De-Stress Down by the Delaware River

At Stockton's historic Woolverton Inn, a peaceful weekend awaits.

Woolverton Inn

Updates at the Woolverton Inn include a relandscaped lawn area with a new patio, fountain and firepit. Courtesy of the Woolverton Inn

At the Woolverton Inn, “doing nothing is part of the experience,” says Mary Passalacqua, who, with husband Mario, has owned and operated the majestic Hunterdon County B&B since February 2016.

Passalacqua isn’t suggesting she wants visitors to be bored. Rather, she hopes her guests will “chill and de-stress.” That might mean settling into an Adirondack chair to listen to the birds and gaze across the front lawn toward the Delaware River. Or strolling through the gardens on the 10-acre property. Or feeding the resident sheep.

The Passalacquas always knew they wanted to own a B&B, but it was the old-world hospitality they experienced on an extended stay in Italy that sealed the deal. When the inn came on the market, the couple pounced. Mario had worked at IBM for many years in software sales and business development; Mary was a veteran of corporate finance. He continues to work in tech sales; she manages the inn. They had been living in South Orange. Now, they live with the youngest of their three children in the house they purchased across the road from the inn.

woolverton inn

Breakfast is served on the flower-bedecked porch. Courtesy of the Woolverton Inn

The Woolverton Inn dates to 1792, when Revolutionary War veteran John Prall Jr. built a two-story farmhouse on the site. In the mid-1800s, the inn’s namesakes, Maurice and Asher Woolverton, expanded the building into the three-story stone manor house we see today. Later owners converted the property into a B&B in the 1980s.

Since taking over, the Passalacquas have been “tuning up” the property, updating guest rooms, enhancing the landscaping, and adding a patio with a fountain and firepit adjacent to the sheep pasture. As for the flock of four sheep, “they’re like pets,” says Mary. “They’ve been here a lot of years.”

A day at the inn starts with a complimentary three-course breakfast, served in the formal dining room, on the flower-bedecked porch or on the expansive patio. Breakfast includes fresh-baked scones and a choice from two mains—eggs Florentine or apple-cider pancakes, for example. Treats continue throughout the day, including fresh-baked cookies and a late-afternoon cocktail hour with complimentary cordials.

And while doing nothing is acceptable, there’s actually plenty to do nearby. Just down the hill is the small riverside town of Stockton, where the main attraction is the Stockton Market (19 Bridge Street), with its array of food vendors (mostly open on weekends). Four miles away in Lambertville, there’s ample browsing at antique shops (don’t miss the People’s Store, 28 N. Union Street), galleries and boutiques, plus plenty of dining options. Just south of downtown, the Golden Nugget Flea Market (1850 River Road) bustles with vendors on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. The D&R Canal State Park trail links the two towns (and beyond). It’s great for a riverside walk, run or bike ride. (Bike rentals are available at Big Bear Gear in Lambertville.) For a fantastic view of the river, take a short hike to Goat Hill Overlook in nearby Washington Crossing State Park.

STAY: The main inn has three suites and five guest rooms. There are also two cottages, each with two units, and a remodeled guest house with two units, including a pet-friendly, ADA-compliant, one-bedroom suite. All are tastefully decorated and have modern bathrooms (some with double whirlpool tubs), Wi-Fi and central air conditioning. Rates range from $225 per midweek night for a third-floor room to $595 for a weekend night in a two-bedroom apartment in the guest house. Among the most striking rooms: the Balustrade, an airy suite with balcony; and the Hunterdon, a cottage unit with rough-sawn beams, working fireplace, and a king-size bed under a 20-foot-tall cupola.

DINE: Top choices in Lambertville include Anton’s at the Swan (43 S. Main Street), with its popular adjoining bar; and Hamilton’s Grill Room (8 Coryell Street), a BYO with patio seating. The best bets for lunch in Lambertville are Under the Moon (23 N. Union Street, with outdoor seating) and Lambertville Station (11 Bridge Street). In Stockton, you can grab a pie at Market Pizza in the Stockton Market, or check out the neighboring Borscht Belt deli, scheduled to open this spring.

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