Road Trip: Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania

 

Let’s see…where shall we go? Just for a night. Maybe two. Let’s just get in the car and go!

 

Excerpt from the original article by Linda Pernice Kavanagh:

New York? Been there. Boston? Done that. How ’bout Nantucket? It’s too crowded during the summer and too quiet throughout the off months. We want great food and wine, lots of shopping and exploring, a relaxing place to stay, and, above all, something different. With a search engine at my fingertips, AAA maps, and some great word-of-mouth suggestions, my favorite travel companion (my sweetheart) and I were off on a New England road trip adventure.

11-delaware-river-chesnut-hill-1
Delaware River Bridge in Milford NJ, Photo copyright by Linda Rae Castagna

But, how ’bout something closer to home, something quaint and off the beaten path? One of our favorite hobbies is wine collecting. We could have ventured up through the Finger Lakes region of New York, but that was a bit farther than we wanted to go. We decided on New Hope, Pennsylvania and Frenchtown, New Jersey, bordering Bucks County neighborhoods that house a few soon-to-be popular wineries, charming bread & breakfasts, lots of antiquing, and beautiful scenic drives along the Delaware River. 118 miles south on I-287 to Route 202 and then Route 32, my true map of the area was found on a great web site called ft.bestofnj.com, as well as newhopepa.com. Both lead us to a cozy nights stay, New England’s signature comfort foods, and a few vineyards that were at opposite ends of the grape vine.

Street Scene in Frenchtown
Street Scene in Frenchtown

Frenchtown, New Jersey is, as the web site says, a “funky little town” that is full of culture, art, warmth and hospitality. Unique shops, local cafes, and a diverse residential population of 1,500 or so, makes up this delightful artisan destination. After a day of sightseeing and shopping we headed back out onto Rt 32 to Indian Rock Inn and Restaurant for a hearty “New England meets the Mediterranean” style meal. This is definitely where the locals hang out – sing and socialize over a cocktail or two and unwind from the day…as we did – minus the singing.

Time to rest up after our drive and a chilly day of gallivanting around town. We landed at Chestnut Hill on the Delaware, a lovely bed and breakfast situated on the Delaware River in the tiny town of Milford NJ.

Room @ Chestnut Hill Bed & Breakfast
Room @ Chestnut Hill Bed & Breakfast, Photo by Paul Bartholomew

Owned and operated by Linda and Rob Castagna, it was obvious that this was no ordinary B&B. Plush accommodations included private baths (Jaccuzi bath, heated floors/towel racks, and nice amenities), flat screen TV, and a to-die-for four-poster bed (one of the best night’s sleep we’ve ever had) with cotton quilts and soft sheets. Each room was absolutely darling, as were our hosts. There is plenty of privacy and everything is made quite convenient for a comfortable stay. The next morning we awoke to a scrumptious breakfast of stuffed French toast and we were on our way to the vineyards!

Breakfast @ Chestnut Hill
Breakfast @ Chestnut Hill

Breakfast at Chestnut Hill

63 Church Street, Milford, NJ, (888) 333-2242 Chestnuthillnj.com

So, over the bridge we went, into Bucks County, PA. Our first stop was to see Joseph Maxian at Sand Castle Winery. Joseph’s Czechoslovakian lineage in winemaking plays a major role in his knowledge and passion for the art of wine making. As a seasoned viticulturalist, Joseph recognized that the Pennsylvania land and climate was prime for growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling grapes on the same field.

Sandcastle Winery
Sandcastle Winery

Today, Sand Castle is one of the few wineries exclusively growing European vines on the East Coast. In 1988 this 72-acre estate released their first vintage to the public. We had a blast in the underbelly (30-feet down) of this operation where large stainless steel vats and oak barrels age the wines to perfection. The next phase for Joseph is the construction of his dream chateau, a mammoth undertaking that will house a tasting room, special events rooms, outdoor patio overlooking the river and vineyard, as well as touring facilities for Joseph’s exciting wine symposiums. Sand Castle Winery is a must see, and taste!

755 River Road, Rt 32, Erwinna, PA, (800) 722-9463 Sandcastlewinery.com

Next, working our way through the “hippy” village of New Hope, PA, we came upon Crossing Vineyards. The polar opposite of Sand Castle, Crossing Vineyards is brand-spankin’ new (established in 2000 – first vintage in 2002) and practices more modern, state-of-the-art wine making. Tom Carroll Jr, formerly an actor in California, convinced his parents, Tom Sr. and Christine, to join him in this venture, a dream he had to own and operate a vineyard in his hometown.

Crossing Vineyard
Crossing Vineyards

Housed on 15 acres and in a 200-year-old estate, the Carrolls have created a contemporary winery and event venue that produces “true to the land” wines (on the light side) and educates people to the fabulous world of food and wine and how they should be enjoyed together.

1853 Wrightstown Road, Washington Crossing, PA, (215) 493-6500 crossingvineyards.com

For more information on Pennsylvania wineries and special events, check out pennsylvaniawine.com

New Hope, PA (still on Route 32) is a colorful little community of streets lined with gingerbread style boutiques, galleries, antique stores, small eateries, and quaint inns. Yes, there is a Starbucks in town, but here it doesn’t seem to matter. A bit tired from exploring and driving (and sipping wine) we decided to settle in at The Mansion Inn, a 1865 Victorian manor home with creaky wooden floors, crystal chandeliers, floor to ceiling windows with billowy drapes, and stunning archways. Our room had a simple grace about it, full of antique furnishings, lacey linens and a pristine bathroom. After our complimentary champagne cocktail, we enjoyed an elegant dinner of saucisson en croute, monkfish Osso Bucco, veal tenderloin with crab imperial, and a warm bread pudding with brandy cream sauce. Homemade cookies and a glass of sherry greeted us back in our room. A good night’s sleep was next on our list.

9 South Main Street, New Hope, PA, (215) 862-1231
themansioninn.com

No passports, planes, security check points, or tourist books needed. Fill the tank up with gas, grab your travel companion (and a map), and just GO! No need to forward your calls, check email, or find somebody to cover you at work – you won’t be gone long to fall behind, but you will feel like you’re on vacation!

Quick Tips For Quick Trips:

* Web sites rock! Contact visitor’s bureaus and chamber of commerce sites.Check out special event calendars especially.

* Off-season may shock you. Better prices, smaller crowds, and lots of surprises. There’s more going on than you think.

* Ask for recommendations while at your various destinations – local businesses support each other and take special care of word-of-mouth visitors/customers.

* Spur of the moment trips are a blast, but a little planning will go a long way. Have the basics planned out, such as a place to stay and the directions!

Some favorite and handy sites:

Escapemaker.com
Onlyinn.com

……………….

About the author:

Linda Pernice Kavanagh, a true devotee of the food/restaurant industry, has been singing the praises of talented chefs and restaurateurs for years. Having worked her way through the whacky hospitality world, including stints as a waitress, bartender, chef, and caterer director, Linda plunged herself into creating her own public relations firm in 1997, MaxEx Public Relations, where she and her team of former restaurateurs dedicate themselves to tooting the horn of an industry they hold so dear. Based in Fairfield County Connecticut, Linda has been writing for various publications throughout CT for over 7 years and has been keeping FBI’s finger on the pulse of both New York and Boston’s thriving culinary scene.

Having garnered numerous awards including The North American Travel Journalists Association’s Award of Excellence for General Trade Story, 2 years in a row, Linda remains dedicated to an industry that is so glamorized on the outside, yet one of the most challenging on the inside.

To read more about the author go Here.