Suburban Life's Main Line Best and Brightest
Where to dine, shop, relax, and ramble.
by Bill Donahue

A lot has changed since the early 19th century, when small towns in Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties sprouted up around the Pennsylvania Railroad line that gave the area its refined name: the Main Line.

The Main Line has since become celebrated for much more than its historic past: its grand estate homes surrounded by vast and varied landscapes; revered educational institutions; wealth of culinary, retail, and community destinations; numerous concerts, festivals, and community events, particularly in the summer; and convenient access to Center City and other Philadelphia neighborhoods.
Put another way, the Main Line is a place unlike any other, teeming with abundance. There’s a lot to love, as proven by the following destinations for culture, dining, recreation, shopping, and more.
The Blue Elephant in Wayne (and its sister location in Pottstown) is technically a restaurant, but it strives to deliver so much more than fine food alone. It’s all about the experience. The décor and atmosphere are exquisite, and the creative menu is best described as a fusion of Italian and Asian cuisines. We’re most fond of the kabocha squash ravioli.
Chanticleer, Wayne’s famed public garden, has been welcoming visitors for more than 30 years. The 50-acre grounds (35 of which are open to the public) provide a lovely respite from the outside world, teeming with all kinds of artfully manicured fauna. Its magical grounds aside, Chanticleer connects with community members through a full roster of classes, workshops, and events.
At Fiore Rosso in Bryn Mawr, Chef Jesse Grossman and his team aim to enthrall guests through food, atmosphere, service, etc. Given the fact that the restaurant’s roots were planted by Marc Vetri, expect a heavily Italian-influenced menu and a sprawling wine list. Even the walls have some truly special touches, including an original lithograph from Pablo Picasso.
Family-run Holland Floor Covering began its life in Bucks County, where it continues to thrive, but has since expanded to the Main Line with a showroom in Wayne. The product mix has expanded, too, to include virtually every kind of floor covering possible, from natural high-quality carpet to hard-surface options such as tile, natural stone, and hardwood.
A Main Line destination for lingerie, pajamas, and bridal gifts, as well as undergarments and shapewear of all kinds, Hope Chest in Haverford caters to all sizes, styles, and occasions. It has also earned become known as a “best of” stop for a particular brand of expertise: bra fittings.
One might not think of a cemetery as an ideal place to relax and connect with natural beauty, but gardens, groves, and meadows are a core part of Laurel Hill’s identity. Laurel Hill’s two campuses—Laurel Hill East in Philadelphia’s Paradise neighborhood, and Laurel Hill West in Bala Cynwyd—span 265 lush acres, blooming with 6,000 specimen trees and shrubs, including several state-champion trees. It also has a Level II-accredited arboretum and year-round educational programming designed to reinforce the power of time spent in nature.
Main Line Art Center provides countless opportunities for members of the community to grow, create, and experience joy through the visual arts. The Haverford nonprofit offers classes and camps, public exhibitions and events, and outreach programs to inspire art lovers, as well as foster connections throughout the community.
For more than a decade, Wayne-based Main Point Books has been giving book lovers of all ages a place to expand their horizons, build community, and indulge their fondness for the written word. Whether you’re on the hunt for a new novel from James McBride, Zadie Smith, or Elizabeth Strout, or you just want a comfortable space to connect with others, you’ll find all of it—and so much more—at Main Point Books.
Planning or preparing for your next outdoor adventure? Head to Out There Outfitters in downtown Wayne. Out There has been providing gear, apparel, and ample amounts of informed advice since 2008. Whether your forthcoming trip involves hiking, backpacking, or just getting out of town for a few days, Out There can help bring out the (well-prepared) adventurer in you.
People’s Light in Malvern represents the voices of various backgrounds and cultures through new and traditional stage productions. With each production, People’s Light hopes to entertain, to challenge the way people view the world around them, and to connect guests through the power of story. World-class theater aside, the seven-acre campus includes a restaurant dishing up seasonally inspired fare in a lovingly restored 18th-century farmhouse.
Once a freight house and part of one of the first rail stations on the Main Line, The Pullman Restaurant & Bar in Bryn Mawr serves up fine food and drink in a stylish yet approachable atmosphere. Now that the weather has turned its cheek, the aptly named 10/14 Bar on the Rails offers a one-of-a-kind alfresco experience.
Given its role in the Revolutionary War, Valley Forge National Historical Park is regarded as the birthplace of the American army. The park offers so much more than lessons in U.S. history, including a well-maintained trail system for walking and biking. For those who appreciate more rugged pursuits, hike the surprisingly challenging loop between Mount Joy and Mount Misery.
The following businesses, artisans, institutions, and professionals contribute to the high quality of life enjoyed by those who live, work, and play on the Main Line: the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (, the Cirillo Institute (, The Cynwyd Club (, Dilworth’s Custom Design (, Dunwoody Village (, Friends School Haverford (, Friends’ Central School (, the Lynise Caruso Team of Keller Williams Main Line (, Dr. Peter Flaherty and his team at Main Line Smile (, Dr. LynAnn Mastaj and Mastaj Orthodontics (, Optima Jewelers (, and Salon Amar (
Chanticleer photo by Dubravka Spera/
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life magazine, May 2024