Your Next Weekend Escape: Bucks County, Pennsylvania
With rolling hills, quaint colonial towns and acres of working farmland, Bucks County—a 622-square-mile area less than a two-hour drive from the city—is practically begging for a fall road trip. Here, five spots where you’ll find historic architecture, sweeping views of the Delaware River and walkable main streets filled with shopping and restaurants.
When you talk to anyone who’s been to this picturesque Pennsylvania county, the first thing they usually mention is New Hope, which is just about an hour north of Philly. You’ll find lots of truly eclectic shops, art galleries, restaurants and specialty stores here. In New Hope, it seems like there’s always a festival—dedicated to books, jazz, automobiles, arts and crafts and more—and this LGBTQ-friendly hot spot on the banks of the Delaware River is also host to one of the region’s most popular Pride celebrations. Grab dinner at the French-inspired (and BYOB) Blue Moose Restaurant and Cafe, the plant-based Sprig & Vine or Martine’s Riverhouse Restaurant, an indoor/outdoor date spot on the Delaware River. Be sure to check out a show at the Bucks County Playhouse, one of the country’s most famous regional theaters (that white building in the photo above).
This town of 8,280, which celebrated its bicentennial in July, is best known for its castles. Yep, you read that right: Fonthill Castle, built by archaeologist Henry Mercer in the early 1900s, is a concrete mix of Gothic, Medieval and Byzantine architecture. Mercer’s other castle is now home to the Mercer Museum, which features extensive artifacts from the 18th and 19th centuries. Another museum not to be missed is The Michener Art Museum. Housed in a stunningly transformed prison (!), it is dedicated to the culture of the region and hosts gallery talks, concerts and even a Broadway cabaret series. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Honey for creative New American small plates like black-tea-glazed spare ribs, followed by a drink at nearby 86 West, a great place to watch a game or just chat with the locals. If you’re feeling adventurous, book a ride with the US Hot Air Balloon Team and prepare for jaw-dropping aerial views of the surrounding countryside and even the distant Manhattan skyline.
Just five miles west of New Hope, Lahaska is best known as the home of Peddler’s Village, an 18th-century colonial replica. The 40-acre outdoor village comprises dozens of shops and restaurants and will keep you busy for an afternoon of shopping sans the Soho crowds. (It’s especially popular during the holidays, when it lights up like something out of the Polar Express.) Our favorite place to grab lunch here is Caleb’s American Kitchen, and we never leave “the village” before a stop at Philly Pretzel Factory or Nina’s Waffles. Just steps from everything is the Golden Plough Inn, should you fancy an overnight stay in what feels like a well-appointed country home (one that includes an in-house spa). In November, get your fill of fall’s favorite fruit at the 45th annual Apple Festival happening right here.
Bucks County has its very own wine trail that’s home to about 25 wineries and vineyards, and a few of the local favorites are centered right around Newtown. The Rose Bank Winery sits on land that once belonged to William Penn, the state’s founder, and features a manor house built in 1719. The owners also run the nearby Shady Brook Farm, a primo place to pick pumpkins and stock up on cheeses and homemade ice cream. In town, you’ll find a great main street filled with shops, bars and restaurants that’s quintessential small-town charm at its finest. Looking for a place to stay the night? Check in at the Temperance House for a truly posh stay or the historic 15-room Brick Hotel, where the atmosphere will bring you back to Victorian times.
This small village, between New Hope and Yardley on the Delaware River, provides a welcome mix of history and the outdoors. It’s most famous for its role in the Revolutionary War: Washington Crossing is where General George and his troops turned the tide for the Continental Army on Christmas night in 1776. The site is spread across 500 acres and is home to 13 historic buildings, the 100-acre Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve and observation tower, and many scenic picnic areas.