Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bucks County Area Road Trip

(photos Jack Coble)
It's been four years now since we did this trip for Cookie. We spent four days going all day, writing, photographing, researching...and now when I look back at all we did in those four days, I think we must have been on crack. I swear, those road trips could have been 2 week trips--we packed them so full, and we really did every single thing that we recommended. So, I've gone back and edited down my original copy, and am going to divide it into different days, since they are all such different areas, and if you are considering doing any of these over a weekend, or a long full day trip, this is how you would actually use them. I'm not rewriting everything, but since I haven't revisited these places, if you have updates about a place that I might have gone to, please let me know.

Easton and Ringing Rocks Park

Easton, PA is a charming small town just a few miles off Interstate 78.  We stopped there for the Crayola Factory, and it was a hit. I’m not sure how much a kid over 5 or 6 would be into it though, as it’s a bit young. For lunch, we stopped at the River Grille and between us had a very good thin-crust pizza, sandwich, and I remember it having a healthy kids' menu. We also picked up a ton of healthy snacks at Nature's Way Market.
Heading south, we took Route 611 to Route 32, a scenic road that runs alongside the Delaware River, with plenty of stone houses and post-and-beam barns along the way. One of the most magical places we’ve ever been, Ringing Rocks Park, is off of Narrows Hill Road. You park the car and walk to the big pile of boulders, which sound like bells when struck with hard objects—a natural phenomenon that still mystifies scientists.

Frenchtown and Lumberville

Drive a few miles farther on Route 32 South and cross the bridge to Frenchtown, New Jersey. There are some nice antique stores, but the big draw for us are the homemade glazed doughnuts from Bridge Market Café. Tinicum Park is just back over the border into PA and a bit south on Route 32. Younger kids will love the wide fields and swing sets, while older ones can visit the park's Erwin Stover House (215-489-5133), a Revolutionary-era homestead.
Near Lumberville—definitely walk over the footbridge on Route 32, and check out the Lumberville General Store, which dates back to 1770.  If you hit this area mid-day, you should definitely get the burger with special sauce at Dilly's Corner, in Center Bridge on Route 32. It’s pretty epic, and a total local hangout.

New Hope and Lambertville 

I’m not a New Hope fan. It’s the kind of town that has the worst of the hippie movement with lots of lame bed and breakfasts, at least that was my impression. However, we loved going to the Nakashima Studio (open house on Saturdays only, 1 to 4:30 p.m.) and exploring the workspace of furniture designer and artist George Nakashima. Clara loved the lovely koi pond out back. In New Hope, we did like Farley's Bookstore for its well-stocked kids' and travel sections, and the novelty items at Uncle Charlie's General Store were cool. We didn’t take a ride on a mule-drawn barge at the New Hope Canal Boat Company (canal open May to October), but we would definitely do this next time. These canals exist because before railroads made canals obsolete, there were 1,000 miles of them in Pennsylvania alone. A trip upriver allows you to experience what life was like 150 years ago. Just over the bridge and into New Jersey, is
Lambertville. The pie at Capa Pizza (77 North Union St., 609-397-7737),  looked great, and we imagined on a future trip that we would play in the shady playground across the street while waiting for it. Instead, we had to hustle to get to the Howell Living History Farm. This 250-year-old farm, run by the state park system, features sheep, pigs, cows, chickens, and horses.

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