New Hope, PA

During the same weekend as my visit to Great Falls in Paterson, New Jersey I stopped for a few hours in New Hope, Pennsylvania, a little town on the Delaware River about 10 miles northwest of Trenton, New Jersey. Originally a mill town, the city became an artist’s haven in the early 20th century. With the opening of the Bucks County Playhouse in 1938, New Hope gained the reputation as a testing ground for Broadway playwrights and performers. New Hope also earned renown as a colony for American impressionist artists such as  Edward Redfield, whose paintings are featured in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

New Hope PA Main Street

New Hope PA Main Street

New Hope is a great place to spend a relaxing afternoon. You can walk along the river and take in thew views, stroll along the Delaware Canal, shop for antiques, and catch a play at the Bucks County Playhouse. It’s also a paradise for shoppers looking for items they don’t really need but can’t stop themselves from buying, like antiques, vintage clothing, decorations, and jewelry.  Everyone needs a little retail therapy sometimes!

New Hope Main Street clock

New Hope – Main Street clock

New Hope and Ivyland Rail Station

New Hope and Ivyland Rail Station

Here’s some ideas for spending an afternoon in New Hope:

Bucks County Playhouse

Bucks County Playhouse

Start out at the Visitor Center on the corner of West Mechanic Street and Main Street. Inside there was a nice lady who gave me suggestions on what to see and where to take pictures. There’s a bunch of pamphlets and maps and stuff available to take. The Visitors Center is right next to Bucks County Playhouse, which I did not visit but looked really cool especially the small waterfall out front where the Aquetong Creek meets the Delaware.

Stroll along the Delaware Canal

New Hope Delaware Canal Towpath

New Hope Delaware Canal Towpath

Walk along this canal that runs north and south through New Hope. The route is quiet and serene, being secluded somewhat from the streets around it. There are lovely old red bridges that span the canal at each street. Fall is probably the best time to visit this strip, as the canal is bounded by trees. Great photo opps abound.

The water was so low in the canal though that I could see stranded fish barely surviving in the two or three inches of water left.

Delaware River at Lambertville NJ

Delaware River at Lambertville NJ

Eat

Have lunch at Triumph Brewery. If you’re the American craft brewery scene, you can’t do much better than this place.  It’s located in a re-purposed brick building along the New Hope-Ivyland train tracks, a short walk away from the beautiful Delaware Canal Towpath that runs through the town.

Triumph Brewery exterior, New Hope

Triumph Brewery exterior, New Hope

Triumph features a selection of six draft beers made in house. I went with the Amber Ale and the Bratwurst sandwich ($11), which came with a pile of sauerkraut, caramelized onions, fest bier mustard.

Bratwurst plate - Triumph Brewery

Bratwurst plate – Triumph Brewery

I ate outside on the porch overlooking the train tracks where there is an antique rail car sitting out back. Inside there’s a stage for live music and a little dance floor below the huge fermenting tanks.

Triumph Brewery interior

Triumph Brewery interior

Shop

I didn’t have all the time in the world so didn’t stop into as many shops as I would have liked, but if you’re going to pick one, go into Heart of the Home, (28 South Main Street) which sells all sorts of handmade craft goods like kitchenware, garden decorations, and other household-type items.

Coffee

New Hope Bridge Street

New Hope – Bridge Street Starbucks on right

This might be the first time I’d recommend a Starbucks on this blog, but the international chain owns a significant piece of property right in the middle of town at the corner of Main and East Bridge Street. It’s in an old red brick house that looks like it used to be an inn of some sort back in the day. Try to get a seat out on the patio where you can people watch as your sip your latte. The Starbucks is located next to the river and the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge that crosses it.

Cross the Delaware

Because you’re at the bridge now, walk across the bridge to Lambertville, New Jersey a small town with a very similar look to New Hope. It has the same layout along the Delaware with the shops and restaurants and the old Victorian homes lining the city streets. Just like the Delaware Canal in New Hope, Lambertville has the Raritan Canal State Park Trail, which I thought was even more beautiful because there was actually water in the canal.

Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail, Lambertville, NJ

Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail, Lambertville, NJ

I tried to go to a pet store called Pickypaws to spoil my dogs a bit but unfortunately it was closed!

In sum, this area of Bucks County is so beautiful and relaxing that it is not surprising that many people choose these two towns as a retirement spot.

Kevin is based in Washington, DC and writes about his travel adventures in the Mid-Atlantic region and around the world. Through entertaining writing and eye-catching photography, he aims to provide readers with useful information as they plan their next trips.

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