Why Media, Pennsylvania Is One of the Coolest Suburbs in America

published May 22, 2019
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Credit: Ted Nghiem/Apartment Therapy

Media was chosen as one of Apartment Therapy’s Coolest Suburbs in America 2019. We showcased the burbs nationwide that offer the most when it comes to cultural activities, a sense of community, and simply a good quality of life. For more on how we define “cool” and what exactly counts as a suburb, check out our methodology here. To view Apartment Therapy’s other Coolest Suburbs in America 2019, head here.

You won’t get far in Media without hearing someone refer proudly to this quintessential small suburb by its nickname: “Everybody’s Hometown”—a distinction locals take seriously. This down-to-earth town with Quaker roots and a strong commitment to community is full of warmth for everybody—whether Media is your hometown or you’re just stopping by for the afternoon.

Insider tip: The geography and associated semantics are a little confusing. If you tell someone you’re headed to Media, you’ll likely be asked to clarify “which” Media—the borough or the town.

In this case, we’re talking about the borough of Media, the seat of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. One of the first buildings you’ll notice (because it’s impossible to miss) is the imposingly beautiful and historic courthouse. During the week, the surrounding sidewalks are bustling with people on their way to court and government-related work and activities. A few blocks from the courthouse is State Street, which is just about the cutest hometown thoroughfare you can imagine. It’s teeming with shops and restaurants, and a weekly farmers market (don’t skip the Maiale Deli Salumeria sausage stand). State Street has something for everyone.

A few blocks off of State Street are the residential areas in either direction. The neighborhoods boast sidewalks and well-maintained, adorable single-family homes, rowhomes, townhouses, and apartment buildings, all within walking distance to pretty much anything you could ever need. And you may just run into comedian Wanda Sykes and her family. They call Media home and almost always have time to stop and chat with neighbors.

The borough of Media is surrounded by the Greater Media area, and the town of Media, where you’ll find more of that classic suburb-feel, infused with the charm of the borough.

A motherhood wellness center and an abundance of child-centered activity options, like Media’s Toddler Town and the Media Tot Lot, make Media an idyllic place for young families.

New homes and apartment buildings seem to sprout overnight to accommodate the growing number of people who want to make Media their forever-home.

Median rent price:

$1,332, according to RentCafe.

Median house price:

$449,990, according to Realtor.com.

Price per square foot (compared to city):

Walkability score:

92, according to Walk Score.

Median household income:

$71,337, according to Census data.


5,327 in the borough of Media according to Census data.

What the suburb is known for:

Media is proud to be America’s First Fair Trade Town, which means that Media meets all the Fairtrade Foundation’s requirements: support of fair trade from local government, businesses, schools, organizations, and religious facilities; access to a variety of fair trade goods at local businesses; and fair trade awareness campaigns.

Hidden gem:

The Media Arts Council’s beautiful gallery, with rotating exhibits and events.

Place that makes you happy to live there:

The Media FreeStore, which is precisely what it sounds like! Stop by to drop off items you no longer need, and pick up those you do—entirely for free. The FreeStore embodies the community-centered vibe that makes Media the amazing place it is.

Credit: Courtesy of Linvilla Orchards

Favorite activity for families:

When this “I NEED TO GET OUT OF THE CITY” girl first moved to Media and discovered Linvilla Orchards, she cried. The beautiful family-run farm has a large market and garden center, a huge playground, pick-your-own everything, tons of seasonal events, and an assortment of farm animals that seem perfectly content with children feeding them (read: throwing food at their faces) all day long.

Favorite hangout for young professionals:

Professionals love the offices and meeting rooms of Headroom, a coworking space in the center of town. At lunchtime, many take advantage of the $10 all-you-can-eat Indian buffet at Shere E Punjab.

Credit: Ted Nghiem/Apartment Therapy

Favorite place to catch a movie:

Who needs a movie theater when you can catch a live show at the Media Theater? Drama, musicals, kids productions—they have it all!

Favorite teen hangout:

Double Decker Pizza, especially after a football game. Go, Lions! Tom’s Dim Sum. The picnic tables outside Wawa (a true staple of Delaware County).

Favorite outdoor lounge spot:

Spasso Italian Grill’s enchanting outdoor pavilion is perfect for lounging with a glass of wine, a cheese plate, or some tiramisu (or all three, let’s be honest).

Credit: Ted Nghiem/Apartment Therapy

Favorite date spot:

Lotus Farm to Table for BYOB goodness, or Azie for sophisticated Asian fusion (try to snag a table on their rooftop deck for an extra boost of romance).

Commute and traffic report:

There are several transportation option in Media, which make it a great, although not perfect, suburb for commuters. The public transport system is called Septa. You can hop on the trolley (yes, trolley!) which takes just over 30 minutes to get you from downtown Media to the 69th Street Transportation Center in Upper Darby (with a few trolleys running each hour on the weekdays). The regional rail line will get to you to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station in about 30 minutes as well—and from there you can catch an Amtrak train to just about anywhere. There are also two bus lines that service Media.

Driving to downtown Philadelphia will take you anywhere from 30 minutes, to much, much longer than 30 minutes, depending on traffic and the Philadelphia Eagle’s schedule. (Go, Birds!) Local travel is getting more congested as apartment buildings and new houses continue to pop up across the suburb.

Favorite local bookstore:

Sigh. Much to the chagrin of Media residents, there are no independent or chain bookstores in Media. That said, the public library, which you can walk to, got a major renovation in 2016. It’s big, bright, and full of books to ease the hearts of the chagrined bookworms.

Credit: Ted Nghiem/Apartment Therapy

Favorite place to get coffee:

Burlap and Bean roasts their coffee beans in-store. Grab a cup to enjoy in their industrial-modern space and a bag of beans to bring home.

Favorite bar for when you want to be around people:

Brick & Brew Gastropub. Don’t forget an order of confit wings.

Credit: Ted Nghiem/Apartment Therapy

Favorite alone spot:

Glen Providence Park is the county’s oldest park and a truly delightful way to spend a spare hour (or five) enveloped in nature.

Favorite free cultural activity to take part in:

The Delaware County Summer Festival in Rose Tree Park presents four free concerts each week, all summer long in the park’s beautiful outdoor amphitheater.

Signature food:

Pennsylvania is not exactly known as the pico de gallo capital of the country, but that might change if more people discover the pico de gallo from the 320 Market Cafe. While you’re there, check out the market’s extensive on-tap menu and selection of eat-in and take-out foods.

Favorite boutique:

No matter who you need to buy a gift for, you’ll find something at Local, a boutique that offers home decor, jewelry, baby items, bath products, and more. You also don’t want to skip Seven Stones Gallery, especially if you’re the peace-loving, incense-burning, crystal-gazing type.

Most walkable area:

It does not get more walkable than Media. Grab some homemade ice cream from Scooped and window shop up and down State Street, then head north and meander through the charming residential streets.

Favorite bike trails/parks/outdoor activities:

Tyler Arboretum is one of 30 Philadelphia-area gardens that have earned the region the America’s Garden Capital moniker. With 650 acres of land, 17 miles of trails, and 10 tree houses to play in, the arboretum is a huge source of pride for Media.

Favorite spot for an Instagram:

The fountain and potted flowers in Plum Street Mall, an outdoor gathering space in the heart of Media, make it picturesque, but the real Insta-worthy shot is the long brick wall, which is covered in chalk-graffiti messages of love and peace. It’s also the home to the beloved Café Isla, where you will always run into someone you know.

Favorite brunch:

Without a doubt, Bittersweet Kitchen. Three words: French. Toast. BLT.

Favorite free activity:

Favorite grocery store:

Trader Joe’s, right in downtown Media!

Favorite place for a workout:

No matter how you want to move your body, there’s a spot for you. Looking for a big gym with equipment, personal trainers, and classes? The brand new the Edge Fitness Club won’t disappoint. Prefer to lift, tone, and burn? Pure Barre will get you there. Need to find your Zen? Check out Enso yoga. And if you want to plain ol’ shake your booty, head to Salsa in the Suburbs.

Credit: Ted Nghiem/Apartment Therapy

Favorite place to take an out-of-towner:

Every Wednesday night, from May through September, State Street is closed to vehicle traffic so that the restaurants can pull their tables out into the middle of the street for the wildly popular Dining Under the Stars. Whether you want to make a reservation for dinner (and do make a reservation—it gets crowded!), or just stroll down the street with a scoop of gelato from Irpino Gelato Bar, your out-of-town guests will be impressed for sure.

Worst place to find parking and easiest place to find parking:

Worst place: The entire Media borough. Easiest place. Also the entire Media borough. It all depends on your timing—if court is in session or the streets are blocked for an event, forget about finding a spot. There is a large parking garage in the borough. Just don’t forget to feed the meter.

What the neighbors say:

“The best thing about living in Media is that has the best of the old and the new. It is an old-fashioned small town—friendly, walkable, and quaint—and also a progressive, forward-looking community with a lively arts scene and a green ethic.” —Robin Lasersohn, resident, grant writer, and co-coordinator of Keep Media Green.

“The best thing about Media is that it was well-planned before throngs of people started building here. The streets and residential areas are gridded making it logical to get around, easy to walk anywhere, and conducive to people-centric activities, while offering a thriving business district, schools, parks, and access to highways, etc. Because of this, it is not as car-centric as many small towns along highways tend to be. Without this basic design, all of the rest would not feel as close by and well-knit into the fabric of our lives.” —Chris Dietrich, resident.

“My favorite thing is that just about everything you need is within walking distance, and you almost always see the business owner when you walk into a store or restaurant!” —Tonita Austin, resident, accountant, and poet.

“The best thing about Media is the way that my children feel nurtured and part of a real community here.” —Eve Miari, resident, and advocacy coordinator.

Favorite annual event:

Do forget to grab your tickets for the 19th Annual State Street Blues Stroll, where you can enjoy blues music inside more than 20 local restaurants, all in one evening.

What I never miss about the city:

Cement. Media is so green and wooded, it’s easy to forget that it’s a mere 12 miles outside of the fifth largest city in the country.

Credit: Ted Nghiem/Apartment Therapy

Favorite local home store:

With an ever-changing eclectic selection of antique and vintage-feeling furniture, decor, jewelry, and clothing, it is impossible to leave Silver Moon Studio Antiques empty-handed.

Favorite local garden store:

Wolff’s Apple House. Just outside the borough, this more than 100-year-old, family-run farm market has a beautiful variety of plants and flowers, plus pumpkins and Christmas trees in the fall and winter. If your green thumb leads to a hungry belly, pop inside for delicious baked goods and locally-sourced produce.

Favorite local diner:

The Koffee Korner. They don’t have many tables, but the wait is worth it.

Favorite neighborhood for yard sales:

Every September, Media hosts a weekend-long, town-wide garage sale. Spend the weekend winding through the streets, finding treasures in yard after yard.

Favorite house/garden walk:

The Media Minshall House is tiny, but as Media’s oldest house, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Favorite salon/spa:

Giovanni’s, for a hipster barbershop experience, or Deja Vu Salon for a full-service salon.

Favorite resale and antique store:

Little People’s Consignment Boutique is great for all things baby- and kid-related, while Magic Threads Consignment Boutique is awesome for grown-ups. If you’re after an authentic antiquing experience, visit Springhouse Antiques. (Call first. They are by appointment only.)

Why do you think your suburb is cool?

The endless array of shops, restaurants, and activities is what lured us to Media when we were finally ready to make the city-to-suburb pilgrimage, but it’s Media’s collective sense of “village” that made us decide to plant roots here.

Citizens in Media are empowered. Grassroots organizations, advocacy groups, and small businesses (many of them women or minority-owned) make Media feel like it is part of a movement that matters. When something needs changing, locals speak up and change it. When someone needs help, it’s not for long because the community swoops in and gets it done. It really is Everybody’s Hometown.

Credit: Apartment Therapy