Day Trips: 5 Philly-Area Main Streets With a Small-Town Feel

The twinkle-light-festooned patio at El Poquito in Chestnut Hill | Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

The twinkle-light-festooned patio at El Poquito in Chestnut Hill | Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

There’s never been a shortage of charm on most small-town Main Streets, but thanks to an influx of cool shops and eateries, our region’s main drags are busier, buzzier and better than ever. Here, the standout spots to visit now.

Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill

Best for: A day of boutique-hopping
Best bets: A longtime standout thanks to its top-notch storefronts, Chestnut Hill’s main drag is a destination worthy of a day-long trek. Start near the Regional Rail stop at the top of the hill and head east toward rustic home shop Isabella Sparrow to scoop up farmhouse-worthy wares like dangling wooden light fixtures and antique serving dishes. A block away is Style Camp, a women’s boutique stocked with covetable accessories, nubby knits and tricky-to-find labels. Break for lunch on the outdoor patio at Mexican cantina El Poquito. Order the street tacos (they offer banh mi, brussels sprout and Korean BBQ varieties), decadent churros and a tequila flight. Don’t leave without a bouquet from one of the street’s duo of respected florists — Robertson’s Flowers and Rothe Florists — both of which can whip up a fall-ready assortment of blooms in a snap.

Lancaster Avenue, Wayne

Best for: Holing up in cozy spots
Best bets: Once a buttoned-up enclave of the Main Line, Wayne’s commercial corridor has shed its stuffy stereotype. First, duck around the corner to North Wayne Avenue, where you’ll find Main Point Books; prod the friendly owner, Cathy Fiebach, for her favorite page-turners. Afterward, head back to Lancaster and hunker down with your new reading material at Gryphon Cafe. It’s home to a cast of regulars you’ll find nursing the cafe’s specialty, Sean’s Latte (a caramel and vanilla sip), and whatever’s on tap (usually kombucha) from weighty patterned mugs. Grab a late lunch at Cornerstone Cheese & Charcuterie, tucked on West Avenue. The BYO posts its happy-hour menu and wine- and beer-pairing suggestions online, so diners can come prepared. (There’s a Fine Wine & Good Spirits store within walking distance.)

Broadway, Jim Thorpe

Best for: Old-school charm (and a bit of adventure)
Best bets: It’s an hour and a half from Philly, but Jim Thorpe’s main thoroughfare — dotted with old stone buildings and hordes of historic markers — feels like it’s been plucked from a Hollywood back lot. The retail lineup lacks some of the refined merchandising of its Philly counterparts, but it’s no less of a treasure trove. Peruse Sellers Books & Fine Art for affordable books; Soundcheck Records for used vinyl and music miscellany; Somersault Letterpress for paper goods; and the Vintagerie for small antiques. Wind down at Stone Row Pub and Eatery (the building’s been there since the 19th century) or American restaurant Moya on Race Street, only steps away. Beyond shops, Broadway is also home to the Jim Thorpe eXperience, an adventure service that lets you choose from a slew of guided trips — from waterfall hikes to nighttime snowshoe treks. Before you set out, grab a to-go sandwich (available to order online) at Through the Looking Glass, the quirky Carrollian restaurant that anchors Broadway.

State Street, Doylestown

Best for: Kid-friendly entertainment
Best bets: A tree-lined one-way dotted with boutiques and eateries, State Street is the pulse of this picturesque suburb. Take little ones to famed children’s bookstore Booktenders Secret Garden, where there’s a lively story time and organized crafts conducted by former teacher and owner Ellen Mager. Reward their creativity at old-timey Sweet Pea Ice Cream with a cone of the seasonal special, pumpkin with gingersnaps, and a scoop of pistachio and wildflower honey for yourself. Let the sugar rush subside and then swing through Estate, a luxe boutique that stocks men’s and women’s collections from a roster of designers like Gant, Ulla Johnson and The Kooples. Insider tip: Before you go, be sure to check out the Doylestown Township Parks & Recreation calendar of events for fun offerings like a kids’ supper club that schools fledgling foodies in the preparation of spaghetti and meatballs, while parents can sneak out for date night. (We suggest catching a foreign flick at the County Theater — just look for the old-school marquee — and enjoy a bucket of its perfectly salted popcorn.)

Baltimore Avenue, West Philly

Best for: A surprisingly wallet-friendly gastronomic tour
Best bets: Eating your way through any neighborhood is often the best way to become acquainted with it, and the variety of fare on Baltimore Avenue is perhaps its strongest suit. Begin your day at Dottie’s Donuts on Springfield Avenue, where you’ll find a bakery case full of vegan doughnuts in flavors like matcha cacao, Thai tea and, for the purist, Boston cream. (Go early; popular flavors sell fast.) For lunch, ethnic foods reign supreme: Enjoy African cuisine at Youma, Thai and Laotian at Vientiane, and Ethiopian and Eritrean at Dahlak. Don’t miss seeing a production at Curio Theatre Company, an offbeat ensemble-based theater company. When it’s over, stroll to family-friendly Clarkville for fried chicken and beer, or, for an elevated dining experience, Marigold Kitchen and its lauded $90-a-head tasting menu.

This article first appeared as “Day-Tripping” in Philadelphia magazine’s October 2016 issue.

Best of Philly: Women’s Shopping

Images via Instagram | @theritualritual and @meadowsweetmercantile

Images via Instagram | @theritualritual and @meadowsweetmercantile

Best of Philly 2016 is now online as well as at newsstands. Check out the best in women’s shopping as well as the rest of the best in food, drink, shopping, beauty, health, fitness, fun and games.

Women’s shopping is something we hold near and dear to our hearts here at Shoppist. It’s the very basis of our print and online content and a cornerstone of Philly’s bustling retail scene. While we’ve already nailed down the 50 best shops in the city, we’ve found some new gems that’ll upgrade your closet instantly. Here’s the best of best of women’s shopping in Philadelphia. Read more »

The 7 Best Philly Shops for LOL-Worthy DNC Merchandise

With the RNC well underway, in all its plagiarized speech-ed, shouting glory, we’re getting hype for the DNC madness to make its way to Philly soon. Local boutiques and shops are one step ahead, with some pretty amazing, hilarious DNC merchandise that you cannot miss. Even if you don’t give a hoot about politics (which, ya know, you should), this DNC merchandise is LOL-worthy in its own right — good enough to snag, even if you haven’t listened to a single speech or gotten off the couch to vote because you’re a lazy American citizen. I digress. Here are seven Philly boutiques stocking up on the best DNC merchandise that’s sure to offend or delight, depending on your political leanings.  Read more »

7 Surprising Mall Stores for Summer Fashion Finds

mall stores for summer fashion finds

iStock/Susan Chiang.

Shopping at the mall, in all its escalator-ed, food court-ing glory, is a pastime that, we’ll admit, we miss every once in a while. I mean, where else can you go for new shoes and a Build-A-Bear and veggie lo mein all in one stop? Too often malls get the short end of the shopping stick, painted in a sad light as many outdated department stores shutter their doors. However, malls are actually home to some great wardrobe items — you just have to know where to go, lest you find yourself in a sea of sad sweaters and ill-fitting blazers and tableware (So. Much. Tableware.). We’ve rounded up the best mall stores for summer fashion right now because, believe it or not, there’s some gems out there.
Read more »

7 Things to Know Before You Hit the Shore This Weekend

know before you hit the shore

The Shore awaits! | iStock/BlueLela.

Happy holiday weekend, y’all! In our minds it may still be May, but alas, we find ourselves at the most patriotic holiday of the year. Whether you’re headed to Grandma’s Shore house or a weekend of debauchery with your college pals, there are certain necessities that the Shore calls for. Here’s what to get, where to go, and what to do to ensure that you have the greatest Fourth of July ever! Read more »

11 Local Memorial Day Sales to Shop This Weekend

memorial day weekend sales

Image via iStock/Massonstock.

Memorial Day Weekend is almost upon us, which means cookouts, shore trips, and quite possibly the first time you’ve been in a bikini in 100 years. (If that thought makes you sweat instantly, we’ve got you covered.) It also means local shops are having blowout sales to celebrate the unofficial start of summer. Here are 11 awesome local Memorial Day sales to shop this weekend in between ice cream cones and dips in the pool.  Read more »

How to Shop Your Way Through Fishtown

Shopping in Fishtown

Minnow Lane’s storefront and wares from Field. | Images via @minnowlane and @shop.field.

Fishtown: It’s not just for hipsters! This neighborhood’s got world-class vintage finds, stylish plants and flowers for your place, and is home to some of the best damn coffee on this green Earth — there’s a little something for everyone there. Get to know the area that’s forever resenting being called “the Brooklyn of Philadelphia.” Here are the eight coolest places to shop in Fishtown, because we believe shopping is the ultimate way to explore any part of town. Read more »

How to Wear One Black Dress 6 Different Ways (No One Will Know!)

what to wear over an LBD

It’s all in the accessories. Image via iStock/lolostock.

Everyone’s got that one dress in the closet – the go-to, the fail-safe, the blank canvas. For most, it’s a little black dress. But wearing the same thing can get boring, and lead to the age-old style rut. Luckily, there are tons of trendy, flirty, and super-cute ways to style an LBD for the gods this spring and summer — we’re talking seashell purses, gypsy earrings, and embellished jackets that would make Kanye jealous. Here’s how to wear one black dress six completely different ways, so that your inner alter-egos get a chance to come out and play. Trust us, no one will know you wore the same dress to dinner last weekend. Read more »

10 Amazing Philly Record Stores to Shop This Weekend

philly record store

Image via Repo Records.

Tomorrow is National Record Store Day, which gives us the perfect excuse to round up the best Philly record stores for your browsing pleasure. From impossible-to-find vinyl to the mustiest out-of-print books your heart could desire, these independent record stores are well worth the visit. Spend a little time this Saturday searching for the next record to add to your music trove – here’s a look at some of the releases to look out for – at these 10 amazing record shops.  Read more »

The Revisit: Does Century 21 Still Live Up to the Hype?

Century 21

The view from the Market Street entrance to Century 21. | Lauren McGrath.

When we got a sneak peek inside Century 21 before it opened in the fall of 2014, we couldn’t get enough of the Gallery’s brand-new, face-lifted megastore. But as so many stores have experienced time after time (ahem, Nordstrom Rack), it ain’t easy out there for an off-price retailer in the middle of the city. Call us cynics, but we worried about the state in which we’d find all that Chloé and Saint Laurent after all this time. High-brow doesn’t generally mix well with clutter.

I made my way down Market Street fueled by La Colombe and a burning desire to see the real state of affairs at Century 21, its grand-opening luster long gone. I had visions of gorgeous beaded Valentino platforms smushed on a shoe shelf next to patent leather Jessica Simpson heels and clothing racks in disarray. Braced for the worst, I dove in. Here’s what I found:

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