Dubbed the “Garden District of Philadelphia,” Chestnut Hill is the old, beautiful neighborhood that somehow feels both comfortable and luxurious. Victorian houses with shaded, wrap-around porches radiate out from a charming “Main St” style strip of shops and restaurants.
Mature oaks and pines are gracefully perched on sloping lawns and along residential streets. With Wissahickon Valley Park next door, Chestnut Hill feels miles away from the busy, concrete streets of downtown Philadelphia, but it’s really just a quick train ride from the conveniences of city life.
Where is Chestnut Hill?
The entire Southern and Western corner of Chestnut Hill is bordered by the lush green space of Wissahickon Valley Park. Mt. Airy, another desirable residential neighborhood and Olney – Oak Lane in Philly flank the other sides of Chestnut Hill. This is the last area of Philadelphia County before entering into Montgomery County.
Originally added to the city in the 1850s, Chestnut Hill started out as a retreat for wealthy Philadelphians to get out of the city during the peak of the summer’s heat. Much of the area is layered in history and is included in the National Register of Historic Places. It features sprawling, green lawns and magnificent mansions, some of which date back hundreds of years.
In the time since, developers have taken an interest in revitalizing the neighborhood while retaining its old-world charm. Like Ken Weinstein, who has invested money and resources into bringing old buildings to life. One of his most popular projects among locals, The Trolley Car Cafe, served up milkshakes and delicious diner food before recently closing in the adjacent neighborhood. He’s also invested in former factories and historically designated properties and tastefully rebuilt them as apartments.
What to do
Germantown Ave is the main thread of Chestnut Hill, resembling a Main Street in a small, country town. It’s lined with restaurants, galleries and boutiques, and hosts festivals and pop-ups throughout the year. Small stone buildings house local ice cream shops and bakeries, with locals often spending sunny afternoons strolling down these quaint blocks.
Running along the border of Chestnut Hill, Wissahickon Valley Park offers plenty of trails and outdoor recreation for all levels. It connects all the way back to Fairmount Park closer to downtown, making it the largest urban park space in the country. On weekends the park’s green spaces and trails are packed with picnicking families, cyclists, joggers and hikers.
Several festivals visit the neighborhood throughout the year, including a Home & Garden Festival, Fall Arts and even a Harry Potter event where the area turns into Hogwarts.
Where to eat & drink
A modern take on the local farmer’s market, Market at the Fareway is a hidden gem for foodies. Tucked behind Germantown Ave., it has local food and drinks stands, like Chestnut Hill Brewing Company which serves wood-fired pizzas in addition to locally made beers, and its own produce markets. A Tibetan dumpling stand and cinnamon bun bakery are also local favorites in the market. Originally established in the 1980s, the market has grown and changed throughout the years, but still remains one of the best spots to grab a quick bite in the neighborhood.
Moving to Chestnut Hill
Real Estate Snapshot
At $1,524, the cost of renting in Chestnut Hill falls pretty close to the city’s average. It’s about double the lowest rents in the city, in Whitaker and Northwood, and is a bit lower than Philly’s average of $1,652.
The neighborhood tends to be home to more affluent Philadelphians, making the price of owning a home a bit higher than in some other neighborhoods, but rentals remain reasonable. It’s a bit less connected to the rest of the city than other neighborhoods, with properties and homes spreading further apart, making it the perfect place for those who love the comforts of city life but don’t want to sacrifice their privacy.
Chestnut Hill is the furthest neighborhood in the northwestern corner of the city, yet it’s still conveniently located just outside the urban center of Philly. It’s a quick 30-minute drive, train or bus ride away from Center City. SEPTA bus routes and two separate regional rail lines end in Chestnut Hill, Chestnut Hill East and Chesnut Hill West at stations of the same name. Driving is an easy trip along Lincoln Drive and I-76. A bike path also runs through nearby Wissahickon Valley Park, going all the way down the Western bank of Schuykill and connecting Chestnut Hill to each neighborhood it passes.
Schools & Employment
The gorgeous campus of Chestnut Hill College, a private 4-year university, is set on 75 acres along Wissahickon Valley Park. It opened almost one hundred years ago and, as a predominantly Catholic school, only became co-ed in 2001.
Several private schools provide educational options for younger children in the area as well, including The Crefeld School and Norwood-Fontbonne Academy. Chestnut Hill also has well-regarded public options, such as Central High School and Science Leadership Academy.
As in many neighborhoods of Philly, residents often head into Center City for corporate jobs, though Chestnut Hill College is a large employer as well.
Check out all the available apartments for rent in Chestnut Hill and get ready to pack your bags for this lovely neighborhood.