Let's take a walk in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and visit the East Coast's most walkable neighborhood—Bella Vista/Queen Village.
Living in a place made for walking is important. If you have a kid, pushing a stroller to the park is essential to staying sane. And if you’re not quite done being a kid yet, being able to stumble home from a bar late at night is a major plus. We dug into hundreds of neighborhoods in our quest to find the most walkable across the country. We looked at the ratio and location of grocery stores, parks, and restaurants to single-family homes to identify five neighborhoods around the country where a car is truly optional. This list in hand, we took our research to the streets, interviewing locals in these and using Instagram photos from real people who live—and walk—there to bring it all to life.
Bella Vista/Queen Village by the Numbers
Philadelphia is a flat, cheap, and lively major city where you can still find a home under $400k—but maybe not for long. Amtrak’s 37-minute commuter train to NY, planned for completion in 2040, is expected to change the home-buying reality of the city. In the meantime, buyers like Andrea Alhadari, are hoping they can land a home well before then.
Alhadari, a young professional who’s been renting in Bella Vista, calls herself the unofficial ambassador for the Bella Vista neighborhood (and, by extension, neighboring Queen Village). She loves how casual the neighborhood is, with young families and cute dogs populating community’s numerous parks. “I like to joke that it’s where hipsters go to mature,” she says.
Alhadari has one warning for potential buyers—and visitors. “Wear your stretchy pants,” she says. Alhadari ticks off her many local favorite food spots. There’s the historic Italian Market, an indoor/outdoor warren of independent purveyors’ stalls selling everything from pasta to meats and cheeses to fresh produce. Inside, you’ll find Santucci’s Original Square Pizza. Order up, and enjoy sauce on top of the cheese. “It’s crack, it’s magic,” she says. Nearby is Pho 75, a favorite restaurant of Anthony Bourdain. It’s no frills but serves what is considered to be the best Vietnamese soup in the city.
Bella Vista/Queen Village isn’t just strong on food. It’s beloved by people who work downtown thanks to an easy commute. Like many locals, Alhadari walks the 12 minutes (20 in snow), to work in Central City. Along the way, commuters pass work by Bella Vista/Queen Village artist Isaiah Zagar, who has covered 200 walls across the city with mosaic murals. You can get a map of them at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, a folk art gallery and garden maze on South Street in Bella Vista covered with—and dedicated to—his work.
METHODOLOGY: Trulia identified the top 5 most walkable neighborhoods in America as ZIP codes with at least 500 homes that were in close proximity to grocery stores, restaurants, and parks. Only ZIP codes with at least with more than 200 homes per square miles and where at least 50% of the homes were made up of single-family homes were considered.