A Vibrant Main Line Suburb
As the largest and most diverse town on the ritzy Main Line stretch of suburbs, Ardmore has a distinctly double character: It’s residential yet urban, independent yet central, historic yet forward-facing. Even the community itself straddles two counties (Ardmore is seated in Montgomery, while South Ardmore is in Delaware). Add to that some of the area’s best shopping, dining and nightlife and visiting Ardmore is a multidimensional experience.
Once known as Athensville, the town was rechristened “Ardmore” by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1873. The railroad also lent the town its transportation hub, and gave the “Main Line” on which the town sits its moniker. Suburban Square, which opened in 1928, was the one of the earliest official shopping centers in the United States, putting Ardmore on the retail map with the first suburban location of the Strawbridge & Clothier department store, catering to the wealthy Main Line residents with luxury goods. Today, that vibrant mall serves as a pedestrian friendly alternative to suburban megaplexes, while Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore’s main street, runs a parallel strip of eclectic family-owned businesses in historic buildings.
ITS MAIN STREET
Ardmore’s major thoroughfare is Lancaster Avenue. Along this stretch are the majority of the town’s restaurants and shops. The train station, Suburban Square and The Ardmore Farmers Market are located just off the avenue.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
History buffs can enjoy a self-led architectural walking tour created by The Ardmore Initiative that explores Art Deco, Colonial Revival, mid-century modern and Craftsman-style buildings, as well as the Frank Furness-designed St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Suntop Homes. A newer addition to the township, Linwood Park (formerly a parking lot) features rain gardens and seasonal plantings, as well as plaza and lawn areas for lounging. Nearby, outdoor exploration awaits at Chanticleer’s gorgeous gardens in Wayne, the Riverbend Environmental Education Center in Gladwyne and the Cynwyd Trail, which connects Bala Cynwyd with Manayunk.
FOOD & DRINK
The mix of eateries in town spans the globe, from the Middle East (Hummus Grill) to Peru (Barbacoa) to France (A La Maison). Even the pizza here is diverse, including the build-your-own pizza shop Snap and the healthy (with gluten-free and vegan options) Jules Thin Crust. A burgeoning beer scene bubbles over with The Beer Shoppe, Tired Hands Brewing Company and, a new location of Iron Hill Brewery is expected to open in 2014.
Live music has always been an important part of Ardmore life, and the recently rehabbed Ardmore Music Hall (formerly known as 23 East Cabaret) obliges with a lively calendar of events that includes nationally lauded rock, folk and jazz musicians. The Rusty Nail and Melodies Café focus on local acts. Dance performance and participation is another local pastime. Main Line Ballroom (whose owners were featured in Silver Linings Playbook) hosts monthly dance parties. On First Fridays (celebrated with nearby towns Haverford and Bryn Mawr), the Cricket Avenue Block Party sets the stage for live movement and music; stores and restaurants meanwhile adorn their walls with local artists’ works.
SHOPS, SHOPS, SHOPS
Shoppers rejoice in a densely packed retail scene. Ardmore caters to treasure seekers with its bounty of antique shops and thrift stores, while Lancaster Avenue and its neighboring streets play host to pucciManuli, a European-style toy store with heirloom and bespoke items, Taste of Olive (olive oils and vinegars) and the area’s only video store Viva Video. Suburban Square’s high-end lineup includes Apple, Eileen Fisher and local mini-chains Kitchen Kapers and Blue Mercury cosmetics. The adjacent Ardmore Farmer’s Market, now largely inhabited by Philly’s specialty foods purveyor DiBruno Bros, serves as the go-to spot for international cheese, artisan breads and all manner of sumptuous packaged and prepared goods.
EVENTS & FESTIVALS
The Clover Market, held three weekends in the spring and two weekends in the fall, attracts shoppers from all over to its beautifully displayed tents of vintage goods and artisan wares. The Summer Celebration (June) packs the streets with a shore-inspired outdoor festival of family fun, and the Cricket Craft and Brew Fest (May) spotlights Ardmore’s new status as a beer destination.
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