Taking Stock of Stockton

A romantic inn, a riverside stroll and plentiful culinary treats.

Reflections of the Past: Strolling the D&R Canal at the restored Prallsville Mills.
Photo by Steve Greer

For gorgeous fall foliage plus incomparable Delaware River views, it’s hard to beat a drive on scenic Route 29 as it follows the river from Frenchtown south to Trenton. Your destination: the tiny riverfront town of Stockton (population 538).

Little Stockton has much to offer, including easy access to the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park, with its scenic towpath for walking or bicycling. But the Hunterdon County town’s crown jewel—and the ideal base for a romantic fall getaway—is the Woolverton Inn (6 Woolverton Road) bed-and-breakfast, an elegantly restored 1792 stone manor house with cottages (and sheep) dotting its 10 bucolic acres. The inn’s eight rooms and five cottages are meticulously decorated with period furnishings and touches of Americana. (Fall rates start at $150.)

It’s a short walk from the inn to the center of town, where assembling a picnic for the day’s ramble is child’s play. Friday through Sunday, the indoor, year-round Stockton Market at 19 Bridge Street boasts first-rate vendors, including local organic dairy, meat, poultry and produce farmers; an outpost of Metropolitan Seafood; and artisanal ice cream, chocolate truffles and baked goods. For eating in or taking away, More Than Q specializes in Texas-style barbecue, while artisanal pizzas are the order of the day at Market Pizza. The market’s café features a tea and coffee bar, plus goodies from Buttons Creperie and Juice Matters. (The café’s hours differ slightly from the rest of the market: Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 am to 4 pm.) Stockton’s venerable wine shop, Phillips Fine Wines (17 Bridge Street), is conveniently located next to the market.

Another popular stop is the Stockton Food Store (12 Bridge Street), inside the town’s former railroad station. Locals recommend the fried chicken and the blueberry muffins; you also can choose from an array of sandwiches and salads.

To explore the riverfront, walk or bicycle the D&R towpath, a graveled route that runs along the edge of the Delaware, north to Frenchtown and south to Lambertville. It’s a gentle and picturesque ride suitable for all ages.

A short walk or ride north from Stockton on the towpath brings visitors to Prallsville Mills (33 Risler Street), a complex of preserved 18th- and 19th-century buildings operated by the Delaware River Mill Society. (Day-trippers will find ample towpath parking here.) The complex is home to several fine arts and performance groups; its craft gallery, open on weekends, features pottery, stained glass, jewelry, photography and other works by local artisans. A quilt show and sale is slated for the first weekend of October, and the Lambertville-based Opera Project will hold its fall concert there on October 10. For a full schedule of activities, visit Delaware River Mill Society website.

Stockton’s best-known eatery, the Stockton Inn, is temporarily closed for repairs and should re-open in late September. But the Pass (88 Kingwood Stockton Road), one of Jersey’s hottest restaurants—it’s included in New Jersey Monthly’s Top 25—is just two miles away in Rosemont, an even smaller, sleepier village than Stockton. (Just outside Rosemont is Green Sergeant’s Covered Bridge, the last bridge of its kind in New Jersey.) By day, the Pass is a retail counter selling chef/co-owner Matthew Ridgeway’s celebrated charcuterie for take-away. But four nights a week, it is transformed into a casual restaurant serving exciting French-inspired modern food. For more dining options, Lambertville is just four miles downriver—via Scenic Route 29.

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