A little over five years ago, Ryan suddenly pulled over to the side of the road, parking in a deserted field of grass. With a sense of urgency, he swiftly exited the car while I sat in the passenger seat, concerned we were experiencing a muffler problem (is that a thing?). The next thing I know, my door was flung open, and I was ushered about 30 feet away from the vehicle. Now, I was thoroughly concerned for our mode of transportation. However, Ryan didn’t seem at all distressed, so naturally, my own fears quickly subsided. While observing the beautiful scenery, Ryan suddenly grabbed my hand and planted my feet beneath one of New Hope’s beautiful, but more isolated, covered bridges. It was there that he bent, well fell (nerves) onto one knee, and asked me to marry him. I don’t remember saying yes as tears spilled down my face, but from that day forward, I knew New Hope would become a sentimental haunt for us.
Just a 90 minute drive from NYC, New Hope truly makes the perfect weekend escape, especially during autumn, when the vibrant foliage can’t help but stun and amaze any person who simply looks up . Don’t get me wrong, I’m a city girl through and through. I live for the hustle and bustle, the culture, the nightlife, the fact that I can get a cheeseburger at 3am or run across the street for Advil in the middle of the night when my head starts pounding and my medicine cabinet is empty. But, despite my love for the city I call home, I warmly greet a breath of fresh air any chance I can get.
Despite its close proximity to the city, New Hope possesses the ability to make anyone feel a million miles from home. It’s a quaint town where antique shops, galleries, bookstores, ice cream parlors, and most importantly, dogs, are plentiful. There are beautiful hiking trails and bike paths, wildlife conservatories and wineries. Not to mention its location on the Delaware River would make any history buff drool.
WHERE TO STAY
While planning a 24 hour in getaway, it’s important to choose accommodations that suit both your lifestyle and needs. While hotels in the vain of Hampton Inn are located on the outskirts of New Hope, I much prefer to stay at an inn or b&b, where you don’t just lie in the lap of luxury but you sleep in it too. During our recent visit to New Hope, we stayed at the Inn at Bowman’s Hill.
As the wrought iron gates to the striking estate opened with a true sense of grandeur, Ryan and I drove down the magnificent driveway, mouths agape. We arrived late at night, an inconvenience for most inns, but innkeepers, Mike and Louisa, left us extensive instructions, and their cell phone numbers should anything go wrong. Talk about service! As we opened the door to the Penthouse Suite, we couldn’t believe our eyes. We were so tired and beyond delirious that the thought we might actually be dreaming wasn’t too far fetched. The 800 square foot suite featured beautiful hardwood floors, rustic area rugs, a large bedroom with exposed beams, a massive bathroom, separate living room, and a deck with panoramic views of the grounds, pond and woodlands.
As Ryan and I toured our weekend living quarters, we entered what might possibly be the most impressive room in the entire suite, the bathroom. Boasting a separate toilet room, bathrobes, a heated towel rack, and a steam shower with more shower heads than I could count, I didn’t think it could get any better. Needless to say, I was wrong. The starlit (yes, starlit) 2-person whirlpool tub, complete with shooting stars every 5 minutes, was beyond anything I had ever seen, and I mean anywhere.
After a night sleeping like logs in our king size bed, we went down to the first floor of the Manor House where we enjoyed breakfast at a private table beside a cozy and inviting fireplace. The multi-course meal included fresh fruit, yogurt, multiple juices (pineapple, thank you!), and a choice of at least three different made-from-scratch breakfast entrees.
Bellies filled to the brim, we wandered the 5-acre grounds of the private estate, also a Certified Wildlife Habitat, happy to find a wide variety of flora and fauna, not to mention a variety of chickens, ducks and birds, all of whom kept us thoroughly entertained.
While we didn’t have the time, The Inn at Bowman’s Hill also offers private in-suite massages, in-suite yoga sessions, and during the summer, ice cream by their drool worthy pool.
WHAT TO DO
There is so much, almost too much, to do in New Hope, PA and neighboring, Lambertville, NJ. But, since we’re here for only 24 hours, let’s stick to the essentials.
1. My first stop in New Hope is always Main Street, where countless vintage and antique shops are awaiting buyers with their own personal flair . While downtown, walk across the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge, where being in two places at once is more than possible. Mid-bridge, you will find the state border. With one foot in Pennsylvania and the other in New Jersey, get ready to fulfill that A Walk to Remember moment from your teenage dreams. After snagging that coveted picture, complete the journey across the bridge to continue your shopping excursion in Lambertville. For more retail therapy, Peddler’s Village is a great option with more than 70 unique shops.
2. The New Hope and Ivyland Railroad offers tours on their charming, restored train cars, through the woods of Bucks County. It’s the perfect tour for foliage seekers and history buffs as the excursion includes narration that details folklore of the railroad, which was laid in 1891, and describes points of interest along the way. Not interested in visiting during fall? The railroad operates year round and customizes each tour to its respective season.
3. For nature lovers, Bowman’s Hill Tower and Bowman Hill Wildlife Preserve are absolute must-do’s. Bowman’s Hill Tower sits high above the trees soaring 125 feet into the air. Venture to the top to take in a breathtaking bird’s-eye view of the country side and, of course, the Delaware River. If you’re lucky enough to visit on a clear day, marvel at scenic vistas spanning 14 miles. Bowman Hill Wildlife Preserve is a great stomping ground for bird watchers, and for those who would prefer not to crane their necks, the preserve contains close to 1,000 plant species. Catch every aspect of nature including meadows, a pond and Pidcock Creek during a stroll along the preserve’s 2.5 miles of walking trails.
4. Wine Tasting is a popular activity in New Hope. To get a true taste of the area’s grapes, follow the Bucks County Wine Trail, where 8 wineries are awaiting your arrival, bottles at the ready. With an official Wine Trail map, you can create an itinerary that works perfectly for you and your group. If winery hopping is a bit too much, another excellent option is to visit Main Street Wine Cellar, where $15 wine tastings are offered.
5. Take in some history at Washington Crossing Historic Park which offers more that 500 acres of historical bliss. The park preserves the site where George Washington crossed the Delaware River, claiming victory at the Battle of Trenton, which helped turn the tide of the American Revolutionary War. The park contains a historical village that maintains buildings and homes dating back to 1752.
WHERE TO EAT
The variety of world class cuisine in New Hope and Lambertville are so plentiful that it’s hard to narrow it down. My best advice is to test by trial and error. Below, a few recommendations.
CASUAL FAIR: Bowman’s Tavern, Caleb’s American Kitchen, The Landing, Jules Thin Crust Pizza, Lilly’s on the Canal, The Logan
FINE DINING: Carversville Inn, Inn at Phillips Mill, Lambertville Station Inn, Zoubi, Francisco’s on the River
SWEET TOOTH: Nina’s Waffles & Ice Cream, Moo Hope Ice Cream, Owowcow Creamery, Pierre’s Chocolates, Country Fair Chocolates
Given New Hope’s quaint, family friendly vibe, first-rate nightlife might not be at the forefront of your mind. Well, guess again. While you might not find yourself in clubs comparable to those found in Las Vegas, LA or New York, live music, great drinks, and cheap eats make New Hope’s nightlife electric.
HAVANA RESTAURANT & BAR
At Havana‘s expect nothing less than great music, awesome food, and nothing but unparalleled fun. Havana offers live original music but also has dedicated nights for karaoke, DJs, open mic nights, and live cover bands on Fridays and Saturdays. From beers to tropical drinks, your palette will be undeniably satisfied.
JOHN & PETER’S PLACE
Greeting customers with live music 7 days a week since 1972 makes John & Peter’s place an absolute must-do. John & Peter’s takes music seriously (but in the best possible way). While food and drink are of course available, the real draw is their intricately curated calendar of original music from the best talent the country has to offer.
What is your favorite weekend getaway?
Thank you to The Inn at Bowman’s Hill for making this post possible. As always, all opinions are my own.