PhillyBite.com (Oct. 7, 2015) - So Its October Fest and you have no clue about the German beer your drinking, so here are just a few things to make you should know to impress your friends and family this month. One of the various things the German people are known for is beer. Beer is an essential piece of their tradition and heritage, with over thirteen-hundred varied breweries spanning the country. As far as per capita beer consumption, the Germans are only behind the Czechs and the Irish.
There’s likely nowhere else in the country that can claim New Hope’s special blend of quirkiness, history, joviality, an abundance of art galleries, sophisticated dining, eclectic shopping and a lively theater scene. This riverside town boasts a strong gay community, a concentration of artistic talent and a past as a player in the East Coast shipping trade.
Together with Lambertville, New Jersey, a more compact but equally adorable town connected by a pedestrian bridge, New Hope’s commercial district nurtures a business community with wide-ranging tastes. On Main Street alone, dozens of shops offer a variety of goods—from art and women’s fashions to leather and novelty items. It works, though, as judged by Travel + Leisure’s declaration that New Hope is one of the country’s “Coolest Suburbs Worth a Visit.”
A land grant from William Penn launched what became New Hope in 1710. All sorts of mills sprung up throughout the century and soon ferries and bridges helped facilitate trade between the burgeoning town and colonies north and south along the Delaware River. But because large coal ships from northwestern Pennsylvania couldn’t easily navigate this section of the river, canals were constructed and mules pulled Durham boats behind them from towpaths constructed along the shores. The boats had to navigate 23 locks along the 60-mile stretch of river that were overseen by the locktender, whose Locktender’s House still stands as an interpretive center and place to see an old restored lock in action. Landlubbers may choose to see the countryside from a later mode of transport: a 1925 steam locomotive or diesel engine that carries passengers on a 45-minute narrated ride called the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad.
Its Main Street:
Visitors should plan for a full day of sightseeing in New Hope, with eclectic shops, restaurants and curiosities lining half-a-dozen blocks of Main Street (which runs parallel to the river) and just as many side streets. The corner of Bridge and Main Streets forms the center of the retail district, and many intriguing and slightly hidden spots tuck into the riverbank just beyond Main Street.
Arts & Culture:
Around the turn of the 20th century, artists discovered New Hope, attracted to the endless opportunities the picturesque town inspired for painting. It’s proximity to New York and Philadelphia, the nation’s art capitals, also helped drive the town’s popularity among artists. Today, Main Street is lined with art galleries galore, including A Mano Galleries, selling contemporary lighting, jewelry, paintings, handbags, sculpture and more; Bucks County Gallery of Fine Art, offering contemporary and traditional works in acrylic, oil, watercolors and pastel paintings; and Gallery Piquel, featuring original paintings and sculptures by more than 50 contemporary artists from Bucks County and around the world.
In its 76-year lifespan, the Bucks County Playhouse has welcomed the likes of Grace Kelly, Robert Redford and Liza Minnelli to the stage. It’s not surprising in a town that nurtures local and national talent through weekly open-mics, cabarets and piano sing-alongs at Bowman’s Tavern; live blues, rock and folk concerts at Havana Restaurant and Bar; and exhibitions such as the outdoor sculpture exhibit at New Hope Arts.
The Great Outdoors:
Modern-day travelers can see New Hope from the vantage point of the river by jogging along the nearly 60-mile Delaware Canal Towpath or by hopping aboard one of the New Hope Boat Rides for a scenic, narrated tour. But for an immersive garden and hiking experience, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve blooms with nearly 800 species of native plants along 2.5 miles of trails.
Food & Drink:
Visitors are quickly treated as friends at party spots like Triumph Brewing Company, Logan Inn and gay favorite The Raven, which boasts the added bonus of an outdoor pool and cabanas. Many nightlife and dining destinations offer a perfect people-watching perch from sidewalk or patio seating, while some quieter establishments seat patrons on terraces that practically touch the water. Diners can enjoy Creole-style cuisine at Marsha Brown’s, located in a 125-year-old church complete with 40-foot ceilings and stained-glass windows; or bring a bottle of vino from one of the wineries that makes up the Bucks County Wine Trail to marvel over the original wood beams and fireplace at Hearth, which began its life as a toll house in the 1750s.
Shops, Shops, Shops:
New Hope’s retail sector is as fashion-forward, elegant and cool as they come. The 1791 barn on West Ferry Street? That would be Curious Goods of New Hope, selling vintage, repurposed and handmade jewelry and furniture. Heart of the Home sections two floors of an historic building into themed rooms filled with handmade American items such as pottery, jewelry and garden décor. And at The Soap Opera Company, shoppers load up on bath and body products galore.
Events & Festivals:
Foodies flock to New Hope and Lambertville in March for reduced-price prix-fixe menus during Restaurant Week, while the LGBT community and friends celebrate Pride Week in May with a parade, block party and live entertainment.
Driving is a must from Philadelphia, with about a one-hour trip up I-95 and Route 32. Once there, metered street parking and surface lots fill up quickly on summer weekends.
Where To Stay:
- 1870 Wedgwood Inn, 111 W. Bridge Street, New Hope, (215) 862-2570, wedgwoodinn.com
- The Inn at Bowman’s Hill, 518 Lurgan Road, New Hope, (215) 862-8090, theinnatbowmanshill.com
- Logan Inn, 10 W. Ferry Street, New Hope, (215) 862-2300, loganinn.com
- Porches on the Towpath, 20 Fishers Alley, New Hope, (215) 862-3277, porchesnewhope.com
Visit Philly Beer Garden Guide, Your guide to Philadelphia beer garden spots and hangouts There’s only one place for beer lovers to be this summer, and that’s Philadelphia, where beer gardens abound and where craft beer is king.
Last year, the city earned countless awards and glowing media reviews for its outdoor drinking spaces, and this year, they’re back with some popular favorites, as well as some new features to keep things fresh. Among the most attention-grabbing: Spruce Street Harbor Park, a beautiful oasis celebrating year two on the Delaware River waterfront, and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Pop Up Gardens, located in two different spots this year.
To capitalize on the growing outdoor-drinking craze, VISIT PHILADELPHIA® returns with year two of its Visit Philly Beer Garden Series, a Friday happy hour taking place from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekends. The series runs at Spruce Street Harbor Park from May 22 through July 10 (skipping July 3) and at The Oval from July 17 through August 21, with locations for the last two weekends to be determined. On tap: local craft beer specials from Victory Brewing Company and Yards Brewing Company, a photo opps and giveaways. The complete schedule is available at visitphilly.com/beer.
Here are some of Philadelphia’s best places for drinking outdoors—at parks, pop-ups, patios and porches:
Parks & Pop-Up Spots:
- New to the pop-up game, the Point Breeze Pop-up—run by the owners of South Philadelphia Tap Room and American Sardine Bar—enters the mix with a Thursday through Sunday schedule that runs until Labor Day, September 7. In addition to its impressive beer selection that includes the likes of Philadelphia Brewing Company, Nodding Head, Lagunitas, Oskar Blues and Dogfish Head, visitors can enjoy draft wine and food from a rotating roster of food trucks. Bands perform throughout the 17-week season as well. 1622 Point Breeze Avenue, pointbreezepopup.com
- The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation’s (DRWC) Spruce Street Harbor Park garnered so many accolades last summer that it’s coming back stronger for its second year. Along with ample outdoor seating (including nets suspended over the river), local beer and higher-end grab-and-go food available from cargo containers, the pop-up park features an expanded hammock garden, more arcade games, an urban beach, fountains and a series of barges with lily pad water gardens. Columbus Boulevard & Spruce Streets. New this year for DRWC: Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, complete with a roller rink, a boathouse-styled lodge, a play area for kids and, of course, plentiful food and drink options. Columbus Boulevard & Chestnut Streets. Through September 27. (215) 922-2FUN, delawareriverwaterfront.com
- Celebrating its first full summer season, Dilworth Park enters the outdoor drinking mix every Wednesday from June 3 through September 2 during the popular Center City District Sips series. On the large outdoor terrace adjacent to Rosa Blanca Café, patrons enjoy discounted wines, beers and cocktails. West side of City Hall, 15th & Market Streets, dilworthpark.org
- Beer haven Frankford Hall takes over family favorite Franklin Square for four Thursday nights this summer and fall. Patrons can sip the brewery’s favorite ales and enjoy food trucks, mini-golf, a carousel and more in this serene setting. June 18, July 23, August 20, October 24. 200 N. 6th Street, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
- For the first time, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) is running two Pop Up Gardens, each with a different vibe manifested by foliage that helps set the mood. New this year: an East Passyunk location where recycled bicycle parts, reclaimed wood and permeable pavers carry a message of sustainability, surrounded by tobacco plants, honey locust trees and hot pink flowers. The team behind Cantina Los Caballitos and Royal Tavern borrow from the neighborhood’s Italian heritage for eats that complement a menu of summer brews on 12 taps, frozen punch, cocktails and wine. 9th & Wharton Streets. A beer garden returns once again to the South Street lot next to Jamaican Jerk Hut, where banana trees, container gardens and public and private spaces make for a boho feel. Barren Hill Tavern & Brewery oversees the beer program, which features two garden-only offerings, plus other local favorites on tap and in cocktails. Meats and cheeses combine for creative sandwiches and hot dogs. 1438-46 South Street. The seven-days-a-week spots run June 1-October 1. phsonline.org/greening/pop-up-gardens
- The Oval returns to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for its third summer of outdoor fun beginning on July 15. Along with food, musical performances, movies and mini-golf, visitors can say cheers to a beer garden on Wednesday through Saturday nights through August 23. The Oval’s beer selection varies throughout the five-week run. 2601 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, theovalphl.org
Beer Gardens, Patios & Porches:
- American Sardine Bar’s backyard patio fronts 18th Street in the Point Breeze neighborhood. Throughout the warm-weather months, brew lovers can expect beer events and grill nights. Hungry visitors can pair their outdoor drinks with the $2 namesake sardine sandwich and the salt-and-pepper fries. 1800 Federal Street, (215) 334-2337, americansardinebar.com
- Tucked behind Greek taverna Opa, the Drury Beer Garden—complete with its own Drury Street entrance—stocks two-dozen cans, six bottles and eight rotating drafts to complement its casual menu. With 24 hours’ notice, parties of six can celebrate summer with a $150 package that includes a case of beer or a cooler of cocktails, a crab-leg feast, coleslaw, Old Bay fries and dessert. 1311 Sansom Street, (215) 545-0170, opaphiladelphia.com
- Fergie’s Beach, the outside portion of popular Fergie’s Pub, returns for its second year of alfresco fun. Patrons enjoy sips from the small list of rotating draft beers—best soaked up with selections from the menu, made up of bar-food classics (chicken fingers and fried pickles) and barbeque favorites (hot dogs and corn on the cob). Open Wednesday through Sunday. 1214 Sansom Street, (215) 928-8118, fergies.com
- Now in its fifth summer, Stephen Starr’s Frankford Hall seats up to 240 people outside. The space is simple by Starr standards, complete with exposed brick walls, reclaimed industrial materials and ping-pong tables. Classic German foods—pretzels, bratwurst, spatzle—are available at a walk-up counter, as is a hefty beer menu that includes everything from traditional German beers to craft specialties available by the half-liter or liter. 1210 Frankford Avenue, (215) 634-3338, frankfordhall.com
- With authentic German food, European glassware, wooden picnic tables and live foliage, Hop Angel Brauhaus’ courtyard comes pretty close to a traditional biergarten. Open every night for dinner in season, the Fox Chase beer garden welcomes well-behaved dogs and pays homage to the Fatherland with an Alpine-looking mural. Twelve taps change constantly, but one element stays the same: At least a few of them always carry German and German-style lagers.7980 Oxford Avenue, (215) 437-1939, hopangel.com
- Located across from the Liberty Bell, the aptly named Independence Beer Garden brings 20,000 square feet of outdoor drinking and eating space to America’s most historic square mile. Helmed by chef-restaurateur Michael Schulson of Sampan fame, the seasonal beer garden has installed a new rotisserie to complement its all-American food and drink menu. Think cheese plates, ribs, salads and fried chicken washed down by a rotating can and tap beer list from breweries such as Sixpoint, Deschutes, Yards, 21st Amendment and Dogfish Head. Adding to the atmosphere: Adirondack chairs, games, string lights and ivy-covered pergolas. 100 Independence Mall West, (215) 922-7100, phlbeergarden.com
- Offering a stunning view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, La Peg, which shares a building with FringeArts, offers craft beers aplenty and live performances on select nights in its picture-perfect beer garden, celebrating its first full summer in 2015. 140 N. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 375-7744, lapegbrasserie.com
- Llama Tooth restaurant and beer garden boasts an ambitious beer menu that pays plenty of attention to local favorites from Yards, Philadelphia Brewing Company, Dogfish Head, Weyerbacher, Voodoo and many others. Drinkers size up their prospective beer’s state of origin, style and Beer Advocate score before making their selections. Situated across from popular music venue Union Transfer, the mural-clad beer garden also offers a simple menu of salads, burgers and shareable appetizers. 1033 Spring Garden Street, (267) 639-4582, llamatooth.com
- The picnic table-furnished lot next to Memphis Taproom serves up an omnivore-, vegan- and vegetarian-friendly menu full of summer backyard flavors, along with canned craft beers, from a food truck parked permanently in the garden. Guests can catch nighttime Phillies games and compete in Quizzo on Thursday nights. 2331 E. Cumberland Street, (215) 425-4460, memphistaproom.com
- Conveniently located next to Race Street Pier, Morgan’s Pier draws people for weekend brunch, weekday DJs with no cover and close-up views of the Delaware River and Ben Franklin Bridge. In a backyard setting with wooden picnic tables, umbrellas, twinkling lights and Liden trees, the laid-back crowd enjoys a hefty selection of canned and draft beers, some mixed into cocktails, along with a refined picnic menu overseen this year by Top Chef Season 11 winner Nick Elmi. After dark, Morgan’s Pier hosts musicians and guest DJs. 221 N. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 279-7134, morganspier.com
- Once the overhaul on The Porch at 30th Street is completed this spring, the commuter-heavy locale will be home to Rotisserie, the latest venture from Michael Schulson of Independence Beer Garden (see above). The casual spot will serve lunch seven days a week, along with beer and liquor on Wednesday through Saturday, 4:00-9:00 p.m. The stunning skyline views are just a bonus. 30th & Market Streets, universitycity.org
- Part island oasis/part junkyard, Silk City’s beer garden is filled with colorful tables, empty-kegs-turned-chairs, string lights galore and garden ornament objects likely salvaged at many a yard sale. The hipster clientele at this perennially packed spot enjoys a large selection of high- and low-end beers—from Dogfish Head Indian Brown and Sly Fox Phoenix Pale Ale to PBR and Miller High Life. The American fare with flair is so good it’s been featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. 435 Spring Garden Street, (215) 592-8838, silkcityphilly.com
- A newer addition to the University City scene, indoor beer garden William Street Common recently unveiled its new 60-seat patio. Here patrons enjoy a casual menu of snacks, salads and sandwiches, along with specialty drinks, punch bowls, wine and beers from a rotating draft list. Oh, and no tipping is allowed here; the restaurant adds a 20% fair-wage surcharge to each item. 3900 Chestnut Street, (215) 397-4693, williamstreetcommon.com