People often visit Philadelphia and forget about its neighbor, rural Bucks County. But here, visitors will find an appealing environment filled with history, famous landmarks, quaint shops, delicious restaurants, and friendly faces.
Bucks County is a lovely countryside getaway ideal for the mature traveler. Sitting north of Philadelphia along the Delaware River, it includes the charming towns of Bristol, Quakertown, Sellersville, Doylestown, New Hope, Newtown, and Yardley.
Here are some ideas for spending an amazing weekend in Bucks County. While the area is beautiful in winter, summer and fall are the best times to visit for the most pleasant outdoor adventure.
Visit Bucks County hosted my stay and activities in New Hope, Encore Rides sponsored our bike tour, and Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve provided a free guided tour. All opinions remain my own.
Things To Do In Bucks County
In Bucks County, there are lots of things to see and do within a half-hour drive. These include state parks, biking trails, horseback riding opportunities, farmers markets, a castle, a railroad, shopping, the Bucks County River Country, breweries, a wildflower preserve, and more.
Take A Bike Tour Of The Delaware Canal Towpath
The Delaware Canal Towpath is a National Recreation Trail that runs along a 19th-century canal built to transport coal from the Upper Lehigh Valley to Philadelphia. You can walk or ride a bike along the path; however, you can cover more ground and see more by bike.
On the towpath, you’ll pass by forests, historic river towns, scenic farms, and quaint buildings. Most of the trail is smooth and relatively wide, but there are a few narrow spots along the way.
One exciting thing about this ride is the loops created by the bridges across the river to New Jersey. You can ride a single loop for 7 miles or all five loops for a 16.5-mile ride. It’s easy to access all the loop points along the trail.
If it is your first time riding the Delaware Canal Towpath, you might want to consider a guided bike tour. Rick at Encore Rides provides an interesting and enjoyable tour that includes a waterfall, tidbits of history, facts about the various towns, and safety instructions for crossing the various bridges and traversing the narrow areas.
Hike Through A State Park
Hike or bike through the sprawling Tyler State Park or Neshaminy State Park or bring a blanket and some takeout treats to enjoy on a picnic.
Explore Washington Crossing Historic Park
Washington Crossing Historic Park marks the spot where George Washington’s army crossed the Delaware on Christmas Day in 1776. The 500-acre site has been preserved, and you can view restored colonial buildings in the park. The park also contains Revolutionary War soldiers’ graves, stone memorials, Bowman’s Hill Tower, and picnic pavilions. Online reservations are required for guided tours and also for entry to Bowman’s Hill Tower.
Ride The New Hope Railroad
Hop on an open-air car and enjoy a ride on an excursion train on the New Hope Railroad. The train departs from the train station in New Hope and chugs along through the Bucks County countryside. Narration about the sights is provided during the ride.
Tour A Castle
An entire castle made of cement is located in Doylestown. Henry Chapman Mercer’s Fonthill Castle has 44 rooms and is considered an architectural masterpiece. The castle is decorated with homemade tiles and has over 6,000 books on its shelves. Allow some time to walk the grounds during your visit or, better yet, take a picnic lunch and enjoy it by the pond. Guided tours of the inside the castle are available, but you’ll need to call ahead for reservations. Be aware that there are steps in various places in the castle.
The Mercer Museum exhibits 18th- and 19th-century items in another six-floor castle located along the Mercer Mile in Doylestown.
Float Down The Delaware
Cool off in the river on a hot summer day by renting a tube, kayak, canoe, or raft and relaxing on the Delaware with Bucks County River Country. They even have two-person tubes, so you can stay near your partner the entire trip down the river.
When we visited, we kayaked, and it was so peaceful and serene. I can’t wait to go back. Plan to spend at least 4 hours on your river excursion.
Get Lost In Wildflowers
Stop and smell the wildflowers! Stroll through Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve and spot tons of native flowers. There are nine different hiking paths to follow, and they are all easy to moderate. They also have a gift shop and plant store.
Be aware that you might come into contact with poison ivy if you go off the trail and walk through the wooded area.
While there, you might want to visit the nearby Bowman’s Hill Tower, where you can see up to 14 miles away.
Cross Covered Bridges
Bucks County is home to 12 beautiful covered bridges. Enjoy a scenic drive to see them all. Most are in northern Bucks County. You can get directions to these architectural landmarks here.
Learn About The Underground Railroad
Bucks County once served as a key stop for enslaved persons as they traveled the Underground Railroad to freedom. Today, you can take an educational driving tour to follow the Underground Railroad stops in Bucks County.
There are 15 Underground Railroad sites in Bucks County. At the Wedgwood Inn (where I stayed when in New Hope), a gazebo in the side yard hides an entry down to the tunnel system of the Underground Railroad.
Take The Wine Trail
You can experience local flavors along the Bucks County Wine Trail. There is also an ale trail and a distillery tour.
Listen To Ringing Rocks
Visit Ringing Rocks Park to swing a hammer and hear some of the rocks ringing like bells in a field of boulders. This is a most unique experience. If you hike a bit beyond the boulders, you’ll be rewarded with a waterfall.
Be sure to take your own hammer, since the park does not provide anything with which to ring the rocks. This excursion is for the sure-footed traveler. The path is flat and smooth, but navigating the rocks would be difficult for those with mobility issues.
Best Restaurants In Bucks County
Karla’s Restaurant & Bar
Karla’s Restaurant & Bar has a great eclectic menu and drinks including blood orange martinis and margaritas. I enjoyed my first-ever martini at Karla’s.
On Mondays, they have a special local menu featuring dinner and dessert for one price.
Another excellent choice is Havana’s Restaurant in New Hope. They serve American and Mexican food. Be sure to try the delicious sesame-coated onion rings. Nightly entertainment is also on offer.
Bucks County Sweet Spots Trail
Indulge your sweet tooth by conquering the Bucks County Sweet Spots Trail. You will find everything from ice cream to donuts and other sweet delicacies.
Where To Stay In Bucks County
Set on 2 private acres, the Wedgewood Inn sits in a park-like setting with flower-lined walkways leading to two gazebos and a hammock. It’s just a few steps from New Hope’s historic and vibrant downtown.
Innkeepers Carl and Dinie have a variety of rooms to suit your needs, and breakfast is always home-cooked.
Aaron Burr House
The Aaron Burr House is a lovely Victorian home one block from downtown New Hope. This is the house where Aaron Burr stayed after killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel.
Black Bass Hotel
The Black Bass Hotel boasts a picturesque river view with all the features of a historic local inn. You’ll love their luxurious suites.
You can find other accommodation options in Bucks County here.
Where To Shop In Bucks County
Grab a souvenir (or two) at the fun outdoor shopping area known as Peddler’s Village.
You will find plenty of unique specialty shops in the various towns of Bucks County. Bucks County House of Jerky, Covered Bridge Coffee Roasters, and Brad’s Raw Chips are some of my favorites. You’ll also find shops selling jewelry, clothing, candles, and more.
There is so much to see and do in Bucks County that you could easily spend a full weekend there. You will most certainly want to return for another weekend to enjoy a few additional experiences.