Let’s do the time warp again…
If your iPhone, iPad, Xbox and laptop no longer provide the stimulation you crave, it’s time to go off the grid.
A trip to New Hope will bring you back to a less complicated (and device-free) era. This quaint hamlet on the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border is lined with antique shops, vintage clothing stores, bookstores and lunch spots.
Located in Bucks County, New Hope is a pleasant place to spend a chilly winter day. Since the main attraction is shopping (an indoor pursuit), you won’t mind the cold.
Before you check out our top 10 attractions in New Hope, be warned: You will find it impossible to leave town without buying something! Make sure to bring your wallet and a friend to second-guess your antique purchases. This is not the cheapest place to buy an antique radio or serving dish, but it’s among the most fun.
#10. Classic Cars
New Hope takes its nostalgia seriously; even the Dunkin Donuts eschews neon signs in favor of old-school lanterns on its doorway. We spotted several vintage cars in town during our day trip, ranging from muscle cars to an adorably small pick-up truck.
This mini-truck would be perfect for hauling antique furniture back to New York City!
#9. History and Culture
Perched on the Delaware River, New Hope was historically a mill town before becoming a theater and arts hub. The Bucks County Playhouse was opened in 1939 in a former grist mill and has featured generations of A-list stars from cinema and stage. The Playhouse is known as a testing ground for Broadway productions like Barefoot in the Park.
History buffs will enjoy snapping photos of the town’s Civil War cannon; Revolutionary War hero George Washington also reportedly slept in New Hope before crossing the Delaware.
#8. Books You Can Hold In Your Hands
The sign outside of Farley’s Bookshop says it all: “You can’t unwrap digital books at Christmas or Hannukah.”
This deceptively large book shop is crammed with thousands of titles spanning genres, from Strega Nona to The Story of O (and its current equivalent, Fifty Shade of Grey). The children’s section is extensive and is a great place to shop for baby shower or birthday gifts.
#7. Funky Vintage Shopping
If you are looking for fun novelty gifts and fashionable vintage, head to Love Saves the Day on South Main Street. Walking through the narrow aisles crammed with 1980s wedding dresses and rhinestone-trimmed tuxedos, I couldn’t help but notice the downtown NYC vibe at this vintage shop. A quick Google search revealed that the store was once located in my neighborhood, the East Village.
Fortunately, Love Saves the Day offers a funky New York shopping experience without the attitude. When I lost a glove in the cavernous store, the cashier helped me look and then jotted down my name and phone number. It never turned up– so if you find one black glove with iPhone finger pads, kindly drop me a note!
#6. Clothing With a Face
You never know what you’ll find when exploring antique shops and thrifty stores. We came across a stole (with face) outside of the Love Saves the Day boutique. If you are looking for pre-PETA furs and animal accessories, you should make your way down to New Hope.
#5. Unexpected Art
Lake many popular tourist destinations, New Hope is lined with galleries selling artwork of dubious artistic value. (If you are looking for animal paintings and sculptural wind chimes, you’re in luck). While we didn’t spot any street art, we did come across an alley filled with mannequins outside of Love Saves the Day. Clearly curated, the naked mannequins wore Mardi Gras masks and Christmas lights. Spotting this mannequin graveyard was among the highlights of my day trip!
#4. Creepy Dolls
Looking for the perfect gift for an elderly aunt with a doll obsession? If so, don’t miss Christmas Past on Main Street. In addition to selling nutcrackers, stockings and Santa ornaments, the store boasts an impressive collection of creepy antique dolls. We visited during the post-Christmas sale, which saw season merchandise discounted by 50%.
#3. Antique Shops Galore
New Hope is known for its vintage shops, which are fairly pricey but offer some unusual finds. I gave in to temptation and purchased a 1960s serving dish from Cryer’s Hardware, a misnamed curio shop that stocks a wide range of merchandise– from Raggedy Ann dolls to a gas mask. They also have an extensive fabric section that includes tassels and small cloth samples that are the perfect size for throw pillows.
As with all New Hope stores, Cryer’s has posted “no photography” signs throughout the store. As a blogger, I take this as a challenge instead of a rule! No one stopped me at any of the stores when I snapped covert shots of the merchandise with my smartphone. I also used my phone to look up the vintage serving dish, and discovered it was selling for more money on eBay than at Cryer’s.
#2. Homemade Ice Cream
Antique shopping works up an appetite that can only be satisfied by gooey, delicious homemade ice cream. Gerenser’s Exotic Ice Cream is known for its unusual flavors like African Violet and Pistachio Nut Salad. After trying several samples, I opted for the Birthday Cake ice cream, which included every part of the cake– from frosting to sprinkles. Despite the freezing temperature outside, I savored every bite.
#1. Family Bonding
The best reason to visit New Hope isn’t a store or restaurant; it’s the chance to hang out with your friends and family in a relaxing, low-key atmosphere where modern worries seem a world away. I visited New Hope with my sister and cousins, and we had a great time catching up over lunch and while shopping. We weren’t fixated on filtering Instagram pics (that came later) or distracted by incoming Tweets.
If you live between Philadelphia and New York City, a weekend getaway or day trip to New Hope is worth the trek!
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New Hope is located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, just over the border from New Jersey. (In fact, the New Jersey town of Lambertville sits just across the Delaware River from New Hope and is equally quaint). New Hope is about a 1.5-hour drive from New York City and about 1 hour from Philadelphia.
What’s your favorite attraction in New Hope?
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