Local Life: Down Manayunk's Main St

A Native American word meaning 'where we go to drink', Manayunk remains a fine location in which to undertake this activity. All kinds of beverages are available along Main St, the attractive commercial strip lined with renovated Victorian storefronts and mill buildings at the foot of steep residential streets. There's also a canal you can cycle beside.

Manayunk Canal

The towpath along the Manayunk Canal has been revived as part of the Schuylkill River Trail. Look out for the wall mosaics of the birds of Fairmount Park and for the nine mosaic-covered steps that make up Diane Pieri's artwork celebrating the area's flora, fauna and industrial heritage.

Pineapple on Main

Main St is stacked with independent retailers making it a prime location for some casual browsing. Pineapple on Main stocks home decor, babywear, stationery and bath and body products, with many sourced from local artisans and producers.

Juice Merchant

There's a tempting range of organic and vegan freshly pressed juices, smoothies, and sweet and savory dishes at spic-and-span Juice Merchant. Go for one of the juice cocktails, such as the Twisted Apple with beetroot, apple, lemon and pineapple.

Spiral Bookcase

Just off Main St is this cute, proactive indie bookstore where book launches are occasionally held and some unusual publications are recommended.

Pilgrim Roasters

This coffee roasting operation is the baby of Dan Faehl and Ryan Connelly, a pair of friendly, passionate baristas. The daily menu has four small-batch coffees, all single origin and with different flavor profiles. A Scandinavian light roasting technique is used to avoid any bitter taste from the beans.

Manayunk Brewing Company

Manayunk Brewing Company has been making craft beer since 1996 so they have scores of different beers to sample. Flights go for $11 and can be enjoyed in a lively beer hall. There's also live jazz on Tuesday nights and for Sunday brunch.

Trek Bicycle Philadelphia Manayunk

Trek is the place to buy or rent a bicycle for a longer pedal along the Manayunk Canal Towpath, or you could take on the notorious Manayunk Wall, an 800m climb up nearby Levering St and Lyceum Ave that has a 17% grade at its steepest.

Tubby Robot

Before leaving Manayunk treat yourself to a scoop of classic ice cream at Tubby Robot, where the ices are all handmade with fresh ingredients. Video arcade games from the 1980s and '90s are a nice retro touch.

Key Features

  • Shopping
  • Riverside cycling

Getting There

Suburban trains run each hour ($5.25; 20 minutes) between Manayunk and downtown Philadelphia.

Local Life: Germantown Amble

The location of Philadelphia's only revolutionary battlefield, Germantown was once a remote summertime retreat for the city's rich and powerful. It later became an important stop on the Underground Railroad. Today it's a fascinating community where grand old mansions sit cheek by jowl with beauty salons and pawn shops.

Historic Germantown

Start your exploration of the area at Historic Germantown, a visitor center, library and small museum showcasing 18th-century interiors. You can pick up leaflets and an area map here.

Germantown White House

George Washington lived here twice. In 1793 the first US president sought refuge here from the city's yellow fever epidemic – he liked it so much that he returned the following summer.

Grumblethorpe

Built in 1744, Grumblethorpe exemplifies Germantown's residential stone architecture of the time. It was built for the prominent Wister family and used as a summer retreat. Blood stains from the fatally wounded British Brigadier-General James Agnew can still be seen on the floor!

Uncle Bobbie's Coffee & Books

Aiming to break the stereotype that the black community is not interested in reading books, this excellent bookstore and cafe has a laser focus on black writers and literature. The shelves are piled with a wonderful range of tomes and own-brand goods including t-shirts and totes.

Wyck

Famed for its lovely garden planted with 50-plus cultivars of heritage roses, Wyck was the ancestral home of a Germantown family between 1690 and 1973. The house was renovated by William Strickland in 1824 and is furnished with many original family belongings.

Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion

Built in 1859 by cloth merchant Ebenezer Maxwell, this striking Victorian Gothic mansion sits in a neighborhood that has seen little visual change since the 19th century. Inside, the 17 rooms have been meticulously restored and decorated with Renaissance and Rococo revival furniture.

Johnson House

Sporting scars from the Battle of Germantown, this modest stone house built by an abolitionist Quaker family became a station on the Underground Railroad in 1858. William Still is known to have been here and it's believed Harriet Tubman visited. Tours cover the building's social history.

Cliveden

If Cliveden is closed, you're free to wander the leafy grounds surrounding the Georgian property that belonged to the prominent Chew family for over 200 years. The bloody Battle of Germantown was fought here in 1777. During the Revolutionary Germantown Festival in October the British defeat of the Patriots is reenacted.

Key Features

  • Architecture
  • African American history

Getting There

Germantown Ave can be reached by either bus 23 or a suburban train to Germantown station.