Bala Cynwyd Highlights
Shopping: City Line Center, shoes, art/craft supplies, pharmacies, athletic equipment, art supplies,
clothing, lighting, jewelry
Food: Delis, coffee shops, restaurants, supermarket, department stores
Entertainment/Culture: Cynwyd Heritage Trail, parks/playgrounds, libraries, pool
Bala Cynwyd is the first suburb of Philadelphia to the northwest and lies entirely within Lower Merion Township. This proximity makes it the easiest commute to Philadelphia from the Main Line. One of the unique features of this town is the Cynwyd Trail. The paved trail used by joggers, bikers, and dog walkers but closed to vehicular traffic used to be the train route from the Cynwyd station to Norristown. Due to low usage, the rail service, SEPTA, discontinued service to that area. Lower Merion Township removed the railroad tracks and recently redesigned a section of it to serve as a local park. The trail includes access along the old railway bridge across the river to Manayunk’s shops, restaurants and events and festivals. (A note about train service from Bala Cynwyd: There is train service, but it is NOT on the R5 line as are all the other towns’ stations; Bala Cynwyd runs on the R6 line and there are only around six trains a day. Keep in mind, there are three R5, Paoli Local stations within about 10 minutes).
At the southeastern edge of Bala Cynwyd is City Line Avenue, which separates Lower Merion Township from the city of Philadelphia. City Line Avenue has a shopping center with several dining choices including an Olive Garden, a Five Guys, a Corner Bakery and a Honeygrow, a super market, a department store, a Vitamin Shoppe, a Michael’s, a Lord & Taylor (department store) and an L.A. Fitness. Along Montgomery Avenue is a Starbucks, Indian, Chinese and seafood restaurants as well as a long-established deli. One of the most affordable sections of Bala Cynwyd is Belmont Hills, which is at its opposite end (the northeast boundary) which runs up to Route 76. As the name implies, it is very hilly with some twin homes as well as singles. Lots are fairly small. Belmont Hillers love their proximity to the expressway (76) and the library and beautiful community pool complex. It’s a very tight-knit community and is a treat to drive through during the holidays as most homes are decorated to the hilt. The adjacent neighborhood branching off of Marywatersford Road has larger lots and mostly split levels.
College Park is one the most desirable neighborhoods in Bala Cynwyd for people looking for wide, walkable streets catering to only local traffic and a friendliness among its residents. There are many traditional stone colonials, most very well-kept. The majority of homes are fairly large singles, though there are also a couple of streets with ranches and some with twins. Lots of College Park residents walk their dogs, visit with neighbors and many impromptu conversations occur on its streets.
Finally, the “dog leg” of Bala Cynwyd is one of those sections that people don’t drive through en route to elsewhere; most of the streets don’t go straight through, so it’s mostly residents driving on them. Homes here tend to be older and a little larger than elsewhere in Bala Cynwyd with slightly bigger lots, though there are some more modest homes from the 1950s as well. There is a township park and playground at one end of the dog leg with tennis courts, a basketball court, a playground, a large field (used for little league games as well as the town’s July 4th festivities) and has access to the Cynwyd Trail.