One Tank Escapes: Maximum excitement for minimum cost


By Jeff Bahr

With soaring fuel prices that have people wondering if their gas was produced by Gucci rather than Getty, we now enter the warmer vacation months. As a result of this price gouging, many will be taking “Staycations,” a thoroughly absurd alternate vacation concept that came about when the price of gas first hit $4 per gallon. We at The Observer believe that our readers deserve more than this stay-at-home nonsense! That’s why we’re featuring “One Tank Escapes” in installments throughout the spring and summer months. As the phrase implies, these are minigetaways to interesting and fun places that require less than one full-tank of gasoline (on average) per round trip. We’re even including a map to help point you in the right direction. Sound like a plan? Let’s go!

Destination: New Hope, Pa.

•Distance from Kearny: 62 miles

•Attractions and activities: Shopping, dining, antiquing, train rides, river and canal boat rides, historic points.

•Nearby: Washington’s Crossing State Park; shopping at Peddler’s Village, Lahaska, Pa.

If you’ve never been to this cute little hamlet that flanks the free-flowing Delaware River’s western bank, you’re in for a real treat. This pretty river town has roots reaching back to the early 1700s when it became a ferry stop. Since that time, New Hope has morphed into a genuine “happening” that offers an abundance of options to the day-tripper. And it’s located just a stone’s throw from a multitude of other neat places, a classic win-win proposition.

Many, if not most people flock to New Hope for the human show. An artists’ enclave, the town attracts an eclectic assortment of people that run the gamut from mild to wild. It’s not uncommon to see aging hippies replete in tie-died shirts mixing with aristocrats from the “horsey-set” moving about the village. Artists, tourists, clothing-minimalists, professionals, poets, bikers, lovers; all come to soak up the town’s charms and to watch this wonderful human hodgepodge as it ambles on by.

In addition to this street theater, New Hope is also known for its many shopping opportunities. Much like the people that it attracts, the boutiques here are many and varied and sell most everything from novelty items to antiques. A prime example of this can be found at two wildly different boutiques located just off Ferry St., the town’s main drag. In one, lovers of pop culture can buy such inexpensive and fun things as Napoleon Dynamite bobble heads and rock ‘n’ roll posters. In the store beside it, ornate, oversized vases priced in the vicinity of “Oh my Gosh!” are the order of the day. Diversity!

A canal runs through it

Much of New Hope’s charm derives from its relationship to the 60-mile-long Pennsylvania Canal that bisects it. A bucolic space that looks much like it did in the days of mule-driven “packet” boats, the well-maintained towpath begs visitors to sample its charms with a walk or a hike. Ambitious bicyclists reach New Hope (the Canal’s halfway point) after a 30-mile ride from the Canal’s northern terminus at Easton. Once in town, they park their bikes, settle in for a tasty meal at one of the town’s many restaurants, and then pedal away, rejuvenated. Thusly restored, they attack the rest of the trail south to Bristol, or head back in the opposite direction to Easton.

For those who wish to sample the canal at a more sedate pace, mule-driven boat rides are offered in season. Boatmen dressed in period garb only add to the allure, blurring the fact that you’re in the 21st century, not the 19th.

For those who’d like an upclose- and-personal view of the Delaware River, excursion boats ply the waterway from a dock just south of Bridge St. As luck would have it, there’s an old-time ice cream parlor with oodles of atmosphere located right beside it – just the thing to take the edge off of a hot day on the river. All aboard!


A train runs through it

The New Hope and Ivyland Railroad is a tourist railroad centered in town that takes passengers on hourly excursions through the picturesque rolling hills and valleys of Bucks County. Railroad buffs will fixate on the steam engine and scenic railroad trestles, while Hollywood fans will delight in the fact that this route was once used to film the 1914 silent film series, “The Perils of Pauline.” The vintage 1891 train station where riders buy their tickets has been restored to a pristine state. In an ironic twist, the depot is situated directly beside the Pennsylvania Canal – the transportation system that it ultimately displaced.

All of this activity is bound to stoke one’s appetite. While there are a great many restaurant choices in town, the Logan Inn (started as the Ferry Tavern in 1727) at the town’s center is perhaps the most favored. As the oldest continuously run inn in Bucks County, and one of the five oldest in the U.S., this is hardly surprising. Saturdays and Sundays in season find a horde of visitors eating alfresco on the tented patio adjacent to the main building. This section of the restaurant offers a killer view of the “people show” on Main St. situated just below it. While noshing there, diners observe a near endless procession of cars moving slowly through town, as well as a generous number of motorcycles. On an agreeable spring or summer day, bicycles are nearly as numerous.

Photo by Jeff Bahr/ Carriage beside Logan Inn, New Hope, PA.

More to see and do

Washington’s Crossing Historic Park is a short seven– mile drive south on Route 32. On Christmas Eve, 1776, General Washington and his ragtag group of Continental soldiers made their infamous journey across the ice-choked Delaware River, enroute to a surprise attack on the Hessians quartered in Trenton. As history shows, it was a worthy gamble. The Visitors Center is located near the spot where the crossing occurred and contains a wealth of material that details that pivotal day and the days that preceded it.

An interesting fact that the Chamber of Commerce won’t tell you

On a rainy and foggy October evening in 1983, NBC Nightly News anchorwoman Jessica Savitch and a male companion had dinner at Chez Odette’s (now O’dette’s) at the south end of New Hope beside the canal. As they left the restaurant’s parking lot they accidentally turned onto a little-used dirt road that put them on a collision course with the severely flooded canal. Savitch, her friend and dog were drowned when the car rolled into the ditch and flipped over in the turbulent water. They never saw it coming.

Lahaska Peddler’s Village

The quaint Peddler’s Village, located three miles west of New Hope in Lahaska, features 70 specialty shops and six restaurants. Tudor buildings and manicured gardens reminiscent of English countryside differentiate this shopping experience from that of uninspired outlet malls, and the Golden Plough Inn, noted for its sumptuous meals and uniquely decorated rooms puts a “proper” British stamp on the village.

Lambertville, N.J.

A visit to New Hope comes with value-added in the form of Lambertville, N.J., located directly to its east across the Delaware River. An easy walk across Bridge St. takes visitors to this picture-perfect village noted for its shopping, restaurants and history.

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