Formerly an artists’ enclave that attracted painters and writers from Manhattan who were looking for spacious studios, quiet places to work and great light, Frenchtown, New Jersey, in the beautiful western part of the state--near equally beautiful Delaware River towns like Stockton, Lambertville and neighboring Buck’s County, PA--is still a mecca for artists and writers.
Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame, has a house here.
Frenchtown has grown to be a thriving community of year-round residents and second-home owners. It is the perfect place for a weekend getaway from NYC, Philadelphia or Boston. Here are some spots not to be missed!
What could possibly be more relaxing than lounging in a plush featherbed in the spacious Audobon Cottage, and contemplating five sheep grazing tranquilly out the window? You can stare at the licks of fire in the fireplace, and enjoy a delicious, home-cooked breakfast, delivered moments ago: avocado toast with eggs, fruit salad, house-baked muffin, pork roll (in case you don’t know what that is, I’m told, “it’s a Jersey thing”). My room, like most on this beautiful property, features a large jacuzzi tub. Well-fed, relaxed, gathering my thoughts, I think about what an incredibly peaceful way this is to start the day.
The Woolverton Inn, named one of the top 10 B&Bs in the country, has been owned and managed by Mary and Mario Passalacqua, for the past 3.5 years. The historic property--with a range of cottages and guest rooms--showcases a side of New Jersey that most don’t associate with its brash, noisy, polluted cities.
In fact, Stockton, in western Jersey, next to neighboring Buck’s County, PA, and the flowing Delaware River, is the opposite: farmland, horses, homes that were perhaps inns or blacksmith shops in the Revolutionary War days, and look like they’ve barely changed a bit--except for their pristine beauty.
Euphoria Studio is a warm and welcoming day spa in Frenchtown, with a relaxed and rustic vibe. Each guest who flops down into the deep, comfy chairs in the waiting area is greeted with a restorative foot bath, a glass of fresh-squeezed carrot ginger juice from the place down the road and a vegan turmeric coconut cake ball.
Set in a restored historic water mill, where you can soak up the sun from a little deck overlooking the Delaware River, the tone is set by founder Melissa Olson, who, with her talented team of massage therapists and aestheticians, hits all the touch points to make this one of the most restorative, engaged and healing spa experiences you will ever have! Whether you choose the 75-Minute Goddess Facial--your skin will never look this good--or the 90-minute Custom Integrative Stress Relief Massage, you will leave Euphoria not only feeling euphoric, but you will also be a much better version of yourself, relaxed and ready to face anything life throws at you.
And while you’re there, be prepared to do some retail damage: the small but beautifully curated boutique will surely entice you!
Where to Eat?
Dinner at The Black Bass, directly overlooking the Delaware River, is a lovely experience any time of year, but especially in summer, when you can dine al fresco alongside the beautiful flowing river. The menu at this English-style pub features generous portions of a wide range of entrees from classic fish and chips to scallop risotto. Don’t miss a stop at the bar, where a curated cocktail menu will be calling you. Try the English Rose, a beautiful cocktail unlike any other, followed by Crispy Branzino or Stuffed Salmon, or, if you prefer, delicious salads and traditional pub-style fare.
Built in the 1740s, the Black Bass Hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places, and features five lovely, modern suites. Visitors over the years have included President Grover Cleveland, Marlon Brando, Carlos Santana and sightings of a few regular ghosts.
The motto at Lovin’ Oven is “Food is love,” and you can certainly feel it there. Home cooking; warm, friendly service; and delicious food can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner, in a comfortable indoor space, or a sprawling outdoor patio, bordered by a beautiful carved stone wall shipped over from Bali, and purchased at the antiques shop formerly owned by Elizabeth Gilbert and her ex-husband.
The menu changes seasonally, but some items, always in popular demand by locals, never change.
Standouts include Veggie Hash, Buckwheat Mushroom Bowl, Fish Tacos, Vegan Enchiladas and a host of fresh-pressed juices and turmeric elixir that is 100 percent addictive. The owners change it up with special menus like “Thursday Night Italian Night” and there is plenty to appeal to children and finicky eaters!
What to Do?
There is tubing down the Delaware River, a visit to the Golden Nugget Antique Flea Market (open on Wednesday mornings), a window-shop antiquing walk through Lambertville, biking through the Green Sargeant Covered Bridge, the last surviving covered bridge in NJ, a daily farmer’s market over the bridge from Frenchtown. Hiking trails, great antiquing throughout the region and endless opportunities to relax as you walk or drive past farms, horse corrals and cows grazing in the grass.