New Hope, Pennsylvania

Jay Lloyd/KYW Newsradio

Jay Lloyd's Getaway: Old-time holiday shopping

December 07, 2018 - 6:00 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The crossroads towns and villages survived, but the surrounding farmland and open space vanished and was replaced with shopping malls, housing developments and industrial parks. 

Some of those once rural centers are still luring holiday gift-seekers to a more relaxing and personal environment. So take a weekend drive and make it an overnight getaway for some one-of-a-kind holiday discoveries. 

Skippack Village

Once completely surrounded by farmland, Skippack in the heart of Montgomery County has been revitalized as a unique village of boutique shops, eateries and a vintage-styled hotel with 21st-century leanings. 

Stay overnight at Hotel Fiesole. Shop for Christmas collectibles and rare decorative treasures at the Wooden Duck Shoppe. There are zany and practical gifts for the gardener at Floral and Hardy, or hand-chosen imported cheeses for a holiday party at The Grand Fromage.

Dining and cocktail options are numerous and varied, from Mal's American Diner to sushi and saké at the Tokyo Restaurant. Plenty of parking and little traffic. 

Floral and Hardy in Skippack Village
Jay Lloyd/KYW Newsradio

Cape May, New Jersey

When I first visited Cape May in 1952 after Labor Day, you could fire a cannon down Ocean Drive and not hit anything. It was sealed tight. 

Today, the iconic shore town comes to life in December with stores, restaurants, festivals and house tours. The shops display fashions for Caribbean beach vacations, like gems from the sea or shells that echo with the sound of ocean waves. 

Unique personal gifts fill the Whale's Tale. One-of-a-kind totes made from recycled sails crowd shelves and tables at Sea Bags. Eye-catching swim gear is displayed at Seaweeds. 

Stay at the 19th-century Congress Hall with an ocean view. Favorite year-round restaurants include the upscale Peter Shields Inn, classic shore seafood at The Lobster House, or pub grub at the C-View Inn. 

Congress Hall in Cape May
Jay Lloyd/KYW Newsradio


Phoenixville on the Schuylkill River in Chester County had a whipsaw transition from rural pre-Revolution village to booming steel plant industrial center, and finally to a revitalized borough that lures visitors with a vintage movie theater, acres of restaurants, hotels and eclectic shops. 

Gift-seekers looking for very personal tokens should stroll down Bridge Street. If you can't find what you're looking for here among antiques, artifacts, vintage clothing and artwork, it will be pretty hard to find anywhere else. 

Wander in Ellie's Choice and the Diving Cat Studio Gallery. Plan on spending some time. 

For lunch, we like Molly Maguire's Irish Restaurant and Pub and Iron Hill Brewery. Dinner is a dilemma — too many choices. A good start is Majolica restaurant for Old World takes on local ingredients, or Sage Mediterranean Cuisine for seagoing cravings. 

The Diving Cat Studio Gallery in Phoenixville
Jay Lloyd/KYW Newsradio

St. Michaels, Maryland

For a weekend shopping getaway in a scenic and relaxing environment, set a course for the Eastern Shore of Maryland and historic St. Michaels. Shopping for nautical buffs is made easy at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum on the Miles River waterfront. Or, try strolling along Talbot Street. I bought my own gift of a mantle place America's Cup schooner model at the Chesapeake Trading Company.

For a fin and shellfish lunch with a bay flavor, check out the Chesapeake Landing Restaurant. For cocktails and dinner in an atmosphere of elegance, go for the Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond. 

St. Michaels also has a collection of waterfront B&Bs and the all-season harbor resort St. Michaels Harbour Inn, Marina and Spa.

St. Michaels Harbor in Maryland
Mark Heist

Other thoughts for nearby personalized shopping getaways include artist-fueled New Hope, Dutch Country in Lancaster County, and the Brandywine Valley in Chester County. 

Don't forget to treat yourself, too.