You may only have heard of it because of the prestigious university within its borough limits, but Princeton, in Mercer County, features a variety of destinations that make it an ideal place for tourists from the New York City and Philadelphia areas.
Situated between Trenton and New Brunswick, it’s home to several museums and historic houses, as well as a diverse selection of stores, boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and other attractions like the Princeton Garden Theatre. The community’s main business district is centered around Nassau Street, just across from the gates of the Princeton University campus.
From PJ’s Pancake House to Winberie’s Restaurant and Bar to Say Cheez with its custom grilled cheese sandwiches, there is something for every palate. Plus, this part of town is home to the modern Princeton Public Library and Palmer Square, which features dozens of specialty stores.
A few blocks away, two of New Jersey’s most notable estates are regularly open for public tours. Drumthwacket, the official governor’s mansion, is open for free tours on Wednesdays, and the Morven Museum and Garden, located in a home built over 250 years ago, is open daily except for Mondays and Tuesdays. Princeton Battlefield State Park and the Historical Society of Princeton at Updike Farmstead are also a short drive away.
For outdoors enthusiasts, Princeton is located along a segment of the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park towpath, which runs throughout Central New Jersey. The borough also contains multiple scenic spots, including Marquand Park and Lake Carnegie, and Princeton Canoe and Kayak Rental off of Alexander Street allow tourists to explore the local waterways by boat. Exploring Princeton by foot on one’s own is quite simple due to the town’s walkability, but tours of the area by foot are offered by the Princeton Tour Company and the Historical Society of Princeton.
The campuses of Princeton University and the Princeton Theological Seminary are both open for visitors to explore, and each offer buildings worth visiting. The Princeton University Art Museum has been welcoming visitors since 1882, and the McCarter Theatre Center hosts hundreds of performances each year that are open to the public.
One can also see the exterior of Albert Einstein’s home at 112 Mercer Street, though the house, which is owned by the Institute for Advanced Study, is not open for tours.
Getting to and around Princeton from cities across the state is quite easy as nearly all of its attractions are within walking distance of public transit. There is train service on NJ Transit’s “Dinky” line from Princeton University’s main campus to the Princeton Junction station on the Northeast Corridor Line, as well as NJ Transit bus service from Trenton and Coach USA bus service from Manhattan. There are also free shuttles like Tiger Transit and the FreeB.
Although Princeton is located close enough to major cities in the region to make it convenient for a day trip, for those interested in staying overnight, the Nassau Inn and Peacock Inn are located downtown, and there are multiple hotels along the nearby Route 1 corridor that offer a free shuttle service.