Quaint Chestnut Hill feels like a little town that wandered into a big city and never left, all friendly faces and cobblestone streets. In fact, it’s one of Philadelphia’s oldest neighborhoods: Some of its row houses date from the 18th century. Nothing changes too quickly here—many of the shops have been around for decades and there is hardly a chain store in sight.
Chestnut Hill Cheese Shop This nearly 45-year-old shop stocks scores of imported and domestic cheeses, from French Etorki to rich, nutty Swiss Hoch Ybrig, and the blithe employees are generous with the samples. The shop also sells assorted gourmet food items including hot sauces and delectable Belgian chocolate chips by the pound. 8509 Germantown Ave.; 215/242-2211, chcheeseshop.com
Hideaway Music Brian Reisman’s independent music store is small but offers a rich collection of new and used CDs, rare vinyl, and vintage concert posters from the likes of Santana and Pink Floyd. Unlike at some stores of its ilk, Hideway’s staff answers questions minus any attitude. 8612 Germantown Ave.; 215/248-4434
O’Doodles Family-owned O’Doodles is everything a toy store should be. Its rich collection of “toys unplugged” range from stuffed animals to instruments, and there’s plenty of space to play. Look for the store with bubbles swirling around its entrance. 8335 Germantown Ave.; 215/247-7405, odoodles.com
Cake For a shopping break, try this bakery and café in a light-drenched former greenhouse. A sophisticated take on Philly cheese steak is made with Black Angus, caramelized onions, Vermont cheddar, and marsala-roasted wild mushrooms on a homemade roll. Cake also serves breakfast and a popular weekend brunch when patrons can dig into Belgian buttermilk waffles topped with peach butter or Eggs Madame doused with saffron hollandaise sauce. 8501 Germantown Ave.; 215/247-6887, cakeofchestnuthill.com
The Philadelphia Print Shop Open since 1982, this store stocks old prints, antique maps, and rare books, including some items from the 15th century. Browsing the wares—gigantic maps, Audubon prints—is like wandering a museum. Unique for a shop of this type, some items cost under $100. The owners, Donald Cresswell and Christopher Lane, are regulars on Antiques Roadshow. 8441 Germantown Ave.; 215/242-4750, philaprintshop.com
Zipf’s Candies Sporting the square footage of a large closet, this emporium peddles confections including Dutch licorice and Philadelphia’s own Blasius Chocolate. Zipf’s hasn’t reinvented the wheel, but locals wouldn’t have the 50-year-old fixture do it any other way. 8433 Germantown Ave., 215/248-1877
Artisans on the Avenue At Lisa Webb Howe and Georgia Doyle’s boutique, classic clothes from Babette and Eileen Fisher mingle with choices from urban minimalist Isda and breezy, colorful Johnny Was. The offerings are rounded out by leather totes and clutches from Hobo, quirky jewelry, and Archipelago soy candles. The store recently added a men’s section, too. 8436 Germantown Ave.; 215/381-0582, artisansontheavenue.com
For more shopping tips in the City of Brotherly Love, check out our Philadelphia Travel Guide.
By Becca Bergman from the February/March issue of Sherman’s Travel magazine.