Insider’s Guide 2011

Forget Philly (for once). There’s more than enough to love in your own backyard, from hidden-gem boutiques and restaurants to home services and health-boosting activities.



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Love Your Local Library

Look beyond the books for a wide variety of free (or moderately priced) programs, services and materials.


Delaware County Library System
Grandchildren coming for a visit this weekend? Borrow a free “Grand Kit,” a canvas bag filled with themed games, activities and toys for kids ages 3-11. Another novel program, “Pals for Life,” encourages shy young children to build their confidence and skills by reading to trained therapy dogs. Delcolibraries.org.

Easttown Library
Get to know your way around a keyboard (plus the Internet and e-mail) during a free half-hour, one-on-one beginner computer class. Or hone your skills during individualized hourlong sessions ($15 per hour). 720 First Ave., Berwyn; (610) 644-0138, easttownlibrary.org.

Radnor Memorial Library
Board games are great for exercising strategic skills—plus, they’re a whole lot of fun. For middle-schoolers, Radnor offers a “Dungeons and Dragons” club and chess nights for players of all ages and skill levels. 114 Wayne Ave., Wayne; (610) 687-1124, radnorlibrary.org.

Upper Merion Library System
To help take the intimidation factor out of reading and encourage skill development, this library offers a free “Reading Buddies” program that pairs young children (K-second grade) with volunteer mentors from upper grades (fourth-12th). For entrepreneurs, the library partners with SCORE, a nonprofit small-business counseling service, to offer free and low-cost classes on starting and owning a business. 175 W. Valley Forge Road, King of Prussia; (610) 265-4805, umtownship.org.
 


Take It From Them

Locals share their secret spots.



Mary Ivory
Narberth resident and nurse practitioner

Tom Ivory’s wife, quilter extraordinaire Mary highly recommends Cloth & Bobbin (235 Haverford Ave., Narberth; 610-667-5366; clothandbobbin.com) for its extensive pattern and fabric selections, and Lonni Rossi Fabrics (70 Rittenhouse Place, Ardmore; 610-896-0500, lonnirossi.com) for its one-of-a-kind, hand-painted fabrics. Both offer classes for beginners.




Tom Ivory
Narberth resident and owner of Baker Street Bread Co.
Ivory recommends Advanced Health & Fitness (934 Montgomery Ave., Narberth, 610-664-3400), a small, fully equipped, trainer-staffed gym that’s “nonintimidating even for 50-somethings.” And although he admits he’s never taken the plunge, Ivory enjoys hearing the instructors at Aqua Hut Dive & Travel (51 Rittenhouse Place, Ardmore; 610-642-3483; aquahut.net) talk about their underwater adventures. At this Professional Association of Diving Instructors 5-Star Training Facility and National Geographic Dive Center, novices can get their feet wet with one-day introductory lessons in scuba ($75, minimum age 10) and snorkeling ($40, minimum age 5) before they advance to certification instruction. Ask about at-home lessons in your own pool.




Ed Markus
Gladwyne resident and owner of Event Navigators

For a break from his hectic schedule, Markus enjoys perusing the latest multimedia art exhibits at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery (370 Lancaster Ave., 610-896-1287, haverford.edu).





Dr. Dori Middleman
Merion Station resident and psychiatrist
Middleman loves to stroll the secluded, wooded lakeside walking paths on the campus of Eastern University (1300 Eagle Road, St. Davids; 610-341-5800; eastern.edu). She’s also excited about her latest find, Rolling Hill Park (1301 Rose Glen Road, Gladwyne, lmconservancy.org, 610-645-9030), with its historic mill ruins and off-leash dog park. The park also offers a number of free or low-priced, nature-oriented activities, plus the more extensive “Knee-High Naturalists” for preschoolers and parents ($60 for five weeks of 90-minute sessions) and the “Explorer’s Club After-School Adventures” program for the K-through-third crowd ($50).