Free Spirits Flock to New Hope
History and Modernity meet in this small Pennsylvania town.
On Christmas Day in 1776, George Washington crossed the Delaware River to capture victory in Trenton, New Jersey. The night before this turning point of the American Revolution, immortalized in history books and paintings, Washington and his army lodged in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Just as welcoming now as it was to the revolutionaries of 250 years ago, New Hope maintains its hidden gem status to this day.
Still, besides the inviting atmosphere, New Hope has changed quite a bit since that historic crossing, transforming from a colonial village to an artsy micro-city. The change came thanks to a population growing in diversity and a location that blends natural beauty with cosmopolitan sensibilities. Today, New Hope continues to evolve as its flourishing arts scene, renowned restaurants and historic sites keep visitors coming back for more.
A “no stress” kind of day trip.
For NEPA residents, New Hope makes a perfect day trip destination. The town is only a two-hour drive (give or take) from Northeastern Pennsylvania. Being the halfway point between Philadelphia and New York City, New Hope has all the fun of the major cities minus the crowds. And if shopping, dining, sightseeing and relaxing are your thing, this particular day trip is exactly what you’re looking for.
Get to know New Hope by rail.
Before exploring New Hope’s iconic Downtown, take some time to familiarize yourself with the Buck’s County area on the New Hope Railroad. Depart from the 130-year old Witch’s Hat Train Station on a vintage train for a scenic roundtrip excursion.
Both entertaining and informational, these train rides are the perfect introduction to New Hope. Seasonal and holiday rides take place throughout the year, but the 1-hour Traditional Excursion is always a reliable option.
Nature first, shopping later.
To continue your scenic tour, head to Washington Crossing Historic Park, named for the aforementioned momentous occasion. Just a short trek outside of town and spanning 500 acres, the park contains incredible trails & grounds and stunning views well worth the five-minute drive.
Within the park, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve consists of hundreds of native plant species and wildlife. There’s no harm in taking time out of your day trip schedule to wander the quiet paths or relax near the peaceful ponds.
If you haven’t had your fill of natural beauty, the observation deck at the nearby Bowman’s Hill Tower offers picturesque views of the surrounding forests and rolling Delaware River.
Hit the town for charming attractions.
Once you’re back in town, Main Street is the place to be. Running parallel to the river and consisting of locally-owned shops and restaurants, New Hope’s main drag has it all. From antique & vintage stores to clothing boutiques, and enough local art galleries to fill your entire day, everyone will find their personal niche.
After a leisurely crawl along Main Street, keep the little ones on their toes at the Bucks County Children’s Museum. Accessible exhibits explore the area’s culture in an educational and fun manner. With plenty of activities and interactive experiences, kids are sure to get their high-energy fix.
Refuel at a variety of restaurants.
When all that walking, shopping and sightseeing tires you out, take a lunch break at one of New Hope’s diverse dining establishments. Keep things quick and casual at Ferry Market, a collection of vendors dishing up diverse cuisines in a laidback atmosphere.
New Hope is also home to a handful of breweries and taprooms, each one totally distinct and all within walking distance. And if that’s not enough, just a glance down the block will reveal plenty of restaurants for all moods and culinary cravings.
If you plan your trip carefully, you can catch a show at the legendary Bucks County Playhouse. From Grace Kelly to Liza Minnelli, stars of the stage and screen have illuminated this landmark summer theater. Be sure to check out the Playhouse’s schedule for upcoming performances.
Playhouse Deck Restaurant & Bar is the perfect spot for a pre-show drink or a post-show meal. Not only will you dine in a gorgeous setting, but in true New Hope fashion, you’ll also support the arts. Proceeds help fund the theater’s upkeep and future productions.
Unwind on the water before saying goodbye (for now).
Then, take it easy with an evening stroll on the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge, connecting Pennsylvania and New Jersey, perfect for catching sunsets and snapping photos fit for New Hope’s artsy reputation.
As NEPA natives know, “hidden gem” towns make Pennsylvania special. New Hope exemplifies that truth. Quaint streets, a charming locale and friendly residents make this day-trip-worthy location feel like more like a second home. After your first visit to New Hope, return trips are always on the horizon.
*Featured Image (Top) Courtesy of Visit Bucks County
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