Even though I live 30 minutes away from New Hope, every time I visit the quaint Bucks County town, I feel like I am traveling to a faraway destination. Maybe it’s the shop-lined streets, the energy of the people dining outdoors, or the scenic Delaware River, but each day trip to New Hope felt like short, invigorating vacation.
Situated in bucolic Bucks County along the Delaware, New Hope was once a stopping point for people traveling between Philadelphia and New York in Colonial America; people would spend the night then cross the river in the morning. As such, the town originally was known as Coryell’s Ferry, but after a 1790 fire razed several mills in the area, it was change to “New Hope,” to celebrate the spirit of its reconstruction. The early 20th century saw the arrival of an artists colony, and in the 1950s, it became known as a gay resort town. Today, the welcoming community is also popular with motorcycle enthusiasts.
New Hope is a great year-round destination, with a different draw depending on the time of year. New Hope is a walkable town, so the warmer months beg for strolling down Main Street, meandering in and out of the shops and galleries, or wandering down the narrow alleys and cross streets just off it. The town is on the National Registry of Historic Places and boasts and endless supply of attractions for history buffs. For a day or weekend trip, be sure to add the following to your itinerary:
Do: You may come to New Hope for the charm, but you’ll stay for the shopping and galleries. Take your time exploring places like A Mano Gallery, Farley’s Bookshop and Heart of the Home for one-of-a-kind finds. In the evening, catch a show at the Bucks County Playhouse, which has served as an audition for many plays and shows on their way to Broadway.
See: Check out Bucks County from the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad. Head to the New Hope train station, in operation since 1891, then board the restored 1920s vintage cars and travel along the historic route to Lahaska. For an old-school water experience, head to the Locktender’s House to purchase a ticket for a mule-drawn barge ride on the Delaware Canal. Here, you’ll also find exhibits and artifacts and learn about how the lock system works.
Eat: The problem in New Hope is not finding a good restaurant, but deciding on which on you want to go to. For Creole, there’s the fabulous Marsha Brown, for vegetarian Sprig & Vine, for barbecue Bitter Bob’s, and for classic American head to The Landing. You can also grab a drink at the bar at Havana or a beer at Triumph Brewery.
Stay: If you’re planning spend the night, be sure to book at one of the many B&Bs in the area. Most ooze charm and are set in old farms or historical buildings, and many have fabulous restaurants so you don’t have to venture far if lazing around is more your style. Golden Pheasant Inn is known for its classic French cuisine and fabulous Sunday brunch, as well as for it charming rooms with river views and fireplaces, while the Lexington House offers six guestrooms in its circa 1749 main house and a fabulous pool for warmer months.
Experience: New Hope is a festival town, with great annual events throughout the year, including Winter Festival in January, Pride festival in May, an automobile show in August and arts and crafts festival in September. And Friday nights in the summer come alive with a fireworks show over the Delaware.
Every week we spotlight easy day and weekend trips in the area.