The Best Philadelphia Neighborhoods to Live In: Spotlight on The Main Line
The Main Line neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA is comprised of some of the wealthiest zip codes in the nation. The area is generally defined by the towns along Lancaster Avenue from Merion to Paoli, inclusive of their neighboring towns.
As some of the wealthiest citizens of Pennsylvania call the Main Line home, it’s no wonder that there are plenty of activities and events happening all year long.
History of the Main Line
The Main Line started as a tract of farmland sold to Welsh immigrants by none other than William Penn. The Welsh identity is seen throughout the communities that have come to make up the area. Everything from local cuisine to the town names is traced back to Welsh roots.
The community maintained its small-town persona until the Pennsylvania Railroad decided to build their main railroad line connecting Pennsylvania to Pittsburgh. As the Philadelphia elite now had quick access to the towns along the railroad, many of them bought vast estates to accompany their smaller city residences.
What established the Main Line as the affluent suburb of Philly, however, was The Great Depression. Given the choice of a smaller city residence or a stately home still within a quick day trip to the city, many of the wealthy citizens chose the country. The suburb quickly grew into the wealthiest district of the Greater Philadelphia region.
Today, access to Philadelphia from the Main Line is faster than ever. Cultural, educational, and gastronomical experiences popped up throughout the area, prompting many to choose the Main Line as the place to raise their family. If you want to get away from the hustle of the city life, but still be within reach of great food and experiences, the Main Line could be the neighborhood for you.
Activities and Sightseeing
Philadelphia proper isn’t the only place to find historic American architecture. The Main Line has plenty of estates that are open to the public, many of which include sprawling gardens and parks. The Willows and Appleford Estate are among the most popular parks, while the Barnes Foundation Arboretum is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll among the trees. Chanticleer Gardens is stunning in spring, and Harriton House is a must visit during their Farmstead Fair in late September, with tours and other events available year-round.
Photo attribution: John Thomson Faris [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
If hiking is more your style, then you can’t miss the Cynwyd Heritage Trail and the neighboring Fairmont Park. Here you will find plenty of fresh air to breathe as you wander among the trees and waterfalls. The Main Line is also close to Valley Forge and state and national parks, giving you plenty of choices to stretch your legs and explore the beauty Pennsylvania has to offer.
If you are looking for more farm-to-table experiences, the Lancaster County Farmers’ Market is the place to go for fresh produce and locally made treats. If you prefer to produce your own food, farmsteads like Sugartown Strawberries and Varner Farms offer ways for you to pick your own apples, pumpkins, strawberries, and more. In the fall months, they transform into autumnal jubilees with activities ranging from corn mazes to pumpkin carving contests.
Places to Eat and Drink
Foodies, rejoice! Although the Main Line is a suburb, its food scene is far removed from the bland uniformity the term suburbia often evokes. Classics like White Dog Cafe and the aptly named Classic Diner bring the best of what essential American dishes have to offer.
The world is your oyster as you explore Main Line cuisine. Craving Italian? Check out Restaurant Alba, Fraschetta, and Entoca Tredici. El Limon is a must if your mouth waters at the words al pastor or chicken tinga. Maido! is a Japanese grocery store, but don’t be fooled by the marketplace front, its lunch counter is one of the few places to get traditional Japanese fare in the metro. Don’t forget to try Fattoush if you have delicately-wrapped dolmas or chicken shawarma on the brain.
When you are ready to wash down all the delicious food, check out local taverns like Teresa’s Next Door and The Flying Pig Saloon. Both will provide you with delicious drinks to imbibe while you hang out with friends or watch sports. If cocktails are what you are looking for, then try the upscale Wayne Hotel or Bluebird Distilling. Ready for dessert? Try the Main Line classic, Hope’s Cookies.
Shopping & Entertainment
Shopping in the Main Line is juxtaposed between adorable local shops with unique finds and the largest shopping mall in America. While you can find all your mainstays at malls like King of Prussia and Suburban Square, you can also find treasures like the Kirna Zabête, Louella, and Out There Outfitters.
There’s plenty of entertainment to keep your schedule busy, no matter what you’re interested in. The Merion Golf Club is ranked as one of America’s top ten golf courses and hosted the U.S. Open in 2013. The Devon Horse Show is the largest outdoor multi-breed horse competition in the United States, but there are plenty of events at the fair if you are not showing or competing. Additionally, the Merion Cricket Club provides its members with a variety of entertainment, from its namesake cricket to tennis, bowling, and dancing.
If you are tired after a day of squash, you can retire to the Bryn Mawr Film Institute to watch the latest debut in film culture. They also offer educational courses on the art and history of cinema. Whether you are into film production or how art imitates life, you are sure to find a fascinating subject for you and your family.
Photo Attribution: Smallbones [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
Is This the Neighborhood for You?
There are several incredible neighborhoods from which to choose when you’re moving to the Philadelphia area. However, if you’re looking for a neighborhood that is fun and funky, while the foundation of the community remains fully rooted into the history of America, the Main Line might be the perfect neighborhood for you.
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