Not all family activities need to lean into the “active” part. Sometimes, just taking the squad for a leisurely stroll to get some fresh air, browse a few shops, and grab a bite to eat can make the perfect weekend outing. One great way to enjoy the warmer temperatures outdoors is to find a walkable neighborhood with a cute downtown district or Main Street lined with family-friendly stores and restaurants to pass the time. We found 9 great walkable Philly neighborhoods to do just that on lazy Sundays, Saturdays, or any day.
Dance to the music at Ambler Fest from the Stage, Photo courtesy of Ambler
Downtown Districts and Walkable Suburbs near Philadelphia
The ultimate small town, Ambler offers stores, a live theater, restaurants, and breweries. Seven parks and playgrounds are scattered throughout town. The Ambler Borough Park doubles as a nature preserve, with a tributary to the Wissahickon running through it. Ambler hosts numerous family-friendly, free events: the Ambler Art and Music Fest, a two-day celebration in June featuring free concerts, artists, food trucks, and a beer garden; along with the Auto Show in May; a weekly Farmer’s Market from May-November; First Friday every month from May to October; The Dog Days of Summer dog parade; Oktoberfest; a Halloween Extravaganza; Santa by Train; a holiday parade; and holiday shopping events.
Stroll down Lancaster Avenue to browse Ardmore’s shops and eateries, in this diverse town of historic architecture. In addition, the Suburban Square shopping center is nearby, as is the Ardmore Farmers Market. Check out the Pennywise Thrift Shop for deals to fit the whole family, and visit Puns Toys for high-quality creative toys, crafts, and games. At lunchtime, you can try out Mediterranean flavors at Hummus, sample some Hawaiian poke bowls at PokeOne, pick up some bubble tea from Kung Fu Tea, and stop at Parlour ice cream shop for a sweet treat. Stop by the Mudroom Studio for a pottery to-go kit to paint at home, and browse Maido!, the only Japanese-owned grocery store in the Greater Philadelphia area. The Downtown Ardmore business directory provides more information.
A historic waterfront town, along the Delaware River, Bristol boasts antique shops, historic mansions, and landmarks. Stop in the Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Museum to view Victorian-era decor and furniture, and take a free guided tour. Walk down Mill Street to window shop at the many independently owned shops, or dine at the restaurants, and stop at the Bristol Waterfront Park for a nature break. Outdoor lovers should visit the Silver Lake Nature Center, with its butterfly garden, lakes, marshes, meadows, and 4.5 miles of nature trails.
Home of Bryn Mawr College, this quaint college town mixes history with modernity, with a number of businesses and institutions being more than 100 years old. Lancaster Avenue, the town’s main drag, boasts dozens of shops and restaurants, including Showcase Comics & Games, clothing boutiques, and Insomnia Cookies, which even offer vegan varieties. The Bryn Mawr Business Directory provides a listing of everything from Amkor Karate to Zoe’s Kitchen. The Ludington Library hosts family-friendly weekend events, including family trivia nights. Bryn Mawr also offers Twilight Concerts during warmer weather.
Gawk at the cars at the Doylestown Dusk Car Show. Photo courtesy of Doylestown
Start your trip to Doylestown with the concrete castle of the Mercer Museum, where you can view six stories of historical artifacts: from old carriages to ancient vampire-hunting kits. Kids can search for the concrete footprints left behind by Rollo, Henry Mercer’s dog, as the castle was built. Across the street, you’ll find the Michener Art Museum, a converted prison now filled with beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces to explore. Just outside the museum, at Ashland & Pine Streets, you can explore a labyrinth. For lunch, try out the kids’ favorite, Jules Thin Crust, at the intersection of the museums and Main Street. For dessert, visit Nina’s Waffles on East State Street for waffles and ice cream. Along State Street, go shopping at stores like Busy Bee Toys, a family-owned toy store specializing in unique toys. Take a shopping break in Star Garden Park, behind Evolution Candy, which features a beautiful mosaic-tiled wall. Behind that wall, you’ll find Freedom Square, a stunning community-built mosaic memorial honoring every Bucks County post-9/11 fallen military member.
In Kennett Square, the Mushroom Capital of the World, you can try dishes featuring the famous ingredient in many of the restaurants. Or browse the weekly farmers market on Friday afternoons for fresh produce. Stop for a sweet bite afterward at the Creamery on Birch Street. The annual Mushroom Festival, held in September, offers foods, crafts, entertainment, and more for the whole family. Learn how mushrooms are grown, talk to mushroom growers, and enjoy artwork and tasty dishes. On First Fridays and Second Saturdays, look for businesses on State Street to offer special discounts and offer extended hours. A downtown business map on the Historic Kennett Square site provides a guide to the numerous shops, from antiques and art to gifts and specialty shops, to recreation. On designated Sundays in spring and summer, a bus takes passengers on a 90-minute narrated tour about the Underground Railroad. The tours cost $20 for adults and $15 for children. Reservations are required.
Enjoy a night at the State Street Blues Stroll. Photo courtesy of the event
State Street in Media is the site of both shopping and special events, such as the annual State Street Blues Stroll, Dining Under the Stars, and others. Year-round, you can look for fresh fruits and vegetables at the Farmers Market. A number of eateries offer outdoor seating, including Iron Hill Brewery, which offers a children’s menu as well as plenty to interest adults. For something sweet, try Factory Donuts on Jackson Street or Bevan’s Candy on Baltimore Avenue, or get a frozen treat at Rita’s Water Ice on Providence Road, or at Scooped Ice Cream & Gelato on State Street. Find out more at the Visit Media online business directory. Shop for gently used clothing at Little People’s Consignment Boutique. The Media Theatre often puts on shows of interest to kids, such as “Frozen Jr.” Military history buffs should check out the Pennsylvania Veterans Museum, with its collection of military artifacts and memorabilia. Permanent and special exhibits are on display Sunday afternoons at the Minshall House on East Front Street, the oldest house in Media.
Some buildings in Wayne may look familiar from the Oscar-winning 1940 film “The Philadelphia Story,” through location shots filmed there. The upscale community of Wayne is crammed full of antique stores, boutiques, gift shops, and four-star restaurants, including Kids & Kribs, a specialty retailer for children’s furniture, toys, gifts, and apparel; or Main Point Books, an independent book store for adults and children, with a focus on local authors. The Wayne Business Association provides more information in its online business directory. The Lancaster County Farmers Market on West Lancaster Avenue is open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays with Lancaster County produce, fresh and smoked meats, and gourmet cheeses, along with soft pretzel treats, and food stands. Family events occur year-round, such as the Annual Wayne Trick or Treat, hosted in the Wayne Picnic Grove Tent.
Visit the ever-popular West Chester Railroad. Photo courtesy of the railroad
A pedestrian-friendly town, West Chester combines historic charm with nightlife and dining. In addition to over 120 businesses, including shops and restaurants, West Chester hosts the Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic in August, the Halloween Ball, the Gay Street Open-Air Market, and other seasonal events. The Chester County Historical Society on High Street features rotating exhibits, along with permanent galleries with an interactive look at the past 300 years. In the History Lab, children can experience history through hands-on learning, including old-fashioned games, puzzles, and playing dress-up. To make a day of it, visit nearby family attractions like the American Helicopter Museum and Educational Center and the West Chester Railroad.