Seventy-five Miles From Broadway

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Travelers wary of a four-course breakfast might prefer the Doylestown Inn, another national landmark built in 1871. Saddled with young children, we chose a motel near New Hope, a village celebrated for its quaint railroad station (serving the New Hope & Ivyland railroad) and its two hundred buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. New Hope and Lambertville, directly across the Delaware, were once a single town called Coryell’s Ferry (after the man who operated the boat). This is where George Washington planned his assault on Trenton in 1776; a little more than a century later, the village of New Hope was a thriving artists’ colony and a popular stopping place for anyone traveling south or west of New York. In fact, New Hope has been charming for so long that it has all but exhausted its supply; the best time to visit is at night, when a fog gathers by the river, obscuring the Meow, Meow Cat Emporium, the psychic phenomena bookstore, and the rival shops offering tattooing, body piercing, and assertive underwear.

Although it is less celebrated than New Hope, Lambertville, New Jersey, with its pleasant riverside setting and its own canal—the Delaware and Raritan—offers everything people come to Bucks County for, including a bookshop overlooking the river and antiques stores tucked away on side streets and alleys. The Lambertville Area Chamber of Commerce publishes a walking tour of twentytwo “Outstanding Buildings,” including the unprepossessing house James Marshall lived in before he went to California and spot- ted the flash of metal that ignited the great gold rush.

North of New Hope, Route 32 winds through quintessential Bucks County scenery, which is surely some of the finest in the East. Handsome eighteenth-century stone houses perch between a steep hill and the river, their gardens bright with dogwood and tulips. Some fall weekend I’d like to stay at the lovely Inn at Phillips Mill, built around 1750, or the Black Bass Hotel, a one-time Tory hangout, where Grover Cleveland used to fish.

If the scenic curves hadn’t made our back-seat passengers queasy, we would have pushed on another fifteen miles to the northern reaches of Bucks, to Upper Black Eddy and an antique hardware store I’d heard about in Kintersville. Instead we crossed over the Delaware and stopped at Frenchtown, a place Perelman unkindly immortalized as “Louisville.” At a quaint little shop on Bridge Street, we paused beside a rough-hewn onepiece student’s desk and chair. “We’re just selling that for our daughter,” the proprietor said casually. “She moved to California and couldn’t take it with her. We won’t make any profit on it. You can have it for eight hundred and fifty dollars.” It was just the sort of brief exchange that Perelman would have transformed into a Homeric battle between urban innocence and rural guile.

—Jane Colihan TO PLAN A TRIP