Weekends away can be fun, spontaneous and casual, but many times a getaway is for a special occasion: an anniversary, an engagement, a birthday. They don’t have to be so extravagant that they include airfare and a passport, but they can be extravagant locally without breaking the bank.
We’ve stayed at numerous B&Bs and inns on our jaunts to Bucks County over the years and each is special in its own way. This year we stayed at the 1870 Wedgewood Inn (wedgewoodinn.com; 111 W. Bridge St.) as it begins celebrating its 35th-anniversary season. As if to bring home the point of special weekends to us, two couples were celebrating anniversaries while we were there and another got engaged that Saturday night. The Victorian-era feel of Wedgewood means meticulously decorated coziness and comfort, from the parlor to the bedrooms, with such a vast collection of Wedgewood pieces and other charming items that a rainy afternoon just begs one to explore and examine the entire inn.
There’s a bit of history behind the site where Wedgewood stands, but there’s barely a square foot of New Hope that doesn’t have something historically significant or fascinating attached to it. In fact, many spots in Bucks County have Revolutionary War ties. (See “Bringing history to death” for more.)
Besides the usual amenities tied to a bed and breakfast (which is fantastic on the back porch or in one of the gazebos, by the way), Wedgewood hosts a Saturday-afternoon tea. During the inn’s 35th-anniversary celebration, tea is the time when owners Carl and Nadine Glassman regale you with stories of the first years of the inn, special moments there and some history of the house and grounds, if you’re so interested. They are also holding a variety of quizzes, scavenger hunts and other games with prizes during tea time throughout the anniversary season.
The inn is located a few minutes’ walk to Main Street in New Hope, so it makes an ideal location for trips into town during the day and an excursion to The Raven Resort or The Cub Room in the evening. Those two LGBT staples of New Hope offer enough variety, from the dance floor to the piano room to the lounge and pool table, to entertain anyone. In the summer, sit in The Raven cabana and listen to the music and chatter across the pool or outside the Cub Room in the serenely wooded area of the New Hope Lodge and commiserate with nature.
A top spot for a celebratory dinner is Marsha Brown’s (marshabrownrestaurant.com). The establishment near the corner of Main and Bridge streets is a former Methodist church that worked in the high-arched ceilings and stained glass to its current incarnation. The menu highlights New Orleans-style cooking with a variety of crab dishes, gumbo, jambalaya, a raw bar, some seasoned steaks and several catfish options. The crab cheesecake appetizer comes highly recommended by the staff and deservedly so. The smoked gouda cheese is spectacularly paired with the crab meat in a tart. And on the topic of the staff, you will not find a more gregarious, professional and attentive group of employees in the county.
Fine-dining ideas for your special weekend should also include Poe Bistro (theravennewhope.com/poebistrolounge) at The Raven Resort for lunch, dinner or brunch. There are an abundance of deuces along the windows and in the garden. The simple menu ranges from fish and chips and burgers to grilled salmon and lobster ravioli. The night we ate there, the swordfish special caught our eye and was as fine as any overpriced hotspot in Philadelphia. The patio out back, with its shrubs and illuminated trees, is magical for dinner and charming for brunch.
Speaking of brunch, we also wandered into Bristol recently and found the King George II Inn (kginn.com) has a brunch omelet special that pairs nicely with the $5 mimosas and bloody Marys. This little village has a number of quirky shops and was named winner of the 2017 Small Business Revolution “Main Street” competition, which came with $500,000 to be used as the town sees fit for restorations, street-scaping, marketing and other Main Street improvements.
Other recommendations for a special dinner night would have to include The Hattery (hatterydoylestown.com) in Doylestown, a short-15 minute drive down Route 202; The Golden Pheasant Inn (goldenpheasant.com), north of New Hope on River Road and just a driveway away from Sand Castle Winery; and Karla’s (karlasnewhope.com), on the corner of Main and Mechanic streets in New Hope.
Wandering outdoors, sheltering indoors
Part of the joy of getting away beyond sampling the local fare is checking out unique shops and unusual spots. Less joyous are the days that turn gray and drizzly, and produce a general “What the Fog?” feeling. When weather turns iffy, as it does frequently in the spring and fall, one can easily shift plans. Here are a few ideas for either type of day in a number of Bucks boroughs.
In the Bristol/Morrisville area, try Pennsbury Manor (pennsburymanor.org) on a nice day. It’s a breath of country air and clear skies and offers some serenity. The manse tour is detailed and fascinating, as are the kitchen garden, the spinners, joiners and blacksmiths and special offerings like sheep shearing and ale tastings. (Note that June 1 is Penn Day, expected to draw about 1,500 schoolchildren.) It, as well as Bristol, are on the Delaware River and sitting along the banks can be its own reward.
If the weather turns, go to downtown Bristol and hit up the new corner antique mall and the model-railroading collections. These are highlights in downtown Bristol and depending on the day and time, you may be able to catch a show at Bristol’s Riverside Theater (brtstage.org).
Planning a day around Doylestown? The Mercer Castle and Moravian Tileworks grounds are great, but strolling the streets of Doylestown and poking into shops is second to none. Have a cup of joe on the porch at Zen Den (zendencoffeeshop.com) and dine al fresco at Genevieve’s Kitchen (genevieveskitchen.com). If it’s rainy, you can still shop. A favorite place of ours is the pair of bookstores at 35 W. State St.: Bucks County Bookshop and Central Books. Twice the delight! We like to pop into The Hattery across the street for adult beverages in the afternoon.
No matter what the weather, the Michener Museum (michenerartmuseum.com) always has splendid exhibits and boasts several concurrent ones right now, including one by Philadelphian Charles Sheeler through July 9. It’s a cleverly curated show of some of Sheeler’s paintings, Condé Nast portraits and fabrics inspired by some of his patterns. Also showing this summer is some original early work by Sam Maitin through Aug. 27. His amusing and whimsical creatures are fun and inspirational while his take on mythological beings is intricate and engrossing. Another fine exhibit, “Light & Matter: The Photographic Object,” takes an app called Dark Matter and turns the artwork on the wall into, well, different art on your smart phone. It wraps up June 25. Look for the occasional patio parties some evenings in the summer as well.
Let’s talk New Hope. Again, shopping or a walk or bike ride along the canal or across the bridge would be your best first choice for a nice day outside. New Hope is the most strollable town in the county with small side paths, the canal, the river and Aquatong Creek with backset studios and a surprise around each corner. Impulsive stopping can be hazardous to your wallet. Bucks County boasts a large selection of wineries and in fact has created self-guided winery tours. We revisited Crossing Vineyard (crossingvineyards.com) this past trip. CV offers a wide variety of special events from wine and chocolate pairings to special Mother’s and Father’s Day ideas. You can find more information on winery tours, covered-bridge tours, bicycle-riding trips and more at visitbuckscounty.com.
If it gets wet out and you’re ready to give up the puddle-jumping and shop-hopping, there are scores of restaurants and bars to settle into, but also consider spending some time in the visitor center or library. There’s a plethora of fascinating information surrounding the founding, evolution and existence of New Hope. The Delaware Canal Locktender’s House (visitpa.com/pa-museums/delaware-canal-locktenders-house) is also a favorite spot to duck into during a brief downpour.
That’s lodging, dining and a variety of options for you to delve into while you’re enjoying your weekend getaway. What you do with the rest of your time, well, that’s totally up to you.
If you have a favorite inn, bed and breakfast, bar, restaurant, shop or outdoor activity you think others would like to know about, email [email protected] The Bucks County Courier Times is also holding a Best of Bucks contest online through May 21. You can choose which places you’d like to vote for at buckscountycouriertimes.com/tabs/best-of-bucks/.