If you’ve recently moved to, or are considering moving to the Philadelphia Main Line, you’re in luck. The Main Line is an amazing place to raise a family, boasting close proximity to Philadelphia and a welcoming family-friendly atmosphere.
That being said, each neighborhood in the Main Line possesses its own unique history and charm. Below, we’ve pulled together a Main Line neighborhood guide to help you familiarize yourself with the area and learn more about what each of these neighborhoods has to offer.
What is the Philadelphia Main Line?
The Main Line refers to a group of western Philadelphia suburbs along the “Main Line'' of the former Pennsylvania railroad. Perhaps it goes without saying that each of these towns has a train station, making the commute to Philadelphia a snap.
Initially, Main Line communities were settled as summer destinations for affluent families from Philadelphia. Today, many of the Main Line towns are consistently ranked as some of the best places to live in Pennsylvania. The Main line is known for the physical beauty of the leafy green streets, parks and gardens, as well as famous attractions, shopping centers, exemplary schools, and countless opportunities for family fun.
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What neighborhoods are in the Main Line?
The Philadelphia Main Line is made up of about 16 different communities in Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester counties, including:
- Bala Cynwyd
- Bryn Mawr
- Devon & Berwyn
Officially part of Philadelphia, Overbrook is one of the original Main Line neighborhoods to develop following the establishment of the Pennsylvania Railroad in the 19th century. The neighborhood offers residents the historic and spacious houses and yards associated with Main Line suburbs just minutes from Center City Philadelphia.
Today, Overbrook commonly refers to four neighborhoods: Overbrook, Overbrook Farms, Morris Park, and Overbrook Park. The Overbrook Farms neighborhood was America’s first planned “suburb deluxe” and was recently deemed a historic district.
While Overbrook is mostly residential in nature, residents can keep busy by taking a trip to the Free Library of Philadelphia, shopping at the Overbrook Farmers Market, and exploring the hiking trails at Morris Park.
Merion, also known as Merion Station, is an unincorporated community in Montgomery County known for its luxurious mansions and estates and close proximity to Center City.
This community offers its residents a suburban atmosphere with easy access to the city, dining and shopping experiences in the commercial district, and stunning views of nature throughout. Consider taking your family on an outdoor adventure at the Merion Botanical Park or the Barnes Arboretum at Saint Joseph’s University.
Merion has a rich history and is home to historical landmarks such as the Merion Friends Meeting House, which is the second oldest Quaker meeting house in the United States. William Penn, Quaker leader and founder of Pennsylvania, preached at the Merion Friends Meeting House in the 1600’s.
Settled in 1682, the Main Line community of Narberth is perfect for families looking for a small-town feel. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the borough spans only 0.5 square miles and has a population of just over 4,000 residents.
Narberth has an adorable town center and because it’s so small, residents can easily walk to most shopping centers and restaurants. To participate in sports and other recreational activities, residents have access to the Narberth Playground and the Sabine Avenue Playground. For those interested in the arts, the community also regularly hosts the Narbeth Music & Arts Festival and the Narberth Dickens Festival.
Named after Dr. Thomas Wynne, William Penn’s physician, Wynnewood is one of the largest Main Line communities and a favorite for families. Throughout the community, there are various parks, shopping centers, hospitals, and schools.
Wynnewood is home to some of the top public and independent schools in the state of Pennsylvania, including Friends’ Central School, an independent Quaker school educating students from nursery through grade 12. The ample education opportunities in the area make the community an ideal location to raise children. Families can also enjoy outdoor activities at the Wynnewood Valley Park or South Ardmore Park.
Voted the third best place to live in Pennsylvania for 2021, Ardmore is the largest town on the Main Line, offering both a small-town and city experience simultaneously.
Ardmore is known for Suburban Square, an outdoor mall and one of the oldest shopping centers in the United States. The Square houses more than 60 retail and dining establishments and the Ardmore Farmers Market. Other well-known family-friendly destinations in Ardmore include the Ardmore Music Hall and the Ardmore Avenue Pool.
Haverford is an almost entirely residential community located in both Haverford township and Lower Merion township only three miles from Philadelphia. The community is best known as being the home of Haverford College, a prestigious liberal arts college.
While the community is largely residential, there are some delicious restaurants, one of the country’s best independent books stores for kids, Children’s Book World and plenty of other activities for families within Haverford. Residents enjoy walking trails, playing fields, and dog parks at the Haverford Nature Trail and Haverford Reserve. For those interested in the arts, the Main Line Art Center in Haverford offers art classes, exhibitions, and summer camps for children.
Located in the center of the Main Line, Bryn Mawr, meaning “big hill” in Welsh, offers beautiful neighborhoods, art galleries, scenic parks, and coffee shops all within walking distance of one another. Bryn Mawr is well-known for its namesake Bryn Mawr College, a private women’s liberal arts college, and Bryn Mawr Hospital which is part of Main Line Health.
Settled in 1682 by Welsh Quakers, Bala Cynwyd, is a community in Lower Merion Township offering a diverse set of housing options for residents, ranging from modern apartments to stone mansions.
Bala Cynwyd is a family-friendly community with no shortage of activities to keep children engaged. Residents enjoy walking and biking the Cynwyd Heritage Trail, swimming in an outdoor saltwater pool in the summertime at the Cynwyd Club, and strolling through the Bala Cynwyd Shopping Center.
Wayne is a community on the Main Line located within Delaware County that is best known for its historical landmarks and outdoor attractions. Six landmarks in Wayne have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Wayne Hotel and the Wayne Station. The town of Wayne is delightfully walkable with restaurants, boutiques and bookstores.
The community is a great place for families who enjoy spending time outdoors as there are plenty of local gardens, parks, and trails to explore. Your family is sure to love Chanticleer Gardens, a 48-acre botanical garden made up of more than 5,000 plants, or Radnor Trail, a 2.4-mile trail running providing a quaint, scenic view. Another kid-friendly nature spot in Wayne is the McKaig Nature Education Center, which features 93 acres of undeveloped woods.
Located in Chester County, Paoli is one of the farthest communities along the Main Line, and also one of the most affordable. The community has access to the Paoli Station and is situated in close proximity to major highways, making it a great place to live for commuters.
While Paoli has its own shopping centers that your family can explore, including the Paoli Village Shoppes, the community is only a stone’s throw away from the King of Prussia Mall, the largest shopping mall in the United States.
Gladwyne is located in the Main Line’s rolling hills. The community is mostly residential, but the town is also home to various retail shops, country clubs, parks, and historical estates.
Take the family to explore the beautiful landscapes of Gladwyne at Rolling Hill Park, Natural Lands' Saunders Woods Preserve, or Kenealy Nature Park. Even bring along the family pet at an off-leash dog park like West Mill Creek Park. In addition to the many parks and preserves in Gladwyn, you can also take the family to the Riverbend Environmental Education Center to teach your child environmental principles.
Located about 13 miles from Philadelphia, Villanova is a suburban village famous for its namesake Villanova University, a distinguished private Catholic university. The village is separated by the University into the north and south side, with the north side boasting some of the most stunning homes and estates in the Main Line and the south side resembling a more traditional neighborhood with smaller homes.
Established in 1686 at the Radnor Friends Meetinghouse, Radnor is a Main Line community bordering Villanova, Wayne, and Gladwyn. Originally a farming community, Radnor began to experience growth in the 1980s in a push for suburban development for Philadelphia.
Radnor is an amazing community for families, with many different activities to keep children engaged and encourage learning. The Radnor Memorial Library hosts programs for children of all ages to instill a love of reading in children, and nature spots like the Radnor Trail and Clem Macrone Park can keep them entertained and interested in the environment.
Devon & Berwyn
Devon and Berwyn are two communities that were formerly a single community called Devon-Berwyn. Both are small, Main Line suburbs in Chester County that are luxurious yet rural.
Devon is best known for its Devon Horse Show & Country Fair, the oldest and largest horse show in the United States. More rural than Devon, Berwyn is home to many horse farms and horse riding academies, such as the Greylyn Show Stable and Riding Academy.
Similar to most Main Line communities, Berwyn is home to a variety of parks and arboretums that your family can explore, like the Jenkins Arboretum and Sharp's Woods Preserve. Arboretums also provide a great opportunity to take in the fall foliage as the leaves change color.
Experience What the Main Line Has to Offer
It’s no secret that the Philadelphia Main Line is an incredible place to live, especially for families. From the lush landscapes to the many recreational and educational opportunities in the area, there is no better place to raise a family.
To ensure that your child has a smooth transition following your family’s move, it’s important that they are in a welcoming and loving environment where they can thrive both at home and in the classroom.
With this in mind, when you are choosing a school for your child, it’s important to take your time and not rush the decision. Speak to admissions counselors and schedule tours to determine which school best aligns with your family’s values and your child’s interests.
At Friends' Central School, located in the Main Line community of Wynnewood, our mission is to develop students intellectually, spiritually, and ethically, helping your child to be the best version of themselves that they can be.