New Hope is one of those towns that you visit for the nothing-much-to-do. It’s pretty, like if a less charming Charleston had shrunk down to a few blocks and moved to the north, or if Woodstock lost some of its hip because it allowed Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts to come to town.
Situated on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River, I ambled the streets of New Hope, which were lined with eccentric shops and that commercial creep, with galleries and antique dealers, with eateries and cafes. While New Hope is a town to see by foot, I still had to fill the parking meters that demanded my rolls of quarters. Once parked and meters fed, I watched as visitors ambled across the bridge that straddles the Delaware, gazing down upon a congregation of turtles, as they walked the river-trail that parallels the main street, where the green bloom of algae blankets the water, as they sauntered down side streets, where the pleasantness of quiet continued.
On West Mechanic Street, I did all of my eating, from Karla’s Restaurant to Nina’s Waffles. The open patio and eclectic mix of furniture at Karla’s felt like part eatery, part studio. Karla (or at least the male chef who purchased the place from her decades ago) cooks well. The soups are rich in flavor, salads healthful, and crab cakes crab (and not the breadcrumb filler that give most patties a bad name and taste). The mac ‘n cheese was great too, especially if you don’t suffer from (or don’t want to suffer from) coronary thrombosis. At Nina’s, the waffles were delicious and the homemade ice cream served as a perfect complement.
New Hope has the charm and the stagnancy best suited to older couples, but because I had taken my family to Sesame Place, we sought out attractions for kids.
Things to Do with Kids in New Hope
We boarded the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad, which traverses old tracks through mostly unappealing forest and passes a few beautiful homes that can be seen easily enough from town. Essentially, the railroad is a tourist trap. It’s a waste of fifty minutes and a form of train robbery, as it costs $21. (They even charge infants $5 for a ride.)
More interesting for kids, though, and more affordable for families is the Bucks County Children’s Museum, (where infants are free). My two-and-a-half-year-old had a blast running around the three playrooms, wearing a doctor’s jacket, administering inoculations (excessively), serving food on the train, shopping in the general store, and pretending to lick ice cream (poorly). A number of kids—who also wore doctors’ uniforms—made it their business to man the post office and the ice cream parlor. They seemed to misunderstand employment because they found it more fun than the LEGO car station, where you could assemble cars out of LEGOs and then race them down ramps. (Readers should note that the Children’s Museum, while fun for small children, probably stops being cool after the kid turns five.)