What art? We're going for the strawberries.
Tue May 12 2009
BEST WEEKEND TO GO: June 12-14
DISTANCE: 62.1 mi -- about 1 hour 23 mins (up to 2 hours 0 mins in traffic)
WHY GO: After 30 years, the Beacon Sloop Club's Strawberry Festival (845-831-6962, beaconsloop.org; June 14 noon--5pm), in Riverfront Park, nestled between the town's Metro-North station and the gorgeous Hudson River, is still going strong. You'll find live folk music, a farmers' market with fresh vegetables and baked goods, and 1,500 pounds of local strawberries for your bingeing pleasure. The whole thing is cost- and waste-free (including, among other things, compostable corn-husk plates and utensils). Come early to sign up for a sail on the Woody Guthrie, the club's sloop, which replicates those piloted by the Hudson's Dutch settlers. If you've got two land legs, stick to enjoying Pete Seeger and other musicians while you chow down on what event organizer Joyce Hanson calls "the best strawberry shortcake anywhere," baked on site ($3; all proceeds from food sales go to Seeger's environmental organization, Clearwater).
WHY STAY: Beacon's main attraction is Dia:Beacon (3 Beekman St; 845-440-0100, diabeacon.org; $10), a former Nabisco factory that's now the premiere viewing space for modern and contemporary art (featuring names like Andy Warhol, Richard Serra and Dan Flavin). While the Dia may be the center of Beacon's art world, a quick trip down Main Street reveals that the town's creative community extends beyond it. Hudson Beach Glass (162 Main St; 845-440-0068, hudsonbeachglass.com), a gallery located in what was Beacon's original firehouse, offers walk-in workshops where you can try your hand at glassblowing (Saturdays and Sundays, $25--$75). Sick of arts and crafts? Rent a bike from Beacon Cycles (178 Main St, 845-765-0366; per day $30 per day, weekend $50), which specializes in "around-town kind of bikes" but can arrange for a mountain bike if you ask in advance, and will even deliver to your B&B. Or hit the newly opened Retro Arcade Museum (412 Main St; 845-440-8494, retroarcademuseum.com), where for $10 an hour, you can play games on restored consoles from the '50s through '70s, to a soundtrack of era-appropriate jukebox beats. And bring your hiking boots, because trekking up Mt. Beacon is not for the weak: The hike "is steep and rocky," according to Beaconite Tom LaBarr. But get to the top on a clear day and "you can see New York City or all the way up to Albany—not that there's anything there to see."
On your way back to the city, allow a few hours to explore Cold Spring, Beacon's neighboring town located one stop closer to NYC on Metro-North. Main Street has great antique shops, and farther into town are some Victorian houses worth a look-see. In addition to the Strawberry Festival, June 14 is the date of Cold Spring's annual antique show (coldspringantiqueshow.com).
WHAT TO EAT: If you haven't had your fill of strawberries, stop by Max's on Main (246 Main St; 845-838-6297, maxsonmain.com), the neighborhood hang where it's Strawberry Festival all weekend. For $13, you get a two-person strawberry daiquiri, fuel for the Saturday-night dance party. For breakfast and lunch, make like a real Beaconite and order a breakfast burrito or kick-ass mac and cheese at Homespun Foods (232 Main St; 845-831-5096, homespunfoods.com). The place features a flowered patio and lots of vegetarian options, and everything is under $10. For a cooling midday ice cream, stop by the Beacon Creamery (134 Main St; 845-838-6233, beaconcreamery.com), which serves a variety of flavors, from familiar vanilla to a surprisingly subtle pumpkin.
WHERE TO STAY: Beacon is not a big-hotel kind of place: There aren't any. Steven Evans, assistant director of Dia: Beacon, says he puts his folks up at Mt. Beacon B&B (829 Wolcott Ave; 845-831-0737, mtbeaconbedandbreakfast.com; $165--$195 per night). The inn, run by artist Lauren Walling and her mother, offers three-course hot breakfasts and a swimming pool. You can also try the four-room Swann Inn (120 Howland Ave; 845-234-3204, swanninnofbeacon.com; $157--$187.50 per night). Be warned: Co-owner Neil Caplan, one of four brothers, says that the room containing his mother's bed is "very fertile." Those low on cash and thirsty for adventure should try Malouf's Mountain Sunset Campgrounds (845-831-6767, maloufsmountain.com; $43--$68 per night). Bring your own tent and food or get it here; this camping experience can be as rustic or as tame as you choose. Both inns and Malouf's offer shuttle service from the train station.
GET THERE: Take the Metro-North Hudson Line to Beacon Station. Take the Metro-North Hudson Line to Beacon Station; the 80-minute ride tours you through some of the Hudson Valley's most scenic landscape. A round-trip off-peak ticket costs a mere $24, but your best bet is the MTA's package of round-trip rail fare and admission to Dia:Beacon for $27.75 (get an additional 5 percent off if you order online in advance; see mta.info for schedules and pricing). While a car is necessary to get to many destinations in other parts of the Valley, nearly everything in Beacon is within short walking or biking distance.