Access to a river was a key consideration when New Jersey settlers chose a new place to put down roots. In addition to providing an ample source of water, rivers made it easy to travel from town to town via boats and barges and provided a steady supply of fish. Today, New Jersey river towns are popular with local residents and tourists alike for their scenic locations, historic homes, and shopping, dining, and recreational opportunities. These four towns are some of the most interesting river towns in New Jersey.
Lambertville offers a two-for-one river town experience. The city, named one of the “Top 15 Prettiest Towns in America” by Forbes, is located directly across the river from another popular Delaware River town, New Hope, PA. Lambertville has plenty of interesting shops to explore. During your visit, you can find the perfect antique to complement your décor, pick up an original work of art for your wall, or buy a new outfit at a chic boutique.
The town is home to more than 20 restaurants and bars, including Lambertville Station, housed in an old railway station, and Bell’s Tavern, a family-run restaurant featuring American and Italian cuisine. Every January, Lambertville and New Hope hold a joint Winter Fest that draws thousands of visitors. Winter Fest activities include a chili cookoff, film festival, parade, live music and the Fire and Ice Ball.
After a morning in Lambertville, why not spend the afternoon in Frenchtown? Just 20 minutes upriver on the Delaware, Frenchtown is a great place to add to your river town itinerary. The town gets its name from the French-speaking immigrants who lived in the area in the 1800s. The mills that once provided an income to area residents have long since closed, but the town is thriving today, thanks to the businesses that line its charming streets.
After you browse the aisles at Frenchtown’s clothing boutiques, shop for treasures at the antique stores and art galleries, or stop by the Frenchtown Inn for a leisurely dinner. During hot summer days, tubing on the Delaware River is a popular activity. Events held in Frenchtown include Bastille Day in July, Riverfest in early September, and the Zombie Crawl and Scavenger Hunt in late October.
Bordering the Delaware River and the Crosswicks Creek, Bordentown is another river town well worth a visit. After being pillaged and burned by British troops in 1778, the town rebuilt and became a key trade center for the area.
You’ll find plenty one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants in downtown Bordentown today. Among the many interesting stores are Broomstick Betty, selling potions and crystals, and Randy’s New Man Cave, the place to buy pop culture merchandise. Local restaurants offer Italian, Mexican, vegan and American cuisines. Bordentown RiverFest in October, the Valentine’s Day Chocolate Walk, and a street fair in May are among the special events held in the town.
Thanks to the abundant supply of silica in the area, Millville, located on the Maurice River, established itself as the center for glass making in New Jersey. The town’s Glasstown Arts District celebrates the town’s history and also offers restaurants, shops, theaters and galleries. Watch glass and pottery demonstrations at the Wheaton Arts Center, explore other cultures at the Folklife Center, or pay a visit to the Museum of American glass while you’re in town.
Every third Friday, Millville holds an Art Walk that features art exhibitions, live music and theater performances. On Memorial Day weekend, the Millville Army and Field Museum usually holds an impressive air show complete with aerial acrobatics, parachuting demonstrations and vintage aircraft displays.
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