Summer getaways: Beacon beckons with its artsy vibe
Newsday Westchester's Summer Getaways series will examine a new seasonally friendly Hudson Valley destination every week through Labor Day. For this edition, we offer a closer look at great places to eat, drink, play and stay in Beacon.
Once a factory town, Beacon has transformed into an artists' haven. Nearly everything from the riverfront to The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls, a boutique hotel with two restaurants and a lounge, has been converted from an industrial center to a place of beauty, natural and otherwise.
"Beacon is an incredible success story," said John Gilvey, co-owner of Hudson Beach Glass, which manufacturers and sells glassworks and offers glassblowing classes (162 Main St.; 845-440-0068, www.hudsonbeachglass.com). "It's a jewel of the Hudson."
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A Hudson River city of more than 15,000 nestled in the hills of southern Dutchess County, Beacon is an ideal escape for a day trip or long weekend, and is celebrating its 100th anniversary as Beacon (formerly Fishkill Landing) with events throughout the summer.
Here's a sampling of what you can expect.
EAT | DRINK
Like any good pub, Max's on Main (246 Main St.; 845-838-6297; www.maxsonmain.com) maintains an all-encompassing spirit, where motorcyclists bend elbows next to artists and stand-up comics. Burgers and wings compete with more ambitious offerings like steak, salmon, shrimp and specialty salads. Bonus: Live music Friday and Saturday.
For Eastern flavor, the east end of Main Street boasts the Sukhothai (516 Main St.; 845-790-5375; www.sukhothainy.com), a Thai restaurant whose name translates to "Dawn of Happiness." The wide-ranging menu at the elegant eatery will also make your wallet smile -- most entrees go for about $13; most appetizers for about $6.
Great summer getaways need great places for frozen treats, and Beacon has three: one for homemade ice cream (Beacon Creamery, 134 Main St. and 445 Main St.; 845-838-6233), one for soft-serve and hard ice cream (Ron's Ice Cream, 298 Fishkill Ave.; 845-838-2028), and another for specialty popsicles such as Mexican paletas (Zora Dora's, 201 Main St.; 646-206-3982; www.zoradora.com).
Visit the ruins of Bannerman Castle (845-831-6346; www.bannermanscastle.org; weekends only) on Bannerman Island (aka Pollepel Island). Bannerman is named for Francis Bannerman, a munitions dealer who bought the island in 1900 to store his excess wares and build the castle. Passenger boat tours ($35 adults; $30 11 and younger) leave from the ferry dock near Metro-North at 2:30 p.m. starting in June; 800-979-3370; www.zerve.com. Kayak tours (also $35/$30) are arranged through Mountain Tops Outfitters (144 Main St.; 845-831-1997; www.mountaintopsonline.com).
You probably won't find the Allman Brothers at this Beacon Theatre (445 Main St.; 845-226-8099, www.thebeacontheatre.org) but you can see plays, dance and live music. A revival of "Proof," David Auburn's Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play, runs from June 14-23.
No trip to Beacon is complete without seeing Dia:Beacon (3 Beekman St.; 845-440-0100; www.diaart.org). The museum, housed in a former Nabisco boxboard plant and celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, presents art from the 1960s to the present. Even if the work is not to your taste, a stroll through the naturally lit, 240,000-square-foot brick building, as well as the garden next to the Hudson, is enough to fill you with wonder.
There are plenty of hiking options in the area, but why not scale the peak that bears the city's name? Mount Beacon (trailhead/parking at Route 9D and Howland Avenue; www.scenichudson.org) has a steep but manageable climb of about a mile and rewards you with wide-ranging views of the river, Hudson Highlands and Catskill Mountains. More ambitious hikers can go the extra mile to a restored fire tower, whose view stretches from Manhattan to Albany.
If the river is more your thing, there is plenty to do at the waterfront, right next to Metro-North. Long Dock Park (www.scenichudson.org) offers fishing, sunbathing, hiking and kayaking. (Bring a kayak or rent one from Mountain Tops Outfitters). Riverfront Park hosts the Strawberry Festival June 9 (www.beaconsloop.org); and beginning in July has swimming at the River Pool (www.riverpool.org). On Sundays, there's the Beacon Farmers Market (www.thebeaconfarmersmarket.com).
WORTH A DRIVE
Want professional baseball at reasonable prices? The Hudson Valley Renegades (1500 Rte. 9D; 845-838-0094; www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t537) are the defending champs of the New York-Penn League and play just up the road in Wappingers Falls, with their first home game set for June 21.
If you want to experience art outdoors, Storm King Art Center (1 Museum Rd., New Windsor; 845-534-3115; www.stormking.org) is about 12 miles away. The 500-acre outdoor sculpture park has more than 100 large-scale pieces -- abstract works made from steel, figurative pieces from stone, earth and other materials.
Artist Yuan Lee Lee spent 2½ years converting the Federal-style Chrystie House (300 South Ave.; 845 765-0251; www.chrystiehouse.com) into a bed-and-breakfast with four rooms to let, each with its own bath. The grounds, the last piece of Sargent's original 20-acre Wodenethe estate, are breathtaking.
Botsford Briar Bed and Breakfast (19 High St.; 845-831-6099, www.botsfordbriar.com) is a three-story Queen Anne Victorian house high on a hill overlooking the Hudson. Run by local artists Shirley Botsford and Charles Fincham, it has five rooms, each with its own bath. There is a deck with river views, and it's a 10-minute walk to Dia, Main Street and Metro-North.
The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls (2 E. Main St., 845-765-8369; www.roundhousebeacon.com) has 14 rooms, including two penthouse suites with roof decks. Two restaurants -- Swift (inside) and The Patio (outside) -- offer great views of Beacon Falls.
Portions of the 1994 Paul Newman film "Nobody's Fool" were filmed here (including the Botsford Briar). According to The New York Times, producers requested that a $400,000 sidewalk renovation be postponed for six months so that "the city would look as rundown as possible."
Beacon is on Metro-North's Hudson River Line; trips to and from Grand Central take 75-80 minutes. The Dutchess County Loop bus service (www.co.dutchess.ny.us/CountyGov/Departments/MassTransit/19226.htm) runs from Metro-North to various stops on and around Main Street.