Philadelphia, Chestnut Hill

Chestnut Hill is in the northwest section of Philadelphia just 25 minutes from Center City which was once a suburb where well-to-do Philadelphians escaped the city’s summer heat, Chestnut Hill became a year-round community with the arrival of railroads in the 19th century. It was then, and still is, a relatively affluent community with an array of historic mansions and Victorian twins and row houses.

Stagecrafters Theater, a tradition since 1929, presents professional stage productions. Hockey and freestyle skaters of all ages and abilities lace up at Wissahickon Skating Rink. And Morris Arboretum and the Wissahickon Valley captivate visitors with their hidden trails, rippling waters and stunning natural treasures.

The neighborhood’s history is alive and well at the Chestnut Hill Historical Society, home to a 20,000- piece collection that dates back to the 1680s. 

The main street, Germantown Avenue, is a treasure trove of shops, galleries, boutiques, home furnishings stores and restaurants. Stretching for almost 10 blocks, the avenue boasts cobblestones on the street and historic facades on many shops and businesses—all adding to the picturesque charm. Altogether, it creates a vibe that is lively but not wild and a quaint setting that is traditional but not stuffy, giving Chestnut Hill a village-like atmosphere.

The Woodmere Art Museum. Housed in a 19th-century stone Victorian-era mansion, the museum tells the story of Philadelphia’s artists, including N.C. Wyeth, Benjamin West, Violet Oakley and Daniel Garber, as well as new and emerging contemporary artists. Modern-day collectors can find a wide range of works offered in galleries throughout the area. Borrelli’s Chestnut Hill Gallery (known to most as “Chestnut Hill Gallery”) specializes in traditional and contemporary works by established and emerging artists. The Gravers Lane Gallery exhibits paintings and sculptures alongside glass and fiber arts. And Carol Schwartz Gallery presents national and international artists, as well as vintage posters and jewelry.

With Wissahickon Valley Park’s 1,800 wooded acres and the seven-mile Wissahickon Creek at its door step, Chestnut Hill is an oasis of peaceful green space for gentle hikes and walks. Forbidden Drive, a wide, gravel no-cars-allowed road beside the creek, features more than 50 miles of trails that criss-cross the park. During the summer months, locals head to Pastorius Park for picnics and free summer concerts. The Wissahickon Environmental Center, nicknamed the Tree House for the giant sycamore around which the small building was constructed, invites visitors to explore its trails and programs.

Restaurants and pubs line the main drag. There is no shortage or nightlife either. Locals gather at Campbell’s Place or Iron Hill Brewery for locally made brews. 

Chestnut Hill  has 10 blocks of locally owned shops and nationally recognized brands, Chestnut Hill features everything from yarn shops and toy stores to antique emporiums and home décor showplaces to den and home-design shops.

Germantown Avenue serves as festival central in season. The Home & Garden Festival takes place in May, while the Fall for the Arts Festival dots the calendar in October. Also in October, the neighborhood is transformed into a mini-Hogwarts as thousands turn out for the magical Harry Potter Festival, complete with Quidditch tournaments.

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