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A village transformed for the modern era

Ambler Arts & Music Festival Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

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The definition of a small town, Ambler covers less than one square mile, but despite its diminutive size, it’s amazingly complete, with a host of shops, restaurants, bars and special events that keep the streets bustling.

Unassuming and unpretentious, Ambler has retained a historic gentility and independent spirit that are the pride of this tightly knit community.

Originally known as the Village of Wissahickon, Ambler was renamed in 1869 in honor of Mary Johnson Ambler, a Quaker resident who helped lead rescue efforts during the Great Train Wreck of 1856. The town served as a manufacturing hub in the 19th century. This circumstance gave rise to a long retail corridor on Butler Pike, the stretch of ornately crafted Victorian buildings encircling the town and row homes typical of that era’s working-class housing. Ambler has since reinvented itself for the 21st century.


Getting Here

There is metered parking on the streets of the Borough, as well as three lots off of E. Butler Avenue. All parking is free on Sundays after 6 p.m. and from noon to 2 p.m. on weekdays. SEPTA’s Lansdale-Doylestown rail line stops at Ambler station, a major park-and-ride facility.

Arts and Culture

Ambler’s arts scene is wonderfully vibrant. The award-winning ACT II Playhouse regularly draws patrons from Philadelphia and beyond for its eclectic theater productions in an intimate setting. The Ambler Symphony Orchestra performs seasonally at area auditoriums. The renovated historic Ambler Theater features a stellar lineup of first-run, repertory and family film programs.

A variety of shops, restaurants, bars and special events keep the streets of Ambler bustling.

Food and Drink

With cuisines from around the world (Indian, Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean) as well as urbane destination restaurants, Ambler’s dining scene is truly cosmopolitan. One of the earliest champions for civic revival, Traxx BYO restaurant in the Ambler train station emphasizes local (and microlocal—as in, from the garden outside) dining. Sleek newcomer Lucky Well unites Southern style barbecue with its natural soulmate bourbon. Set in a restored Victorian home, Forest & Main brews highly original beers and serves a small menu of cutting-edge gastropub fare. Dettera’s expansive wine bar, 34 East’s sunny patio, Bridget’s Steakhouse and tucked away old-timer Bar 31 offer plenty of options for libations and/or live music.

Seasonal Events

On monthly First Fridays from May to October, area businesses on Butler Pike open their doors for the evening, offering special deals, food-truck treats and live family-friendly entertainment. The Saturday Ambler Farmers Market showcases the best of the region’s bounty, such as locally grown produce, seafood and organic coffee. The Auto Show, traditionally held in mid-May, exhibits antique, classic and unique cars and trucks in a flashy display along Butler Avenue. The town’s most celebrated event, the two-day Ambler Arts & Music Festival (June) fills the streets with more than 60 artist vendors in a wide range of media, more than a dozen bands, a local food fair, beer garden, wine tent and plenty of activities for kids.

— Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia


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