Skip to main content
In 1940, movie director George Cukor set his Oscar-winning film The Philadelphia Story in the prosperous enclave of Wayne, selecting it to depict high-society America. With such distinction to its name along with a location on Philadelphia’s clubby Main Line, Wayne carries itself with an elegant grace while maintaining a down-to-earth spirit. Sure, some of downtown’s boutiques set the standard for trendy women’s fashions and many restaurants set their tables with crystal stemware, but it’s clear from one step inside the bohemian Gryphon Coffee or Teresa’s Next Door Belgian beer bar that Wayne never loses its genuine sense of welcome and of fun.
In the 1880s, a wealthy newspaper publisher joined the founder of Drexel University to create one of the nation’s first planned suburbs, which they located 19 miles west of Philadelphia, along the Main Line of Public Works rail line. They called their community Wayne Estates, after Revolutionary War general “Mad” Anthony Wayne. Hotels and houses went up, the town grew as a residential and vacation destination, and in 1906 the Wayne Hotel (still in use) opened its doors to travelers along the Main Line. Today, Wayne remains one of the region’s most sought-after addresses for shopping, dining and the arts with its approachable central business district clustered around Lancaster Avenue and North Wayne Avenue, considered Wayne’s Restaurant Row.
Wayne’s compact central business district forms a “T,” with short North Wayne Avenue, considered the town’s Restaurant Row, intersecting with Lancaster Avenue (Route 30), a broad avenue lined with shops, a few more restaurants and landmarks like the Anthony Wayne Theatre and the Wayne Hotel.
A five-minute drive past the Montgomery Scott’s Ardrossan manor — former home of Helen Hope Montgomery, said to be the model for Katharine Hepburn’s character in The Philadelphia Story — brings arts aficionados to the Wayne Art Center. This 28,000-square-foot cultural institution houses two galleries and a gallery shop, along with art and music studios where professionals teach students of all ages to practice painting, sculpting, drawing, pottery-making, jewelry-making, glass fusion, and music. A new kitchen brings the culinary arts into the mix with hands-on cooking classes and demonstrations led by local chefs. The Anthony Wayne Theatre, built in 1928, has survived many rounds of sales to emerge as a fully restored, first-run movie theater that retains much of its original interior design.
At nearby Chanticleer, 35 acres of planted and natural landscapes comprise this pleasure garden. What is a pleasure garden? One where education and interpretation are kept minimal so that imagination, fantasy and ephemeralism can guide a journey through seven striking and strikingly different thematic areas that change with each visit and each season.
With more than a dozen restaurants and bars located along Restaurant Row, foodies could easily pop into a different one for each course. For example, dinner could start with Liquid Therapy at Paramour, offering drink and food specials from 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. Sunday through Friday. Appetizers might consist of ceviche Acapulco at mod Mexican Xilantro, home to 100 tequila options, followed by an entrée at Christopher’s, offering elevated comfort food sourced from local farms and served in a comfortable and kid-welcoming dining room. If there’s still room to fill, Creperie Béchamel could accommodate an early dessert, and the socially conscious owner of Gryphon Coffee could help end the evening with a house-roasted coffee sipped on comfortable couches.
Fashionable Villanova University moms love using their kids as an excuse to visit Coco Blu, a casually elegant women’s clothing store that artfully arranges its Wooden Ships sweaters and Julie Brown dresses by color. (The shop sells a locally made leather bracelet that was included in the Oscar gift bags in 2014.) Bella Oliva Taproom makes its products — 50 flavored oils and balsamic vinegars — accessible by encouraging tasting and by suggesting recipes and pairings on neatly printed cards. At Out There Outfitters, shoppers can choose from a full line of Patagonia for men, women and children, along with great selections from Horny Toad, Arc’teryx, The North Face, Smartwool and more.
Music and art weave their way though Wayne’s annual calendar of events, from the Main Line Jazz & Food Festival in June, to the Radnor Fall Festival in September and the Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration in December. The Wayne Art Center also sponsors events, like the Plein Air landscape painting festival in May and an international juried contemporary craft show in December and January.
Wayne sits 19 miles west of Center City along I-76 or US-30, and downtown parking lots augment metered street parking. But the recently renovated SEPTA stop sits next to Restaurant Row and services trains that run into the city until midnight and take less than 40 minutes.
The long-standing Wayne Hotel has been accommodating travelers since 1906, and the Wayne Bed & Breakfast Inn is also in town. The Radnor Hotel is an elegant full-service hotel just a mile away. Alternatively, save during your stay in Philadelphia with the two-night Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package, which includes FREE hotel parking.