Bucks and Hunterdon counties, known for their antiques shops and rural landscapes, flank the Delaware River and are about an hour and a half southwest of Manhattan.
Route 202 is the road through Hunterdon into Bucks. One of the most beautiful drives is Route 32 (River Road), starting at New Hope and paralleling the Delaware on the Pennsylvania side of the river. There are bridges to cross to the New Jersey side at New Hope, Centre Bridge, and Uhlerstown, across from Frenchtown.
THE INN AT FORDHOOK FARM This estate has great history: It was the original testing grounds for the Burpee Seed Company and home of company founder W. Atlee Burpee. But it's hard to imagine that the house, the oldest part of which dates from 1740, ever looked as lush as it does now. It was redone last year by Burpee president George Ball with Oriental rugs, French antiques, and his personal collection of Roman antiquities. Rooms to get: the Burpee Room, with a marquetry bed, fireplace, private staircase, and Scalamandré wallcoverings, or the Asian-inspired Atlee Room. Both have terraces overlooking the lawns of the 60 acres remaining of the estate's original 500. Or try the Simmons Room, with an ornate, turn-of-the-century French gilded mirror and crystal chandelier. Some nice touches: the pantry with lemon bars and homebaked cookies for snacking and the lavish breakfasts served on fine silver and china. The single drawback: the noise from nearby roads 202 and 611. $295-$395. 105 New Britain Road, Doylestown, PA; 215-345-1766; www.fordhookfarm.com.
THE WOOLVERTON INN Handsomely furnished, set on ten acres of wooded grounds, silent with the exception of the occasional baaing of sheep, and run by three jovial and obliging innkeepers, this is the best inn on the Jersey side of the river. The eight rooms in the main house (ca. 1792) vary; a few are slated for renovation. Go for the cottages, particularly those just finished in June, like the Sojourn Loft, a duplex with bamboo bedframe, Venetian plaster fireplace with Islamic motifs, and an upstairs Jacuzzi and hammock with great views. $125-$375. 6 Woolverton Road, Stockton, NJ; 609-397-0802; www.woolvertoninn.com.
BLACK BASS HOTEL The decor at this 1740s inn on the Delaware borders on kitsch, with English royal regalia galore (apparently, during the Revolution the owners sided with George III and wouldn't admit a wandering George Washington). But the food is much better than you'd expect in such a setting. Don't miss the coffee-lacquered duck with pear-ginger chutney or the molasses- rum-and-pepper-painted salmon with banana salsa. There are small rooms upstairs. $90. 3774 River Road, Lumberville, PA; 215-297-5770; www.blackbasshotel.com.
THE CAFE AT ROSEMONT A former general store serving great earthy food. The café is open for lunch and dinner but is especially good for weekend brunch, particularly for the feathery omelets and freshly baked muffins. Brunch: $25. $ Corner of 519 and 604, Rosemont, NJ; 609-397-4097.
HAMILTON'S GRILL ROOM The Sunday night crowd was so SRO that the maître d' was turning everyone away, even a famous actor. So I had to beg them for takeout, which they never do but this time did. The chef suggested grilled rack of lamb in a rosemary red-wine sauce—one of the most tender and flavorful I've ever tasted. Extraordinary given the conditions—eating from a takeout tin in the front seat of my car. So I understand the raves this Mediterranean menu has garnered. BYOB. $80. 8 Coryell Street, Lambertville, NJ; 609-397-4343.
INN AT PHILLIPS MILL Dating from 1750, this stone inn has perfectly prepared classic French dishes (escargots, chicken in mustard sauce), romantic dining rooms, and an extremely solicitous staff. Closed January. BYOB. $60. $ 2590 North River Road, New Hope, PA; 215-862-9919.
SERGEANTSVILLE INN Antelope, ostrich, wild boar, and, on a previous menu, even kangaroo. Esoteric meats attract the attention at this 18th-century stone-house restaurant in this teeny picturesque village. But chef-owner Joe Clyde also serves exuberant food with more commonplace ingredients. Have the pheasant. $70. 601 Rosemont-Ringoes Road, Sergeantsville, NJ; 609-397-3700.
New Hope is a bit touristy, so for some serious shopping head to the other side of the river and the antiques of Lambertville.
DAVID RAGO AUCTIONS/PERRAULT-RAGO GALLERY Features 20th-century decorative arts and furniture and holds six auctions annually of Arts and Crafts Movement and 20th-century modern furniture. 333 North Main Street; 609-397-9374.
G. EVANS LTD. Spectacular 18th- and 19th-century European antiques, chandeliers, estate silver. 8 Bridge Street; 609-397-4411.
JIM'S ANTIQUES FINE ART GALLERY Specializes in Pennsylvania Impressionist paintings (mainly the New Hope School). $ 9 Lambert Lane; 609-397-7733.
MILL CREST ANTIQUES For museum-quality vintage textiles, particularly French table linens. 72 Bridge Street; 609-397-4700.
PARK PLACE Carries extraordinary estate jewelry. 6 Bridge Street; 609-397-0102.
About This Guide
Prices In U.S. dollars.
Hotel Prices For high-season, double occupancy, from the least expensive double to the most expensive suite.
Restaurant Prices For a three-course dinner for two, without wine or service.
Telephone Numbers The area code for the Berkshires (Massachusetts) is 413; Bucks County (Pennsylvania), 215; Hunterdon County (New Jersey), 609; Dutchess County (New York), 845; the Hamptons (New York), 631; Litchfield County (Connecticut), 860.
Platinum Card Travel Service (PTS) or Centurion Travel Service (CTS) For travel assistance, call 800-443-7672 (PTS) or 877-877-0987 (CTS).
$ Establishment accepts no charge/credit cards or accepts cards other than the American Express Card.
Disclaimer: The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication in October 2001, but we suggest you confirm all details with the service establishments before making travel plans.