Only a short SEPTA or car ride from Center City, Chestnut Hill is an ideal destination when you want that weekend-getaway feel without having to travel too far from home. Here, we put together an itinerary on how to get the most out of your Chestnut Hill excursion.
Begin your day with an early tour of Morris Arboretum. A handy map at the visitor center will help you navigate your way around the 92 acres of horticultural delights—or you can just follow the paved path to explore on a whim. Along the way you’ll saunter through charming Victorian-era rose gardens, take bridges across serene swan-filled ponds and generally marvel at the arboretum’s historic and meticulously landscaped collection of rare flora and fauna from around the globe. You’ll find some man-made gems here, too, such as modern abstract sculptures that dot the grounds, a massive bird’s nest that you can duck inside and the adorable Garden Railway, a series of miniature trains that chug their way around tracks decorated with tiny townscapes and Philadelphia landmarks.
Head to Chestnut Hill’s main street, Germantown Avenue, for an afternoon of art-peeping at the Woodmere Art Museum. Housed in a 19th-century stone mansion, the museum has an easily browsable nine galleries highlighting Philadelphia art and artists and classic paintings and sculptures from its 6,000-works-strong permanent collection.
Before dinner, plan to shop at some of the quaint local boutiques and independent art galleries along Germantown Avenue, and maybe even pencil in time for pampering at 3000BC, a sleek spa offering everything from massages and facials to waxing and body peels. You’ll be glowing when you head into dinner later at Mica. The stylish, compact eatery specializes in “modernist” American cuisine and features a menu of beautifully presented seasonal fare. Stick to whatever seafood options are on the menu—it’s Chef Yianni Arhontoulis’s strong point. And don’t forget to bring a bottle of wine: This place is BYOB.
Where to Crash
If you have too much wine at Mica, plan an overnight stay at the historic Chestnut Hill Hotel. The building was built in 1894 on the spot of a former hotel and was a "Summer Hausen" for colonial Philadelphians. During Prohibition, it became a speakeasy, among other things, and has been restored three times since then—most recently in 2010. Each of the 36 rooms is unique, including the four in the nearby Carriage House, which delights guests with reclaimed wooden doors and seasonal fireplaces. There are also five rooms in the Post Office building, three of which include kitchenettes and are decorated in a fun and campy Andy Warhol style.