A village can be full of surprises. It may be as new as the 20th century or as old as Native American history. It was and is a common gathering place for outlying farmers, villagers and visitors, looking for a taste of something unique — like one-of-a-kind shops, a throwback slice of life that involved windmills and waterwheels, an accommodating inn and of course, restaurants. Peddlers Village in pristine Bucks County fits the mold for a base to explore a countryside, rich in picturesque vistas and activity. Generations of us have been regulars on family weekend getaways. So, what’s there, you ask? Here’s what. — Jay Lloyd
It was an evolutionary process that morphed from a Lenape Indian village to a small clutch of settler’s homes and shops to a getaway complex created 54 years ago at a crossroads called Lahaska. The very walkable collection of shops, eateries and festivals on over 40 acres has attracted as many as two-million visitors in a single year. Flowering gardens in a colonial styled backdrop provides the setting for shops that reflect changing generations and are punctuated by the lilting music of a beautifully restored prohibition era carousel. It is now a village of memories, fantasy and fun. And it’s undergoing a renaissance that blends tradition with youthful interests.
GOLDEN PLOUGH INN
At the heart of the village is a completely refurbished 71 room inn with a casual country style bar and restaurant. It provided us with the ideal spot for an overnight stay to avoid the drive home after an evening of wining and dining. As we checked in, the clerk behind an antique hotel desk quipped, “Check out the bathroom.” We did. It was big enough to stage a wedding. Period furnishings and modern amenities are the charm and comfort. Packages are available that include dining at Earl’s New American Restaurant, across the road. More on that later.
The shopping here is more about discovery and a unique experience than it is about buying a product. I had a chance to taste a sampling of rare whiskies while Mary searched for some elusive antique coat hooks. Sports memorabilia enthusiasts will find a blast from the past, while a sweet tooth craving is satisfied with a bag of handmade candies, fresh roasted nuts and thoroughly modern takes on the classic cupcake. You get the idea. You’ll explore sixty-five shops that take a page from the past or display crafts and clothes that are not often seen. Before you go, plot your shopping list and path.
Eight restaurants and cafes from kid food friendly to a top of the line steak house are strategically spotted around the village so you’re never far from a table when the cravings strike. For an overnight visit we were able to enjoy three.
EARL’S NEW AMERICAN
Chef Bill Murphy was working on a new dessert involving chocolate mousse and Bailey’s Irish Cream that was circulating around the bar when we arrived. It was a winner. So was the lively bar, busy with locals and a dinner crowd for a dining room that was filling fast. Earl’s had just reopened after rising from the ashes of a devastating fire. Everyone was thrilled to back. The classic American menu with a nod to global favorites combines a blend of local ingredients and seasonal favorites. My raw oysters with a well mixed Manhattan were as fresh as the sea. They were the perfect prelude to a tender medium rare strip steak. Earl’s alone is worth the drive, even if you aren’t overnighting.
The rustic dining room with picture windows and outdoor patio is the spot for breakfast if you’re staying at the Golden Plough. Mary and I settled on omelettes and waffles. Buttonwood is also a favorite for casual lunches and dinners and with the late night crowd for an impressive beer selection and weekend music around a classic country inn bar and comfy lounge.
COCK AND BULL TAVERN
A touch of class with fresh flowers on a table, overlooking a sun drenched garden and a menu brimming with familiar foods. That’s the Cock and Bull, the centerpiece restaurant that was launched over half-a-century ago at the dawn of Peddler’s Village. If you love roast chicken with crisp skin covering juicy, tender meat over traditional herb stuffing, don’t pass up this one. Lunch here ranges from classic pot pies to lobster rolls and burgers. At dinner you can dally with duck or show up on Tuesday and enjoy the symbol of American comfort food – a roast turkey dinner.
The village offers a smorgasbord of festivals throughout the year. Between now and December there are 16 with themes that are global and seasonal, taking us from Paris to a gingerbread house competition. In between a taste of Italy, a scarecrow festival, Octoberfest and a blizzard of holiday events. It’s all accompanied by music and food to fit the season, the festival and the mood. For a complete festival schedule, take a peek here.
When overnighting at Peddler’s Village to roam the countryside, here are a few places for exploration. Nearby New Hope offers Broadway theater in a rural setting at the Bucks County Playhouse, fine dining, both casual and elegant at the Logan Inn and Marsha Brown’s, vintage shops, riverfront strolls and a scenic railroad ride.
The Crossing Vineyard and winery near Washington’s Crossing is a relaxing spot for wine tastings, sunset concerts or cheese and wine pairing events.
For a unique lunch or dinner stop at an 18th century inn with rustic dining room, antique bar and spacious outdoor patio, try the Pineville Tavern on route 413 about 15 minutes from Peddler’s Village.