September 25, 2019 | ,

Roxborough’s Roots: Spending a Day in NW Philly’s Signature Neighborhood


As a born-and-raised Philadelphian with roots in many parts of the city, I’ve always seen Roxborough through the lens of my childhood memories: skipping through parks, hiking on trails, and walking down tree-lined neighborhood streets. We would make it to Wissahickon Valley Park and go to this shrouded oasis my aunt called Devil’s Pool. I’d take a minute to soak it in, and we’d once again start sauntering across the bridge that overlooked it, making our way back under the canopy where we could hear the birds and cicadas of summertime. It was all impersonal at that point—I had no clue what Roxborough was, I just knew it held hidden treasures.

Today, I am a student at Drexel University here in Philadelphia. It was a priority of mine to stay here for college—I love it too much to leave. A unique characteristic of Drexel is the co-op program they offer, where six-month internships are built into the curriculum. These internships hold valuable work experience, as well as life lessons. The Roxborough Development Corporation offered me a job as a Marketing & Communications Intern in late February of 2019, which was the first time I had heard about the town in years. Just like that, the childhood memories started to flood back. On my first day, I hopped on the #9 SEPTA Bus and started my second adventure in Roxborough—college edition.

How to Get to Roxborough

Roxborough is in Northwestern Philadelphia: above Manayunk, next to East Falls and Germantown, and below our beloved backyard, Wissahickon Valley Park. Being in the middle of everything has its perks, with its accessibility to other spots in the city, and even hiding its curiosities in plain sight. Who would guess that Roxborough has the most green space out of any other borough in Philadelphia? Hint: not many.

Eager to head into nature for some fresh air? By car, Roxborough is easily accessible via I-76, Kelly Drive, and MLK Drive. For those of you who prefer public transit (like me), you can take either the bus or the train. SEPTA Regional Rail’s Manayunk/Norristown Line brings you straight to Roxborough using the Ivy Ridge or Wissahickon stops. Buses 9, 27, 35, and 32 all travel through Roxborough as well.

Exploring Roxborough & the Wissahickon

Wissahickon Valley Park takes first place on my personal list of experiences in Roxborough. The winding dog-friendly trails guide you through massive trees and picturesque riverbanks, leading you to the Valley Green Inn, the perfect place to recuperate before heading back in. With the trailheads along the North border of Roxborough, it’s accessible across the entire neighborhood. Devil’s Pool, as I mentioned earlier, is a real place, and it will exceed your expectations every single time. Tucked away along the Orange Trail in the park, you emerge from the woods to find a small creek delta, complete with a deep blue lagoon to the left and a beautiful riverbank to the right.

Though it is definitely the largest, Wissahickon Creek and Trail is not the only place to experience the outdoors in Roxborough. Places like Andorra Meadow, Germany Hill, and Schuylkill River Trail also provide the same natural solace from normal city life.

The Important Stuff: Where to Eat!

After a trip through Wissahickon Valley Park, you’re definitely going to be hungry. Roxborough’s restaurant options are quite vast, allowing you to choose anything from authentic Tibetan cuisine at the White Yak to your classic Philly grub. Now, I’m the type of Philadelphian who somehow survives on cheesesteaks almost every day. So, if you’re anything like me, you’ll soon discover that Roxborough holds some of the best cheesesteaks in the entire city. Chubby’s and Dalessandro’s, two critically acclaimed cheesesteak locations, are located directly across from each other on Henry Ave. If you know anything about these two shops, you also know that you have to be loyal to one of them. I am not going to tell you my favorite. You need to sort that out yourself!

If you’re not a cheesesteak lover (I won’t judge), I’ve got you covered. Roxborough is home to a unique restaurant called The Spicy Belly, a Jamaican-Korean fusion restaurant that serves bok choy, wings, and everything in between. It’s a must for any foodie in Philly. Yiro Yiro is another spot where you’ll find a dish that you’ve never had before. This Greek fast-casual restaurant will blow you away with their authentic tzatziki and falafel.

A defining feature of Roxborough is that the community plays such an integral part in the preservation of the town. Through community groups, neighborhood cleanups, and many other facets, the people of Roxborough are the ones who make the town what it is. The Friends of Gorgas Park is a perfect example of this community action. They host all kinds of events year-round, and I usually try to make it to their Farmer’s Market in Summer and Fall for some of the best produce in Philly. During the summer, check out their schedule for movie screenings and free concerts.

As I spend more time in Roxborough, I realize what a valuable opportunity it is to be able to work here. I attribute some of my love for this town to my memories here, but more and more memories are forming from the experiences I’m having now. I have come to know many of the active community members, who always show an interest in making you feel welcome. Roxborough is full of good times to be had, things to be seen, food to be eaten, and friends to be made. When you visit, you’ll probably find me sitting at the same spot my aunt used to take me, looking over Devil’s Pool from the bridge.

To learn more about exploring Roxborough and Northwest Philly, check out the Roxborough Development Corporation’s website here.


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