I've lived in Bucks County, Pennsylvania forever.
My parents bought an 1869 one-room schoolhouse near Doylestown PA back in the early '90's, gutted it, and turned it into the beautiful "farmette" where I grew up. This place has always been home - and it is simply surrounded by hidden gems. As your resident Bucks Co. expert, I am excited to walk you through some of my favorite places to set up sessions in Bucks County - all at low or no cost.
Peace Valley Park
One of my all-time favorites. Located in Doylestown, PA, Peace Valley Park is an incredibly versatile location, featuring Lake Galena at the center of many, many walking trails that take you off the beaten path. There are docks that jut out over the lake, bridges, fields with tall and dreamy grass, and many wooded trails that allow you to escape deeper into the trees. This park is large and has several entrances, so it's important to know which features you are most excited about capturing.
My personal favorite entrance is the Nature Center, which you can access from New Galena Road. This entrance is relatively quiet and very versatile, which is why I love it. There are many walking trails, a beautiful pavilion, access to the water, as well as beautiful fields (that glow especially during golden hour).
(A bonus? There is a boat launch, where you can bring kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, a row boat, or even a sailboat. Keep in mind that any boating does require a permit... and also keep in mind that photos on a lake are on my Summer Dream Session bucket list!)
Peace Valley Park does not require permits for photography, or an entrance fee.
Bathrooms are nearby and available at the Nature Center.
Tohickon Valley Park
Located farther east towards the Delaware River, Tohickon Valley Park is another hidden gem! Located in Pipersville, PA, this park is relatively secluded in the fall, winter, and spring months, and features trails that wind down to the Tohickon Creek (a stream which flows into the Delaware River). I love this park for its gorgeous fields and beautiful trails that lead down to the river.
There are also campsites at Tohickon Valley, which present a whole myriad of opportunities if you decide to rent!
Things to keep in mind: if you go the whole way down to the river, make sure your clients are prepared with proper footwear for the walk and the rocks, and keep an eye out for snakes sunning on the rocks in the summer! While they won't come after you unprovoked, water snakes can be dangerous.
Tohickon Valley Park does not require permits for photography, or an entrance fee.
Ralph Stover Park & High Rocks
Ralph Stover Park is the better known sibling to Tohickon Valley Park, located in Pipersville, PA. Known for its rock climbing and bouldering opportunities, Ralph Stover presents a really wonderful location to get lost in the woods and do some adventuring. There are several overlooks that are beautiful for photos, along with a rocky trail that leads down to the Tohickon River and a beautiful bridge farther up the river. While Ralph Stover is not the same park as Tohickon Valley, they do connect via trails and the river and are about a 5min. driving distance from each other. As someone who adores hiking and bouldering, I really adore this park. There are also several entrances to Ralph Stover - one on the western side of the river near the bridge, and one at High Rocks. Cell service can be rather iffy here, so make sure you've determined the right place to meet in advance!
Things to keep in mind: if you go the whole way down to the river, make sure your clients are prepared with proper footwear for the walk and for the rocks, and keep an eye out for snakes sunning on the rocks in the summer! While they won't come after you unprovoked, water snakes can be dangerous.
Ralph Stover Park does not require permits for photography, or an entrance fee.
There is a portable toilet in the parking lot.
New Hope, PA
Now this is a pretty broad recommendation, but a super fun one that requires a bit of creativity. New Hope is a gorgeous town just along the Delaware River, full of bright and beautiful storefronts and adorable small businesses that provide a fantastic backdrop. That said, there are also many bridges that span the canals throughout the town, along with walking paths along the canal that provide a bit more of an outdoorsy vibe. The biggest thing to note in New Hope is that parking can be a little dicey and is not usually free, and that it is a heavily trafficked town - which is worth noting if clients are not comfortable with that, and does require a bit of creativity with keeping backgrounds clear.
There are a whole lot of options throughout New Hope, including the bridge across the Delaware to Lambertville, and I know I have only scratched the surface with what I have personally photographed. Here are some favorites:
- Triumph Brewing Company (outdoor patio)
- the Canal
- the Bridge to Lambertville
- Bucks County Playhouse (exterior)
When photographing inside of a business, always check to make sure it's okay with the business.
New Hope does not require permits for photography, or an entrance fee.
Grace & Ardor
This is my personal favorite studio that I have been able to work with over the years! Located inside the Square in Dublin, PA, this beautiful indoor studio is affordable to rent and has the most incredible light throughout the day. It boasts gorgeous black accented windows against a brick wall, with a white interior. The photographer who owns the studio, Grace & Ardor, is fantastic to work with and ensures you are set with everything you need while on site.
Requires a scheduled session time and rental fee.
Bathrooms are available on site.
the Farm Bakery and Events
Okay, okay, I might be biased. The Farm Bakery and Events is located in Quakertown, PA and features a beautiful 1800's era rustic barn along with a brand new barn with white interiors and enormous windows. The landscaping at this property is simply impeccable, and there are tall and dreamy fields that are especially gorgeous in May and June. The fall foliage here is unmatched, and there are plenty of indoor or outdoor options. The Farm is also where I began my career in event management, so they hold a very special place in my heart.
You can find more information about them HERE.
Requires a scheduled session time and rental fee.
Bathrooms are available on-site, along with indoor and outdoor locations.
Now, just because the options listed above are some of my favorites doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of other wonderful options in Bucks Co. Below you can find some other amazing locations I would love to shoot at and most definitely recommend!
- the Station (Dublin, PA)
Industrial brewery vibes by Neshaminy Brewing Co., featuring pizza, burritos, burgers, and
Nina's Waffles & Ice Cream - plus, your first beer is on me.
- Peddler's Village (Buckingham, PA)
Beautiful structures and shops, and beautifully manicured landscaping!
- Bishop's Winery (Hilltown, PA)
Gorgeous vineyard with a gorgeous barn. Need I say more? (Plus, your first glass of wine is on me)
- Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve (New Hope, PA)*
Wildflowers, and fields, and many, many wildflowers. You literally can't go wrong.
- Hortulus Farm Garden & Nursery (Wrightstown, PA) *
The most beautifully landscaped gardens and greenhouse - this location has been on my bucket list for a while now!
- Washington Crossing Park (Washington Crossing, PA)
Rustic structures throughout the park, combined with a beautiful walking bridge across the Delaware River.
- Byers Choice (Chalfont, PA)
While this location is small, it is a simply gorgeous garden bursting with color and elegant gates and structures
during the spring and summer months.
- Mercer Museum & Fonthill Castle (Doylestown, PA)*
Yes. Castles in Doylestown. This is a super funky location, with lots of character.
- Michener Art Museum (Doylestown, PA)*
Can you imagine anything more romantic than photos in an art museum?
* indicates a permit fee