roasted chicken. That said, the guest favourite is a generous bowl of ramen with pork, a soft-boiled egg and chilli oil.
As for drinks, the Hudson Valley Brewery has that covered. The tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday and features cans designed by local illustrator and comic artist Evan M. Cohen. On Saturdays and Sundays, Barb’s Butchery sets up a pop-up kitchen that cooks up tasty bites you can enjoy with your beer.
To the Highlands
Who needs skyscrapers, when there’s a castle to be discovered? The columns and turrets of Bannerman’s Castle on Bannerman Island — also known as Pollepel Island — are not what you would expect to see in New York, but there it is. The fortress actually served as a military equipment and ammunition storage facility in the early 1900s.
Walking and kayaking tours invite you to explore the island. Mountain Tops Outfitters offers kayaking excursions to Bannerman Island, as well as Denning’s Point and other locations along the Hudson River. Their kayak pavilion at Long Dock Park holds significant historical value as well and once contained a rail ferry terminal.
For outdoor enthusiasts, a trip to Beacon would not be complete without exploring Mount Beacon itself. The highest peak of the Hudson Highlands, it rises directly behind the city. During the Revolutionary War, signal fires ignited on its summit gave it — and the city — its name. Multiple trails lead hikers to the summit, including a winding trek from Mount Beacon Park.
If your shopping style is all about unique discoveries, there are plenty of great finds in Beacon. Located on Main Street inside a restored firehouse, Hudson Beach Glass is charming right from the start. Inside, you can find a colourful assortment of glassware, dinner décor and sculptures, or you can choose to attend one of the workshops and make your own creations.
For vintage purses, flirty dresses and bohemian accessories, head to Blackbird Attic. The vintage and consignment shop also hosts art shows and carries products made by local artisans. Dream in Plastic is a great go-to for fun novelty items, from clever greeting cards to zany socks and playful design prints. Find some local flavour to take back home at More Good, which specialises in teas, bitters and hand-crafted soda syrups (like hibiscus rooibos and roasted cacao) made from locally sourced ingredients.
Windows on Main Street – Through September 8th
Hudson River Craft Beer Festival – September 15th, Riverfront Park
Beacon Second Saturday Art Walk – September 8th & October 13th, Main Street
City of Beacon Pumpkin Carving Contest – October 14th, Beacon Memorial Park
Beacon Sloop Club Pumpkin Festival – October 14th, Pete and Toshi Riverfront Park
Author: Jessie Gilmartin