New Hope is a place that keeps you trailing from store to store as the day flies by. Piercing and tattoo venues are everywhere. Cuban cigars, bumper stickers, Bob Marley T-shirts, hemp purses and vintage clothing fill the Main Street stores.
New Hope is similar to Philadelphia’s South Street, with lots of people walking around outside and motorcycles at every parking meter. However, it’s more secluded than the city. It is surrounded by trees and located right on the Delaware River.
About 40 miles north of the city, New Hope is easily accessible by I-95 and you can take the R3 train to Yardley or West Trenton, the closest train stations.
The first spot I visited along Main Street was the famed Love Saves the Day. This store sells everything from cowboy hats and colonial outfits to angel wings and fur coats. The shelves are also full of sex toys, gag gifts and posters. It’s a combination of Condom Kingdom and your dress-up closet.
Store employee Cleo Guyer said they sell “whatever the owner [Leslie Herfon] likes. It’s the owner’s way of expressing her art through an eclectic store.”
Love Saves the Day was founded in New York City in 1966 and still exists in the city’s East Village, as well as on Main Street in New Hope. Cleo said stylists and designers from the New York shop frequently shop at the New Hope location. Other buyers throw costume parties or simply enjoy unique items, since the store’s collection
includes mustaches, velvet capes, lace and ballerina skirts, masks and more.
One such item is a three-inch doll called “Grow a Girlfriend,” which expands to life-size when submerged in water. They also have insult gum that says when your breath stinks and action figures modeled after Sigmund Freud, Edgar Allen Poe, Vincent Van Gogh and Albert Einstein.
They sell coffee mugs that mock the president as well as numerous vibrators. Most merchandise sold at Love Saves the Day isn’t mass-produced, which makes it a perfect fit for New Hope, a primarily non-commercialized, liberal town.
New Hope is a major hang-out for bikers, especially since long stretches of open road that are uninterrupted by traffic lead to the town.
The clothing shop After the Ride carries all things leather, from skirts to jackets to dog collars. Next door is Mystical Times, which sells candles, incense and instructional tarot card books. They also offer in-store palm readings.
Nearby is Primal Urge, a well-known, extremely clean piercing place. Keep walking and you’ll see Medieval Gallery, which features replica armor attire, women’s corset tops and men’s medieval-style clothing. Their main attraction is their sword collection, which ranges in price from about $15 to $250. They even offer a treasure chest filled with swords for $20.
A few stores and a pizza shop down from that, there is a store called Three Cranes on Main. Here, you can find wooden dragon statues, Buddha figurines, bongo drums, girls’ shoes, head bands, skirts with salamander patterns, wall hangings and acoustic Brazilian CDs.
After shopping, you might get hungry. Luckily, there are tons of places to eat, all with outdoor and indoor seating. Havana serves world cuisine until 11 p.m., as well as drinks like the South Beach Mojito, Voodoo Juice, Rasmopolitan and Jamaican-me-crazy. They have a wide selection of imported and domestic beer, including smaller brewing names like Flying Fish and Magic Hat.
If you’re a smoker, don’t forget that this is Bucks County, not Philadelphia. You can always smoke inside Havana. There are couches and full screen TVs, plus a stage where local bands perform.
Havana offers live music Thursday through Sunday from 9 p.m. to midnight. A DJ dance party takes place on those days from midnight until close. Monday nights draw a huge crowd for karaoke and Tuesday nights are open mic nights. On Wednesdays, they host Kinky Quizzo, which features sex trivia games with erotic prizes.
Bartender Lindsay Hudock said that she loves to work at Havana “mostly because of the clientele. The locals are so extremely nice, and the management is phenomenal.”
Right across the street is a bar called 90 Main, which is smaller than Havana but has a similar atmosphere. They play ’80s music, hip-hop and rock and sometimes showcase live bands, acoustic guitarists and singers. They serve tapas, pizza, sushi, burgers, wine, martinis and beer. Like Havana, they have both indoor and outdoor seating.
While in New Hope, you can shoot pool, eat, drink, get psychic readings and pick up T-shirts with unconventional, funny logos. This is a relaxed town that makes for a very promising and eclectic day trip.
Annette Gollan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.