I’ve had a penchant for the Hudson Valley since I moved to New York. There’s a peaceful aura there that you don’t get it living in or near NYC, and it’s got a bohemian vibe. The combination can be quite radical when you’re no country bumpkin like myself.
Located on the Hudson River just 60 miles north of NYC, this small town has a cozy feeling that’s sprinkled with art, culture, Victorian architecture, good food, boutique shopping and the outdoors. On a recent trip with my kids, I was thrilled to find a variety of ways to spend the day. We found everything from a stroll on the waterfront to modern art to a concert on the river. There’s wonderful hiking and access to other great river towns like Cold Spring, Garrison and Peekskill, as well, and I plan to return several times this fall when the foliage starts to change color.
Our accommodations were totally BEACON, and when I say that, I mean it a good way. Located right on the Fishkill Creek overlooking Beacon Falls and minutes from Mount Beacon and steps away from the heart of Main Street, the Roundhouse at Beacon Falls is ideal and quite majestic. As soon as I laid eyes on the waterfalls, my everyday feeling of chaos started to disappear and I was entranced. The hotel (pictured above) is an old gun factory housed in a series of 19th and 20th century red brick industrial buildings. It hosts 14 chic hotel rooms, two restaurants – one inside, one outside – both facing the waterfalls, a yoga studio and spa. The building was remodeled a few years ago with glass fixtures and art created by local artists, new tiles and a unique lay out for each room.
Our adjoining rooms each had a see-through shower with room for two people to bathe, King sized beds, flat screen TV’s and views of the river (unfortunately ours faced the parking lot but we could hear the waterfalls). The hotel’s service is unusually good – I’m not sure how many kids they host on a regular basis but my kids were treated very well and when my mother requested a toothbrush, it came right away. The weekend would be the first of a lot of unique things, and the hotel was a great introduction to a town we wanted to get to know better.
Walking out of the hotel, we started our trip with a shopping stroll on Main Street. The local shops are specialized and offer interesting and artistic finds that are unique to Beacon. Our first stop was The Tailored Mermaid at 528 Main Street, a shop that features women’s clothing and accessories all made by hand by local designers. My daughter and I loved looking at the dresses and jewelry. Then we ended up at the Alps Sweet Shop at 236 Main Street. My kids were so mesmerized watching the shop owner and her team make homemade truffles, fudge, chocolate covered peppermint, chocolate covered grahams and dipping nonpareils that I actually offered their services (which the shop owner politely declined). We wandered into a kitchen utensil shop, a few art galleries, antiques and kitschy collectibles. When they started to drag their feet, we wandered into the Beacon Creamery at 134 Main Street and had a scoop of homemade ice cream on the sidewalk, while a banjo player named Frank played legendary songs and told us about local resident Pete Seeger. The ice-cream shop owner had to have a chuckle when my son expressed his fear of having a scoop of “Killer Chocolate”. Clearly, I have to work on this.
As the afternoon progressed, we made our way to the waterfront and got the ferry to Newburgh. Located just across the bridge, it’s a great place to dine on the river or take a stroll. We opted to have dinner at Havana 59, just one of the many restaurants on the river with a decent children’s menu, on their riverfront patio.
When we came back to Beacon, we were in time for an evening concert on the water, a bit of acoustics. There were children playing in the Hudson River and others dancing on the grass. Clearly they were enjoying it as much as the adults.
We topped off the day with dessert back at the Roundhouse. The outdoor restaurant faces the rushing waters and is absolutely breathtaking. We had coffee, tea, dessert and a glass of milk for the kids, and my daughter had her first root beer float.
It was the perfect end to a Hudson River kind of day.
The next morning we had complimentary morning coffee, tea, and muffins. Then I joined a yoga class on the 2nd floor for $20. With the views of the Hudson River right outside the studio’s window, it was very tranquil and quite cosmic and I felt very Hudson Valley afterwards.
Then we hit Dia: Beacon, a modern art museum housed in a former Nabisco factory at 3 Beekman Street that contains a collection of the Dia Foundation of art from the 1960s to the present. It was my pleasure to introduce my children to Andy Warhol and Sol LeWitt, Max Neuhaus and Binky Palermo in the large, wood-floored rooms that are lit almost exclusively by natural light. I was surprised at how long they sustained their attention for but the museum is arranged in such a way that they were able to take long strolls through each artist’s work and truly absorb it. It was definitely the most modern art museum they have been to, and I think the same goes for me.
Here is the low-down on a weekend in Beacon with kids:
Where to stay: The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls, 2 East Main Street, 845/765-8369, roundhousebeacon.com
When to go: All year but if you happen to be in town on the second Saturday of the month, the local arts organization hosts Second Saturdays. Everything’s open later, and there are live music performances and other special events around.
Where to eat: Poppy’s, Homespun, The Beacon Creamery
Don’t miss: Dia: Beacon
Disclosure: I was given a complimentary visit at the Roundhouse to facilitate this and other reviews but all opinions are my own. All meals and activities were paid for on my own.