I am always game to visit quaint towns that exude depth and history, lovely scenery, and, of course, a wide choice of activities in which to partake; dining and shopping included, naturally! New Hope, Pennsylvania, located in the state’s picturesque Delaware Valley, ticks all of those boxes and then some. It has continued to pleasantly surprise me during my several trips there. Its close proximity to metro hubs New York City and Philadelphia — approximately 69 miles southwest of the former, and 30 miles north of the latter — and its closeness to other places of interest, make it an ideal road trip destination. New Hope sits on the banks of the Delaware River and continues its tradition as a magnet for those involved in the arts. The town began as an artists’ colony established by a group of painters at the end of the 19th century. Let us explore this multifaceted town with an artistic core.
Things To Do In New Hope
The beauty of visiting New Hope lies not only in its inviting scenery and relative ease of navigating it, but also in its multitude of activities and attractions, places to shop and dine, and comfortable lodgings for those who might just be looking to relax and linger awhile.
Bucks County Playhouse
This iconic theater, housed in a 1790 grist mill, opened its doors in 1939. (I saw a delightful stage production of the movie Footloose here.) A who’s who of stars, from Helen Hayes to Kevin Kline, and many in between, have graced its stage in a variety of productions. Many of these shows have gone on to Broadway and world stages. The theater underwent a renovation and was reopened in 2012. Enjoy a bite to eat or drinks at the Deck, the playhouse’s adjacent restaurant overlooking the scenic Delaware River.
Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve
Explore the natural beauty of New Hope and the Delaware Valley at this expansive nature preserve. The preserve is the ideal place to observe and learn about the multitude of flowers, plants, trees, and types of grasses native to the area. The visitor center offers a host of information, which includes self-guided tours, and much more. There are 4.5 miles of trails to enjoy, most of which are easy to navigate. However, for those who are up for braving more challenging paths, there are trails that fit that bill as well.
New Hope Railroad
The New Hope Railroad offers several rail excursions that immerse visitors back in time via restored vintage trains. Guests can choose from several themes, from a scenic ride through historic Bucks County, to a wine and cheese ride. Each makes for a memorable railroad experience. New Hope Railroad does have a ramp available to access the train station platform for those needing assistance.
New Hope Arts And Crafts Festival
This annual festival has something for everyone to peruse or purchase across the art spectrum: paintings, sculptures, a wide variety of jewelry, and photography to name but a few. Enjoy the works of over 160 juried artisans, plus food and entertainment, at this lively event to be held in September.
Washington Crossing Historic Park
History buffs unite! This park, located just a few miles outside of New Hope, is situated at the site where George Washington crossed the Delaware River during the Revolutionary War. The Visitor Center is a great place to start for park information and exhibits. There are many areas of this park to enjoy, including a historic village and gardens. Those who are game, and in shape, may want to try a visit to Bowman’s Hill Tower, constructed from 1929-1931. Legend has it that this tower was built on the site of Washington’s military observation post. Visitors can take in a sweeping view of the Delaware River and much of Bucks County from the tower, which is accessible part of the way via elevator, then it’s 23 steps to the observation deck.
New Hope/Lambertville Bridge
Look ma, I’m in two states! I am an admitted geography nerd, so when I visited New Hope and realized that I could use this steel trussed bridge’s pedestrian walkway to reach the charming town of Lambertville, New Jersey, on the other side of the river, well, my inner road atlas was jumping with excitement. The bridge offers a picture-perfect spot for a photo with the scenic Delaware River in the background or just a nice place to enjoy a stroll among other visitors.
I am partial to purchasing local goods when visiting a destination, and Peddler’s Village is ideal for such a pursuit. This charming shopping village is approximately five miles from New Hope, and most of its 60 businesses are locally owned. Enjoy merchandise ranging from clothing, cookware, jewelry, and much in between. The village does have accessible amenities available.
Covered Bridge Driving Tour
Bucks County is home to many historic covered bridges, and they are all adjacent to New Hope (which has one, the Van Sant bridge). This self-guided driving trip is ideal for a day excursion, or a short sojourn just to see a few of the bridges. Drive “back in time” to experience these beautiful relics of a bygone era.
Restaurants In New Hope
New Hope offers a plethora of dining options to suit a range of palates. Here are a few, from the more formal to casual.
Named for its owners’ rescue dog, Stella offers weekend brunch and weekday dinner at its picturesque location overlooking the river, next door to the Bucks County Playhouse. Guests can enjoy feasting on locally sourced, seasonal dishes (think inventive salads, pasta, meat, chicken, and fish dishes among many great options) either indoors or outdoors. The restaurant has two elevator stops to the second floor, one for guests using wheelchairs or walkers for ease of entry without using the stairs.
Triumph Brewing Company
Beer aficionados and those who favor a twist on pub fare and who want a more casual atmosphere might like to make a stop at this eatery (which I thoroughly enjoyed on my last visit). The restaurant brews a variety of beers on site that are sure to please. I believe I sampled the honey wheat, which gets a thumbs up. The good eats range from sliders, salads, to burgers, and a variety of tasty bites in between.
The Ferry Market
Located right in the heart of New Hope, The Ferry Market is a foodie’s paradise in one setting. It offers diners a variety of options, from Latin American cuisine, pizza, vegan and gluten-free fare, coffee (a must for me!), gyros, to desserts. So many good choices, so little time!
Hotels In New Hope
Fox & Hound Bed And Breakfast
For a cozy and intimate vibe, look no further than this elegant and award-winning bed and breakfast, which has the distinction of having been voted Bucks County’s Most Romantic Getaway. Breakfast features many locally grown ingredients. Take a short walk into town to enjoy the rest of the day if you choose.
1870 Wedgwood Bed And Breakfast Inn
This historic and nationally noted, award-winning Victorian inn, (with modern amenities) is located within walking distance to the heart of New Hope. It offers a warm ambiance and a tasty breakfast, among a host of other special touches. Does the inn’s name sound familiar? That’s because it was named after the inventor of famed Wedgwood China, Josiah Wedgwood, and has some of this iconic tableware on display for visitors to enjoy. The hotel has four first-floor rooms and a ramp for entry to the house for those who may need assistance.
The Ghost Light Inn
The Ghost Light Inn is the sister property to Stella restaurant. Located on the Delaware and next door to the Bucks County Playhouse, it is a new, 12 room boutique hotel whose name is derived from the traditional “ghost light” left on in closed theaters. Each of the inn’s rooms features a ghost light, and animal owners note: the inn is pet friendly as well. The parking lot of the inn is on level ground; the hotel itself is on the third floor. All rooms are on the same level, and there is a handicap-accessible room available.
I went to veteran innkeeper Carl Glassman, host and co-owner with his wife, Nadine, of the aforementioned Wedgwood Inn, for some of his self-described “inn-sider” tips for visitors to New Hope. He was ready with a bunch!
“Take the Wine Train Ride on the New Hope Railroad,” he began. “All the rides are a narrated, one-hour round trip into the bucolic countryside on a restored 1925 dining car, pulled by an 1890 steam engine.
“Walk the side streets of New Hope to appreciate all 242 historic properties that span three centuries of architecture in this one-mile square artist colony nestled on the Delaware River. Ney Alley, West Mechanic Street, and West Ferry Street are my favorites.
“Take a lantern-led Ghost Tour of New Hope at night.
“Sneak a kiss inside the only pedestrian covered bridge in Bucks County, located at Wedgwood Inn of New Hope!”
Yes, you read correctly, Wedgwood Inn has its own covered bridge for visitors to explore!
New Hope is a town with many welcome surprises for folks of all ages to discover.
Bucks County has its share of delightful attractions for the mature traveler: