Philadelphia is an epicenter for arts and culture — but it’s not alone. Check out these artsy suburbs.
We love the art scene in Philly. Between the POPS and Museum Mile, there’s always something amazing to do, see or experience — but that doesn’t mean it all disappears as soon as you leave city limits.
The reality? The Philadelphia suburbs are packed with galleries, Broadway-caliber productions, studios, dance performances, concerts, and more — many of which are super family friendly. Here’s where to start if you’re looking for arts and culture in the ‘burbs.
#1. Media, PA
Nicknamed “Everybody’s Hometown,” Media is a small town with a big arts community. Take a stroll along State Street and you’ll pass cute independent shops and boutiques — and expect pop up art, music, and shopping events throughout the year.
And locals know they don’t have to trek to Philly or NYC for Broadway-quality shows. Media is home to the only professional theater in Delaware County. The award-winning Media Theater puts on a renowned Broadway Series, complete with a live orchestra for each show.
#2. Collingswood, NJ
This very charming — and very walkable — town was a leader in the “Buy Local” movement and hosts a popular farmers market every Saturday. Among the fresh produce booths, you’ll find regional artists selling their photography, pottery, jewelry and other handmade crafts.
The farmers’ market isn’t the only street fair in Collingswood. The Arts & Crafts Festival showcases pieces from more than 140 artists each August. For almost 20 years, the Collingswood Book Festival has attracted thousands of literary fanatics to connect with authors and fellow readers. Plus, each second Saturday of the month, local shops host free live music and art events for the entire community to enjoy. Looking to get more involved in the arts? Join the Collingswood Community Theater or sign your kids up for lessons at The Perkins Center’s Conservatory of Music.
#3. New Hope, PA
With more than 10 galleries in town, it’s clear that New Hope residents value the arts. The New Hope Arts Center showcases rotating exhibits of local artists and puts on an annual film festival. The Outdoor Sculpture Project created a walkable public art trail that you can explore with the entire family.
But let’s not forget the town’s main cultural center, the Bucks County Playhouse. This historic theater is known as “America’s Most Famous Summer Theater” and iconic performers like Grace Kelly, Robert Redford and Audra McDonald have taken to its stage.
#4. Doylestown, PA
For the past 30 years, locals — and thousands of visitors from surrounding towns — have danced to live music and admired handicrafts at the Doylestown Arts Festival. This two-day festival is held each September and includes five stages for live music, numerous interactive demonstrations and more than 160 artists showcasing their unique creative projects.
This festival isn’t the only reason Doylestown received USA Today’s distinction of having America’s “best small-town cultural scene.” Locals can take music lessons or admire art made in the Delaware Valley at the Michener Art Museum. Art lessons are offered for creatives of all ages at ArtMuse, Art Dept Studios and Amanda Layre’s Fine Art Studio.
#5. Ambler, PA
Music and theater lovers have tons of options for getting their cultural fill in Ambler. The Ambler Symphony Orchestra performs at venues in town throughout the year and kids can get started on their musical journeys early by taking classes at the Ambler Music Academy. The Ambler Music Festival and First Fridays are popular events where the whole family can dance along to live music.
For theater, there’s the Barrymore Award-winning Act II Playhouse. Audition for a role (this theater focuses on casting Philadelphia-area actors) or sit back and enjoy one of the high-quality shows from the audience. You can also take in a foreign or art film at the nonprofit Ambler Theater.
#6. Jenkintown, PA
This historic suburb is filled with studio spaces and galleries. Families can explore a sculpture garden or attend an outdoor concert at the 27-acre Abington Art Center. If your kids are into dance, they can take lessons or join the company at Jenkintown Dance Arts. The Jenkintown Arts Garage is a unique collaborative space where the community comes together for comedy shows, outdoor movie nights and to take workshops.
Venture just outside of Jenkintown to Glenside and you’ll discover even more cultural offerings. Anyone can visit Arcadia University to tour a gallery or attend a contemporary art lecture. In Glenside, you’ll also find Galerie Hamid, one of the region’s major international art exhibitors and dealers.
#7. Narberth, PA
Narberth is the type of place where you can really be involved with the arts, not just admire them from the audience. The Handwork Studio gives kids hands-on experiences with artsy programs that aren’t offered in school- like technical theater, fashion design and woodworking. Danny’s Guitar Shop not only sells instruments but also provides guitar, ukulele and banjo lessons. Another popular spot? Sweet Mabel Art & Craft, a family-friendly local gallery.
Want to play a role in a Broadway-style show? Audition for the Narberth Community Theater. For more than 60 years creative residents have participated in productions of West Side Story, Little Shop of Horrors and more on this local stage.
#8. Ardmore, PA
Looking for art supplies in this Main Line suburb? Make Merion Art & Repro Center your first stop. Locals have trusted this shop for more than 50 years. And it’s no wonder why- they only hire experienced artists who can pass a 20-minute advanced art quiz to staff the sales floor.
In town, you’ll also find an amazing independent performance venue, Ardmore Music Hall. Countless global artists have taken the stage at the venue over its 40+ year history, from The Red Hot Chili Peppers to Macy Gray.
#9. Swarthmore, PA
Swarthmore has a long history as an artsy town. In fact, the town was originally named “Westdale” in honor of the self-taught Pennsylvania painter Benjamin West. The name was only changed after the liberal arts college Swarthmore was established. Today, locals can attend lectures, concerts and other cultural events on campus.
This suburb shares a school district with the neighboring town of Wallingford. The arts are emphasized in this school system and students can take music lessons as early as third grade. Many students participate in the marching band, which is one of the largest in the country. Wallingford is also home to the Community Arts Center which offers workshops for all ages in a variety of creative fields, including printmaking, mosaics and photography.
There are so many artsy suburbs to pick from, so how do you choose? You simply don’t, without getting a Suburban Jungle Strategist to help you through it all. Schedule here for your strategy session with our innovative suburbs strategy team. All services are completely free.