Don Pearse/Courtesy of River House at Odette's
We're all about sun-drenched beach vacations and action-packed city breaks, but sometimes it's a weekend trip to a charming small town that lures you back time and time again. While most Pennsylvania-bound visitors tend to head straight to Philadelphia, maybe swing by Pittsburgh, or plan an alpine escape to the Poconos, the Keystone State has much more to offer in the way of small towns than unfamiliar travelers might expect. From Amish country to the Alleghenies, it's dotted with communities that are well worth exploring.
Approximately 90 minutes from New York City and an hour from Philadelphia, New Hope is a dynamic and exciting small town. Of course, you don't have to be a city dweller to get wrapped up in the destination's historic charms. Situated on the Delaware River, it's the perfect spot to spend a couple of days checking out the many interesting local attractions, sipping cider, dining at excellent restaurants, enjoying evening entertainment, boating, and listening to live outdoor music once the weather warms up.
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After all, there's a reason this Bucks County borough is heralded as one of America's favorite small towns and draws celebs who could certainly afford to purchase vacation homes just about anywhere (hello, Tina Fey). Whether you go for one night or a few days, New Hope has all the makings of a great weekend getaway.
Best Times to Visit New Hope
New Hope hosts its annual PrideFest in late May. The festivities, which include a block party, live music, and the area's largest parade, draw more than 15,000 people each year. In the summer, it's the ideal escape that doesn't require sitting in a long line of traffic on the way to the Jersey Shore, Hamptons, or other buzzy East Coast beach destinations.
And thanks to all the riverfront fun and seasonal events, you might not even miss the ocean. Upper Bucks Brewfest, which takes place in mid-September, brings together craft breweries, local wineries, restaurants, vendors, and entertainment. The changing leaves and fruit-filled orchards make fall a fantastic time to visit. It's also the prime period to experience New Hope's spooky side with a ghost tour. Come winter, New Hope gets in the spirit with many festive and family-friendly holiday happenings, like Santa's Steam Train Ride on the New Hope Railroad.
Best Things to Do in New Hope
It's always a good idea to stop and smell the flowers, especially when it's 700 native species of flora at Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve. Budding horticultural enthusiasts and nature lovers will no doubt jump at the chance to tour the 134-acre grounds and explore the hiking trails.
On a nice day, walking or biking the riverside towpath trail is a must. New Hope Arts puts on exhibitions, workshops, and events throughout the year, including summer standouts such as the New Hope Film Festival and popular Outdoor Sculpture Project, which showcases the works of 20 local, regional, and national artists.
You can also admire local art at the downtown galleries. The Bucks County Playhouse stages many plays, musicals, and concerts. Or, hop aboard the New Hope Railroad for a scenic, 45-minute ride on a 1925 steam locomotive through some of the most pastoral parts of Bucks County.
Fans of beer and cider won't have to search far either. Triumph Brewing Company is great for a pint and some tasty food, while Manoff Market Gardens and Cidery grows all the fruit for its dry, sparkling cider. Prefer vino? Sip your way through semi-dry riesling and blackberry wine at New Hope Winery. There's also live music in the evenings. More happening haunts for after-dark entertainment include the piano lounge at River House at Odette's, the site of Odette Myrtil's iconic cabaret, and Bowman's Tavern.
Best New Hope Hotels
An elegant yet quirky and personality-filled boutique hotel, River House at Odette's flaunts 36 sophisticated rooms and suites, plus a riverfront restaurant, fireside piano lounge, and Prohibition-inspired rooftop where sweeping views and signature cocktails come to those who know the password.
A romantic rendezvous is all but guaranteed at The Inn at Bowman's Hill. Tucked away on a private five-acre estate, this picturesque property has eight accommodations — all of which have king-size feather beds and whirlpool tubs. Couples can also enjoy in-room massages, moonlight dips in the heated pool, picking fresh eggs for cooked-to-order omelets, and strolling through the gorgeous gardens.
Best New Hope Restaurants
Hungry patrons flock to Bowman's Tavern for farm-to-fork plates (you can't go wrong with any of the always-delicious daily specials) and live music in a warm, friendly environment. Shepherd's pie, bagpipes, and a lively tavern atmosphere keep the seats full at The Dubliner, a classic Irish pub right along the river. Another local favorite, Nektar serves small plates, flatbreads, sandwiches, and charcuterie. It also has a terrific selection of wine, whiskey, and beer by glass and tasting flights. In the warmer months, the patio is the move. Even if you're not checking into the River House at Odette's, it's worth booking a table at Odette's Restaurant & Lounge. Diners here are treated to renditions of home-cooked dishes such as applewood bacon meatloaf alongside views of the Delaware River.