A Sleepy Town with a Bustling Resort History
The Gap was THE place to take the "summer air" in the 1890 until WWI. At one time 52 summer tourist hotels were located within its 1 square mile. Grand horse carriages ferried city travelers from the "Phoebe Line" with its train depot complete with a marble waiting room and chandelier to grand hotels with summer prches or grand porticos. John P. Sousa's band stopped to perform, and Fred Astair and his sister played as children in the surrounding forests and cavorted in the pond. Even a President or 2 stopped to escape the city heat. Young starlets in their "stage days" . like Margaret Sullivan and Kate Hepburn, vacationed here.
The strolling throng of men in their white summer suits and women in their Gibbson Girl linen dresses was so large that the main street had a summer nickname of "The Great White Way."
"Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians"
The Gap was the headquarters of the Fred Waring entertainment empire: Radio, television, a music publishing house, recordings, concerts, and golfing resort., with a golf course that is one of the finest old courses in the country. Arnold Palmer and Jackie Gleason stopped by to play a few rounds, as did other celebrities of the new television industry. Waring was so popular that when a manufacturer wanted to give their new product "name recognition" they named it after Fred: The Waring Blender.
Waring's legacy to the town waas the number of talented muscians who became town residents. Jazz is the music of note (pardon the pun) with Jazz greats and Grammy winners.
Over the years, all but a handful of the Resort Era hotels have been destroyed by fire and storms. But the jazz is still hot a the Deer Head Inn. And that's not the only wild life. If you are lucky you may see a bald eagle or egret flying overhead, or catch a glimpse of a white tail doe and her fawns feeding on near the Borough Hall. Yes, there are bear that play havoc with the town's garbage cans and bird feeders. And if you take to the woods be on the lookout for them.
The Appilatian Trail runs through the town and there is parking at the trail head on Mountain Street for day hikers. The trail is marked by painter white strips in the trees, but the path is easy to follow and hikers can get manificent views of the rocky cliffs of the Delaware River Water Gap.
"What To Do"
Delaware Water Gap is a great "day trip" from Philadelphia or New York City.
On weekends you can wander through its indoor flea market or visit the town museum (from May until October) with its changing fine art shows and a circa 1920 classroom. You may even get to ring the school bell. Any day of the week you can take a trolly ride tour of the area and see a bit of the town's natural wonders and remains of its resort heyday.. Or you can stop in to see what is new at the fine crafts store. And of course, you don't want to miss drooling through the Village Farmer with its great apple pies, cookies, fudge, other homemade goodies, nursury and just really neat country crafts.
If you're a weekend duffer, challenge yourself to a round on the Water Gap country Club course. A major stop of golfing tournaments in the '20's to the 50's.
Summer Sunday's feature free outdoor concerts at the Gazebo at the Church of the Mountain. Brab a blanket and try to keep your feet from tapping.
The highlight of the music season is the COTA Jazz Festival held the Saturday and Sunday after Labor Day - an over 25 year tradition.
The Appalachian Trail ( a hiking trail 1200 miles long from GA to ME.) runs through the town and there is parking at the trail head on Mountain Street for day hikers. The trail is marked by painter white strips in the trees, but the path is easy to follow and hikers can get manificent views of the rocky cliffs of the Delaware River Water Gap.
When wandering through the town in summer, you may see a "through hiker" or three taking a break from their 1200 mile hike and splurging on real food after days of mac and cheese. Each through hiker carries a 40 pound + backpack as they take the 3-4 month trip by foot.. Delaware Water Gap is one of the main post offices for the trail for the hikers to pick up supplies sent by the folks back home to replenish their rations or send along a new pair of boots.
The Pack Shack offers rafting and canoe rentals for a day on the scenic Delaware River.
The town abutts the Delaware River Recreational Area, a part of the National Parks system.
"Food's On the Table!"
Being a tourist can be hungry work and the Gap has several good places to eat where you will find "not the usual tourist" fare. For lunch, stop by the "Trailsend Cafe" and watch the world stroll by . The Cafe Europa has a more contintental flair and is open for lunch and dinner. For breakfast all day, you can hang out with the "locals" at the Water Gap Dinner. Fine dinner dining can be found at the Delaware Water Country Club, with its open veranda. If you make a reservation, you can eat at the newest spot in town, Antelao's with its fine Italian cuisine. If you're just in the mood for a quick slice and a brew, visit Doughboy's Pizza.