The first time I met Milford, PA it was June of 2007 on a girls’ weekend. When the four of us drove through downtown Milford, I turned to one of them in awe and amazement and said, “Where are we?” A native New Englander, I was taken with the undeniable quaintness of the small signs and obvious historic preservation, the wooden shingles and carefully painted shutters. “This is Milford,” she told me. “I need to live here,” I said, setting out on a quest to do just that. Through the coming seasons I fell in love with the tiny town, finding it a much-needed respite from our hectic Brooklyn Heights home. As my boyfriend consistently remarked: “Everyone’s happy here.” It certainly felt like the perfect escape for us.
I wish I could call myself a pioneer, but Milford had served as a getaway for New Yorkers since Louis Fauchere opened the original, smaller Hotel Fauchere in 1852, which now posts photos in its stairwell of some of the coolest people who’ve passed through, from JFK to Iggy Pop. (Frank McCourt wrote Angela’s Ashes in a rented house off the main drag!)
Only 90 minutes from Midtown Manhattan by car, it’s an easy bus ride into another world. The short downtown area, with, yes, one traffic light in the whole town, has everything you need in a few short blocks: luxury (and casual) dining, a spa, a café, crafts, and shops that suit your budget. Venturing outside Milford center you’ll find some of nature’s finest adventures and most spectacular landscapes.
Here is a small selection of the reasons you’ll fall in love with Milford, too.
AIDS activist and all-around remarkable human, Sean Strub is currently the Mayor of Milford, and, even if this status changes, he’ll always be Mayor to us. Owner of The Hotel Fauchere (and several other downtown properties), the humble, astute, and old-world gentlemanly Sean has worked tirelessly to preserve Milford’s beauty and tradition—and break ground where needed. Read his book Body Counts for a glimpse into his amazing life. If you visit Milford, you’ll no doubt see him buzzing around, smiling at old and new friends.
THE HOTEL FAUCHERE
401 Broad Street
Bring your dog!
This is the place. A beautiful Relais & Chateaux hotel in the center of town, there’s pretty much nowhere else you’d rather be. The current building was built and opened in 1880. Louis Fauchere was the innovative chef of the historic NYC restaurant Delmonico’s (he created, for one thing, the modern menu). The immaculately preserved hotel, completely renovated in 2005, houses 16 stunning guest rooms, exquisitely renovated with all the requisite luxuries, including Italian marble and Pennsylvania bluestone bathrooms.
The Delmonico Room is on the main level and is known for some of the finest food in town. For more casual dining, visit Bar Louis on the ground floor for their signature Sushi Pizza or an out-of-this-world burger. In the warmer weather, they serve on the porch, which is one of the best ways to get to know the true heartbeat of Milford.
224 Broad Street
Bring your dog!
Elisabeth Muller and Georges Malaroche own this authentically French eatery dedicated to making your taste buds dance with happiness. Crepe Elisabeth, with its fresh grilled local veggies, is a personal favorite, though you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. As weird as it is to say, the genuine kindness of its owners makes its way into every sweet and savory bite—simply magnifique.
Whether you’re a hiker, biker, kayaker, fisherman or rafter, there’s lots to keep you busy. Located along the Delaware Water Gap (that’s the Delaware River, for those who don’t know), Milford claims to be the birthplace of the conservation movement, and its stunning surroundings emulate the efforts, including a collection of must-see waterfalls open to the public. (Seriously, please do this!)
THE MILFORD READERS AND WRITERS FESTIVAL
You don’t need to care about books at all to attend, but if you do, it’ll be the best weekend of your life. Think of it as a delightful celebration of the most luscious time of year, with loads of fun, friendly people walking to and from panels that, in the first year, included Gloria Steinem and John Berendt. You’re sure to be stimulated and, if you choose, learn a thing or two. This year it was on the weekend of September 20 – 22nd.
(Love film? Don’t miss The Black Bear Film Festival October 18 -20.)
Looking for a place to stay that’s a little more rustic, just outside the center of town? This privately-owned nearly 600-acre property has three cabins for rent, including a classic main hunting lodge, a Class A trout stream for fishing, mini waterfalls, hiking trails, and enough nature and wildlife to bring back everything city life tried to obliterate.
THE SUMMERTIME (And the fall, and the winter, and the spring)
It’s true the warm weather is what makes most of the above come to life, but never discount the appeal of a walk in the falling snow (if that’s your thing) or cozying up in front of a fireplace with a Hot Toddy on a cold winter night (if that’s your thing). There’s something for everyone all year ‘round.
PLACES TO EAT
This is as close to a hole in the wall as you could literally get (technically, it’s a very small storefront, next to a pet grooming place) and it’s the best Mexican food for about a 2,000 mile radius. Home cooking of the highest, tastiest order from Atlixco, Mexico, where owner/chef Jacob Hernandez is from. We are not overstating this.
address: 305 East Harford Street
Holy Crepes we told you about above… Just reminding you.
These crepes are as good as in Paris, and better than anywhere else we’ve had them in the US.
The Delmonico Room is the more elegant, more fancy, Relais & Chateaux-qualifying restaurant at the Fauchere, open only a few days a week (check with them, they claim they are opening for more soon). This is Tasting Menu rarified air, and it’s food worth seeking out.
Bar Louis, downstairs at the hotel, is more casual and cheaper, but still great, locally sourced food.
Next door to the Fauchere, and their Italian spin-off. Very good pastas. Drink lots of wine if you are staying at the hotel, because on foot you can make the ten yards no matter what state you are in….
address: er, guess
Peter’s Europa House
This is a local favorite, and justifiably. It’s technically in Shohola. Technically schmechically! It’s only a few miles outside town and it’s super good continental food — only they mean European continent. Which is a valuable difference
address: 1023 Route 6, Shohola
A relatively inexpensive women’s clothing store with cute, carefully curated accessories and fun casual-wear for every season.
address: 101 West Harford Street
A National Historic Site, this gorgeous, grand estate built in 1886 on 102 acres is a must-see, whether to attend a musical event in their garden veranda, or even just to walk the grounds and wish you lived there.
address: 151 Grey Towers
Those festive, small town Halloweens that you’ve seen in movies really do exist. Milford’s festivities begin in the afternoon and continue through the evening when the downtown becomes an unofficially parade and locals truly go all out.
address: Downtown Milford (you truly can’t miss it!)
ARTery Fine Art and Fine Craft Gallery
The ARTery has some of the most intriguing juried exhibits from renowned artists near and far in every medium imaginable. Check their site for events and openings.
address: 210 Broad Street
Only a short drive from Milford, Peter’s Valley holds some of the most uniquely wonderful craft events and classes in the warmer months, and is truly some of the quaintest must-see countryside all year round.
address: 19 Kuhn Road in Layton, New Jersey