Shopping Weekend Getaway in Bucks County and Lambertville

  • Distance from Philadelphia: 52 miles
  • Best time: Year Round; April to October
  • Best for: Arts and CultureFood and WineShopping

A perfect weekend retreat for urbanites of all stripes, Bucks County abounds with inns, antique shops, galleries, bike trails, and river sports. Broadway hotshots discovered the bucolic hamlet in the 1930s, adding a dose of big-city sophistication. But the area attracted artists and craftsmen long before that. Idyllic villages, rolling hills, and covered bridges beckon, as does one of the country's highest concentrations of antique stores. Two towns—Lambertville, NJ, known for its sophisticated shopping and dining, and New Hope, PA, where a diverse and funky crowd converges on Main Street—dominate the scene and are conveniently connected by footbridge over the Delaware River. – By Cathleen McCarthy

Friday

Bucks County and Lambertville Cheat Sheet

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1. Check-in to your hotel, then go for an evening's stroll along Lambertville's attractive streets lined with restored 18th- and 19th-century buildings.

2. Take your pick of many options for a pre-dinner drink. If you want live music, cross the bridge to John & Peter's in New Hope. In good weather, we like cocktails and appetizers on the garden patio at the Inn of the Hawke; in winter, drinks by the fire at the cozy, nautical-themed Boat House are the way to go.

3. Bring your own wine to longstanding favorite Hamilton's Grill Room—nice, if pricey, vintages are available at Welsh's Liquor Store around the corner—and savor it with seasonal Mediterranean cuisine and river views. Make reservations in advance because this place books fast.

Saturday

Bucks County Playhouse was co-founded by director and playwright Moss Hart who collaborated with George S. Kaufman on Broadway hits like You Can't Take It With You and The Man Who Came to Dinner. It's said that Kaufman's wife, Beatrice, created quite a stir in the 1930s when she appeared on Doylestown's Main Street wearing pants instead of a skirt.

1. Get up early to score great bargains at one of the weekly auctions held at Brown Bros. every Saturday morning at 9am.

2. Start your shopping and gallery crawl on the Jersey side. Discover Art Deco artifacts and fine porcelain among multiple vendors at the Golden Nugget Antique Market (1850 River Rd.,Lambertville, NJ 08530). If the season's right there's also a green market with local produce and fresh flowers. Check out the A Mano Gallery (42 N. Union St.,Lambertville, NJ 08530) for jewelry and other wearable art.

3. Across the bridge in New Hope, Francis J. Purcell II has everything from ornate Louis XV to New England instruments. Ingham Springs Antiques specializes in fine 18th-century American and English antiques.

4. Lunch on New American cuisine inspired by the day's best ingredients from local, sustainable farms and fisheries at Earl's Bucks County in Peddler's Village, along Route 202 West to Lahaska, just outside New Hope.

5. If you're a fan of mid-century modern, you can tour the studio of furniture designer George Nakashima, run by Nakashima's daughter Mira since his death in 1990.

6. More affordable antiques and vintage goodies can be found along the winding country roads further west. Follow 202 away from the Delaware River and turn onto 413 or 313 to find a string of interesting antique shops. Make time to tour the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works created by Henry Chapman Mercer, the area's most famous Renaissance man—an archaeologist, Arts & Crafts ceramist, architect, and avid collector. You can buy copies of Mercer's distinctive ceramic tiles, found in Victorian homes throughout the region; they're still manufactured here. If you have time, check out his extensive collection of Americana at the Doylestown Mercer Museum and Fonthill, the home he designed from poured concrete.

7. Doylestown has become foodie central. For an intimate dinner for two, try Honey for ribs, fried quail egg, and melt-in-your-mouth oysters.

8. Back in New Hope, the renovated Bucks County Playhouse, a landmark theater since 1939, recently reopened after a two-year hiatus, with a Rogers and Hammerstein revue, a reminder that Oscar Hammerstein lived in the area for years.

Sunday

1. Stop off for artisan-roasted coffee at Rojo's Roastery, then take a hike or bike ride along the picturesque D&R Canal.

2. Tubing, kayaking, or canoeing is the perfect way to see the Delaware River that inspired the local Impressionist movement. Cross over to the Pennsylvania side at Stockton and follow Rte. 32, a winding, bucolic drive with spectacular views, to River Country where you can rent boats.

3. Lunch at Lily's on the Canal in Lambertville for eggplant fries, blackened chicken sandwiches, and peanut-butter pie before hitting the road back home.

Where to Stay

In the heart of New Hope, and immersed in its rich history, the 1727-built Logan Inn (rooms from $230/night) has canopied-bedded rooms with views of the Delaware River.

Quieter and more modern, quarters at Inn at Lambertville Station (rooms from $150/night) look out on the river and include continental breakfast in the price.

When to Go

Bucks County's fire-lit inns and restaurants make a cozy retreat in the winter but spring through fall is best for festivals, al fresco dining, and languid bike rides. Held in late April, the Shad Festival in Lambertville is as much an arts festival as a foodie event. Peddler's Village in New Hope hosts a series of festivals starting with the Strawberry Festival in early May. In the fall, the ultimate "farm to table" event Outstanding in the Field comes to Bucks County in late September, with dinner by Lemon Hill's chef served at Blooming Glen Farm in Perkasie. The Lambertville New Hope Winter Festival in late January has live music, wine and tastings, a parade and chili cook-off. New Hope and Lambertville Restaurant Week is held in March.

How to Get There

By car from New York City: Lambertville is a 90-minute drive from Manhattan. Take 78 West to I-287 south, then follow Route 202. Cross the bridge to explore New Hope and the rest of Bucks County.

By car from Philadelphia or Washington DC: Lambertville is a 45-minute drive from Center City Philadelphia and about three hours more from DC. Take I-95 north to the exit for 202 and follow the signs.

Driving in Bucks County: Serious antiquers will find the best deals in the shops that line the country roads connecting Doylestown, New Hope and Yardley, especially routes 202, 313 and 413.

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