Must-See Sites & Things to do in Beacon, NY (Travel Guide)

Main Street in Beacon New York in the fall in the Hudson Valley

When it comes to checking out places easily within reach of New York City, the Hudson Valley is full of stops worthy of a day trip on their own or a weekend getaway. Beacon, NY is no exception and while visiting Beacon had been on our radar for YEARS, we finally made it and fell in love and felt what all the fuss was about.

There are so many cool towns in the Hudson Valley, and if you’re driving to Beacon, you have the option to also add on a visit to Cold Spring only a few miles away, head up a little further to Poughkeepsie, or cross the Hudson River and start breaking into Catskills territory visiting cool towns like New Paltz.

The possibilities are endless, and if you are doing a road trip you have plenty of options to fill more than a weekend getaway with all the cool things to do in the Hudson Valley and unique things to do in the Catskills nearby.

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How to Get To Beacon, NY


You pretty much have two options for how to get to Beacon, by car or train from New York City.

In my opinion, arriving by car is the best option as this gives you the most flexibility and best option for exploring around the area, which is one of my favorite things about visiting this area is spending time visiting the different towns.

If you’re visiting on a day trip from NYC, which is also another lovely way to visit Beacon especially if you’re only looking for a day away from the city, you can take the MetroNorth train from Grand Central Terminal on the Hudson Line.

The train will be around a 90-minute journey, and I love the views from riding the trains along the Hudson River! So be sure to pay attention out of the window if you appreciate a scenic ride.

What to See in Beacon

Wander Up and Down Main Street

Megan shopping in Little King in Beacon New York

This is one of my FAVORITE things to do in Beacon and in any of the cool towns in New York we’ve visited. Honestly, New York towns are the coolest when it comes to charming downtowns with a bustling Main Street.

This Main Street is full of charming, historic storefronts full of cool independent boutiques, antique shops, restaurants, and all kinds of fun places you’re going to want to browse.

What I appreciate about downtowns like Beacon and its Main Street, are the thriving community of creative and independently owned shops. There are so many darling stores and I had to really hold back from not buying everything I saw from clothing boutiques, apothecary and beauty products, and all kinds of cool home furnishings!

Another one of the best parts of Beacon’s Main Street is all the fabulous galleries that you’ll find up and down both ends of the thoroughfare.

must try a drink from Matcha Thomas!

A few of my favorite stops and shops included Play Toys & Gifts, Hudson Valley Vinyl, Little King, Stella’s Fine Market, and Zakka Joy. When you need a pick me up, stop by Matcha Thomas for a matcha drink or bubble tea!

When you get hungry, take your pick from cafes, fusion restaurants, delis, pizza places, and delightful dessert shops. Dr. Who fans will want to plan a stop at Pandorica, a themed restaurant serving casual British cuisine (as well as delicacies like fish sticks and custard!). Or enjoy tapas and live jazz at Reserva Wine Bar.

Tour Bannerman Castle

Bannerman Castle on the Hudson River near the town of Beacon New York in the Hudson Valley in the fall

We had the pleasure of visiting Beacon, NY in the fall and booked a tour to Bannerman Castle, a historical gem on the Hudson River and a must-visit on any day trip to Beacon. The only way to see the gorgeous island with castle ruins is by booking guided boat tours that leave from Long Dock Park, which must be secured in advance.

Perched on Pollepel Island, Bannerman Castle contains a fascinating history that dates to the late 1800s. Despite the name, it’s not a castle in the sense this is where someone noble or rich lived. Scottish-born entrepreneur Francis Bannerman VI purchased the entire island and then built a replica of a Scottish castle as storage for surplus military goods.

However, in 1920, a massive powder house explosion damaged the castle, leaving it in ruins. Over time, nature and the elements transformed the site, turning it into the picturesque ruins you can visit today. Don’t worry, there are no longer any explosives or military surplus left on the island.

When you take your tour, you’ll enjoy a scenic, 30-minute boat tour from Beacon. Once you’re on the island, there are nature trails around and among the ruins, where you can take in the scenic views of the surrounding Hudson River Valley.

Tours are limited, so they book fast. It’s best to book your tour in advance. April through October, there are a variety of different tours to choose from, including guided tours, self-guided tours, kayak tours, and more. There are also special events during the summer, like lectures, live concerts, theatrical performances, and catered dinners.


Editorial credit: Stock for you / Shutterstock

One of the coolest things to do in Beacon is check out the thriving art scene, and there’s no better place to start than Dia:Beacon.

Set in an old Nabisco box-printing facility, the art museum is a major draw for visitors to the town, whether you’re an art enthusiast or just a casual tourist.

Dia:Beacon showcases large-scale works across a wide range of styles of renowned artists from the 1960s to the present. The massive factory is the perfect setting for the art, sectioned into different, minimalist, light-filled galleries that allow the art to take center stage.

The whole place just feels like a giant canvas for the art itself!

What sets Dia:Beacon apart is its dedication to the artists’ vision. The spacious, open setting allows you to get up close and interact with the art, allowing you to create your own deep connection with each piece.

When you plan your visit, remember that Dia:Beacon is open Friday through Monday, from 10 AM to 4 PM. There’s a small admission fee for everyone over 5 years old. If you’re interested in a guided tour, check out the art museum on Saturdays and Sundays at either noon or 1:30 PM. These tours are free for guests with admission.

Check Out Madam Brett Park


Looking for what to do in Beacon that’s free? Madam Brett Park is a hidden gem that’s perfect for anyone looking for a lovely break outdoors. Set on the banks of Fishkill Creek, this park offers beauty, history, and a serene escape with its scenic trails. 

You can see a lot of the town’s old industrial buildings along the river’s edge, including a historic textile mill that was once powered by the creek.

It’s simply beautiful to see the weathered buildings alongside the lush natural landscape of the park. This is also a popular spot for bird watchers, being home to hawks and eagles. You can stroll along the paths, taking in remnants of the mill, listening to the sounds of the water moving through the creek, and taking in the iconic covered bridge.

For history buffs and those seeking a quiet walk, Madam Brett Park is a great spot for a stroll, a picnic, or simply a bit of quiet with interesting industrial sites within view.

Walk Across the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge


The Newburgh-Beacon Bridge is so much more than just a bridge over the Hudson River. There’s so much history behind the crossing at I-84, dating back almost 300 years!

In the 1700s, the site was an important ferry crossing between what would be between Beacon and Newburgh. It’s even said that George Washington often used this ferry crossing during the American Revolution!

In the 1950s, the ferry between Beacon and Newburgh had fallen into disrepair, and a bridge was proposed. Open in 1962, the 2-lane bridge is officially named the Hamilton Fish Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. It includes a pedestrian walkway on one side, and we highly recommend walking this hidden gem for the views! It’s exciting to see the views that have barely changed since the 1700s.

The best way to walk the bridge is by finding the entrance to the pedestrian walkway on the Newburgh side of the bridge. You can easily find parking on Grand Street under the bridge and take the trail up to the bridge.

The Newburgh-Beacon Bridge is a popular destination for joggers, cyclists, and anyone who wants to enjoy the views of the Hudson! Just be mindful to stay on the designated pedestrian path, especially if you plan on going in the afternoons when the bridge is at its busiest.

One tip about this activity, if you’re going to cross any of the bridges on the Hudson River, we recommend doing it in the warmer months because it can be very windy! We tried to walk along the Mid-Hudson Bridge in Poughkeepsie in winter and that was an idea we regretted almost immediately, the wind was so wicked and cold!

Hike Mt. Beacon


Mount Beacon Park in Beacon, NY, is a go-to spot for hikers looking for things to do in Beacon. Centered on the unique landmark, Mt. Beacon, this park near the Hudson River offers a mix of challenging trails, woods, rocky paths, historic ruins, and stunning views.

Mount Beacon’s claim to fame is that, at over 1600 feet, it’s the highest point in the Hudson Highlands. The park features a few different trailheads, all of which lead to viewpoints with breathtaking Hudson River Valley views. But all the trails are either rated moderate or hard!

If you’re an experienced hiker, hiking Mt. Beacon is worth the heart-racing trek. The challenge leaves you at the top with panoramic views of the Hudson River, Beacon, and the Catskills far beyond!

You can make your own way, choosing from a few different trails, like the ever-popular Casino Trail. This trailhead starts in a parking lot and includes interesting historic ruins, including the Fire Tower (where can see the New York City skyline in the distance on a clear day), that you can climb for a better view! If you take this trail, plan to take half a day (and bring plenty of water).

The Fishkill Trailhead also includes parking on Pocket Road. Whatever trail you choose, be prepared for steep uphill scrambles, rocky climbs, and lots and lots of stairs! The park is open all year long, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see the park in all its seasonal glory.

Hike Breakneck Ridge Loop


For those looking for a challenging hike, one of the most famous things to do in Beacon, NY is hiking the Breakneck Ridge Loop Trail!

Heading south on Breakneck Road out of Beacon, the trailhead is just off the road. Altogether, this hike is a 3.2-mile loop that connects with the southern end of the Wilkinson Memorial Trailhead. It usually takes hikers about 2.5 hours to complete.

The Breakneck Ridge Loop is difficult, as several parts require scrambling, or even bouldering. So it’s best to be realistic with your ability of whether or not you should try this hike, if not, there are plenty of other hikes in the Hudson Highlands that aren’t as gnarly.

It’s a popular path for its views and the best time of year to do Breakneck Ridge is spring through fall, the trail can be slippery with wet leaves and mud in early spring or late fall and the winter is far too dangerous with ice. But if the conditions are right, you’ll enjoy a lovely forest hike with clear views of the Hudson River.

Check out Hudson Beach Glass


Whether you’re doing a day trip to Beacon or spending a few days here, you’ll have the opportunity to check out the many artisan shops and galleries.

One we very much recommend checking out is Hudson Beach Glass. You’ll find it at the intersection of Main Street and Cross Street. And they’re easy to find: just look for the beautiful, old, renovated firehouse!

We love art in all forms, but there’s something special about walking through this glass art gallery. When you walk in, you can see the artists at work, shop at their store, or check out the gallery floor. You’ll find glass jewelry, sculptures, the prettiest glass kitchenware, and more.

You can also take glassblowing classes here! There’s a fee per person to book classes, and bookings fill up fast. The holidays are their busiest time when glass ornament classes are popular. But they offer a variety of classes throughout the year. J

ust keep in mind that while the class may take 15 minutes to an hour, glass creations aren’t ready till the next day. So, you might want to save this for when you’re spending a weekend in Beacon vs a day trip to Beacon.

Enjoy Some Craft Beer!

One thing we love about the Hudson River Valley is the explosion of craft breweries over the last few decades. And if you fancy yourself a beer connoisseur looking for what to do in Beacon, you’ll have plenty to do!

From one end of Main Street Beacon to the other, there are amazing options. These 3 breweries and a variety of draft houses and bars to choose from.

First, at 18 W Main near the Hudson River, is Two Way Brewing Company. It’s close to the train station and perfect after a hike. They serve delicious food and have rotating options for flights.

On central Main Street is Pillow & Oats Brewing where you can enjoy an artisan beer and table games (but don’t expect flights or food here).

And on 7 E Main Street, close to Fishkill Creek, is the cool and sleek Hudson Valley Brewery. This is a great spot to enjoy their signature IPAs and sour beers inside their beautiful taproom set inside an old factory.

In between, you can take your pick of bars and tap rooms, including Melzingah Tap House or Dogwood. Both establishments have a top-notch menu, a long list of craft beers, and a warm, inviting atmosphere.

Mount Gulian Historic Site

If you’re looking for interesting things to do in Beacon, the Mount Gulian Historic Site is a must-visit historical landmark overlooking the Hudson River. It’s a reconstruction of an 18th-century Dutch colonial estate that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time!

This fascinating piece of history was once the home of the prominent Verplanck family, who immigrated in the 1600s from the Netherlands to New Amsterdam (modern-day Manhattan).

Over the centuries, the Verplancks would become engrained in the tapestry of historic New York City and American history. In the 1800s, Daniel Crommelin (DC) Verplanck purchased an estate at Mount Gulian. In the 1930s, the home was burnt down, but not before many of the personal items inside were saved.

Today, the home has been rebuilt as a historical site that you can tour. When you visit, you’ll get to explore the meticulously preserved rooms once owned by the Verplanck family. You’ll also learn about the site’s significance in the Revolutionary War.

You can walk the grounds on your own, which feature beautifully manicured gardens and a peaceful riverside setting. Or book a tour to see the house, the gardens, the barn, and more.

General tours of the manor can be booked for a small fee per person (you’re encouraged to book in advance).

Or you can book an exciting White Glove Tour where you’ll get to don white gloves and handle a piece of American history!

Mount Gulian Historic Site is open seasonally for tours, from late June through the end of October. You can book tours when they’re open, Wednesday through Sunday between the hours of 12 PM and 3 PM.

Things to do Near Beacon

While you’re looking for the best things to do in Beacon, NY, here are a few things we think are totally worth the drive while you’re in the area! Especially if you’re taking a day trip to Beacon, take advantage of these amazing sites being so close by.

Wine Tasting along the Dutchess Wine Trail

New York vineyards

If you’re familiar with places we frequent in New York, you know we love wine tasting and exploring the Finger Lakes region, but if you’re coming from NYC, it’s a bit more of a mission. For city folks who don’t want to travel as far, they have Long Island wineries and the wineries around Dutchess County in the Hudson Valley!

The region features a climate that’s just right for cultivating a wide range of grape varietals. Dutchess County is home to a diverse array of wineries, each with its unique character. With everything from small family-owned vineyards to larger estates within a 30-minute drive from Beacon, you’ll find a variety of wineries to visit.

To start, a scenic 20-minute drive north of Beacon, NY will take you to Benmarl Winery in Marlboro. One of the oldest vineyards in the US, you can enjoy sweeping views of the Hudson River Valley and a laid-back atmosphere while you try their estate-grown wines. And if you’re in Beacon in mid-August, consider heading to Benmarl for their Sangria Festival.

For another great winery in the area with plenty going on throughout the year, head to Weed Orchards & Winery. Also just 20 minutes from Beacon, it’s a festive place for all kinds of visitors. It’s free to get into the orchard (you just pay for whatever pick-your-own fruit or vegetable you grab that season) and then there’s a small fee to get into the winery. It’s the perfect place to grab a flight and enjoy it near the fire pits while you enjoy live music!

And south of Newburgh across the Hudson, Brotherhood Winery boasts a long, successful history dating back to 1839. The heart and soul of the winery are the impressive underground cellars that make this the ideal place for a tour! There’s also a beautiful onsite restaurant and bar, 1839 Restaurant.

Check Out Storm King


One of our favorite things to do near Beacon that’s one of the few things you can do on a day trip to Beacon without a car and traveling by train is visit Storm King Art Center.

For those driving, it’s around a 30 minute drive from Beacon. But for those coming by train, during the summer months, you can book a ticket to Storm King that includes a shuttle service from Beacon for train passengers to Storm King!

Okay, so what is Storm King Art Center? If you’re an art or outdoor lover, this is a massive outdoor sculpture park covering 500 acres of rolling hills, meadows, and woodlands and showcases over 100 carefully curated sculptures.

There’s no place quite like Storm King, with its colossal sculptures in a variety of mediums among the trees and lush lawns of the park, all surrounded by mountain views. The park is open year-round, which means you can explore the art surrounded by spring flowers, lush summer greenery, fall foliage, or surrounded by snow!

You can explore the grounds via a range of paved and unpaved trails. It’s an unforgettable visual experience, finding each giant work of art along the trails, and interacting with their environment. Guests are welcome to walk the trails, but during the spring and summer, you can also rent bikes by the hour (personal bikes aren’t allowed).

Storm King is also an ADA-friendly art center, with accessible rest areas, as well as an accessible hop-on-hop-off tram that loops through the outdoor installations throughout the park.

There’s also a museum gallery and gift shop. During the warmer months, an outdoor café opens for guests during the day.

The hours are 10 AM to 4:30 PM on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year, though the museum gallery and café hold seasonal hours. And you can join a guided tour at 1 PM each day that they’re open. There’s a hefty admissions price per person over 5 years old, and parking is free for guests.

The Town of Cold Spring

fall foliage in the town of Cold Spring New York in the Hudson Valley

Okay, if I had to choose between Cold Spring or Beacon, I couldn’t choose. Both of these towns are so close to one another and each one is just as cool as the other. There are a lot of similarities in the sense that they have really cool shops, restaurants, and a charming AF downtown. But they are different!

If you have the time, it’s worth visiting both towns. Just 7 miles along NY-9D South, you’ll find the village of Cold Spring.

Start with a stroll down Main Street, lined with a variety of shops and places to eat. If you’re ready to enjoy the great outdoors, you can explore the hiking trails and scenic views at Hudson Highlands State Park.

Nearby, we highly recommend a visit to the Boscobel House and Gardens, an elegant mansion surrounded by manicured gardens and lawns. And just east of Cold Spring, the Magazzino Italian Art is an unforgettable experience, showcasing contemporary Italian art in a gorgeous modern building.

Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site

Editorial credit: Linda Harms / Shutterstock

History buffs, one of the coolest things to do near Beacon for you is to tour the Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh, near Beacon. This site, used by General George Washington during the Revolutionary War, offers a moving glimpse into America’s past.

You’ll walk through the very rooms where decisions crucial to the war were made. The grounds feature stunning views of the Hudson River. Engaging tours provide insights into Washington’s life and wartime experiences.

And part of the site is a museum where you can see actual artifacts preserved from the American Revolution.

Where to Stay in Beacon

downtown view of Beacon New York

With all the unforgettable things to do in Beacon, NY, you’ll probably want to plan a full weekend trip to take it all in. If you need a place to stay, check out The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls.

Nestled in the heart of Beacon, the Roundhouse at Beacon Falls is an elegant hotel set inside an old textile mill overlooking the stunning, cascading falls of Fishkill Creek.

The Roundhouse includes a chic and modern luxury boutique hotel and a gourmet restaurant that boasts floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the falls!

The hotel offers guests a choice of light-filled rooms and suites, as well as a penthouse. Each space seamlessly blends Mid-century Modern, Industrial, and Modern styles, and comes with the latest of modern conveniences. And you can rest better knowing that The Roundhouse is committed to sustainable practices throughout the grounds that include geothermal heating and cooling systems.

And while you’re looking for what to do in Beacon, make sure to add reservations at the Roundhouse restaurant to the top of your list! Led by an acclaimed chef, the restaurant centers around farm-to-table cuisine with a modern flare. From brunch to dinner, the menu features locally sourced ingredients.

You’ll also be overlooking the Fishkill Creek waterfall, where the rushing water only adds to your culinary experience.

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And if you love traveling in New York, be sure to check out more of our favorite places to visit in Upstate New York!