Best of New Hope
Where to dine, shop, wander, and indulge.
by Bill Donahue

As teenagers eagerly testing the bounds of our freedom, my friends and I heard about a curious little Bucks County town by the Delaware River called New Hope. Naturally, we felt compelled to explore. I fell in love from my very first visit. Back then I visited primarily to peruse the wares of Main Street’s revered record stores and head shops, to people watch, or to feed ducks gathered by the Lambertville bank of the river. I continue to frequent New Hope-Lambertville to this day, though I now go for the many excellent restaurants or simply to bask in the sun and absorb the magic of one of the Philadelphia area’s most distinctive and deservedly beloved small towns.

Bucks County residents lost a bastion of natural beauty when Paxson Hill Farm announced its closure earlier this year. Luckily, the 130-plus acres of Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve provide endless opportunities for visitors to be among native trees, plants, and animal life. As a bonus, the preserve is gleefully close to one of New Hope’s favorite restaurants, Bowman’s Tavern.
Since it started staging memorable productions in 1939, the historic Bucks County Playhouse has welcomed some of the biggest stars of stage and screen—Grace Kelly, Angela Lansbury, Robert Redford, George C. Scott, to name a small few. The BCP continues to host its fair share of plays, as well as an assortment of musicals, concerts, and other performances. It also offers riverfront dining with an unbeatable view of the Delaware.
The nearly 60-mile-long towpath of Delaware Canal State Park runs right through New Hope. Whether you’re walking, riding, or just sitting trailside, the towpath offers views of the river, the canal, and other Bucks County gems everyone should take the time to experience. Suggestion for bicyclists: Start at Tinicum Park and ride south with New Hope as your destination, or head north with your sights set on uber-charming Homestead Coffee Roasters in Upper Black Eddy.
Dilly’s at Centre Bridge is a small seasonal roadside establishment north of New Hope’s hustle and bustle. On almost any spring or summer day with good weather, Dilly’s lures in the masses for fare of the hot dog, burger, and fries sort. Vegetarians eat well here, too, thanks to a fabulous black-bean burger. Anachronistic in its simplicity, Dilly’s is a destination worth visiting and revisiting.
Lambertville’s El Tule specializes in the vibrant dishes of Mexico and Peru, its owners’ countries of origin. If you’ve not yet tried Mexican street corn, this would be the place to indulge. The families behind El Tule have exported their cuisine beyond the New Hope-Lambertville area to Quinoa, a BYO in Doylestown, as well as their latest addition, The Latin Pot in Dublin.
Farley’s Bookshop is a Bucks County institution. Long a destination for signed first editions and other literary “musts,” Farley’s has benefited from a face-lift. The once-mazelike stacks have given way to more of an open floor plan, meaning more room to roam. While the interior looks much different than it once did, the same devotion to satisfying patrons’ love of the written word remains firmly in place.
Both a fresh-food market and a casual dining area, Ferry Market offers an array of handcrafted food and drink from Bucks County purveyors. Crave a perfect slice pizza, a mouthwatering pulled-pork sandwich, or a farm-fresh salad? Check, check, check. Want a craft beer or a fine wine? No problem there. Have a sweet tooth that can be sated only by artisanal confections? You’ll find those at Ferry Market, too. We could keep going, but it’s best to see for yourself.
Each creation of George Nakashima Woodworkers is a work of art; Nakashima’s work even has its own room at Doylestown’s Michener Art Museum. While the late internationally acclaimed woodworker passed on in 1990, his woodworking enterprise is now guided by his daughter, Mira. George Nakashima Woodworkers custom-mills sustainably harvested hardwoods to create dining tables, chairs, and cabinets, among other furniture, known for their natural beauty, simplicity, and exquisite craftsmanship.
Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? Bucks County has more than its share. Founded by the late paranormal icon Adi-Kent Thomas Jeffrey, Ghost Tours of New Hope takes guests on a lantern-lit walking tour of New Hope, sharing stories about the area’s many resident spooks and specters. Past tours have detailed a hair-pulling primitive artist, a certain dueling vice president, and hauntings dating back to the Revolutionary War, if not earlier.
For fantastic small plates from locally sourced purveyors, as well as an astonishing assortment of wines (among other libations), belly up to the bar at Nektar on West Mechanic Street. The food menu offers shareable options to please just about any palate, with an amazing array of cheeses and charcuterie to pair with the red or white of your choosing.
Self-care is essential in 2024, and there’s no self-care destination quite like Nurture Spa. Simple, spacious, and luxurious, Nurture offers an array of massages, facials, and medi-spa treatments, all designed to nourish and restore the mind, body, and soul. In addition to its 13 treatment rooms and three relaxation lounges, Nurture Spa boasts a 1,200-square-foot outdoor terrace and a 2,000-square-foot retail shop brimming with fashions, beauty products, and assorted gifts.
New Hope has plenty of excellent riverside dining options, though few compare with Odette’s. A favorite brunch spot at the southern tip of the main drag, Odette’s provides an elevated experience—food, drink, and atmosphere alike. Mimosa flights and pancake flights?
In addition to the standouts already mentioned, the following artisans, institutions, and professionals contribute to the artistic exceptionalism of the New Hope-Lambertville area: Michael T. Dachowski, M.D., a longtime resident and community leader, as well as the founder of The Oral Surgery Group, which has two locations in Doylestown and Meadowbrook (, Realtor Chris Preston of Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty (, Tavola Rustica and its sister restaurants in Gretalia Hospitality Group (, and Sprig & Vine Pure Vegetarian (
Did we miss one of your favorites? If you have a suggestion for a can’t-miss restaurant, shop, cultural icon, or other “must” destination (in New Hope or elsewhere), let us know. Email us at
Photo by Hope Daluisio, VISIT PHILADELPHIA
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life magazine, March 2024.