Beacon is a quaint town with a world-class contemporary art museum (DIA: Beacon) easily accessible from New York City. The train ride only takes 80 minutes from Grand Central Station to Beacon so it makes for the perfect day trip. The train goes along the Hudson River so it is pretty scenic, especially during the peak of fall (mid to late October).
Getting to Beacon
You can buy a package deal that includes train tickets and admission to DIA which saves you $2 and the trouble of buying tickets once you get there. Check this trip planner to find train times for your day trip to Beacon. Trains take just a little more than an hour from Grand Central to Beacon.
Once you arrive in Beacon, you can either walk or take the trolley. The trolley (bus) will pick you up from the train station and take you to several places around the town for only $2. When we used the trolley it was pretty empty. The driver was very friendly and offered to let us out anywhere we wanted along the route.
Lunch at the Hop
We had a little bit of a late start, so our first stop was lunch. Based on yelp reviews, we decided to try the Hop. (Unfortunately, the Hop Beacon has closed since we visited.) It is a little bit of a hike from the train station (on the far end of Main Street) but the food was really good. I had the veggie burger, which was the best one I have ever had (note: I still need to try Superiority Burger). My boyfriend, Russell, had the Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese, which was a generous helping of deliciousness. They also have a good selection of craft beers – you can have a flight if you like – but I had a glass of wine.
DIA Beacon Museum
DIA is a contemporary art museum different than any other I have been to. It is housed in a 200,000 square foot building that used to be a Nabisco box printing factory and opened in 2003. This means the space is open, with high ceilings and lots of natural light (34,000 square feet of skylights). Each gallery shows works from a different artist and is specifically designed for that artist.
There is a lot of really nice art at DIA from the 1960s to the present. One of the first exhibits we saw at Dia Beacon was Dan Flavin. It was interesting to learn that at one point he worked in the mailroom at the Guggenheim Museum and a guard and elevator operator at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City. He works with fluorescent lights, which looked interesting but at the same time was hard to look at because it hurt your eyes. Similar to many of his other works that are on exhibit all over the globe, this one is “Untitled.”
In the Michael Heizer gallery, there are large shapes cut out in the floor. I also enjoyed the Richard Serra DIA Beacon gallery – the artwork is like a life-size maze where you are not sure of what is around the next corner. There are many other memorable galleries, but it would be better for you to experience them rather than read about them. To really see the museum, I would suggest budgeting 2-3 hours. I also want to check out the galleries in NYC run by the DIA Art Foundation.
Other Things to Do in Beacon NY
While you are in Beacon, there are several nice shops along Main Street that you should visit. Hudson Beach Glass sells blown glass pieces and you can also watch the artists at work. Alps Sweet Shop sells chocolate, fudge, and candy that not only tastes great but looks cute too. If you are looking for a fun gift, you should stop by Play where you can find games, toys, useful gadgets, and even gag gifts.
We were still a little full from our lunch, so we decided on a light dinner at Chill Wine Bar. We just shared a cheese and meat platter and some red wine. Then we walked back to the train station and headed home after a very fulfilling day.
Have you visited Beacon, New York? I would love to hear what you thought.
Expert Tips for a DIA Beacon Day Trip
- Buy the package through Metro North that includes the ticket to DIA: Beacon.
- Use the trolley if you get tired of walking.
- There are some great restaurants and shops on Main Street.
- The Hudson Valley is a great area for a Fall Foliage Trip.