City Hall. Photography by Lexy Pierce.
WHY VISIT THIS THRIVING, HISTORICAL AREA IN PENNSYLVANIA? The Scout Guide Main Line & Philadelphia editor Laurie Wightman can name a few reasons. “Our city is filled with so much culture and some of the best historical sites and museums in the country,” she shares. “With over 90 to choose from, it’s something everyone needs to take advantage of when visiting.” Philadelphia is a melting pot of many different cultures, and with a wide array of ethnic food options, Laurie reports it’s truly an epicurean’s dream come true. Finally, the area is home to a special parks system that encompasses 63 parks and 9,200 acres, including the largest urban park in the United States—Fairmount Park.
From the energizing hustle and bustle of downtown to the high-end shopping and dining in the suburbs along The Main Line, Philly makes for a lovely weekend getaway. Here, Laurie shares her favorite local finds and activities for taking in the area.
WHEN TO GO // The best time to visit Philadelphia is in the summertime when many of the historical museums provide great incentives for tourists to explore our nation’s history. Laurie loves being on the Main Line in the fall when everyone is back from the beach and mother nature is at her best with all the colorful rolling hills and wide-open spaces throughout the region to explore.
WHERE TO STAY // The Rittenhouse Hotel (210 West Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia). This lovely boutique hotel is within walking distance to many fabulous shops and restaurants in the city. Plus, the hotel itself has plenty to offer, from the relaxing spa to its amazing restaurant.
Kimpton Hotel Palomar (117 S. 17th Street, Philadelphia). I absolutely love all the thoughtful touches that this centralized hotel provides in the city. Only a couple blocks from Rittenhouse Square, and a short walk to Midtown Village and Old City, it’s a perfectly situated hotel. It also helps to have a charming happy hour in the lobby from 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. each day for all the guests to get to know each other a bit more.
Lokal Hotel (2 locations, Old City and Fishtown). Get the real vibe of living in Philadelphia by staying at one of these modern, apartment hotels and live like a local by experiencing the local scene in two of the hottest neighborhoods in Philly right now.
Wayne Hotel (139 Lancaster Avenue, Wayne). Located in the quaint, beautiful suburbs along the Main Line (a quick train ride or 20-minute drive west of Philly), this boutique hotel was built in the early 1900s in a Tudor Revival style. The newly renovated lobby provides a wonderful restaurant – Rosalie, which has been all the buzz these days on the Main Line.
Barnes Foundation. Photography by Jenny Ham.
WHAT TO DO // Independence Hall and Liberty Bell Center (520 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia). It’s not a trip to Philadelphia unless you check out these key historical sites that hold such a rich history of our Declaration of Independence by our Founding Fathers. This area is the Independence National Historical Park and is known as America’s most historic square mile.
The Barnes Foundation (2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia). This internationally acclaimed museum is home to one of the world’s most important collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modernist paintings by renowned artists like Renoir, Cézanne, Picasso, and Van Gogh. It’s a must on any visitor’s list.
Spruce Street Harbor Park (101 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia). This extremely popular seasonal destination on the Delaware River attracts locals and visitors with bocce and shuffleboard, rides, tree-slung hammocks and colorful lights, floating docks with over-the-water seating, beer and food options, and a variety of events for the entire family to enjoy.
Rocky Steps Statue (2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia). This is our second most popular attraction in the city, and although there is an ultra-touristy vibe about it, you won’t regret swinging by on your way to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to get your selfie with Rocky himself!
Philadelphia Museum of Art (2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia). One of the nation’s largest art museums, the PMA houses a vast collection of Renaissance, American, and Impressionist art. The one-acre Sculpture Garden extends the museum’s galleries to the outdoors and is a must-see. After leaving the PMA be sure to stroll down to the Rodin Museum to view one of the largest public collections of Auguste Rodin’s works outside of Paris, including bronze casts of The Thinker and The Gates of Hell.
Valley Forge National Park (1400 N. Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia). Valley Forge National Historical Park is the site of a Revolutionary War encampment, northwest of Philadelphia, and was Washington’s Headquarters, occupied by George Washington from 1777 to 1778. Trails connect the key monuments and historic structures, including the early-20th-century National Memorial Arch and the Muhlenberg Brigade’s recreated log-cabin barracks.
Chanticleer Garden. Photography courtesy of Laurie M. Wightman.
Chanticleer Pleasure Garden (786 Church Rd, Wayne). Chanticleer Garden is a forty-eight-acre botanical garden built on the grounds of the Rosengarten estate in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Located on the Main Line, Chanticleer retains a domestic scale and is welcoming to visitors for relaxation, walking, and picnics. It is one of the most treasured gardens Laurie has ever visited.
WHERE TO SHOP // Main Line Shops // Kramer Drive (575 Lancaster Avenue, Berwyn). This beautiful stationery shop has expanded into not only your go-to shop for any and all stationery and invitation related items, but also fabulous gifts, home decor pieces, and selective women’s fashion. The customer service is top notch and you can’t seem to ever leave empty handed!
Antiquities, Etc. (122 W. Lancaster Avenue, Wayne). Pristine English antiques shop that has an amazing selection of furniture, home décor, and accessories that you will not be able to find anywhere else in the region.
Rikumo (19 W. Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore). A sleek, design-centric boutique featuring Japanese houseware and gifts with a minimalist approach. This shop is a must-see in your travels.
HOST (58 E. Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore and 7908 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia). Two beautiful showrooms for home furnishings, handcrafted custom upholstery, home décor, and interior design services. There’s something for everyone here.
MLW Showroom (121 N. Wayne Avenue, Wayne). Enchanting home décor, floral, and accessories shop. So many special items here. This shop is truly a Main Line secret.
Skirt (931 Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr). A high-end fashion boutique for women. These stylists will hand select the best wardrobe for you from kicking around town, to date night, to work events, to soccer games, to concerts, there is something for every woman in this fabulous boutique.
Little House Shop. Photography by Lexy Pierce.
Little House Shop (Eagle Village Shops, 503 W. Lancaster Avenue, Wayne). The Main Line’s favorite shop for home decor, luxury gifts, bedding, tabletop, wedding registries, and so much more. This shop is a true gem that is a must on our list.
Old City – Philadelphia Spots // Parisa Rugs & Décor (33 N. 3rd Street, Philadelphia). This boutique rug and design gallery offers the most extraordinary selection of rugs, home furnishings, and décor that offers a sense of worldly culture finds.
Minima (131 N. 3rd Street, Philadelphia). A modern design showroom featuring contemporary furniture, lighting and home accessories. With a tremendous amount of Italian design, the variety of furnishings is like a work of art.
Damari (72 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia). Philadelphia’s premiere clothing boutique redefining modern suiting for men and women with creativity, styling, and precise tailoring, all while keeping culture at the forefront.
Rennes (135 N. 3rd Street, Philadelphia). A high-end fashion design studio with an international and cool vibe you simply won’t see anywhere else in the city.
Claudia Mills Rugs (133 N. 3rd Street, Philadelphia). One-of-a-kind handwoven, contemporary rugs that are not only functional but also stunning works of art for any room in your home.
Other Philadelphia Finds // Serendipity Shops of Chestnut Hill (8506 Germantown Avenue). A perfect gift shop for any occasion. This is your one-stop-shop whenever you need a gift for anyone. Additionally, they have the largest inventory of all Philly sports merchandise and Fairmount Park merch.
Boyds (1818 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia and Suburban Square, Ardmore). Philadelphia’s landmark department store filled with luxury designers and contemporary women’s and men’s fashion, shoes, accessories, and much more. Always a must on anyone’s shopping destination.
Joan Shepp (1811 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia). A staple in Philadelphia, this high-end fashion boutique for women carries an eclectic assortment of luxury and emerging designer clothing, shoes, and accessories.
DFTI Boutique (2032 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia). This women’s fashion boutique offers that high-end shopping experience, but with everything under $100. It’s a fabulous concept, and you’ll be sure not to leave empty handed.
Anthropologie Flagship (1801 Walnut Street, Philadelphia). Walking through the doors of the flagship store of Anthropologie might feel like you’re walking into an architectural museum. The fashion, home décor, and accessories compliment the architectural details within every room of this four-story building.
Parc Restaurant. Photography courtesy of Parc Restaurant.
WHERE TO EAT // Parc (227 S. 18th Street, Philadelphia). To locals this is always a beloved restaurant and may be the obvious choice. But this stunning French bistro is always a crowd pleaser for locals and visitors alike. You can never go wrong at Parc, and with the beautiful view of Rittenhouse Square across the street it just adds to that French ambiance the restaurant has simply perfected.
Friday Saturday Sunday (261 S. 21st Street, Philadelphia). This is a staple for me. A perfect date night that will be sure to have you coming back each month. Don’t forget to order one of their fabulous cocktails!
Suraya Restaurant (1528 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia). Head on down to the Fishtown neighborhood of Philly and see what all the buzz is about. Suraya is an award- winning Lebanese restaurant and market, which also provides a tranquil outdoor garden for private parties or an evening under the stars. The food experience is unlike any other. Can’t say enough great things about this establishment.
K’far (110 S. 19th Street, Philadelphia). Get your brunch on at this Israeli style café that will blow your mind away with the pastries, sandwiches, salads, and drinks. You may get the chance to see James Beard Foundation winner and chef, Michael Solomonov, behind the counter.
Fiorella Pasta (817 Christian Street, Philadelphia). Marc Vetri perfects the Italian café experience with all homemade pasta dishes, and authentic Italian cuisine. This is always top of Laurie’s list for Philly faves.
Savona Restaurant (100 Old Gulph Road, Gulph Mills). This upscale farm-to-table Mediterranean restaurant provides the perfect setting in the middle of the Main Line along with amazing and fresh food. A fabulous spot for a date or party.
Estia (222 N. Radnor Chester Road, Wayne). Best Greek restaurant on the Main Line hands down. The fresh Mediterranean fare bursts with life and has so much flavor no matter what you order on the menu. The ambiance and décor invite you in, and the food has you coming back for more.
Nectar (1091 Lancaster Avenue, Berwyn). Always a favorite of Laurie’s, you can never go wrong here whether it be for a business lunch or a special dinner. This award-winning Pan-Asian restaurant provides an amazing space as the backdrop to their incredible sushi and fusion fare.
Restaurant Alba (7 W. King Street, Malvern). If it’s good enough for Martha Stewart, it’s good enough for me! This is the hidden secret on the Main Line. The food is simply to die for and the space is charming as ever. This should be a must on anyone’s list.
Green Engine Coffee. Photography courtesy of Green Engine Coffee.
WHERE TO DRINK // Breweries // We have a growing list of breweries for those beer lovers to explore. Some of Laurie’s favorites are: Wissahickon Brewery (3705 W. School House Lane, Philadelphia); Crime & Punishment (2711 W. Gerard Avenue, Philadelphia); La Cabra Brewing (642 Lancaster Avenue, Berwyn); Brewery ARS (1927-29 W. Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia); Love City Brewing Company (1023 Hamilton Street, Philadelphia).
Coffee Shops // Coffee is hot here in Philadelphia and on the Main Line. With so many variations to choose from, the list is endless. Here, Laurie shares her favorite spots: Green Engine Coffee (16 Haverford Station Road, Haverford); Gryphon Café (105 W. Lancaster Avenue, Wayne); Rival Bros. (2400 Lombard Street, Philadelphia); Herman’s Coffee (1313 S. 13th Street, Philadelphia); Adelie Coffee (6610 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia)
LOCAL PRO TIP // “Something I always like to recommend to locals and visitors is to take one of the 60 architecture walking tours of Philadelphia. Our city is filled with incredible architecture, and you will learn so much about Philadelphia through the lens of architecture. Contact the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia to schedule a tour.”