Exploring the History & Outdoors of Princeton

Looking up at stone church with tree sky and clouds

Princeton, New Jersey is home to Princeton University, filled with awesome buildings and amazing architecture, next to a town packed with good eats and shopping. That’s why it’s one of our top spots in New Jersey. So take this virtual guide with you as you explore (and believe us, there’s plenty to do!).

Walking Through Princeton University

Walk on Princeton’s campus and you’ll be greeted immediately with amazing architecture, from the dorms to the chapel! Start at historic Nassau Hall and make your way through the Hogwarts Hallways, Rockefeller College is my favorite, to Blair Hall Arch. This structure provides a majestic walkway that used to be Princeton’s train station.

Head across campus and visit the Princeton Art Museum which is free, and wander through the Prospect Park Garden. Make sure to check out the Princeton University Chapel on your way and marvel at the beautiful stained glass. On sunny days, take your shoes off and wade in the Fountain of Freedom.

If you’re more into sporting events, check out a hockey game the Hobey Baker Ice Rink, walk around Princeton University Stadium, watch rowers on Lake Carnegie, or kayak in the canal along the Towpath in Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park.  

Want to visit during the winter? Use our guide.

Good Food Spots in Princeton

Right across the street and through the gates of the University is the little town of Princeton, an eating and shopping mecca of Central New Jersey.

For quick eats, try a coffee at the iconic Small World, an avocado ice cream at Bent Spoon, take out chicken salad at Olives, or a tasty Italian sandwich at D’Angelos Italian Market. Halo Pub also serves up some delicious ice cream cones (and cakes), while PJ’s Pancake House serves some of the best (you guessed it) pancakes on this side of the Delaware. And get your cupcake fix at House of Cupcakes (winner of Cupcake Wars!)

For a Princeton classic, try Hoagie Haven… the Dirty Sanchez in particular — complete with chicken cutlet, American cheese, mozzarella sticks, fries, and Sanchez sauce. Tiger Noodle serves up a delicious noodle bowl.

If beer is more your thing, Princeton has that too. Get a beer at Triumph, Princeton’s only brewery, or school your friends at trivia night at The Ivy. Head to Alchemist and Barrister for a classic bar/restaurant combo in the center of town.

And if you’re looking for something a little more fancy, try out Agricola or The Witherspoon Grill for yummy entrees, Mistral or Mediterra for tapas, or Winberies for happy hour. Nassau Sushi and Chennai Chimney are other great options for a refined bite in town.

Visiting Palmer Square

Palmer Square has dozens of shops and events, but start at Thomas Sweet for a chocolate pick-me-up. From browsing records at the Princeton Record Exchange, perusing the bookshelves of Labyrinth Books, or buying a new puzzle at jaZams, you can walk around Princeton and shop for hours. Gift shopping is easy in Princeton, with several shops with unique gifts, including green design, Dandelion, Mandalay Trading Company, Paper Source, and the Homestead Store.

Princeton has a few special events throughout the year, flooding Palmer Square streets with vendors, street food, and music! See them all here.

The town also has its fair share of history and monuments to check out, including the Princeton Garden Theatre for movies, the tiger statue, the Einstein Museum (yes, Einstein lived and worked in Princeton!) and the Princeton Public Library.

Explore Outdoors Around Princeton

Trails, nature walks, and picnic spots surround Princeton.

Princeton Battlefield State Park, the site of a battle during the American Revolution, is now a great picnic spot outside the University.

The nearby nature trail at Laurie Chauncey will offer some fantastic trails, including small footbridges.

Princeton visitors can also walk through the forest in the Herronton Woods Arboretum and the Institute Woods, or around a lake at Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve. If you’re up for more of a hike, head out to Sourland Mountain Preserve right outside of town. 

Princeton Suspension Bridge

There is a great spot for hikers and alike to visit outside Princeton; the Suspension Bridge. It’s a perfect photo spot during every season. Check out more details and how to get there.

Find your favorite NJspots and places to visit, photography, and explore through our NJspots Maps.

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