Thursday, June 13, 2013

Your Personalized Visit to Chestnut Hills and Philadelphia

Chestnut Hill is a beautiful award-winning neighborhood tucked into the northwest corner of Philadelphia.  Renowned for its gardens, art and architecture, parks, shopping and dining, it is a lovely place to live or visit with many diverse, culturally enriching experiences. 

Designated in 1996 as Philadelphia’s Garden District, Chestnut Hill is home to The Morris Arboretum.  Situated on 92 lush acres and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is recognized as the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Just a few of its garden features include the Azalea Meadow, the Japanese Hill and Water Garden, the Rose Garden, Step Fountain, Madeleine K. Butcher Sculpture Garden, and the Swan Pond.  A few years ago, The Tree Adventure was completed and visitors can now experience trees as they never have before and get a bird’s eye view of the forest from 50’ above ground as they climb into a giant suspended Bird’s Nest or scamper down onto a Squirrel Scramble of netting set between towering trees.  This exhibit has become a fascinating learning experience for both children and adults.

This neighborhood is fortunate to be nestled along the 1,800 acres of Wissahickon Valley Park, part of Philadelphia’s 9,200 acre Fairmount Park.  The park offers biking, hiking, fishing in season, horseback riding and picnicking.  For nature enthusiasts, one of the special attractions of the park is the Thomas Mill Road Covered Bridge which is the only remaining covered bridge in the Wissahickon.  Not too far from the bridge is the path leading to the 15’ high Indian Statue of a kneeling Lenape warrior which was sculpted in 1902 by John Massey Rhind to commemorate the passing of the native Lenape from the region.  One of the most popular destinations in the park is the historic Valley Green Inn, built in 1851.  It is the last remaining example of the many roadhouses and taverns that served and watered the carriage trade along the Wissahickon in the 19th Century.  Much to the delight of its customers, the Inn is still serving delicious meals today.

For art lovers, the Woodmere Art Museum is not to be missed.  The museum, housed in a beautiful Victorian mansion, focuses on the art and artists, both historical and contemporary, of the Philadelphia region.  Among the artists represented are Violet Oakley, Benjamin West, Arthur Charles, and N.C. Wyeth.  There are also juried exhibits of local painters and sculptors, solo shows of promising newcomers, and sculptures displayed on its extensive grounds.  Visitors can enjoy jazz on Friday evenings at the Museum and classical music on Sunday afternoons throughout most of the year. 

The architecture of Chestnut Hill is incredible, consisting of one of the best collections of 19th and early 20th century residential buildings in the country—from the early Italianate designs of Samuel Sloan, to the exuberant Queen Ann buildings of the G.W. & W.D. Hewitt firm; from the groundbreaking European-influenced work of Wilson Eyre to the exquisitely designed country houses of Mellor Meigs and Howe; and from the ornate classical design of Horace Trumbauer to the early modern works of Louis J. Kahn and Robert Venturi. 

Shopping and dining are the cornerstones of life in Chestnut Hill.  Germantown Avenue, the cobblestoned street that runs through the heart of the neighborhood, is lined with more than 85 shops including one-of-a-kind boutiques, an old-fashioned hardware store, home furnishings, art galleries, antique shops, a garden center and flower shops, farmers markets, spas and more.  Dining options also abound, with both casual and sophisticated restaurants, taverns and cafes offering a variety of American and ethnic dishes.

For just plain old fun, Chestnut Hill hosts three festivals a year…a Home & Garden Festival in the spring, a Fall for the Arts Festival in October, and a Harry Potter Festival, also in October.   When winter comes, the street is transformed for the holidays, with  garlands of pine around shop windows and lamp posts, barrels filled with berries and greenery, and thousands of twinkling white lights decorating the trees.  Roasted chestnuts, carolers, brass quartets and special shopping nights are part of the holiday tradition in Chestnut Hill.  

Truly a town for all seasons, we invite you to come and experience Chestnut Hill for yourself.  Discover why it was named one of the Ten Great Neighborhoods in America in 2012 and one of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations in 2010. 

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