Beacon, New York is like a living laboratory of a Richard Florida book:if you build an art museum (or rather, house one in a former cracker box factory), they will come—and by “they,” we mean creative class expats fleeing increasingly pricey New York City neighborhoods. Even before Dia: Beacon actually opened its doors, news of its arrival spurred a revival of this once-depressed Dutchess County town. The revival isn’t complete—much of Beacon still looks like its post-industrial East Coast brethren—but it’s definitely farther along in the cappuccino department than nearby Newburgh, and safer to boot. At the same time, it’s cheaper than posher spots like Cold Spring or Cornwall, with average home sales hovering around the $200,000 mark.
I find it pretty hard to take that Metronorth ride up the Hudson to the Dia and not fantasize about moving to Beacon, especially when you hit that point in the trip where you pass Bannerman’s Island and that great expanse of river, fjord, and green mountains. Beacon is far enough away to assure yourself you’re not moving to the suburbs, yet it’s still just an hour and twenty minutes rail ride from Manhattan via the relatively cheap Metronorth. It offers Hudson Rivers views and a surprising number of public parks, visibly active civic improvement efforts, delicious-sounding food festivals and farmers markets, a historic Main Street with some appealing new businesses, and of course, a burgeoning art scene. No wonder it’s such an appealing day trip on the cheap for city dwellers. This week will be exploring options for those who might want to stay longer.