A Revolutionary Escape: History, Culture, and More in New Hope, Pennsylvania

Part laid-back art destination and part Revolutionary War time capsule, New Hope, Pennsylvania offers travelers what feels like two destinations in one. The area retains a decidedly Colonial appearance but mixes in enough modern trappings and experiences to satisfy any visitor. First-timers to this riverside village quickly appreciate why professionals from nearby metropolitan areas swear by New Hope as a treasured weekend escape from the hustle and bustle.

Located along the Old York Road—the main Colonial-era arterial between Philadelphia and New York—New Hope first gained prominence in the 18th century as the location where travelers would cross the Delaware River via ferry. Local legend suggests that George Washington spent the night here before his own famed Delaware crossing. That account has been called into question, but as you stand at Washington Crossing Historic Park and watch the river meander by, you’ll most likely believe it.

Revolutionary War re-enactments at Washington’s Crossing (Source: iStock)

New Hope, Pennsylvania is located in Bucks County, once dotted with vacant steel mills and dilapidated factories. It has transformed of late, however, becoming a haven for tourists who seek destinations with a relaxed Colonial feel. Like much of its home county, New Hope’s rural ambiance is belied by its relative ease of access. It’s an hour from downtown Philadelphia and just a shade over two hours from Manhattan—much shorter travel times than those experienced by pre-revolution travelers crossing the Delaware by ferry.

Stay

Do yourself and your family a favor: Skip the chain hotels on U.S. 202 and find a cozy room in one of many Colonial-era bed and breakfasts that dot the landscape. Courageous travelers can spend a night at the Logan Inn, a centuries-old establishment that’s reportedly home to at least eight ghosts who introduce themselves to hotel guests in various ways. If a personal re-enactment of Washington crossing the Delaware is on your bucket list, stroll across Bridge Street to New Hope’s sister city, Lambertville, New Jersey, and tuck yourself in at the Lambertville Station Restaurant and Inn.

Crossing the Delaware, 21st Century Style (Source: iStock)

Play

Outdoor opportunities abound in New Hope. Consider a scenic boat trip along the Delaware; you can jump on a pontoon boat for a guided tour of the area’s historic waterfront or rent an inner tube and beat the heat. If you’re looking for an adventure on land, drop by Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve in the spring or summer to see what’s in bloom.

Dine

Fans of authentic French country cuisine will be delighted by The Inn at Phillips Mill, where Escargots en croûte (snails in puff pastry) and Côtelettes d’agneau aux fines herbs (lamb cutlets with herbs) are among the standout dishes. On the other side of the spectrum, the all-vegan menu at Sprig & Vine has been satisfying diners by “pushing the boundaries of vegetable cuisine” for nearly a decade. End your night with a sip at John and Peter’s, where performers ranging from George Thorogood to Tiny Tim have entertained tourists and locals since 1972.

Relax

If theater is your thing, don’t miss the opportunity to see a show at the historic Bucks County Playhouse. The troupe’s marketing efforts tout past performers who have gone on to fame and fortune—including Grace Kelly, Robert Redford, Angela Lansbury—but you’ll be fully enthralled by the current cast, not to mention the 1790 gristmill in which they play their roles.

The historic Bucks County Playhouse (Source: iStock)

Grab a souvenir

New Hope’s Main Street has no shortage of shopping options, many of them with a gentle New Age bent. But for a more unique experience, head a couple miles west to Lahaska, Pennsylvania and the self-proclaimed “Best Retail Retreat in the entire Philadelphia area.” Peddler’s Village features more than 60 specialty shops—many of them locally owned—offering a vast assortment of fashion and accessories, lifestyle and home décor items, Amish-themed collectibles, and more. Browse for a little something to take home, or grab a Dry Red Flight at the Chaddsford Winery tasting room and just watch the world go by.

For more on New Hope, Pennsylvania, visit their website.