The summer might be winding down, but there’s still plenty of time to spend your days and evenings outdoors, especially when you look to the dubbed “Garden District” of Philadelphia—aka Chestnut Hill.
As a destination in itself for its quaint shops, acclaimed restaurants, and unique attractions, the picturesque neighborhood of Philly offers a mini vacation from the normal hustle and bustle of the city—and also a way to enjoy localized fixtures that this area has to offer.
Take Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania for example. Known as the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the public garden and grounds offers its own take on the great outdoors to ultimately, “bridge an understanding of the relationship between plants, people and place through education, research and horticultural display.”
How Morris makes this possible is through a series of displays both natural and phenomenal in what they offer. It really does feel like a playland, and a beautiful one at that. Everywhere you turn, you’re not quite sure what to expect, with gardens, beautiful buildings on the ground, and unique fixtures (such as their own fernery) it’s definitely a venue like you’ve never seen before. And that idea is made apparent when looking at perhaps the most eye-catching display on the grounds, the Garden Railway.
Over the summer, Morris also introduced a new activation called the Summer of Swings, and it was recently extended to be on display until Oct. 2. Placed throughout the grounds, visitors will be able to check out seven handmade swings at the Arboretum from fallen trees and pruned branches, including one built from one of the most notable trees at the Arboretum—the Engler beech—which was removed in 2021, according to a release. And each of those traditional swing seats are laser-carved with the common and scientific name of the species of tree.
Another stand-out in the Chestnut Hill area is the Woodmere Art Museum.
Woodmere sets out with the intention of inspiring creativity, learning, and self-expression through experiences with the art and artists of Philadelphia and the region, according to their website. Housed in a 19th-century stone mansion on six acres in Chestnut Hill, the cultural institution has a few different mediums on display—from outdoor sculptures, to historic showcases, and even a highlight on contemporary arts, every room offers something different.
The current exhibition on display at Woodmere features photography from a broad range of creative practices and experimentation. Also on display in the main gallery of the venue is the work of 15 prizewinners of the 2021 International Photography Competition, organized annually by the Photo Review.
Outdoors, you can explore the grounds at this venue, with a series of different sculptures from artists such as Syd Carpenter and Steve Donegan on display.
After traveling around the grounds of Chestnut Hill’s unique attractions, you can work up an appetite. As a release states, foodies will love the diverse mix of restaurants such as local brewery and vegan-friendly Chestnut Hill Brewing Co., Italian restaurant Adelinas, repurposed greenhouse turned breakfast and brunch favorite, Cake, the 100-year-old McNally’s Tavern, and modern farmer’s market, Market at the Fareway.
Adelinas certainly stands out, and sits in the previous home of Paris Bistro & Jazz Cafe. The concept comes from restauranteurs and brothers, Antonio and Giuliano Presta and is named after said Nonna. Adelinas revamped the already-charming space to resemble an airy, romantic and fresh-faced venue full of food, laughter and hungry patrons ready to dig in. The menu spans classic favorites, home-grown recipes and some twists, thanks to the brothers, and Chef Minh Dang.
Chestnut Hill Brewing Company, on the other hand, offers a more laid-back experience for those looking to sit inside at their taproom, or outside on their patio/beer garden, which also happens to connect to a darling market. With fresh brews on draft, cocktails and wine, plus an assortment of treats — like buffalo cauliflower, grilled haloumi and a smashed chicken burger— and also a variety of salads and pizzas, there is a little something for everyone to try. And to finish everything on a sweet note, there’s an ice cream sandwich or a banana split.
It offers a comfortable experience, and one with great food right in the heart of Chestnut Hill.
With a robust calendar of year-round events, and a vibrant retail and restaurant mix, the Chestnut Hill Business District is home to over 200 businesses, including restaurants, galleries, apparel stores, sporting goods, and home and garden stores—and all you have to do to check it out is take a drive and see for yourself.