Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Princeton, NJ

  • Published 2022/05/22

When you hear the name Princeton, the famous Ivy League university might be the first thing that comes to mind.

But the town of Princeton, New Jersey, is much more than the home of one of the world’s best universities.

The amount of history it has amassed over time will surely blow your mind away.

Not to mention, the town looks like something straight out of a painting.

Its architectural beauty deserves a special mention.

Start planning your visit and check out this list of the best things to do in Princeton, New Jersey:

Spend an Afternoon at the Glorious Princeton Battlefield State Park

Old houses at Princeton Battlefield State Park

Thomas Kloc /

Princeton reeks of history; no matter where you go, you can find something old and meaningful along its streets.

If you are hanging around prestigious Princeton University’s campus grounds, then Princeton Battlefield State Park is close by.

Just walk a mile to experience this piece of history.

A dog walking on the lawns at Princeton Battlefield State Park

Philly Traveler /

The Princeton Battlefield State Park, now a harmless and serene location, once saw the death of thousands.

A crucial battle of the American Revolution was fought in this very spot back in 1777.

This is where the soldiers gave away their lives and ultimately defeated the British.

Tall columns at Princeton Battlefield State Park

Daderot, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Mercer Oak stands there as a symbol of the horrible battle.

General Hugh Mercer faced a severe wound, which later led to his death.

The Clarke House, which stands in the area, witnessed the deaths of all the wounded soldiers, including that of General Hugh Mercer.

Check Out the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park

Calm water flowing in Delaware & Raritan State Park

Erin Cadigan /

The place represents the first connection between New York and Philadelphia.

In the old days, moving raw materials or cargo for the industries proved to be a big issue.

At the time, the railway was not an option in many places.

This was when the idea of constructing a canal came to be.

Scenic Riverwalk path at Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park

EQRoy /

The Delaware & Raritan Canal was built specifically for transporting goods.

Today, it merely stands as a tourist attraction.

You can go canoeing in this canal, and there are some other adventure opportunities, too.

Scenic view of Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park during fall

EQRoy /

Around the canal, there are also paths perfect for hiking or jogging.

Birdwatchers will be able to spot different bird species in the vicinity as well.

The houses around the canal all belong to the old era, back when wood and bricks were used as building materials.

Snap Pictures of the Princeton Battle Monument

Princeton Battle Monument on a sunny day

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Princeton’s Nassau Street is filled with some of the town’s best tourist attractions.

It’s also one of the most glamorous streets in Princeton.

The Princeton Battle Monument is located here, right in the heart of the town’s historic district.

Front view of Princeton Battle Monument

Helen89 /

You can see the statue of General George Washington from far away—it’s almost 50 meters tall.

The courageous hero is depicted leading his soldiers to the bloody battlefield.

Statue at Princeton Battle Monument

Helen89 /

Frederick MacMonnies and Thomas Hastings built this statue in an area covered by cherry trees all year round.

The park where the statue stands is also a sight to be cherished.

Catch a Show at McCarter Theatre Center

People waiting outside the McCarter Theatre Center for the Performing Arts

EQRoy /

McCarter Theatre Center is one of the best places to hang out if you admire the arts.

Did you know that the theater hosts almost 200 functions every year?

That’s how much the town’s people love the different performing arts.

This center shows the true beauty of American culture.

Front exterior view of McCarter Theatre Center

Tpmiller120, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Apart from New Jersey locals, people from the neighboring states of New York and Pennsylvania also make their way to this theater.

This is a beautiful place to hang out, watch a show, and spend a lovely evening.

Interior view of the auditorium at McCarter Theatre Center

Photo: Andreas Praefcke, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy the Brilliant Princeton University Art Museum

Exterior of Princeton University Art Museum

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The Princeton University Art Museum is not only considered remarkable locally—the entire world is aware of its beauty, too.

The gorgeous art collection is considered among the finest in the world.

Displays at Princeton University Art Museum

Helen89 /

Art lovers flock to the Princeton Art Museum to witness some stunning art pieces.

The permanent art collection has over 90,000 pieces, and there are more than 20 galleries inside the museum.

Entrance of Princeton University Art Museum

Helen89 /

You can enjoy a free tour around the museum if you visit on the weekend.

The City Lost & Found: Capturing New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles is one of the museum’s most popular exhibitions.

Spend an Evening at Marquand Park

Scenic view of an old tree at Marquand Park

Mike Ver Sprill /

If you are looking for some leisure time in Princeton, head to Marquand Park.

Take a walk here or sit amid the green trees in the arboretum.

The park stretches across 17 acres and is one of the best places to enjoy serene nature in the heart of the town.

Marquand Park filled with lush greeneries

Ferahgo the Assassin, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ideal for a little family outing, Marquand Park provides some great options when it comes to recreation.

They have different sets of grills and designated spots for you to enjoy a sunny picnic.

You can look around and see a lot of lesser-known plant species.

The arboretum boasts 140 different types of trees.

Check Out the Historic Nassau Hall

Night view of Nassau Hall

Jay Yuan /

If you are interested in American history, Nassau Hall will play an essential role in your trip.

Princeton University’s administrative offices also operate from this hall.

You can even find a chapel along with a library here.

Entryway of Nassau Hall

EQRoy /

The American Revolutionary War took a toll on this hall.

This building also gave shelter to some brave soldiers who fought in the war.

Entrance of Nassau Hall

Erin Cadigan /

Robert Smith, Benjamin Latrobe, and John Notman are the three genius architects who dreamt of building this structure and came up with this unique building that has become a world-famous attraction.

Take a Stroll around Lake Carnegie

People boating in Lake Carnegie

EQRoy /

Did you know that the idea of constructing Lake Carnegie came from a painting?

Andrew Carnegie was having his portrait done by a painter on a lazy afternoon.

The artist, Howard R. Butler, had the idea of how good it would look to have a lake in the painting.

Lake Carnegie covered in snow during winter

EQRoy /

He also added that the rowing team would find it adventurous if there were a small canal in that spot.

This is how Lake Carnegie came into being.

Washington bridge in Lake Carnegie

EQRoy /

Carnegie bought a lot of properties in that area and came up with the lake, which you now see today.

Know about the Local Culture at Drumthwacket

Fenced gate at Drumthwacket

EQRoy /

There is no shortage of picturesque places in New Jersey.

Each of them is stunning in its own way.

Drumthwacket is another spot that showcases Princetpn’s beautiful culture.

This is where the current governor of New Jersey stays—and it is indeed a place fit for a governor!

Signboard of Drumthwacket

EQRoy /

Moses Taylor Pyne was the original owner of the property.

Then, the city bought it from him and added a lot more to the already huge property.

You can still take a look at the original structure.

Majestic white building of Drumthwacket

KForce at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The new additions include a massive library along with a lot of farms.

The farms are beautiful and bring light to the property.

Visit Bainbridge House, One of the Oldest Buildings in Town

Front view of Bainbridge House

Djkeddie, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ever wanted to see what lies exactly at the heart of Princeton?

Bainbridge House is said to be located right in the middle of the town, and it has stood there for a long time.

The Historical Society manages this house.

Bainbridge House has been a lot of things in its entire lifespan.

It has housed some famous congressmen, was once a renowned library and was even a boarding house for a period of time.

Have a Fancy Dinner at the Peacock Inn

How about dinner in an ancient colonial mansion?

Good, right?

Peacock Inn Restaurant is one of the fanciest restaurants in Princeton.

The building has an aristocratic look.

Not only are you going to have one of the most amazing dinners of your life, but the restaurant is also aesthetically pleasing to the eyes.

Chef Jason Ramos has some of the best dishes ready for you.

Look Up at the Cleveland Tower

Cleveland Tower during winter

EQRoy /

The architecture around Princeton is a marvelous wonder as well.

You can roam around the town and see some of the most visually attractive historic buildings.

The Cleveland Tower is one tourist attraction that inspires a lot of locals and tourists to its domain to snap pictures.

Front view of Cleveland Tower

EQRoy /

When you look up at the Princeton skyline, you’ll see Cleveland Tower, which stands at a brilliant height of 173 meters.

It almost touches the sky—or so it seems.

Constructed in the memory of the genius Principal Grover Cleveland, this tower is there to show all the things he has done for the university and the town.

Learn about Princeton’s History at Morven Museum

Beautiful view of Morven Museum covered with green plants

EQRoy /

Princeton is one of the most historical cities in America.

You can see a lot of interesting and historically significant buildings around the town.

Morven Museum is another one of them.

Exterior view of Morven Museum

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The building, which used to be a house, is now a remarkable museum.

Richard Stockton was a famous lawyer back in the 1700s, and the house was constructed according to his vision.

It also served as the home of the governor of New Jersey.

Garden at Morven Museum

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A National Historic Landmark in Princeton, the Morven Museum attracts a lot of tourists.

Learn about the sophisticated history of New Jersey and its surroundings in the museum.

Its gardens are quite mesmerizing, too.

Book an Exclusive Tour with the Princeton Tour Company

Suppose you want an exclusive tailor-made tour that covers the very best of the town.

In that case, Princeton Tour Company is your answer.

It’s one of the best tour operators in the town and is known to organize many private tours that meet their clients’ preferences.

They also organize several spooky tours and bike rides around Princeton.

The town is said to have a lot of haunted places—so if you are passionate about the paranormal, try booking a special tour with the experts at Princeton Tour Company.

Have a Date Night at Princeton Garden Theater

Outside view of Princeton Garden Theater

Helen89 /

Visit the historic and award-winning Princeton Garden Theater, which opened its doors in September 1920.

It is one of the most popular nightlife destinations in Princeton.

Take a trip to this magnificent cinema with your significant other and be wowed by a spectacular film.

An extensive selection of movies is shown in an intimate setting with ADA-accessible facilities, high technology equipment, clean toilets, and many more amenities.

Aside from that, special events and family-friendly outdoor films are shown on rare occasions.

Watch a wide variety of films, including art films, classics, foreign language features, kid-friendly alternatives, etc.

Spend Some Time at Princeton Public Library

People standing outside Princeton Public Library

Alan Budman /

Princeton Public Library is the most frequently visited library in New Jersey.

Nearly two hundred thousand titles are housed inside its vast library.

If you consider yourself an avid reader, this is the place to be.

A world-class library like this one is a godsend, then. It has a wide selection of books, art installations, periodic exhibitions, and special events to make it more pleasurable.

Distant view of Princeton Public Library

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

It’s a great way to spend some time alone while perusing the many volumes available at the Princeton Public Library.

In addition to reading, you may also see beautiful art installations, such as abstract quilts, sculptures, woodworks, ceramic art, etc.

Visitors have the option of attending enlightening lectures and discussions with artists and seeing temporary displays when they are not there.

Chill with Your Friends at Yankee Doodle Tap Room

You may find this taproom at the charming Nassau Inn next door.

In this Princeton favorite, you can get some of the best food and drinks in the city.

Yankee Doodle Tap Room has 19 tap craft beers, a wide selection of alcoholic beverages, delicious food, and outside seating.

A great way to meet up with your pals is to enjoy a hearty dinner and some fine wine or a cold pint of beer.

Wine, beer, cocktails, and bourbon are also available, and delectable delicacies include juicy burgers, fish cooked to perfection, and savory steaks.

Tee Off at Princeton Country Club

Enjoy golfing with your friends, significant other, or loved ones?

The 18-hole championship golf course at Princeton Country Club, established in 1958, is a local landmark.

It has stunning scenery and a few conveniences for you to enjoy.

The country club has a beautiful setting with glistening water, majestic trees changing colors depending on the season, a gorgeous pavilion, grilling spots, and clean bathrooms.

Princeton Country Club is a great place to play golf with friends.

You may also use putting greens to hone your putting technique.

Gather your friends and family to grill hotdogs and hamburgers on a picnic table and enjoy the beautiful scenery while you savor your food.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Plan a Tipsy Evening at Terhune Orchards

Rows of green plants and flowers at Terhune Orchards and Winery

EQRoy /

Princeton is a college town—and every college town is bound to have a place nearby where you can go for a short drive and get tipsy for the night.

Since Princeton has a sophisticated vibe to it, the options for getting tipsy here are quite posh, too.

Terhune Orchards is not found within Princeton but is just a short drive away.

Closeup of the colorful flowers at Terhune Orchards

Kristina Molina /

Pretty rolling hills surround the winery’s green vineyards.

They even have orchards filled with luscious fruits, including the grapes with which they make their wines.

Terhune Orchards has some of the best cider in the area.

Enjoy their cider with their famous pies, made with apples grown in their own orchard.

Final Thoughts

Take in the magnificent scenery while sipping wine with friends, and wander through colorful gardens or other delightful activities.

There are lots of possibilities to choose from.

Enjoy some of the top things to do in Princeton, New Jersey, as you discover its many treasures.

See also: Best Restaurants in Princeton, NJ

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