Sites in Town
Main Street is the prime attraction for most visitors to New Hope. On weekend days with good weather — and even on days with not-so-perfect conditions — hundreds of bikers, families, couples and characters of all kinds fill up the sidewalks of Main Street and spill out into the roadway, occasionally blocking traffic. Many bars along the street offer outdoor seating, providing the perfect place to sit and people watch. Or you can join the parade and explore Main Street and surrounding avenues by foot. Shops on this path sell everything from modern New Age merchandise to vintage clothes. Farley’s Bookshop, an independent bookseller on Main Street, is a New Hope institution and a warm alternative to generic big-box book stores (say hello to their sweet book-loving cat, Butter).
Antiques abound in New Hope. It’s impossible to pass a non-residential street without catching a glimpse of some antique furniture or frilly vintage dress set out on the sidewalk. Find period English and American furniture at Sally Goodman Antiques & Interiors (21 W. Ferry Street) and Victorian bird cages and old medical oddities at quirky TearDrop Memories (12 W. Mechanic Street). These are just a few examples of local antique stores; you’ll find plenty more antique and vintage sellers along Main Street, Mechanic Street and Ferry Street, as well as on York Road outside of the town center.
The New Hope and Ivyland Railroad is an authentic 19th-century railroad that transports passengers on a 45-minute roundtrip ride from New Hope to Lahaska Station. The original railroad tracks, built in 1891, cut through the heart of New Hope. Purchase your tickets at the railroad’s original Victorian train station, grab a seat in one of the cabs and imagine that you are a 19th-century traveler exploring the countryside by rail as the conductor shares fun facts about the history of the route and train mechanics. The New Hope and Ivyland Railroad is a great activity for children (who seem universally to possess a fascination with trains), and adults will enjoy the scenery of the train ride, which passes by forests and farms in the Bucks County countryside.
Live Music: The recently renovated Bucks County Playhouse on Main Street stages traditional Broadway-style performances of plays like “Mame” and “The World Goes ‘Round.” The Playhouse is a converted 18th-century grist mill on Main Street, and actors including Liza Manelli and Robert Redford have acted on its stage. For live music, poetry, comedy and performance art, take a walk to John and Peter’s on Main Street, a legendary local venue that has hosted artists from Norah Jones to George Thorogood — no cover bands allowed.
Art Galleries and Museums: New Hope has a thriving art community, and the works of many local artists are featured in dozens of art galleries in and around town, and at the James A. Michener Art Museum. The museum is small, but it displays some unusual and original pieces and is worth a stop. New Hope is a popular place for wealthy art lovers to go searching for their next acquisitions, and the diverse and beautiful creations sold in town, from paintings to handmade furniture, make for great browsing even if you don’t intend to buy. You’ll find most art galleries along Bridge Street and Main Street.
Just a block behind Main Street, Delaware Canal State Park is a 60-mile-long towpath that was once used as a 19th-century means of transportation (mules would pull carts filled with coal and other goods along the canals between Philadelphia and New York). Bird watching, hiking, biking and canoeing are popular recreational activities along the towpath, which winds parallel to the Delaware River through green woods. The Locktender’s House is a visitor’s center along the towpath that documents what life was like along the canal in the 19th century. If the busy crowds on New Hope’s Main Street make you claustrophobic, a quick two-minute walk to the shady banks of the towpath will calm your spirit.
Out of Town
A visit to New Hope isn’t complete without a walk across the bridge to Lambertville, New Jersey. New Hope’s proliferation of antique shops continues in Lambertville, where vintage clothes, period furniture, old jewelry and more are sold in dozens of interesting boutiques. Lambertville also boasts some quality restaurants and a few worthwhile coffee shops if you need to rest your tired feet. One of the highlights of Lambertville is getting there; the walk from New Hope takes you across the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge over the Delaware River. While walking across the bridge, peek below and you may spot a pair of elegant swans (two of New Hope’s most famous local residents) or emerald-headed mallards floating on the water.
The Golden Nugget Antique and Flea Market in Lambertville is more of a flea market than an antiques dealer. It is open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays year-round and has hundreds of tables selling art, produce, furniture, clothing, jewelry, appliances, home decor, pet products and practically everything in between. Get ready to haggle — items are offered by local sellers who name their own prices and are willing to bargain (especially during bad weather when the crowds are thin). In the summer, purchase some locally grown produce and head across the street for a picnic by the Delaware River.
Located in Doylestown, a picturesque Bucks County town that is about a 10-minute drive from New Hope, the Mercer and Fonthill Museums are towering concrete castles that look like they were transplanted directly from medieval Europe. Henry Mercer built Fonthill — an incredible castle with winding staircases, jutting spires and more than 200 windows — between 1908 and 1912. A few years later the Mercer Museum, a second concrete castle, was completed in order to house Henry Mercer’s enormous collections of artifacts from around the world. Visitors can wander the Mercer Museum independently, but Fonthill may only be explored by guided tour. Save money by booking a “Mercer Experience” ticket, which includes admission to the Mercer Museum and a guided tour of Fonthill for one discounted price.
Peddler’s Village is a shopping mecca in Lahaska, Pennsylvania, roughly 10 minutes by car from New Hope. The Village has more than 70 specialty stores as well as nearly a dozen restaurants, and the factory outlets of Penn’s Purchase are right next door. Children can play at the Giggleberry Fair, which features an indoor play area, game room, kids’ restaurant and old-fashioned carousel. For devoted shoppers who wish to stay overnight at Peddler’s Village, on-site lodging is offered at the Golden Plough Inn. The Village is an easy drive from New Hope and has plenty of parking.
Just a few miles south of New Hope is Washington Crossing, a small town that marks the spot where George Washington crossed the Delaware River at a pivotal moment of the Revolutionary War. You’ll find a historic park here, complete with restored colonial buildings, soldiers’ graves and stone memorials. Also on the grounds is Bowman’s Hill Tower, a monument to Washington that rises 125 feet. Visitors can go up into the observation tower for sweeping views around the area. Nearby is Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, offering hiking trails that are particularly scenic during the warmer months.