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New Experiences in New Hope

Tired of big cities? Visit this personality-filled small town in Pennsylvania.

Many international visitors to the East Coast of the United States rush to the Broadway Theatres of New York City, the historical sites of Philadelphia or the museums and monuments of the nation’s capital—but travelers from all over should be aware that lesser known points in between such major cities can be equally delightful to visit.

Take, for example, the town of New Hope, Pennsylvania. Located right on the beautiful and historic Delaware River, New Hope is under an hour’s drive from Philadelphia and under two hours from the Big Apple. The town offers a unique mixture of charm, beauty and personality—and serves as a great launching point from which to explore the surrounding sights and cities.

Stroll down New Hope’s Main Street, just a short walk from the riverside, and you will see a diverse mix of tourists and locals heading to restaurants, investigating shops or simply enjoying the town’s unique charm. On any given day, you might see young women looking at traditional Indian dresses at one of several India-themed boutiques, or gentlemen trying on imported tweed Hanna hats at Celt-Iberia Traders. You might also see children trying to get the attention of Butter, the cuddly cat asleep in the window of Farley’s Bookshop. Farley’s has been a fixture on Main Street for over four decades, says Jen Farley, who runs the shop with her sister Rebekah. Both sisters grew up in New Hope and have lived elsewhere, but returned to run the family bookstore. “This is a lovely place to live,” says Jen.

Eleanor Taylor-Nicholson, who recently visited New Hope for the first time, describes the town as exceptionally pretty and friendly to visitors on foot. “It felt charming and quaint, and I noticed a strong artistic community there,” she adds.

The arts are indeed important to New Hope, which boasts the historic Bucks County Playhouse just between Main Street and the river. According to its Web site (www.bcptheater.org), the structure was originally a grist mill and dates back to 1790, when it was built to replace the Hope Mills that had burned down not long before. Dubbed the New Hope Mills, the structure led the city to change its name to New Hope, replacing its previous identity as Coryell’s Ferry. Since it began operating as a theater in 1939, the Playhouse has presented high quality performances to visitors and residents alike, often featuring performers who also work on Broadway in New York City.

While there is plenty to see and do in New Hope itself, visitors should also investigate the surrounding area of Bucks County. Travelers who enjoy boating, biking or horseback riding need not travel far to partake. Similarly, those fond of hiking can walk for kilometers through Washington Crossing Historic Park along the Delaware River, the site of George Washington’s famous 1776 crossing of the river to fight in Trenton, New Jersey during the American Revolution.

Just over 30 minutes away from New Hope by car is Ringing Rocks Park, one of the most unique, fun and just plain bizarre spots to visit in Bucks County. After driving up winding roads, visitors leave their cars in a wooded parking lot and follow a path to a large open field of boulders. Even more interesting than the sight itself is the fact that, by striking the rocks with a hammer, you can produce musical tones. Some visitors even spend hours trying to create melodies by hammering certain rocks in the right sequence.


Michael Gallant is the founder and chief executive officer of Gallant Music. He lives in New York City.