Beacon, NY Day Trip

Detour from Dia:Beacon to Main Street

Photo by pocius

Dia:Beacon put Beacon, New York on the map when it opened here along a patch of Hudson River in 2003. The top-shelf art is ample reason to visit, but the town's historic Main Street–20 minutes in the opposite direction–has since grown up to offer its own creative rewards, like the street-art inspired Electric Windows project (pictured) that covers an abandoned electric-blanket factory at the opposite end of town. In between, a clutch of artisanal shops and galleries now occupy historic 19th-century buildings, selling local handicrafts and well-chosen antiques that supply great diversion from the cultural scene. Even with all this cool stuff going on, Beacon still feels more like a friendly small-town than a trendy up-and-comer, which makes day-tripping here from New York all the more worthwhile.

What to Do

Photo by dhskkl


3 Beekman Street, Beacon, New York; (845) 440-0100;; $10

Occupying a revamped 1929 Nabisco printing factory, Dia:Beacon's gallery spaces are positively enthralling, with soaring ceilings, light-filled rooms, and maple floors–a total contrast to the dark, airless quarters common to even Manhattan's best museums. The permanent collection of conceptual and minimalist art, mostly from the '60s and '70s, is just as gobsmacking. Highlights like Andy Warhol's 102 "shadow paintings" (pictured), specifically commissioned for Dia, hang frame-to-frame, pulsing color into a central room; Richard Serra's four steel Torqued Ellipses sculptures loom quietly in the factory's onetime train depot; and Michael Heizer's North, East, South, West "negative sculpture" cuts into the main floor, prompting pangs of vertigo. Clear your head in the West Garden, listening for artist Louise Lawler's audio Birdcalls as you stroll on manicured walks. Excellent gallery talks and contemporary dance performances often take place on weekends; do check the schedule in advance.

Photo by svensvensen2007

Lower Main Street Historic District

Main Street and Cross Street, Beacon, NY

Beacon's attractive Lower Main Street Historic District was added to the National Register in 1987 and covers the first few blocks of Main Street, a 10-minute walk from the train station (20 minutes from Dia). The bulk of the buildings here are late 19th-century Italianate style, and many now house darling shops and galleries. Drop by the new Clay, Wood & Cotton (149 Main Street) for handmade textiles and wooden bookmarks; Hudson Beach Glass (pictured; 162 Main Street) for colorful glass sculptures and jewelry created in a neighboring glass-blowing studio; Relic (174 Main Street) for mid-century design at a fraction of New York city prices; and Artisan Wine Shop (180 Main Street), for free wine tastings from 3–6pm every Saturday.

Photo by Andy Rementer

East Main Street

East Main Street and Tioronda Avenue, Beacon, New York

Don't be put off by the derelict feel of middle Main Street. It's worth walking to the end–a 15-minute stroll from the historic district–to reach East Main Street. Here, several blocks are dominated by restored Victorian and industrial buildings, many of them home to cultural institutions, smart cafés, and antique shops. Look for the sublime Howland Cultural Center (477 Main Street), which hosts regular exhibits inside; Dickinson's Antiques (440 Main Street), marked by a vintage Texaco sign; and Open Space (pictured; 510 Main Street), a cutting-edge gallery run by Daniel Weise, a former New York street artist. You can't miss the fabulous Electric Windows project across the street, either: International street artists converge on Beacon once a year to create colorful installations in the windows of an otherwise derelict 19th-century blanket factory.

Where to Eat and Drink

Photo by moxisinclair

Homespun Foods

232 Main Street, Beacon; (845) 831-5096;

This specialty-food restaurant and store halfway down Main Street is a longstanding local favorite. Expect a relaxed country-kitchen atmosphere with wood-planked floors, mismatched tables and chairs, and a casual garden patio out back. Order a Mediterranean lunch of home-made quiche and salad from the counter by the door, collect a plastic vegetable to signal your location to passing waiters, and bus your own table when you're done.

Photo courtesy of Chill Wine Bar

Chill Wine Bar

173 Main Street, Beacon; (845) 765-0885;

Stop for happy-hour drinks at Chill, an atmospheric new wine bar near the top of Main Street (open from 5pm). As its name suggests, it's a chill spot to end the day, with cozy brick walls, intimate seating, and an extensive list of wines by the glass (all of them under $10) and local cheeses that will sate you for the train back to New York.