For the first road trip of 2022, I set my cap for Lahaska, Pennsylvania and the family attraction known as Peddler’s Village. After a bitter winter, it was sunny and mild, the kind of day that brings people out of hibernation. By the time I arrived around noon, the village green was already crowded.
Peddler’s Village was the brainchild of the late Bucks County horticulturist Earl Hart Jamison. His kin were innkeepers as far back as the Revolutionary War, and in 1776 a Jamison’s tavern was a staging area for Washington’s troops before they crossed the Delaware.
Generations later, Earl opened the Golden Plough Inn, a mile down the road. It became the cornerstone of Peddler’s Village, which opened in 1962 with 14 shops on six acres. Today, the complex sprawls across 42 acres and has 60-some shops: boutiques, specialty stores, coffee shops, confectioners, and more.
Peddler’s Village is reminiscent of Historic Smithville in Atlantic County: an idealized version of a country hamlet, with quaint cottages and handsome colonial buildings on gently undulating grounds. And the ruse is quite persuasive, in part due to Earl Jamison’s award-winning gardens. The mature shrubs are all hand-pruned for a natural look. There are many old-growth trees: evergreens and conifers, white pines and Japanese maples—some soaring 60 and 70 feet high. The trees overlook rustic rock walls, winding brick walkways, and bridges made of twisted wooden boughs. All this splendor is centrally located, at the crossroads of Routes 202, 263, and Street Road in Lahaska, formerly Hentown.
Before my trip, I made one rule: Do. Not. Shop. As if! I couldn’t help but indulge myself at Journeys Spirited Gifts (chimes and crystals); the Pine Wreath (Christmas ornaments and candles); and not one but two bookstores: the friendly Lahaska Bookshop and JaZams, with books and toys for kids.
My favorite stop by far was Hats Galore & More, with racks and stacks of chapeaux, cloches, berets, fascinators, fedoras, and frilly Kentucky Derby hats. I found Irish apparel at the Celtic Rose; Black Forest clocks at Fehrenbach; plus, exquisite jewelry, fabulous designer clothing, and various assorted tchotchkes, mementoes, and gift items. There’s even a pickle shop, with the punny name Pickledilly Square. I’m just mad for pickles, and nearly swooned to see a whole showroom stocked with kosher dills and gherkins and sweet pickles, as well as pickled sausage, pickled cauliflower, even pickle-flavored cotton candy! My credit card got a workout there.
Peddler’s Village also has a kids’ entertainment center called Giggleberry Fair. Too cute, right? In fact, it looked like loads of fun, with its giant restored wooden carousel, old-fashioned funhouse mirror, game room, and a three-story, six-level obstacle course and maze called Giggleberry Mountain. I know several small fry who would adore it.
Originally, I hoped to dine at the flagship Cock & Bull restaurant. Whoops—without a reservation, it was a three-hour wait. So off I went to Hart’s Tavern, where I squeezed in at the bar and ordered the Montague sandwich: turkey breast and crispy bacon with lettuce and tomato on toasted rye bread. I added a salad with roasted red and golden beets, arugula, white balsamic goat cheese, and crunchy granola in a tangy dressing. Very nice with a glass of chardonnay.
I was alone that day, but not for long, because love was definitely in the air. To my right and left at the bar were two couples who had come to Peddler’s Village to officially get engaged. Suddenly I was in the middle of a lovefest, with champagne and good wishes flowing.
If you visit Peddler’s Village this year, you’re in luck. It’s the 60th anniversary, and with COVID (seemingly) on the wane, you can expect a yearlong party. In addition to Strawberry Month in May, the Summer Block Party in June, Bluegrass and Blueberries in July, and so on, Peddler’s Village will celebrate with the theme, “60 Years, 60 Shops, 60 Giveaways.”
Also on the calendar: an all-new summer-long event called Bucks County Beach Days: Sand Sculptures in the Village, funded in part by Visit Bucks County. Admission to all weekend festivals and displays is free and open to the public.
Over the years, Peddler’s Village has become one of the premier attractions of the Greater Philadelphia area, attracting 2 million visitors a year. It’s a couple of hours’ drive from Cape May, and worth the trip. Be sure to reserve at least half a day for your journey. I think you’ll enjoy it. ■