Bucks County, less than an hour by car northeast of Philadelphia, could have remained 625 square miles of sleepy countryside full of old stone farmhouses, lush hills, and covered bridges if it hadn't been "discovered." First, New York artists and intelligentsia bought country homes here in the 1930s. More recently, suburbanites and exurbanites bought or built year-round houses, eager to live in an area of relative peace and quiet within a long commute of New York and Philly.
Over the years Bucks County has been known for art colonies and antiques, summer theater, and country inns. These days, cookie-cutter housing developments are planted where grain once grew. It's not unusual to find suburban sprawl and hyper-development adjacent to an old clapboard farmhouse or an ancient stone barn. Yet many areas of Central and Upper Bucks County remain as bucolic as ever—a feast of lyrical landscapes, with canal and river vistas, rolling hills, and fertile fields. Driving back roads is one of the county's pleasures, and making your way through quiet little towns, stopping at historic sites, checking out antiques shops, and staying overnight in an appealing inn make for a classic weekend getaway.
That a river runs through it—or, more accurately, alongside it—has long left its imprint on the county. The Delaware has provided its share of challenges, from the ice-choked seeming impassibility that made General Washington's nighttime crossing such a surprise to floods that have forced some businesses to close and some buildings to be razed. But the river also provides outdoor opportunities. Canals carved into both its banks are now popular recreation arteries, and the river itself is great for fishing, floating, or gazing at as it rolls along.