Bucks County Neighborhood Guide to New Hope
New Hope Pennsylvania, a small town with big-city feels.
At first glance, New Hope may look like your average, small town, but in reality it’s anything but. Set on the picturesque banks of the Delaware River, this robust, tight-knit community has the variety, style, and substance to match any big city.
Measuring in at only 1.4 square miles, the borough of New Hope makes the most out of every bit of its small footprint. With close to a hundred eateries and likely twice as many shops, it’s no wonder it was once named one of America’s Favorite Towns by Travel + Leisure and the Second Best Northeastern Small Town in the United States by USA Today.
The first thing you’ll notice when you step onto the sidewalk in New Hope is that there’s no way you’re going to see it all in one day. Sure, you could walk all the streets and get a general feel for the layout of the town. But the true spirit of New Hope is a many-layered thing full of nuance. And to really get to know it requires time, and time probably means more than one trip. Perhaps that’s why the riverside town is bustling even in the coldest, winter months. Visitors return again and again, each time hoping to peel back a new, more interesting layer. Or maybe, it’s just the amazing food. Either way, a trip to this Bucks County town never disappoints.
Retail and Restaurants
Once known for its extensive antique offerings, New Hope’s business district has since morphed into a sort of grab-bag of treasures. You’ll find everything from designer clothes to nostalgic/retro wares in their many shops and boutiques, and then likely return to the same store weeks later to find something entirely new and equally as exciting.
The town’s diversity allows you to shop for African masks, vintage clothes, comics and more without ever stepping a toe beyond the state line. And what’s more, the value they place on shopping local and hand-made is unmatched. For every commercial item sold, there’s usually at least two locally-made alternatives nearby. Take food, for example. Yes, they have a Starbucks (who doesn’t?) but they also have SkyRoast Coffee, a small-batch, artisan coffee roaster serving their own fresh-roasted coffee and locally baked pastries.
At Ferry Market, you’ll find over 13 unique, local businesses under one (beautifully modern) roof. Their mini-restaurants are essentially smaller versions of popular, local eateries and are the epitome of the “shop small/support local” movement.
For fancier fare, New Hope offers big-name, upscale dining without compromising on their community values. Take Stella at the Ghost Light Inn for example. Originally named for the owners’ rescued, one-eared Pit Bull of the same name, Stella invites you to celebrate the “bounty of Bucks County” with their regionally inspired menu. The sweeping, riverfront views and classic, elegant decor will lure you back again and again.
Further down the road, and also on the water, you’ll find Odette’s Restaurant, Piano Lounge, and ROOF. These three, beautifully curated eateries are part of River House, New Hope’s newest, luxury lifestyle hotel. At River House, whiskey flights, live entertainment, and art exhibitions are the norm and a memorable evening is practically guaranteed.
All that being said, passing the borough off as an adults-only destination would be doing it a grave disservice. Local families agree that few things are more pleasant than a summer stroll down Main Street with a Moo Hope Ice Cream in hand or an exploratory hike through Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve.
The New Hope Railroad offers year-round, 45-minute, round-trip excursions through the beautiful Bucks County countryside. And for some educational fun, The Bucks County Children’s Museum is not to be missed. Their indoor, kid-friendly facility allows children the opportunity to explore and learn in a fun, uninhibited, hands-on way.
The New Hope-Solebury branch of the Bucks County Free Library is a gold-mine of resources for families. They host several story-times a week for children of all ages and a countless number of special events throughout the year.
For even more family fun, venture just a few miles beyond the town’s center and you’ll find Peddler’s Village, a charming, old-fashioned shopping center complete with the always-popular Giggleberry Fair indoor play-space. While Rice’s Market, just down the road, prides itself with being Bucks County’s oldest and largest flea market.
History and Culture
Culturally, New Hope does an impressive job of balancing the old with the new.
Thanks to the efforts of The New Hope Historical Society, three hundred years of preserved history awaits New Hope visitors. Explore the town’s role in American history at the historic Parry Mansion and New Hope Walking Tours. Then, head over to The Bucks County Playhouse where art and history collide to make theater-magic.
This historic site has hosted countless shows and several entertainment legends such as Grace Kelly, Angela Lansbury, Walter Matthau and more, since its opening in 1939. And it remains a staple of the arts community both locally and at large today.
Considered by locals as a “beautiful area with a nice mix of nature, history, culture, and people living their most authentic lives” (niche.com) the town of New Hope certainly offers all that and more. Its low crime-rate and exceptional schools attract families and couples alike. While its annual Arts & Crafts, Film , and Pride festivals make it so that there’s always something to do.
It is truly a wonderful town worthy of its name and reputation.
Lead photo courtesy of B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia™