A Sweet Retreat from Philadelphia

The colorful, playful interior of The Caketeria.

Philadelphia’s dining scene has been getting national recognition over the years. In 2019, National Geographic highlighted the city’s food culture as one of the reasons to visit. In that same year Zahav, a local Israeli restaurant, won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant, one of the foundation’s highest achievements. But that level of culinary creativity isn’t limited to the city limits. Thanks to their close proximity to the same farms that cultivate the local abundance that many Philadelphia chefs rely on, rural areas around the city have developed incredible food scenes of their own. Just north of the city in Bucks County, the journey for fresh food from farm to table isn’t far. And though eyes are focused on what Bucks County restaurants are preparing for the main course, it’s the dessert portion of the meal that’s been drawing a lot of attention.

Sprinkled throughout the county’s picturesque small towns and historic villages are numerous ice cream parlors, bakeries, chocolatiers, candy shops, coffee roasters and cafes. In fact, there are so many that the Visit Bucks County tourism bureau developed the Bucks County Sweet Spots Trail, a food trail highlighting more than 40 locally independent businesses throughout the county that are serving up sweets with local and seasonal ingredients. 

The region’s long agricultural history lends to the high concentration of confectionary shops. Since 1682 when William Penn created the three original counties, Bucks County, Philadelphia County, and Chester County, it was Bucks County that became recognized for its plentiful resources. For several hundred years, Bucks County has been home to mills that turn locally grown grains into fresh flour for pastries, grazing cows that churn out gallons of fresh dairy for creamy ice cream and rich chocolates, and family run farms that grow a bounty of fruits and vegetables.

A person holding a small plate with three cupcakes.
The clean, smooth interior of Naked Chocolate.

Photos by Kevin Crawford

The trail isn’t necessarily a linear path through the county, but rather clusters of spots around historically significant towns and interesting destinations, making the trail a sweet complement to other trips you may have planned throughout the region. Taking a ride on the New Hope Railroad? Add a stop to Sciascia Confections to indulge in some macarons to your itinerary. Spending the day with the kids at Peddlers Village? Check out Clusters for artisan, handcrafted popcorn.

But if you’ve got a major sweet tooth and are looking for a real sugar rush, head to Newtown, home to 10 stops along the Bucks County Sweet Spots Trail. It’s a charming little town just 40 minutes north of the city that offers a little bit of everything. Make a day of nibbling on chocolates, slurping up milkshakes made with local dairy, and snacking on fresh baked pastries and when you’re all finished, order a few extra treats to take home. With a main street lined with historic buildings that house small mom and pop shops, Newtown is the perfect sweet retreat from Philadelphia.

Cupcakes from The Happy Mixer Gluten Free Bakery with crabs made of icing.
A variety of cupcakes from The Caketeria on display.
A single, delicious cupcake from The Caketeria.

Photos by The Happy Mixer Gluten Free Bakery (top left) & Kae Lani Palmisano (bottom left & right)


The Happy Mixer Gluten Free Bakery
12 Summit Square
Langhorne, PA 19047

In nearby Langhorne, The Happy Mixer Gluten Free Bakery offers all of your favorite baked goods with a gluten free twist. Anyone who eats gluten free understands just how prevalent gluten products are in our foods, especially when it comes to bakery items like cakes, cookies, and donuts. At The Happy Mixer Gluten Free Bakery, you don’t have to think too hard and worry about what you can and can’t have. They have everything from gluten breads and rolls to cupcakes, muffins, and even brownies. Each recipe has been rigorously tested, so you won’t even be able to tell that you’re eating gluten free.

Uncle Dave’s Homemade Ice Cream
931 Stony Hill Road
Morrisville, PA 19067

In the rural farmlands just outside of Newtown is Shady Brook Farms, a popular family destination. Whether you’re picking your own produce out in their fields, shopping for fresh, local foods in their farmer’s market, or picking up plants for your own home garden, no stop to Shady Brook Farms is complete without a visit to Uncle Dave’s Homemade Ice Cream stand. At Uncle Dave’s, it’s all about making premium, hand-crafted ice cream and being intentional about what goes into every small batch. They’ve got an old-fashioned vibe with classic flavors like Belgian chocolate, vanilla, and sea salt caramel, but they also churn out seasonal flavors like black raspberry and pumpkin.

The Caketeria
5 W Washington Ave
Newtown, PA 18940

This is not your average cake shop. Though the Caketeria provides custom and specialty cakes for all occasions, they do have treats available to order on the spot, including a wide array of quirky cupcakes. With flavors like the Elvis, combining The King’s favorite combination of banana and peanut butter, and S’mores, a classic riff on the chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker campfire dessert, The Caketeria takes the playful treats from childhood and expresses them in cupcake form.

Decadent, colorful chocolates from Naked Chocolate.
The large entrance to The Coffee Room.
A variety of pastries served at The Coffee Room.

Photos by Kevin Crawford (top left) & Kae Lani Palmisano (top right & bottom)

Naked Chocolate
2830 South Eagle Road
Newtown, PA 18940

Naked Chocolate made a name for itself in Philadelphia with its exquisite chocolate bars, bon bons, and truffles, but the biggest draw was the Mexican drinking chocolate. After closing down their city locations for several years, they’ve reopened a new location in Newtown, bringing back their most beloved products and adding a few new things. Their wide selection of bon bons are ornately hand painted with cocoa butter and their hot chocolate offerings are single-origin, giving you a chance to experience the subtle differences in cocoa varieties. Not only are they focused on crafting artisan chocolates, but they do so with cocoa beans responsibly sourced from family farms around the world.

Newtown Chocolatier
66 Richboro Road
Newtown, PA 18940

Newtown is proof that you can have two thriving chocolatiers in the same town. Though Naked Chocolate is not far from Newtown Chocolatier, they are both approaching the art of chocolate making differently, each producing chocolate experiences that are entirely unique. Newtown Chocolatier specializes in European style candies and old-fashioned molded chocolates, chocolate covered fruits and nuts, and classic chocolate bars. Stop by for a few bites of their nonpareils, clusters, and turtles, or grab a box of their signature candies to bring home.

The Coffee Room
15 S State Street
Newtown, PA 18940

Coffee shops have a long history of being a place where the community convenes, and in Newtown, the center of town is The Coffee Room. It’s one stop on the Bucks County Sweet Spots Trail where you can sample from a multitude of local makers. They source coffee roasted locally by ReAnimator Coffee in Philadelphia and the Calm Waters Coffee Roasters in nearby Bristol. Not only are the baked goods made by local producers, even the milk used for lattes and other coffee drinks is sourced from local dairy farms.

A green smoothie from Greenstraw.
A waffle topped with caramelized fruit filling from Nina's Ice Cream.

Photos by Kae Lani Palmisano (left) & Kevin Crawford (right)

243 N Sycamore Street
Newtown, PA 18940

Not all sweets are packed with added sugars. In fact, it’s Greenstraw’s mission to make delicious treats leveraging the natural sweetness of fresh, local produce and organic ingredients like raw honey, coconut oil, and granola. Founded by a health coach, this stop along the Bucks County Sweet Spots Trail offers up healthy smoothies, juices, and bowls. After a day of indulging in sugary pastries, chocolates, and ice creams, Greenstraw is a guilt-free addition to your sweet treat itinerary.

Factory Donuts
2828 S Eagle Road
Newtown, PA 18940

Have you ever had bacon on a donut? Or bit into a donut that had cannoli cream filling? Expand your donut horizons by picking up a box of quirky creations from Factory Donuts. Each donut is served hot and made fresh to order. You can either customize your own donut by selecting what icing or toppings you’d like or choose from a wide range of their signature and cream filled donuts. Whether you enjoy fruity treats like a banana foster or lemon meringue pie, or indulgent chocolatey baked goods like a mint chocolate chip or hazelnut cream filled, there’s a donut for every craving at Factory Donuts.

Nina’s Waffles & Ice Cream
2987 S Eagle Road
Newtown, PA 18940

The smell of fresh waffles wafts out of the doors of Nina’s Waffles & Ice Cream. Though the small batch ice cream flavors are delicious on their own, it’s the decadent waffle concoctions that drum up a lot of excitement. Waffles like the Cinna-Waffle with cinnamon cream cheese schmear, candied pecan, and cinnamon dust and the Caramel Apple waffle with spiced cooked apples, caramel drizzle and cream stretch the imagination. The waffles alone will satisfy your sweet tooth, but for a more indulgent dessert, top these waffles with a scoop or two of their house-made ice cream.

Zebra Striped Whale
12 South State Street
Newtown, PA 18940

On weekends, folks line up at exactly opening time to get their ice cream fix at the Zebra Striped Whale. Located in an old building in the heart of Newtown, this charming ice cream parlor combines hand dipped ice cream flavors with sweet mix-ins. You can get a simple ice cream with classic toppings or have a “Whirlwind,” an ice cream mixed with anything from cookie dough and brownies to sprinkles and candies, whipped together on a frozen granite slab. The sweet possibilities are virtually endless! 

Ice cream cones covered in chocolate and sprinkles from The Zebra Striped Whale.
A chocolate cone topped with ice cream from Nina's Ice Cream.
The sun-soaked exterior of The Zebra Striped Whale.

Photos by Kevin Crawford (bottom left) & Kae Lani Palmisano (top left & right)