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The Season for Timeless Towns: Charming Buck’s County Main Streets
During Christmastime, main streets in Bucks County are not only central to each town’s history, but also—with the plethora of twinkling lights, oversized wreaths, and festive displays adorning historic buildings and quaint businesses—they’re the heart of the holiday season. To find the key to your Christmas spirit this year, visit one of these picturesque historic main streets to have the richness of Christmases past meet with the promise of Christmas present.
The town of Bristol, with its prominent place on the Delaware River, played an important economic and political role from its founding in 1681. Since winning the Small Business Revolution “Main Street” competition, several businesses have been restored to their former glory. Plan your visit so you can see firsthand the effects of this beautifying effort, not to mention sample all that Bristol has to offer—from historic homes to antique shopping to fine dining. For a unique dining experience at America’s oldest inn, visit King George II Inn on the waterfront. For an inside look at how America’s most celebrated liquor is made, visit the award-winning Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey.
Doylestown, which was named on USA Today’s “Best Small Town Cultural Scene” list, traces its history all the way back to 1745 but now draws the art enthusiast no less than the history buff. Doylestown may have been named for William Doyle’s tavern, but it’s most celebrated landmark is christened for Henry Chapman Mercer, a prominent artist in the American Arts and Crafts Movement. Just a short walk from main street, Mercer Mile —a mile encompassing three spectacular concrete castles, which are now a preserved mansion, museum of pre-industrial life, and a Tile Works—is infused with the history and art of Mercer’s handcrafted tiles. Dining in Doylestown is as exceptional as its artistic credentials, from The Hattery Stove & Still, fusing industrial and vintage in the structure of a revived historic inn, to Heirloom Doylestown with its charming plates showcasing its farm-to-table philosophy.
New Hope, a town along the Delaware River whose historical significance can be tied to its role in the shipping trade, now claims visitors looking for an eclectic blend of art galleries, novelty shops, and historical sites (including four canal locks and the restored Locktender’s House. For a unique Christmas experience, be sure to make time for a Victorian Christmas Tour at the restored Parry Mansion Museum, where visitors can learn how Christmas was celebrated in another era.
Newtown, whose origins can be traced to William Penn himself (according to an anecdote where Penn reportedly announced his ambition to build his “new town” here) celebrates its ties to the past through its historical monuments and vintage establishments. If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, catch this classic Christmas movie at the remarkable Newtown Theatre, the oldest movie theatre in America.
Yardley, known for its role in the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, gives visitors an inside look at a stop for escaped slaves, who used to hide under the eaves at the Continental Hotel (now known as the Continental Tavern. When in town, be sure to visit the holiday light show at Shady Brook Farm.
Quakertown, whose name gives homage to its Quaker founders, temporarily hosted (and hid) the Liberty Bell in 1777, as the bell was furtively whisked to Allentown unbeknownst to the British. At McCoole’s at the Historic Red Lion Inn, a place combining historical elegance with casual comfort, visitors can enjoy victuals in the same setting as the Liberty Bell on its journey. The Trolley Barn Public Market offers a range of local produce, craft beer from the nearby Two Rivers Brewing Company, and fresh baked goods.
Sellersville, once a major stop on the Bethlehem Pike and named after Seller’s Tavern, is definitely still worth the stop. Catch a live Christmas-inspired show at Sellersville Theatre before heading over to Washington House Restaurant for appealing American contemporary fare to truly warm up your holiday.