Wisenheimers can save the disparaging Jersey remarks: At one time Lambertville, just a two-hour drive south of the city, played home to oddball artists like Dorothy Parker and Moss Hart, and is a killer hunting ground for vintage and antiques.
Fresh Herbs and Floral Chintz
In the 19th century, Lambertville Station was a transportation hub. Today, travelers rest their weary heads in one of the landmarked stone building’s 45 rooms — each with a river view and a healthy dose of B&B styling. Raise a flute to luxury at the champagne brunch (served in a glass-enclosed ballroom) or nibble lump crab cakes flecked with herbs grown in the station’s massive garden.
If it’s caffeine you need, slip away to Rojo’s Roastery. Housed in an industrial garage, the small-batch fair trade roaster’s baristas pull Stumptown-grade shots.
Hunters, Gathers, and Hoarders
Serious collectors troll the antiques shops that line the streets (mainly clustered on Union and Bridge streets). Those who don’t have $50,000 to lay out on a swell Civil War-era wooden chest should head to the Golden Nugget Antique Market, held year-round on weekends since 1967. Expect to dig, haggle, and fall in love with unlikely ephemera like vintage matchbooks.
America Designs deals in quirkier goods and sidelines as a prop store for movies and TV. It’s well-known for a mind-boggling collection of massive clock dials.
The sport of choice for leisure lovers is reading, and the selection of rare and vintage titles at Panoply Books is excellent. Judge a book by its decorative cloth cover — or its subject matter, which ranges from housekeeping guides to the occult and obscure.
Life Vests and Twinkly Lights
The Boat House could be a Taavo Somer affair with its nautical quirk, worn leather chairs, and memorabilia-lined walls. Instead it’s a vine-draped hideaway on a canal-side dead-end lane. Down stiff, classic drinks (no sissy cocktails) in the downstairs bar or buy a bottle of wine and walk across the lane to the BYOB Hamilton’s Grill Room. The fresh, fish-centric fare is top-notch; eat in the frescoed dining room or under a backyard tent surrounded by flickering lights.
Still feeling wanderlusty? Try heading north on a Gilded Age road trip.
Photos: Shutterstock; gailf548 / Flickr; Thinkstock