17 Reasons New Hope, PA, Is One of the Mid-Atlantic’s Best-Kept Summer Secrets
If it’s good enough for the Hadid sisters …
Take 95 north and keep that heading as the highway swings to the east, and you’ll soon come to the rarest and loveliest of spots: the Delaware River Town. Specifically, to New Hope, Pennsylvania, and its sister city across the bridge, Lambertville. Do you like antiques, tubing, historically minded hikes and chi-chi art pedigrees? Or possibly you would like to visit the same waffle shop as Bella Hadid — recently pap’d while visiting her mom (and newish local resident) Yolanda, whose 2017 farm purchase was promoted by the local chamber of commerce? We got you covered.
New Hope is the home of Pennsylvania Impressionism, the late 19th-century collective that memorialized sun-dappled river landscapes. Many of the movement’s preeminent works are on view at the nearby Michener Art Museum (1). While you’re in Doylestown, consider a stop at the Mercer Museum (2), featuring a seven-story concrete castle (really) filled to the brim by its namesake “archaeologist, anthropologist, ceramist, scholar and antiquarian” (add: high-end hoarder). Tinkerers will love it.
More recently, George Nakashima — an iconic furniture designer with an incredible personal history, including a career that took him to Paris, Tokyo and Pondicherry — first established his workshop (3) in a garage in a New Hope cottage; his daughter Mira still runs it, offering appointments for furniture consultation and tours of the Nakashima Foundation for Peace (4), two miles outside New Hope — call ahead; these book super-fast.
Now let’s get outside: The Delaware is beautiful and broad but surprisingly shallow, which makes it an excellent spot for tubing. From the Big Bear Gear River Tube Center (5) up Route 29, you can float down to Lambertville; the trip will take somewhere between 90 minutes and four hours, depending on the current. The Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park (6) winds up alongside the Delaware from Trenton to Frenchtown (another, inland path, paralleling the Raritan, goes to New Brunswick). Go north and you’ll pass lovely little swimming holes popular with locals as well as the Prallsville Mills (7) complex of historic buildings — highly Instagrammable, but they’re mostly used for events and weddings.
Go south and before you hit Trenton, you’ll come to Washington’s Crossing Historic Park (8). On Christmas night, 1776, Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware eastward, departing nearish McConkey’s Ferry Inn (9); a marker on the New Jersey side marks (roughly) where Washington’s 2,400 soldiers landed en route to a brief and successful battle with the Hessians in Trenton. From the canal path, most of the park is inland, across Route 29; take the bridge over the (two-lane but fast-moving) highway to explore its historic buildings and paths through the surrounding meadows and woods. The classic hike on this side of the river is the stroll around Goat Hill Overlook (10), which is superb as the trees change color. For a more intensive hike-hike, head to Ringing Rocks State Park (11). Every second-grader within 40 miles brings their family hammer here on their school field trip: strike one of the rocks, and as the name suggests, it’ll ring like a bell.
Of course, if you just came to shop, there’s plenty — including one of the best flea markets in the country, at the Golden Nugget (12), just south of Lambertville on Route 29. There’s a hot dogs-and-doughnuts kind of place on site for early snacking — get there early (7ish), or the best stuff will be gone. Lambertville has arguably the better collection of antique shops: start at Bridge Street — maybe at the Lambertville Trading Company (13), which has excellent hot chocolate — and just go north, for a wander. It’s small enough, and hemmed in by the Delaware to the west and Main Street to the east, that it’s hard to get lost. If you do better with a destination, set your Maps app for The People’s Store (14), on Union Street.
Finally: Sleep at the Carriage House (15) and join every single local kid who did something right (graduate, etc.) and have dinner at Lambertville Station (16), with its enviable porch right on the riverbank — unless you really do want to follow in Bella Hadid’s footsteps, in which case you’ll be dining at Nina’s Waffles (17), right on Main Street in New Hope.
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