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These Main Line-Area Towns Are Some of the Best Places to Live

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Photos by Ed Williams

From vibrant dining and shopping hubs to upscale neighborhoods and historic Main Streets, our region’s towns have a bit of everything.

Chester County

Devon, Berwyn & Paoli

This trio of relatively low-key hamlets along Lancaster Avenue feeds off the notoriety of Devon Yard, a recent creation that includes the high-end shopping destinations Anthropologie and BHLDN, plus upscale dining and more. The complex is adjacent to the Devon Horse Show grounds, the oldest and largest outdoor multi-breed equestrian competition in the country. West of Devon, hot spots like La Cabra Brewing, Nectar and Clay’s Creative Corner Bakery make Berwyn a draw for beer lovers and foodies. Known more as a residential and rail hub, Paoli has gotten a boost thanks to the long-awaited upgrade of its train station.

Exton & Downingtown

Rife with new upscale apartment complexes, Exton may lack a real-life downtown, but it makes up for it with one of the area’s nicer train stations, the walkable Main Street complex, and loads of additional shopping and dining options. Downingtown is home to the award-winning Victory Brewing Company’s original location and a cozy downtown. The nearby Eagleview Town Center offers some excellent dining choices.

Kennett Square

Not far from the Delaware state line, this burgeoning borough is known as the Mushroom Capital of the World, after the industry that sustains its surrounding farms. In the past decade, Kennett Square has grown considerably thanks to its affordability, walkability and family-friendly vibe. State Street offers an array of shopping and dining options, and the world-renowned Longwood Gardens is nearby.

Malvern

Just a few miles west of Paoli, Malvern’s robust shopping-and-dining scene is centered on King Street, with its charming eateries, unique shops and reputable galleries. The town is quaint but sophisticated, and easily accessible by commuter rail.

phoenixville town

Phoenixville

Phoenixville

Young families and millennials can’t get enough of affordable Phoenixville. Its thriving downtown has undergone a food-and-beverage renaissance, with distilleries and breweries popping up everywhere— especially along Bridge Street. And with all the new housing options, there’s really little downside to this former steel town.

west chester town

West Chester

West Chester

Touted as the western suburbs’ hottest town, West Chester offers history, a sizzling real estate market, excellent schools, and a quaint downtown with brick sidewalks, robust dining and bar scenes and a full slate of annual events. The borough is also the seat of Chester County and home to the resurgent West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

Delaware County

Broomall & Havertown

Located along West Chester Pike with direct access to I-476, these neighboring towns offer affordable homes and a relatively easy commute to Philadelphia. Locally known as the 33rd county of Ireland, Havertown boasts a robust Irish population—and a lively summer celebration to go with it. Broomall is a popular and affordable option for young families.

Chadds Ford & Glen Mills

The late Andrew Wyeth’s Pennsylvania hometown has experienced a minor resurgence in recent years, thanks to the revitalized Chadds Ford Barn Shops, where a bakery and café, artisans, and service-oriented businesses co-mingle. Chadds Ford is also home to Brandywine Battlefield State Park, Brandywine River Museum of Art, and the John Chads House. A few miles away off Routes 1 and 202, Glen Mills is buzzing with new growth in every sector.

media town

Delaware County Courthouse in Media.

Media

Thanks to its many festivals and community events, Media is one of the liveliest towns in the region. A community sensibility meshes well with its walkability, making it a draw for younger families, empty nesters and Philadelphians looking to settle in an accessible suburban enclave. Lined with restaurants and a handful of boutiques, State Street is the borough’s busy center. There’s also a trolley line, instilling an old-timey vibe.

Newtown Square

Once a sleepy crossroads town, Newtown Square is experiencing a major revitalization. The 218-acre Ellis Preserve continues to expand, offering multi-use space, shops, restaurants and more. High-end living options are another draw. A community park, the prestigious Aronimink Golf Club and easy access to Ridley Creek State Park add to the appeal.

villanova university

Villanova’s namesake university.

Villanova & St. Davids

Nine months out of the year, these Radnor Township neighbors play host to Villanova University students and fans. Both are traditional Main Line towns sprinkled with modern amenities.

wayne towns

Wayne

Wayne

This family-friendly town has no shortage of desirable neighborhoods, in part thanks to the community-centric atmosphere, which shines through during seasonal festivals and events. Wayne has plenty of shopping and dining options, a great public library, and access to the Radnor Trail, making it well worth the higher price tag for homebuyers.

Montgomery County (& Nearby)

town of ardmore

Ardmore

Ardmore

The Main Line’s most thriving town center, Ardmore is home to more than 12,000 people. It benefits from convenient commuter access to Center City Philadelphia and its own robust dining, entertainment and shopping scenes. Established in 1928 as one of the first shopping centers in the United States, Suburban Square continues to have its own unique energy thanks to its mix of fine restaurants, food vendors, upscale retailers and local boutiques. Ardmore Music Hall lures national and regional music headliners, and splashy new residential developments like One Ardmore are giving the town a more urban feel.

bryn mawr

Bryn Mawr

Bryn Mawr

Just two stops west of Ardmore on the commuter rail line, Bryn Mawr is home to some fine private schools and nationally ranked Bryn Mawr College. It oozes small-town charm, with estate homes lining quaint streets. There’s also a top-rated hospital and the utterly unique Bryn Mawr Film Institute.

Conshohocken

Located just north of the core Main Line on a bend in the Schuylkill River, Conshohocken’s blue-collar roots have been overwhelmed by a swarm of white-collar young professionals drawn to its restaurants, bar scene and more affordable living options. Access to Center City is an on-ramp away via I-76, and top-notch dining is the norm.

Gladwyne

Given the hilly, heavily wooded setting, it’s easy to forget that Gladwyne’s hyper-upscale neighborhoods are so close to I-76, affording easy access to Center City. One of the wealthiest zip codes in the country, it’s also home to Philadelphia Country Club and a surplus of sprawling estates and awe-inspiring mansions.

Haverford

Beautiful estate homes define this old-school suburban enclave. You’ll also find the esteemed Haverford School and the mini-Ivy-caliber Haverford College, along with Merion Golf Club and Merion Cricket Club, both bastions of Main Line tradition. Founded in 1865, the latter offers squash, lawn tennis and (of course) cricket. Merion Golf Club, meanwhile, has hosted five U.S. Open tournaments.

King of Prussia & Valley Forge

The nexus of one of the largest, most successful malls in the country, King of Prussia is well on its way to becoming a mini city of its own. At KOP’s walkable Town Center, a park-like courtyard area hosts free concerts and movie screenings in warm weather. If you’re looking for more trees and hills, Valley Forge National Historical Park is minutes away. It’s home to George Washington’s Revolutionary War encampment, along with a popular network of hiking and biking trails.

Manayunk

A quasi-European town built into a scenic cliff overlooking the Schuylkill River, Manayunk is technically part of Philadelphia, which makes it a haven for young professionals and empty nesters who want some of the perks of Center City without the typical urban annoyances. Renovations and new construction are the norm in Manayunk these days, so there’s an abundance of housing options. Main Street boasts plenty of retail distractions and every cuisine imaginable. Nearby Wissahickon Valley Park offers a gorge, meadows and 57 miles of trails.

Narberth & Wynnewood

Just 10-15 minutes to Philadelphia by train, Narberth and Wynnewood share a decidedly urban vibe, making both an easier transition for former city dwellers young and old. Narberth’s small cluster of restaurants offers impressive variety. A bit more spread out, Wynnewood’s dining scene also has a global flair.

Related: These Main Line Towns Are the Best Places to Live and Raise a Family

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