This Town Is Something Special

Spend just one day in Norristown, and you’ll know it’s something special. Put down roots here, and you’ll never look back.

Our amazing town is home to some of the best, family-friendly spots in the region. It also boasts incredible outdoor adventures, decadent eats, and amazing cultural and artistic experiences.

Today, we’re sharing 6 of the things we love most about Norristown. Pour a cup of coffee, settle in and let’s go on a little staycation together!

1. Live Theater

You don’t have to go into the big city to experience a major dose of culture and talent.

Theatre Horizon is a not-for-profit professional theater company, bringing the top actors and artists in Philadelphia and New York straight to Norristown. Founded in 2005, it’s been a longstanding contributor to the arts in Montgomery County, putting on a solid array of critically acclaimed performances every season.

While we love enjoying the shows, we appreciate the organization’s mission even more. Each year, Theatre Horizon helps nearly 1,000 children learn about the arts through drama camps and classes.

In addition to Theatre Horizon, you can also enjoy live performances at The Barn Playhouse. This venue has been owned and operated by dramatic arts group The Dramateurs since 1934. Every year since 1937, it has presented a summer play series that draws crowds and interest statewide.

2. Unique Dining Experiences

Where else can you enjoy delicious craft cocktails inside of what was once a firehouse stable? At Five Saints Distillery, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy a one-of-a-kind beverage, right at the home of Norristown’s former Humane Fire Engine Company No. 1. You can also watch the production process in action from the tasting room.

In fact, there are mouthwatering finds to be discovered all across our town. We especially love the award-winning tomato pie at Corropolese Italian Bakery & Deli, the candy apples at Zwahlen’s, and the tamales at Taqueria La Michoacana, among other delicious eats.

3. Elmwood Park Zoo

There is no shortage of kid-centric activities in Norristown, and the Elmwood Park Zoo is a top option.

Established in 1924, this 16-acre zoo is owned and operated by the Norristown Zoological Society. Once you enter, you’ll discover more than 100 species of exotic and endangered animals. While the very first exhibit drew a small crowd with a group of white-tailed deer, the zoo has grown exponentially since then. Now, it welcomes more than half a million visitors per year!

Forget craning your neck to catch a hopeful peek at one of the animals. At the Elmwood Park Zoo, there are plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal. Will you feed a giraffe? Zip line above the elk? This is one spot we can return to time and again, and always discover something new.

4. One Word: Zeps

What are zeps? If you’re not a Norristown local, this word might make you scratch your head.

A local specialty, zeps are our take on the traditional Philly hoagie. Most zeps are made on a wide hoagie roll that measures around 14 inches long. For more than seven decades, this sandwich has been synonymous with the town we call home.

First, there’s a hearty drizzle of a special zesty oil. Then, the zep is packed full of one very special meat: Cotto salami! You’ll also find provolone cheese on there, along with raw onion, chunky tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper.

One thing you won’t find? Lettuce. Trust us, with so many rich flavors going on, you won’t miss the green stuff one bit.

Those in the know have long understood that there are two iconic restaurants that deliver the perfect zep fix: Eve’s Lunch on East Johnson Highway, and Lou’s Sandwich Shop on East Main Street. Try them both and decide for yourself which one wins out!

5. Outdoor Excursions

Looking for a great way to walk off that zep? Norristown has many local parks and recreational areas that offer stunning views and kid-friendly terrain. You don’t have to go far to enjoy views of the water, wildlife, and wilderness!

Take the Norristown Farm Park, for instance. Surrounded by woods and farmland, this park also contains various historic structures that once belonged to the farmers who lived and worked on the land. When you go, plan to spend the whole day picnicking, hiking, and bicycling along the paths. You can also fish from the stocked trout stream.

Other excellent parks in the area include Riverfront Park, Guardino Park, and Evansburg State Park in nearby Collegeville.

6. Selma Mansion

One of the oldest structures in Norristown, Selma Mansion is a local treasure. General Andrew Porter built the towering home in 1794, designing it around an existing structure that had been in place since 1786.

Who was Porter, exactly? He was an illustrious soldier in the American Revolutionary War and an early founder of the Continental Marines, which would eventually give rise to the U.S. Marine Corps.

Through the years, many distinguished Norristown families have called the mansion home. One of those was Colonel Thomas P. Knox, a local farmer and president of Pennsylvania’s agricultural society, who lived there in the late 1800s. Until 1986, it belonged to the Fornance family, whose patriarch Joseph Fornance represented Norristown and Montgomery County in the U.S. Congress.

Tours of Selma Mansion are available by appointment, offered by the Norristown Preservation Society. There’s also an annual ghost story event every October, as well as a docent-led History Day.

Explore These Norristown Treasures

Even if you’ve lived in Norristown for your entire life, there are still places to explore and hidden gems to uncover. Now that we’re sticking closer to home than ever before, why not take this opportunity to go on an adventure in your backyard?

Whether you prefer wandering around the great outdoors, sinking your teeth into an iconic sandwich, or simply taking in a dose of culture, Norristown has it all. We’re proud to call it ours, and we know you are, too. If you’re new to this area and want to learn more, feel free to get in touch.