Aspinwall, Fox Chapel Have Much to Offer Residents, Visitors
Oct 31, 2017 05:16PM ● Published by Vanessa Orr
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Whether you want to spend a day wandering through a shopping district or hiking a local trail, or spend an evening watching a performance or dining in a unique restaurant, Aspinwall and Fox Chapel have a myriad of options for both residents and visitors.
“Aspinwall has really grown over the past few years; we’ve added so many new businesses that you can find just about anything you need,” explained Jessica Vukmir, owner of the vintage boutique Dovecote Aspinwall and president of the Aspinwall Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve got small grocery stores, a farm market, lots of restaurants, a shoe store, flower shop, bakery, drugstore, antique and gift shops, spas and hair salons, specialty shops and things for the home—anything and everything you could want.
“The area has really been revitalized; many new store owners and entrepreneurs have moved to Aspinwall, and they’re bringing a vibrant, young energy,” she added. “Of course, we also still have parks and green spaces for the kids to play—once people come here and explore, they always want to come back.”
Close to both the city and Rt. 28, the borough attracts visitors to its walkable streets to shop, or to dine in the variety of restaurants that include Spice Affair, a new Indian restaurant, Feast On Brilliant, a high-end market with prepared food and catering, Luke & Mike’s Frontporch, Cornerstone, (which is known for its brunch on weekends), Tavern in the Wall, Bella Christie & Lil Z’s Sweet Boutique, Ordinary Joe’s Sports Bar and Casa del Sole.
“We’ve got a really different mix of businesses, and because Alley A just reopened, it’s a nice thoroughfare for people to use to walk between the shopping district and restaurants,” said Vukmir, adding that parking is easily accessible.
She adds that people should come visit the area during Aspinwall’s holiday festival, which will be especially impressive as it celebrates the borough’s 125th year. “There will be a big parade, carolers, live ice sculpting, a horse-drawn carriage and face-painting, and stores are staying open until 7 p.m., which is when the Zambelli fireworks show starts,” said Vukmir. The event will be held on Saturday, Dec. 2, beginning at 4 p.m.
“We’re really a hidden gem that more and more people are discovering, and we love that!” said Vukmir. “We hope to continue to grow while keeping that small-town feel.”
Fox Chapel, adjacent to O’Hara Township, is a residential community, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of things to do there. Those who love the outdoors can take advantage of their five-plus miles of trails, which were recently linked to complete a route from the borough’s northern to southern borders.
“We had multiple trail segments before, but there were a couple of missing parts,” explained Borough Manager Gary Koehler. “We recently added two pedestrian bridges, and another three-quarter miles of trails, so now you can walk from O’Hara Township Community Park to Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve, or along any of the trail’s loops.”
Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve, which is the headquarters of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, recently underwent $1 million in upgrades to its facilities, including the addition of two handicapped access trails and an expansion of its parking lot. The 134-acre reserve offers visitors the opportunity to hike five miles of trails, or expand their knowledge in its Audubon Center of Native Plants or natural history library. And kids love the DiscoverGround Nature Play Area!
Shady Side Academy is also located in Fox Chapel, and has recently undergone some changes as well. The school is currently in the process of building the McIlroy Center for Science and Innovation, a 22,000 sq. ft. U-shaped building that will open in fall 2018.
“Our science program had outgrown our current facility, and this will allow us to go to the next level,” said Director of Communications Jennifer Roupe. The building will feature 10 flexible classroom labs as well as an outdoor amphitheater for guest lectures.
“Right now, science classes share one multipurpose lab, so it is rarely free for independent research,” said Roupe. “The lab is also separate from the science classrooms, which is not ideal. Our new building will have flexible classrooms and labs in one, with college-level equipment, so students can go straight from the theoretical to the experimental seamlessly.”
Shady Side is also continuing to host the Hillman Performing Arts Series, which is now in its 12th season. The remaining four shows of the season include SOLE Defined, a percussive dance group that creates music with their bodies; a cappella group Six Appeal; PUSH Physical Theater, a dance troupe, and a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald in April with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. To learn more about these family-friendly performances, visit www.thehillman.org.
For more information on Aspinwall, visit www.Aspinwallpa.com. To learn about Fox Chapel, visit www.fox-chapel.pa.us.