Located in Northwest Philadelphia, Chestnut Hill and Germantown is a historic neighborhood with beautiful green spaces. The charming suburb is just 25 minutes outside of Center City, where shops, comic galleries, boutiques, and restaurants can be found on cobblestone streets. If you’re visiting the area and taking a break from the city, here’s what you must see.
The cobblestoned blocks of Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill offer more than 200 unique shops, businesses and restaurants to explore. Shop seasonal styles at boutiques including Quelque Chose, Sara Campbell, and Noble Goods. Style By Blain offers fashionable, high-end men’s footwear, including styles from Alden, Gaziano & Girling, and Paraboot. Visit Serendipity Shops for Philadelphia-inspired gifts including shirts, mugs, and more alongside soaps, candles, and other home goods. Windfall Gallery sells fair-trade items made by over 250 artists from around the globe, including jewelry, handmade gifts, folk art, décor and more. For more businesses and boutiques that can be found throughout Chestnut Hill, click here.
TIP: Clothes and shoes are tax-free in Philadelphia!
More shopping awaits in the nearby neighborhood of Mt. Airy, including the storefronts and studios that make up Mt. Airy Village. Visit Wild Hand to shop for knitting and weaving supplies, or join them for one of their many DIY workshops. Nesting House offers children’s toys, gifts and games, as well as clothes, shoes, bedding and other childcare supplies — all with a focus on sustainability. More childcare goods are available at the nearby Buddha Babe, which also offers home goods and regularly hosts Sip & Sew Workshops. A self-described “general store of local and unique finds,” Weaver’s Way Mercantile is home to an interesting assortment of vintage goods, pottery, jewelry, artwork, candles, and much more.
Tour some of the area’s historic homes, such as Loudon Mansion, built in 1801 on one of the highest hills in the Philadelphia area, where soldiers received medical treatment during the American Revolution. Travel further west along Germantown Avenue to the Johnson House. The Johnson family, who lived here for generations, were abolitionists and this home served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Today, the museum is central to Philadelphia’s annual Juneteenth celebrations commemorating the end of slavery. Not far is the Cliveden estate, which was the site of the Battle of Germantown – the most notable and bloody of skirmishes during the American Revolution. A museum on the property gives a great overview of the history. Visit the Lest We Forget Slavery Museum — the only museum of its kind in Philadelphia — to learn about the injustice of slavery and its continuing impact on American ideals by way of rare artifacts, documents, memorabilia and exhibits.
Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy serve as the northern border to the 1,800-acre Wissahickon Valley Park, an urban oasis of dense forests, bubbling streams, and more than 50 miles of biking, hiking and horse-riding trails. Mt. Airy alone features over a dozen entry points to the park, as outlined on this map. Spend more time outdoors at nearby Morris Arboretum. The historic, 92-acre property is home to some of the largest trees in the region, as well as an impressive collection of lush gardens, a swan pond, and the only remaining freestanding fernery in North America.
Visit America’s First Paper Mill
Don’t miss Historic Rittenhouse Town, a national historic landmark dedicated to teaching about life in this early industrial village. Residents’ lives revolved around the British North America’s first paper mill, founded in 1690 on a tributary of the Wissahickon Creek appropriately called Paper Mill Run. See paper being made and craft your own.
Learn more about Philadelphia art and artists at the Woodmere Art Museum. The museum’s collection contains more than 6,000 works showcased in nine galleries and offers guided tours, a jazz and classical music series and gallery talks. For more art, head to Mt. Airy and explore the neighborhood’s collection of murals with the help of this custom map. In the evening, enjoy film screenings and on-stage productions by Quintessence Theatre Group at the historic Sedgwick Theatre.
Cover photo: Valley Green Inn at Wissahickon Valley Park. Photo courtesy of En Route Marketing.