Neighborhood Guide: Bala Cynwyd

Bala Cynwyd is a little bit city, a little bit suburbs.

“You have City Line Ave. right there, which is literally the line dividing Bala Cynwyd from the city, and along it you have the shopping centers and Saks and Target,” explains Tina Elmer, a Prudential Fox and Roach realtor who lives in the Montgomery County neighborhood just west of Philadelphia. “Bala Cynwyd definitely has a suburban vibe, but you have the commercial conveniences, too. Deeper into the ’burbs, I don’t know if you’d get that.”

John Grugan, a lawyer who lives in Bala Cynwyd and works in Center City, calls the neighborhood “a gateway into the Main Line suburbs.”

“For people like me, who want a suburban experience but also want to be close to the city to take advantage of it, or who work in town and want to minimize their commute, it’s perfect,” Grugan says. He also heads the Neighborhood Club of Bala Cynwyd, a 105-year-old civic association focused on preserving the residential character of the area.

Homebuyers will find plenty of housing options, including apartments, condos, twins and single-family homes that range from small starter houses to stately old stone mansions priced in the millions.

“The nice thing is there’s such a mix,” Elmer says. “Whether your budget is $250,000 or $2 million you can get something for your dollar.”

Access to the coveted Lower Merion School District is another draw, and the area is extremely family-oriented, says Lisa Mitchell, a resident and owner of Dana Hot Yoga on Bala Ave., a commercial strip off City Line.

“All times of day, there are people outside enjoying a coffee, walking their dogs, taking a run,” she says. “We are part of a great community.”

Their spooky landmark

Always wanted to combine your love of reading and graves? Of course you have. Check out Boneyard Bookworms (www.bone, a book club that gets together once a month in the historic West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd. The next meeting is Nov. 17.

West Laurel Hill Cemetery, which dates back to 1869, is a popular neighborhood spot for strolling, jogging and dog-walking. It’s also an arboretum and sculpture garden.

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