Located a short way from Philadelphia, Newtown is a small borough known for its excellent shopping options, a lovely state park, and a long history during the Revolutionary War. Founded in 1684 by William Penn, Newtown became one of the several towns organized to provide country homes for city residents and help support the state’s farming community.
Are you planning on moving to or visiting the area? Newtown is a fantastic place to go, especially if you’re looking for an area with culture and plenty of activity options for people with active lifestyles.
Coming up with a travel itinerary can easily become overwhelming. As such, we made a tourist guide to Newtown to help you plan your trip to the area.
Brief History of Newtown, Pennsylvania
As mentioned, the Newtown Township was founded by William Penn in 1684. Following its establishment, the Quakers from Wales and other parts of England moved in with hopes of seeking a better life for their families. The town then grew from a population of 75 to 100 in 1722 to 15,000 as of 2020.
Apart from the history of its first settlers, Newtown also served as the county seat of Bucks County from 1726 to 1813. It was later replaced by the more central Doylestown. That being said, General George Washington chose Newtown as the base for his headquarters in Dec. 1776 before the Battle of Princeton.
Why Newtown is a popular tourist destination
There are plenty of reasons why Newtown is one of the top tourist destinations in the state. First, Newtown’s central business district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to the historic clock tower.
Second, Newtown offers visitors a unique array of boutiques, colleges, cuisines, and climates. It is also home to Newtown Theater, considered the oldest operating movie theater in the United States.
Third, Newtown is known for its long history. It is also noted for its many famous former residents, one of which was painter Edward Hicks (1780 – 1849). In fact, his work can be found in national galleries throughout the U.S.
Must-Visit Attractions in Newtown, PA
Smaller cities exude a certain charm about them that is hard to find in larger counterparts. At times, it’s easy to get lost in all the things Newtown has to offer… which is why we made a list of the top things to do and places to visit below.
Located in the heart of Newtown, the historic Newtown Theater is the oldest operating theater in the United States. It is also the center of entertainment in the community, with young and old patrons coming for concerts, comedy shows, movies, live theater, and more.
The Newtown Theater has an extensive history that dates back to the mid-1800s. It was originally built as a hall for town gatherings and a non-sectarian church for traveling ministers. The hall later became a regular venue for hosting performances and concerts.
In the 1850s, the hall hosted anti-slavery meetings, some of which included sermons from Lucretia Mott and Frederick Douglass who were key players in the 19th-century reform movements.
Over the past decades, the Newtown Theater underwent several renovations, which included installing a stage now used to host a variety of shows such as piano concerts, storytelling shows, fashion shows, and science shows.
The Half-Moon Inn, also known as the Court Inn and Thorton’s Tavern, is a historic building in Newtown that is listed under the National Register of Historic Places. Originally built in 1733 as a tavern, the inn served as the home of Margaret and Joseph Thornton. The couple conducted a tavern here, offering meals and lodging to people coming to the town.
Today, the Half-Moon Inn serves as the headquarters of the Newtown Historic Association. The south portion of the inn has a reception area and several rooms featuring the original decor to accommodate guests. The north side contains the tavern and the room where the Thorntons lived. The second floor houses the Research Center & Barnsley Room of Newtown History and the Edward Hicks room.
Newtown Friends Meeting House
The Newtown Friends Meeting House is a historic house built in 1711 to serve as a Quaker meetinghouse for worship. Expanded in 1791 and 1891, the house continues to host Quaker meetings for worship for over 300 years.
Tyler State Park
Located 33 miles from Center City Philadelphia, Tyler State Park cover 1,711 acres of land where guests can go on trails, hike, bike, and ride a horse. The park also provides environmental education and interpretive programs that explore ecological and historic topics.
Neshaminy Creek cuts through the park, diving it into several interesting sections for guests to explore. The park is open daily, from 8 a.m. to sunset.
Newtown Arts Company
The Newtown Arts Company is a group dedicated to supporting theater arts in the township. The company hosts at least six live theater shows yearly, which include dramas, comedies, and musicals. In addition, the company creates other programs to help develop theater arts education among the town’s residents.
Since 2006, all the shows the company produces have been staged at the town’s historic Newtown Theater.
Newtown Farmer’s Market
If you’re looking to buy fresh produce and high-quality food, consider checking out the Newtown Farmer’s Market. This market began as a small venue for locals to sell their products. In time, the market grew, becoming one of the top Amish markets in the state of Pennsylvania.
In addition to selling products, vendors at the Newtown Farmer’s Market also host a pig roast every last Saturday of the month from April to October. The roast is open to the public, giving locals and visiting tourists a chance to experience local cuisine.
Best time to visit Newtown
Ideally, the best time to visit Newtown is between April and June. However, if you’re looking for the warmest times to visit the township, we recommend visiting in the months of June, July, and August—with July being the hottest month. The temperature drops around October and picks up again in March.