Main Line Parent Neighborhood Guide: Malvern
This charming town is bursting with great schools, major historic sites, plenty of delicious restaurants and so much more.
Located about 25 miles northwest of Philadelphia, and easily accessible via the Paoli/Thorndale SEPTA Line is the darling town of Malvern. As part of East Whiteland, Charlestown, Willistown, East Goshen, East Pikeland, and Tredyffrin Townships and Chester County, this town is ideal if you are looking for a quiet community bursting with charming events, specialty shops, quaint restaurants, rich history, and top-rated schools. If you’re new to the area or just looking to explore, here are just a few must-see and must-know places and details about Malvern.
The newest Main Line Parent Education Guide features the Arnold family who reside in Malvern. When asked about the school system, they said “We moved to this area not really knowing much about the schools and ended up buying in the T/E School District, which is one of the best school systems in the state. This seemed like a great place for our little guy to start.”
Malvern residents are incredibly fortunate because of the numerous public and private schools that serve the area. In addition to the T/E School District, residents can buy a home in the Great Valley School District–another top rated public school district in Pennsylvania.
If two incredible public districts aren’t enough, there is a wide selection of private and charter schools. There are traditional prep schools like Episcopal Academy and Malvern Prep, as well as top-ranked boarding schools like Church Farm School. If a Catholic education is important to your family, Malvern residents can attend, among others, Villa Maria Academy, Lower School or Bishop Shanahan. Average tuition costs for private schools range from about $10,000 all the way up to $41,000.
If families don’t find a fit in the public or private schools, they can try one of the charter schools. The largest serving this area is the Collegium Charter School. There is also Renaissance Academy and the Avon Grove Charter School. No matter your child’s strengths, challenges or interests, parents are sure to find just the right fit among the numerous offerings in and around Malvern.
Because of it history dating back to the 17th century, there are charming houses throughout the Malvern Borough. Many are craftsman and Victorian-style, which means they are unique and require the owners to be the same.
If old charm isn’t for you and your family, you’ll want to head to the more rural areas around the borough. Here, you’ll find plenty of modern construction with town home and carriage house options for those who aren’t interested in the upkeep that comes with the larger homes.
Hang on tight because the property taxes in this area are very high making it an expensive area to buy in. As with all things in life, there’s a trade off. Traditionally, higher property taxes mean better schools. Given the high ranking of T/E and Great Valley, this is most certainly the case.
It’s important to know inventory in this area can be sparse. When homes do come on the market, they go for asking price and they go quickly. If you are considering purchasing a home in this area, make sure you realize it’s a process and could take some time. You’re looking at a median home price of around $400,000.
Trails, Parks, Playgrounds and Pinball
Outdoor fun abounds in the Malvern area. If you’re a bike-loving family, don’t miss the Chester Valley Trail. The trail can be accessed from two Malvern locations: Battle of the Clouds Park and East Whiteland Municipal Building. This trail spans 13 miles and is, for the most part, gloriously flat. There are several road crossings, but they are well marked which helps keeps everyone safe.
History buffs can enjoy Valley Forge National Park and the endless array of organized hikes, campfire programs, guided bird watches, landscape and structure tours and seasonal programs celebrating the rich history of this incredible place. And don’t worry, you can just wander around too. It’s a great place to let the kids explore either on foot or by bike.
In the heart of Malvern is another famous historical landmark that has been turned into a park: Paoli Battlefield Historic Park. Park visitors can take a ¾-mile self-guided walking tour, or simply wander through the fields and woods that have been preserved.
Malvern also has smaller playgrounds and parks. There is Battle of the Clouds which not only has access to the Chester Valley Trail, but has a good size playground, picnic areas, and a fitness course. Greentree Park is great if you’re looking for a picnic spot. There are plenty of tables, shade trees, and playground equipment. It’s also home to one of those swings that makes you feel like you can touch the clouds. If you’re looking for a good fishing spot, try Valley Creek Park. There’s also a playground for the little ones, tennis courts, and pristine picnic pavilions.
For some indoor fun don’t miss the Pinball Gallery. With over 50 restored pinball machines and a single admission price, visitors will have a blast getting in some old fashioned fun. There are also retro video games and a wide array of board games.
Art and Music
Theater lovers should head to People’s Light where there are performances for every age. There’s also a robust arts education program if you’ve got a little budding actor or actress in the house.
Art lovers must make a reservation at the Wharton Esherick Museum. Known for using wood as his main medium, Esherick built spectacular pieces of furniture, buildings, and even flatware. It’s probably a good idea to leave the littlest family members at home for this one, but it’s a valuable outing for children ages eight and up.
There are plenty of kid-friendly dining options to choose from. Just on the outskirts of the borough is The Office. With its relaxed atmosphere and giant screens where you can watch the game, it’s sure to be a hit. Another favorite is Christopher’s. With plenty of good food for the adults, there’s also a kids’ menu with some surprising options like salmon tails. While you’re there make sure you check out the pieces on display by local artists.
If you’re a big fan of breakfast you don’t want to miss Julie Anne’s Place on King Street. This charming restaurant, set inside an old house, serves up some decadent breakfast dishes like Nutella stuffed french toast and savory dishes like the Julie omelet. Weekend visitors take note: the wait can be long. The good news is there’s a park across the street where the kids can burn some energy until your table is ready.
Time to Shop
The most central shopping location for everyday essentials you need from Target and Wegman’s is at the intersection of Morehall Road and Route 202. If you’re looking for more quaint shops, head to King Street.
Stop in Unique Recycles for shabby chic furniture and decor. If you’ve got furniture or decor you wanted custom painted, they can help you with that too.
For one-of-a-kind, not to mention comfortable, women’s clothing stop in Nota Bene. There’s also 12 West Boutique if you’re looking for even more women’s clothing. Terra Culture Gifts has everything from jewelry to candles. It would be easy to spend an afternoon shopping just on King Street. For a complete store listing, visit this page.
Malvern is also home to a QVC Outlet thanks to the neighboring town of West Chester housing the corporate headquarters. This store has everything from housewares and appliances to clothing, shoes and even some things you never knew you needed.
If the whole family is on the Malvern outing, visit the True Value Hardware Center. The first floor is a traditional hardware store, while the lower level is dedicated to seasonal gifts and decor. Last, but certainly not least, is the third floor–home to Big Smile Toys. With plenty of demo toys to play with, this huge, independently owned toy mecca will keep the little ones happy for a long time.
Several times a year Malvern pulls out all the stops. Their celebrations and special events are neatly divided by season. You’ll want to check the Malvern Festivals Website on a regular basis for specifics on the following:
Malvern Blooms: Held in May, this springtime celebration attracts over 200 local vendors selling arts and crafts. There are several live music performances, food trucks and an endless array of activities just for the kids.
Oktoberfest: Held in (you guessed it) October this is the brother to the Malvern Blooms celebration. Once again the streets are shut down and live music, food and fun for the kids fill the streets.
Christmas on King: This celebration happens every December (this year it’s December 1). Local dance and choral groups perform, there’s a holiday themed market, and plenty of food and activities to keep everyone engaged and happy.
Are you a Malvern resident? Maybe you visit often and have a favorite food or shopping spot? We welcome your suggestions in the comments section below.
Lead Photo by Steven Warren
Want to learn more about Malvern from our cover family? Check out their My Main Line Q and A and this Sneak Peek into our Fall 2018 Issue!
Our Fall issue will arrive next week. Here's what's inside.
Geisa and Tom Arnold appeared on the cover of the 20th issue of the Fall Education Guide. Find out more about this Malvern family, and share your favorite spots in this quaint town.