Tagging anything “a throwback to another era” can be faint praise, but not in the case of this revived and revered 19th-century gem on the Delaware River.
“There’s an authenticity to it,” says George Point, a fan from Lawrenceville who disdains anything “quaint” and enjoys strolling Lambertville’s stretch of the D&R Canal towpath. Despite its growing league of fans, tiny Lambertville—with a population under 4,000—remains a place that residents and visitors enjoy in equal measure. Walk down Bridge Street on a weekday, and locals smile and say hello. Stop at any of its shops, antique stores, art galleries and cafés—nary a chain among them—and witness proprietors greeting customers by name. Take a walking tour (conducted by the historical society) or just wander on your own to enjoy the town’s lovingly preserved Victorian homes and Federal-era town houses.
WHERE TO EAT: Lambertville is a hotbed of bistros, among them Brian’s, d’floret, Hamilton’s Grill Room and Manon. Lambertville Station is set in a restored 19th-century train station by the canal. Full Moon is a daytime go-to. Newcomer Liberty Hall Pizza dishes up authentic Neapolitan pies. Middle Eastern fare is the specialty at Marhaba, and El Tule draws with both Mexican and Peruvian dishes. Lambertville Trading Company and Buck’s Ice Cream & Espresso Bar are standouts among a wealth of coffee and ice cream shops.
WHERE TO SHOP: Antiques shops outnumber even the coffee shops. The People’s Store alone houses 40 dealers inside a landmark building, while America Antiques & Design touts progressive decorative arts. Art galleries and boutiques specializing in new and vintage clothing also abound. Distinctive home furnishings and accessories are the domain of Blue Raccoon and the Urban Archaeologist.
DON’T MISS: For overnighters, Lambertville House has an historic boutique-hotel vibe, while the Inn at Lambertville Station’s recently renovated rooms come with breathtaking river views. January’s frigid temps are relieved by the Lambertville-New Hope Winter Festival, which features a chili cook-off, ice sculptures, gallery crawl and concert. Shad Fest, Lambertville’s signature weekend of food and family fun, takes place in late April. Just south of downtown, the Golden Nugget Antique & Flea Market runs Wednesdays and weekends.
THEN AGAIN: The weekend crush, especially in leaf-peeping season, and the overflow of tourists from New Hope (across the river in Pennsylvania), can try anyone’s patience.