The historic borough of Princeton, New Jersey, is located in the heart of the garden state. Situated in Mercer County, Princeton attracts locals from all over the state. For North to South Jersey residents, Princeton is a place where natives can go for delicious restaurants, world-class shopping, and incredible history.
I am a frequent visitor of Princeton, as I live only 20 minutes from Nassau Street - the most popular destination for day-trippers. My first trip was when I was young, visiting the famous Labyrinth Bookstore for discount reads. Since then, I have yet to find another bookstore in my area that compares to their massive collection. When I’m not browsing the shelves of Labyrinth, I like to spend my time shopping along the streets of the Princeton University campus. With popular names like Urban Outfitters and LuluLemon, to vintage shops like Greene Street and Princeton Consignment, this town truly has a store for everyone.
Aside from being a self-proclaimed shopaholic, I’m also a total foodie. Princeton has some amazing local eateries that keep me coming back every month. Wineberries, The Alchemist & Barrister, The Bagel Nook, and Teresa’s Cafe are some of my all-time favorites. The cuisine ranges from classic American, Asian-Fusion, to even Fat Sandwich Shops. Yet, I don’t think any other town in New Jersey does brunch better than Princeton. Most restaurant menus contain signature breakfast cocktails like mimosas and Bloody Mary’s while featuring perfect pancakes and fluffy waffles - like PJ’s Pancake House.
If you’re not looking to drop cash when visiting, Princeton has got you covered with free attractions. The Princeton University Art Museum is arguably one of the best parts of the borough, and it’s completely free! Step inside to view some classic pieces of art from the renaissance to the modern age. With new exhibits opening monthly, even during COVID, the art museum is a great place to visit during the chilly winter months.
Inside the museum, visitors can spend hours wandering around the perfectly curated exhibits. With two floors, the art gallery boasts hundreds of pieces in various mediums. My favorite room holds the Ancient Greek art collection. With incredible statues and a mural made completely out of tiles, the craftsmanship is awe-inspiring. The diversity within the exhibits is also notable, boasting countless works from around the world, highlighting ancient statues from Africa and Japanese bamboo changing screens.
If art museums aren’t your thing, don’t sweat it. One of my favorite Princeton pastimes happens to be walking around the university campus with a Cup O’ Joe from Small World Coffee. Founded in 1764, Princeton is one of the oldest colleges in the United States. The historic buildings are gorgeous to look at, with stunning arches and stone walls. At any given time, you can watch students studying in the grass or riding their bicycles across campus. Coming from a college with a graduating class of maybe 100 people, I appreciate the unity. For such a large and prestigious school, it amazes me how one campus can feel so foreign yet right at home. It feels like you’ve stepped into Hogwarts or another mythical realm when you graze the streets of Princeton University - the energy is unmatched.
If you ever stumble upon this borough of Mercer County, I highly recommend you check out my recommendations. While there are tons of things to do in New Jersey, I’ve found so many wonderful experiences right in my backyard. Princeton is just further proof for me that adventures can happen in your home state - you just need a little inspiration.
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