The quaint yet vibrant Bucks County hamlet of New Hope is known for its blend of history, natural beauty and the arts. Galleries, restaurants, bars, shops, a famous theater and rainbow flags—lots of rainbow flags—line the town’s riverside Main Street and side streets. If the flags weren’t enough of a clue, one the borough’s many draws is its LGBT scene.
Recently in the borough, the historic Bucks County Playhouse (see below) has been revived as an off-Broadway powerhouse. The circa-1727 Logan Inn is similarly undergoing a breathtaking refresh, with a handsome American tavern and a plan for 22 new guestrooms and a courtyard. Newly added restaurants include Nektar Wine Bar for small plates and delicious drinks, Moo for classic yet sustainable burgers, fries and shakes, and Marty’s Smoke Shack for Southern barbecue with all the trimmings.
A 1710 land grant from William Penn established what would become Coryell’s Ferry and later New Hope. George Washington is said to have lodged there during the Revolutionary War before his troops’ historic crossing of the Delaware River from nearby Washington’s Crossing. Since the 18th century, the area became home to dozens of mills, which, along with ferries, bridges and canals, facilitated trade along the 60-mile expanse of the river and canal. In 1925, the still extant New Hope & Ivyland Railroad added another means of travel.
In the early to mid-20th century, the region’s lush landscape became a magnet for artists. Edward Redfield and William Lathrop chose New Hope to develop a uniquely American expressionist style, the Pennsylvania School of Landscape Painting. An art colony formed around them—establishing a tradition of fine arts appreciation that continues to this day, and extends across the Delaware River into Lambertville, New Jersey, a twin-like village of galleries, antique and shelter shops and bistros.
Later into the last century, New Hope also became a proving ground for the Broadway and Hollywood-bound. A group that included playwrights Moss Hart and Kenyon Nicholson saved the town’s Hope Mills from demolition in 1938 and transformed it into the Bucks County Playhouse. The venue would go on to premiere Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park. Its still vital stage saw performances by Robert Redford, Grace Kelly, Angela Lansbury, Bela Lugosi, Walter Matthau, Liza Minelli and more. All this artistic activity earned the town the nickname “the genius belt.”
In the mid-century, New Hope, conveniently located at the midpoint between Philadelphia and New York City, became a destination for LGBT travelers. While many LGBT visitors were passers-through, others fell in love with New Hope and made it a permanent home. In 1979, the popular Raven opened in an already-established LGBT destination, La Camp at the Brookmore Motel. To this day, the handsome, off-the-beaten-path inn, restaurant and tavern remains as popular as ever—especially in summer, when its outdoor pool opens. Each May, New Hope hosts one of the East Coast’s biggest and best Pride festivals (New Hope Celebrates), with a parade that crosses the bridge into Lambertville, New Jersey.
Dining: (*Denotes spots known for the bar scene.)
- Blue Moose Restaurant and Cafe – Chef Skylar Bird began his bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) spot as a private supper club in 2006—at age 14. Several years later, the restaurant offers a fresh, seasonal New American menu that continues to draw crowds for brunch and dinner. 9 W. Mechanic Street, (215) 862-6800, cafebluemoose.com
- *Bowman’s Tavern – Meals are casual and classic at this popular, out-of-village pub. Open daily for lunch through late night, Bowman’s is known for their burgers, including own-recipe veggie burgers, microbrew beer list, done-right cocktails and inventive seasonal specials. 1600 River Road, (215) 862-2972, bowmanstavernrestaurant.com
- C’est La Vie – Fresh fruit tarts, buttery croissants and crusty baguettes are the stock and trade of this French bakery, a great stop for a quick breakfast or treat. 20 S. Main Street, (215) 862-1956
- *The Dubliner on the Delaware – Fish and chips and Guinness on the outdoor PaddyO; corned beef fritters, boxty potato pancakes and Irish breakfasts (served all day) in the Blackthrone Lounge make this brick Emerald Isle replica pub a cozy retreat. 34 N. Main Street, (215) 693-1816, thedublinernewhope.com
- *Havana Restaurant & Bar – Colorful mojitos and other tropical cocktails are as strong as the live music program at this expansive day-to-night hangout. Pork wings, chili nachos and Cuban burgers are Havana menu staples. 105 S. Main Street, (215) 862-5501, havananewhope.com
- Inn at Phillip’s Mill – An 18th-century barn on the National Register of Historic Places houses a small guesthouse and dinner-only French country restaurant known for its wild mushroom soup, house-made pate and lamb chops. 2590 River Road, (215) 862-9919, theinnatphillipsmill.com
- Italian Cucina – With no set—or even printed—menu, Chef Joe Lombardi’s homey hideaway serves up authenticity over dinner. Lobster ravioli, authentic meatballs, burrata salad appear nightly—or don’t. 95 S. Main Street, (215) 862-3818
- Jaffon Indian Restaurant – This simple spot’s extensive selection of Indian classics includes samosa, naan, korma, tikka masala, tandoori chicken and plenty of vegetarian dal, roti and kofta. 11B Bridge Street, (215) 862-1677, jaffronindiannewhope.com
- *Karla’s Restaurant – Big portions, affordable prices and generous martinis are hallmarks of this open-since-1978 greenhouse eatery. Casual, trend-focused American fare includes mac and cheese, sandwiches, salads and burgers, with larger entrees at dinner and creative omelets for brunch. 5 W. Mechanic Street, (215) 862-2612, karlasnewhope.com
- *The Landing – Umbrella tables line the deck over the river in summer, and the fireplace cranks all winter long at this casual new American spot. The all-day menu has shareable appetizers and riffs on comfort fare—blueberry grilled cheese sandwiches, shrimp tacos, for example—and cocktails galore. 22 N. Main Street, (215) 862-5711, landingrestaurant.com
- *Logan Inn – A gorgeously renovated circa 1727 inn is home to an American tavern known for its raw bar, seasonal salads, steaks and chops, and, on Wednesdays, fried chicken with gravy and biscuits. The inn’s cozy Fireside Room dates to 1722 and is known for its wine list and refreshing cocktails. 10 W. Ferry Street, (215) 862-2300, loganinn.com
- The Mansion Inn – A confection of a 1865 Baroque, Victorian manor home serves as a boutique overnight spot, Royal T’s craft cocktail and wine bar and elegant American eatery serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. 9 S. Main Street, (267) 740-7153, themansioninnnewhope.com
- Marsha Brown – This romantic, Louisiana-informed favorite operates out of a 125-year-old stone church with 40-foot ceilings and stained-glass windows. Rich lunch and dinner menus star Creole classics: bayou dry-rubbed steaks, crawfish etouffée, jambalaya and blue crab beignets. 15 S. Main Street, (215) 862-7044, marshabrownrestaurant.com
- Martine’s RiverHouse Restaurant – With an unbeatable view overlooking the Delaware, this seven-day-a-week stalwart is best enjoyed alfresco—or, at least, near a window. 14 E. Ferry Street, (215) 862-2966, martinesriverhouse.com
- Marty’s Smoke Shack – This casual BYOB brings Memphis barbecue to Main Street. Marty’s menu features house-smoked meats, burgers and hearty sandwiches. 110 S. Main Street, (215) 862-0262, martysnewhope.com
- Moo – Born of a food truck, this modern burgers, fries and shakes joint relies on grass-fed beef, regionally grown potatoes and locally made ice cream to serve up a delicious and classic American combination. 137 S. Main Street, (267) 743-2192, eatmoo.com
- *Nektar Wine Bar – Sleek, modern and laid back, this wine, beer and whiskey small plates spot is justly popular. Grilled octopus, Portobello fries, ricotta-topped bruschetta, sandwiches, flatbreads and cheese plates provide excellent complements to the adult beverages. 8 W. Mechanic Street, (267) 743-2109, nektarnewhope.com
- Nina’s Waffles and Ice Cream – One of a few such dessert-based area businesses, New Hope’s Nina’s sells small-batch ice creams in flavors like Key lime raspberry, Mexican vanilla, banana and the classics, best enjoyed atop Belgian waffles. 31 W. Mechanic Street, (215) 862-1660, ninaswaffles.com
- Sprig & Vine – Sleek and seasonal, this shopping center BYOB has become a destination spot for discerning vegans. Chef-owner Ross Olchvary tailors his plant-based menu to specific diets (including gluten-free), and transforms oyster mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns, cauliflower, tempeh and more into seasonally driven creations. 450 Union Square Drive, (215) 693-1427, sprigandvine.com
- *Square One Pub – Named for the place its owners began their careers as bartenders, this gay-owned gastropub lacks pretense, delivering club sandwiches and filet mignon with the same, friendly attitude. Locals especially like Square One for its away-from-the-fray location. 15 Market Place, (215) 862-2730, squareonepub.com
- *The Raven Resort – More than just the place to be when the pool is open, this year-round destination sports a handsome pub, lovely Oak Room piano bar, chic sunken dining room and serene outdoor garden for enjoying lunch, brunch and dinner. Over the years, Raven customer favorites have included the signature house-made chicken liver pâté, eggplant Napoleon and shrimp with linguine. 385 W. Bridge Street, (215) 862-2081, theravennewhope.com
- *Triumph Brewing – Pennsylvania’s Triumph microbrewery (there’s another in Princeton, New Jersey) operates out of an industrial space in a modern retail center on the edge of the village. The convivial spot is known for its Belgian, German and English beer (including ciders) from six taps and a hand pump; a casual menu of burgers, sandwiches stuffed with porchetta or falafel, wings and truffle fries; live bands on weekends and open-mic nights on Sundays. 400 Union Square, New Hope, (215) 862-8300, triumphbrewing.com
- Wild Ginger – The third in a small chain of Japanese, Chinese and Thai food restaurants is a contemporary addition to the second floor of a shopping center. Regulars love the sashimi, basil fried rice and spicy Thai curry. BYOB. 24-25 Logan Square, (215) 862-1777, wgnewhope.com
- Zoubi – Lights strung among trees and candles twinkle in the patio behind this elegant, dinner-only bistro, where a small, impeccable menu—tuna poke bowl, grilled haloumi and figs, cheese board, duck confit, ribeye for two—offers just enough options to please a small crowd. 5-7 W. Mechanic Street, (215) 862-5851, zoubirestaurant.com
- The Cub Room at New Hope Lodge – The Raven’s handsome little neighbor—part of the New Hope Lodge—is known for its classic cocktails, interesting wines and intimate live music. Thursday nights mean karaoke; on Friday and Saturdays, it’s live piano. 400 W. Bridge Street, (215) 862-2737, newhopelodge.com/the-cub-room
- John & Peter’s – Live music seven nights a week has been the name of the game at this indoor-outdoor club since 1972. Odetta, Norah Jones and Mary Chapin Carpenter have all taken John & Peter’s stage, and many a customer has chased the tunes with a burger and a cold beer or two. 96 S. Main Street, (215) 862-5981, johnandpeters.com
- New Hope Winery – An 18th-century barn with a robust gift, antique and gourmet food shop, this combination wine bar and music/entertainment venue sells various fruit wines, a rosé and a wide variety of reds and whites. The winery doesn’t offer tours, as its vineyard is off-site, but there’s more than enough other activity to keep even casual visitors entertained from Thursday to Sunday. 6123 Lower York Road, New Hope, (215) 794-2331, newhopewinery.com
Art & Attractions:
- Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve – More than 700 of Pennsylvania’s 2,000 native plant species grow from this lush, historic, 134-acre Pidcock Creek Valley site. Year round, nature lovers can seek and find pileated woodpeckers, sugar maples and orange chanterelles among the 2.5 miles of trails. Tours cater to all ages, and the nursery is an essential stop for any gardener looking to invest in sustainable horticulture. 1635 River Road, (215) 862-2924, bhwp.org
- Bucks County Playhouse – Four Broadway producers have taken over this historic theater housed in an early 20th-century gristmill. Together, they’ve revived the storied scene by opening year-round and arranging for original plays, world premieres, musicals, solo performances, live music, youth programs and more. 70 S. Main Street, (215) 862-2121, buckscountyplayhouse.org
- Delaware Canal Towpath – The 60-mile trail between Easton and Bristol, once traveled by workhorses, now sees sneakers and self-powered wheels of people who are moving along for fun—or exercise. Passers-through can discover a 90-acre pond, 11 river islands and historic bridges. dcnr.state.pa.us
- New Hope & Ivyland Railroad – Along a 150-year-old rail line between New Hope and Lahaska, home of Peddler’s Village, heritage trains depart Witch’s Hat Station, passing streams and farmland, opening windows during warm weather and serving as a holiday express come winter. 32 W. Bridge Street, (215) 862-2332, newhoperailroad.com
- New Hope Arts Center – This art space carries on New Hope’s artistic roots by hosting exhibits and performances in contemporary visual, performing and literary arts, including an indoor and outdoor sculpture and film festival each summer. New Hope Arts also distributes information about other nearby artist-driven events. 2 Stockton Avenue, 2nd floor, (215) 862-9606, newhopearts.org
- New Hope Boat Rides – Boarding behind The Landing, a pontoon known as the Wells Ferry transports weekenders along the Delaware River, under bridges and between tree-lined banks in this serene, scenic and blissfully slow sojourn. 22 N. Main Street, (215) 205-1140, newhopeboatrides.com
Shops & Galleries:
- Curious Goods of New Hope – Vintage and repurposed home goods, furnishings and accessories offer rustic style in a 1751 barn that doubles as a must-visit shop. 17 W. Ferry Street, (215) 862-2789
- Gallery Piquel – Contemporary paintings and sculptures by dozens of artists from Bucks County and around the world fill this friendly and abundant member of the local art scene. 39 N. Main Street, (215) 862-3523, gallerypiquel.com
- Heart of the Home – This American craft gallery carries earthy pottery, artisan silver, handmade wooden utensils, old-fashioned games and a generous section of adorable children’s toys. 28 S. Main Street, (215) 862-1880, heartofthehome.com
- Love Saves The Day – Founded in 1966 in the East Village, when the neighborhood was the dominion of hippies, this corner store—notice the initials—served as the creative play space of the late artist Leslie Herson. Intrepid shoppers still find wacky vintage clothes and objects and some of the best Halloween costumes imaginable. 1 S. Main Street, (215) 862-1399
- Red Tulip Gallery – This artists’ cooperative represents work from members of the Bucks County Guild of Craftsmen, making it an authentic representation of local talent, as translated into beads and table art, porcelain birds and wooden clocks, blown-glass vases and stunning photographs—all for sale. 19C W. Bridge Street, (267) 454-0496, redtulipcrafts.com
- The Soap Opera Company – Every busy town deserves an adorable soap boutique. This one sells the prettiest of French-milled, Shea butter-based bars, plus own-make scrubs, lotions and shave sets. 44 S. Main Street, (215) 693-1714, soapoperacompany.com
- The Studio Art Gallery – This popular venue shows affordable, approachable artwork such as sculptural yet functional art glass, stunning nature photography, modern folk art, whimsical animal portraits and more. 17-19 W. Mechanic Street, (215) 738-1005, thestudionewhope.com
- Topeo Galleries – This fine craft, jewelry, gift and décor gallery has a collection so deep, it requires two locations to contain it. Topeo has been a Main Street fixture and American craft retailer since the 1980s; the two locations display all manner of work by all manner of artists. 35 N. Main Street, (215) 862-2750; 15 N. Main Street, (215) 862-4949, topeo.com
Where To Stay:
- 1870 Wedgwood Inn, 111 W. Bridge Street, New Hope, (215) 862-2570, wedgwoodinn.com
- The Fox and Hound Bed & Breakfast, 246 W. Bridge Street, New Hope, (215) 862-5082, foxhoundinn.com
- The Inn at Bowman’s Hill, 518 Lurgan Road, New Hope, (215) 862-8090, theinnatbowmanshill.com
- Logan Inn, 10 W. Ferry Street, New Hope, (215) 862-2300, loganinn.com
- The Mansion Inn, 9 S. Main Street, New Hope, (267) 740-7153, themansioninnnewhope.com
- Porches on the Towpath, 20 Fishers Alley, New Hope, (215) 862-3277, porchesnewhope.com
Driving is a must from Philadelphia, with about a one-hour trip up I-95 and Route 32. Once there, metered street parking and surface lots fill up quickly on summer weekends.
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