Along the 14,119 square miles of the Delaware River lies the State of New Jersey. This small but diverse state is by far my favorite out of the five states that span this gorgeous river. There are several towns along New Jersey’s shore that locals and travelers could visit on a daily basis for not only entertainment but relaxation. There is however only one particular place that I can think of that would be considered my favorite place to go along the Delaware River and that is Stockton, New Jersey.
This small town is rich in history and filled with an abundance of things to do. Incorporated in 1898, the town today still looks like a scene out of the early 1800s. Many of the buildings in the town still have their original design. They are just reconstructed or remodeled to fit into today’s health and safety codes. The town is named after U.S. Senator Robert Stockton. Senator Stockton not only helped lay the establishment for this beautiful, small town in New Jersey, but he was also one of the founding fathers of the Delaware River and Raritan Canal that runs through the town.
The Raritan Canal is a man-made canal that serves a very important purpose to those in this small town and everyone along the Delaware River. The canal was built in 1830 and connects the Delaware River and the Raritan River. Without this canal, the businesses along the river wouldn’t be able to flourish the way they do. The canal connects New Jersey with several Eastern states, including New York. Senator Stockton’s continued support of this canal helped create Stockton. So naming an entire town after him is fitting.
Whenever I visit Stockton, I always stay at the historical Stockton Inn. Stockton Inn was built in 1710 and to this day still has many features of its original structure and design. One of my favorite things about this particular Inn is the wishing well found on the property. Individuals come from all over the world to make a wish in the well hoping when they return home their dreams come true. I must admit, the well really works as I have had many wishes granted over the years. Another aspect I thoroughly enjoy about this place is its Colonial-era restaurant. Not only do guests feel like they are living back in early settlement days with the Inn’s decor and atmosphere, but the food served there also makes one feel like it’s the year 1777! Boy, did they have good food back then!
Although Stockton’s population is a little under 600 people, there is always something to do and see in this small town. One of my favorite activities is canoeing. Bulls Island State Park is the perfect location for anyone who wants to spend a day on the river. They have a variety of different canoe and tube rental locations located right inside the park. There are also fishing docks and a boat ramp. On cool days, I spend a couple of hours riding the over 50 miles of bicycle trails the park offers.
Across the river from Stockton is the state of Pennsylvania. It is rather neat to be able to be in two states at once. Along the biking paths in the Bulls Island State Park is a little foot bridge that one can cross. If a person straddles their legs across the divider mark, they can be in both states. For some, this makes an excellent picture perfect moment!
There are over five states that span the Delaware River and whenever I visit one of them during cooler months I love to pitch up a tent for the night. So whenever I am not staying at the Stockton Inn, one can always find me camped out along the shore line. There is something about the atmosphere and cool breeze in the fall nights that makes me fall in love with this particular camp ground. The camping sites at the Bulls Island State Park are reasonably priced, come with access to restrooms, showers, and a laundry facility. The camp sites are largely spaced and could easily fit a family size tent. The best part about camping along the beach is being able to take a midnight swim. If one picks the right time of the year, the water is so calm. Camping in this small town along the river is one the best things about the Delaware River.
If spending a day on the river is not your favorite past time, that’s okay! Stockton, is known for more than just being a “river community.” Like I said, the town is full of history and anyone who visits this quiet, little town should take an afternoon to visit the market area. The Stockton Market is a place any food enthusiast would want to visit. It is filled with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables as well as unique items folks won’t find anywhere else.
I briefly mentioned fishing earlier, but one of the things any river community along the Delaware is known for is its seafood! Stockton is no different! There are peers set up all along the river for folks to enjoy. Fishing can be a fun and relaxing way to enjoy a day. The Delaware River is filled with some of the biggest stripper bass fish on the East Coast. During the Spring and Summer months, the Stockton community will hold bass tournaments to see who can catch the biggest bass. The tournaments are always a joy to watch.
Stockton, should be a destination everyone should visit when traveling the Delaware River. It is a small town that far too often is passed up for the major cities and communities. The quietness of this town is what makes it my favorite spot on the river. Every time I visit, the folks remember my name and treat me like their own. Stockton is certainly a place to remember and a place I will always return to every Spring.
- Photographic Series: The Pleasant Side of New Jersey (bravonatalis.wordpress.com)