Beacon, New York, feels like New Jersey merged with Connecticut. Located in Dutchess County, one of New York’s first 12 counties established in 1683, the area is steeped in physical beauty and history. Families looking for a day trip to a bustling Main Street or weekend exploring sites in the area will love the destination – as well as the scenic, peaceful drive to Upstate New York.
Torne Valley Vineyards
Although not in Duchess County, our first stop during a recent weekend trip was to Torne Valley Vineyards in Hillburn, part of Rockland County, New York. Located in historic Hudson Valley, Torne Valley is the county’s only working winery. It was founded in 2009, seated on a historic 19th-century country estate.
Although it was storming the morning we went, we called ahead and were told there was indoor seating plus a covered patio out back. Not wanting to waste the day we took the drive, coming upon beautiful views of the mountainside. The perfect way to describe the area is bucolic.
The recommendation upon arrival is to opt for a wine tasting, sampling four wines for $10. There are many options for reds, whites and rosés on the wine list, so doing two or three tastings wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. The wine tasting room has many photographs of popular New York landmarks on the walls, which adds a touch of the city to the countryside. The bar is beautifully crafted from wood, as are the high-top tables. There’s plenty of room to bring a group for the afternoon or to make it more intimate for a couple’s date.
Walking through the lobby, there is a small shop where you can choose from antique handmade jewelry and a selection of handbags and other accessories. Moving toward the opposite side of the mansion, your group can enjoy lunch in the restaurant, facing the courtyard. Menu items include chicken wings, cauliflower pizza, a charcuterie board and parmesan lemon waffle fries. Of course, you should order some more wine, too.
We were close enough to hear a duo playing music from under the tent, which made for a lovely afternoon despite the thunder in the background. And the children were well-behaved (they must be accompanied by an adult).
At the time there was a two-hour table limit, so we bought a bottle to go to enjoy later on.
Beacon, New York
The next morning, we traveled to Beacon, New York. If you’ve never been, think of even bigger and more artsy versions of downtowns in Red Bank, Morristown or Somerville. Also located in the Hudson Valley, Beacon is probably most well-known for contemporary art, drawing in artists from far and wide.
First up was breakfast at Beacon Bread Company. While we waited for our table, we walked down Main Street to the farmers’ market. There is nothing better than sampling fresh produce and local spirits, in addition to seeing all of the amazing homemade products made by crafters. Your kids will love the samples of gelato and cookies and you can try hard seltzers, whiskey and wine. From smelling fresh basil plants to buying crafts or listening to a musician strum his guitar, it’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
The Beacon Bread Company menu includes omelets, sandwiches and salads, and even breakfast tacos and strawberry ricotta pancakes. The key is to try some of the housemade bread (sourdough was our favorite). Children can choose their meals as well. There was a variety of New Jersey- and New York-made beverages to take on the go. And if you prefer to sit outside, dogs are welcome. Of course, no day is complete without ice cream, so we made sure to stop at Zora Dora’s Micro Batch, where there was no shortage of flavors of ice cream and sorbet in the form of paletas.
We then drove to Memorial Park, making sure we passed The Roundhouse, which is in front of a small yet beautiful waterfall from Fishkill Creek. Other spots to add to your day trip list include Hudson Beach Glass, Moo Moo Creamery, the Incline Railway trail, the Victorian houses and The Snooki Shop (a little taste of the Jersey Shore in Beacon).
Storm King Art Center
On we went to Storm King Art Center, a 500-acre outdoor sculpture park with an indoor museum that sits among the incredible Hudson Valley, about a 25-minute drive from downtown Beacon. The larger-than-life 3-D works of modern sculpture art are incredible, sometimes playing tricks on your eyes from a distance. There is no shortage of beauty and wonder as you trek through acres and acres of natural landscape.
There is a lot of grass, undoubtedly, but also paved areas, so strollers are not a problem. There is a tram that takes about an hour to go through the fields, which has plenty of seating for the young and old alike. You can jump on and off as you wish to get a closer view of any of the gigantic, incredible structures.
Restrooms are on-site, which of course is a plus, in addition to a water bottle filling station near the restrooms – beverages, sunscreen and a hat are a must on hot, sunny days. There are a lot of shady areas where people were lying in the grass, simply enjoying nature. Dress for the colder weather if visiting during the winter.
Though the property is very Instagram-able, I recommend enjoying the sites and sounds in a more mindful way. If you walk up the steps or take the elevator near the museum, there is a breathtaking view of the mile-long and half-mile wide locale. It was refreshing to peer through giant columns out to the fields.
It’s best to go as early in the day as possible so you can make the most of your time hiking through the grounds or wandering through the museum. Keeping the attention of children won’t be a problem since there are plenty of sites to see – and hills to roll down.
Driving from Beacon to Storm King we passed Hudson Taco, which we pinpointed as the place to be. Located along the waterfront in Newburgh, New York, in Orange County, we sat at picnic tables to enjoy street tacos. Of particular note was the great music playing from the speakers, a mix of 2000s club music and other remixes, and plenty of families with dogs strolling the area.
When visiting Beacon, be sure not to miss:
Bannerman Castle, Pollepel Island
Beacon Bread Company, 193-195 Main St.
Beacon Farmers Market, Sundays, Main Street at Veterans Place
Beacon Flea Market, Sundays, 6 Henry St.
Glazed Over Donuts, 315 Main St.
Howland Cultural Center, 477 Main St.
Hudson Beach Glass, 162 Main St.
Hudson Valley Food Hall, 288 Main St.
Madam Brett Homestead, 50 Van Nydeck Ave.
Memorial Park, 97 Robert Cahill Dr.
Ron’s Ice Cream, 298 Fishkill Ave.
Story Screen Beacon Theater, The Park at USC, 724 Wolcott Ave.
The Roundhouse, 2 E. Main St.
The Snooki Shop, 508 Main St.
Zora Dora’s Micro Batch, 201 Main St.