Despite high gas prices and rising inflation rates, tourists are still expected to flock to Bucks County this summer.
Tourism may not be at its pre-pandemic peak, but county hotel occupancy rates have seen positive growth throughout 2022 — a trend COO Paul Bencivengo of Visit Bucks County, expects it to continue through the summer.
Bencivengo said the price at the pump should not deter visitors since the county is located near major cities. Tourists from nearby metro areas may see Bucks as an affordable trip this summer compared to a drive across the country.
“Our location, coupled with our marketing and strong pent-up travel demand, has allowed Bucks County to outperform many other destinations over the past two years. New York is only 75 miles away. Philadelphia and South Jersey are still within driving distance from Bucks County. Some of those New Yorkers and Philadelphians see Bucks County as a close destination,” Bencivengo said, adding that the first quarter of 2022 showed average hotel occupancy in the county increased 8.5% from compared to 2021.
New places to discover in Bucks County
Bencivengo added that many restaurants and attractions are beginning to recover from labor shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the boom in tourism, the county has also seen significant hotel developments in recent years. This summer is the perfect opportunity for new tourists and returning tourists to visit the new sites.
Among Bucks County’s newest destinations is The Square in Dublin.
Located on North Main Street, The Square kicked off Dublin’s booming development in 2019 and is ready for an active summer. The former factory has been transformed into a mix of shops, restaurants and office spaces. From a wine bar called The Boiler Room to the craft market named Makers, tourists can make the most of their time at The Square.
“As warm weather is upon us. It’s every weekend that seems to get more and more crowded here,” said promoter and former county commissioner Rob Loughery.
Perkasie and Sellersville are other towns that have been on the road to revitalization for several years and are well worth a visit for those traveling to the county.
Steve Barth, economic consultant for cities, said that over the past 10 years more than 70 new businesses have opened in Perkasie. For the townships, the millions of dollars of investment has been correlated with an increase in out-of-state visitors. Specifically, Barth most often sees New York, Delaware, and Connecticut license plates in cities.
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Both locations are packed with destinations unique to the county. For example, in Perkasie are Rams Pint House and Rooftop Lounge – Bucks’ first rooftop restaurant, which opened in 2021.
Guests can enjoy a meal with a view at Rams, located on Chestnut Street in the historic city. The restaurant often features live music and has a large menu with classic dishes such as cheesesteaks, wings, and a juicy bone-in pork chop.
Rams Pint House and Rooftop Lounge owner Joe Wade encouraged tourists not only to come to his restaurant, but also to visit Perkasie, a town he described as “comes alive”.
“There are walking paths all around. There has been so much growth in housing and new places popping up,” Wade said.
Perkasie will also offer a summer concert series at the new Lenape Park Amphitheater. But, Bucks County has plenty of other family-friendly outdoor summer activities beyond Perkasie, like the new TreeTrails AdventurePark in Feasterville, slated to open in July at the Phoenix Sport Club.
The aerial adventure club will offer attractions for ages 4 and up, including ziplines and ropes courses.
Bucks County Hidden Gems
While Bucks County is home to many well-known and popular travel destinations such as Peddler’s Village, recently named the #1 tourist destination in the Philadelphia area, there are plenty of other places to occupy your time while visiting the region.
Bucks has a rich history with endless opportunities for tourists to immerse themselves in places that may be unfamiliar to faraway travelers.
Van Sant Airfield in Tinicum Township is a place full of history dating back to the 1950s and 1960s. The airfield features many old planes, but the main attraction is the airplane flights. Visitors take off from the airfield and see the county from a whole new perspective in the sky.
“You can see all the buildings up there. It really is something different. No matter which direction I go, there is something different. On a sunny Saturday or Sunday, this place is smoking with airplanes and antiques flying around,” said Bar Eisenhauer, flight operations manager at the airfield.
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Additionally, once a month, the airfield hosts a dinner and movie night under the stars, and Eisenhauer invites guests to pitch a tent to spend the night on the airfield.
The story is also found at the other end of the county in Bristol. The town was one of the stops of the Underground Railroad and is home to a statue of Harriet Tubman on Basin Street.
Ken Kaissar, production manager at the Bristol Riverside Theatre, marveled at the city’s deep history. He said the theater, located on the banks of the Delaware River, is historic in its own right, dating back to the 1950s.
For those looking to soak up some history, you can spend the day in the city and your nights at the Theater’s Summer Music Festival presented by William Penn Bank. Many concerts feature classic hits such as the iconic Ladies of Song Nights, July 21-31, with music from Patsy Cline, Rosemary Clooney and Tina Turner.
“Bristol has truly become a wonderful place to come. The river is beautiful. The landscape is wonderful. It’s worth the trip,” Kaissar said.
Beyond its historical ties, Bucks has a thriving natural scene. You may be familiar with county and state parks, but there are other ways to spend your time outdoors.
For example, outside of New Hope, there is Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, which features various outdoor living museum exhibits. The preserve is ideal for families or individuals and is home to more than 750 of Pennsylvania’s 2,000 native plant species.
“A beautiful summer”
While the pandemic may have put a damper on summer plans in recent years, Bucks County continues to be a tourism hotspot. New attractions have appeared and old ones remain a key part of the county’s appeal.
Looking to the future, Bencivengo remained optimistic about summer travel.
“Tourism has been strong in the county with overnight roommates. We expect it to be a good summer,” he said.