20 Best Things to Do in Trenton, NJ

Trenton, NJ

Whether you're a history enthusiast, a foodie, an art lover, or just someone looking to discover a new gem, Trenton is a city that will surprise and delight you at every turn.

So, let me guide you through the best things to do in Trenton, New Jersey!

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Corinne McMillan, Ian Kelly, Frank Jones, Loren Bishop, Erin Lee, Martha Carmichael and Mellie Nixon.

Discover Wonders at the New Jersey State Museum

Side view of New Jersey State Museum's exterior
John Penney / Shutterstock.com

One of my favorite pastimes is stargazing.

Wondering what's beyond our planet has always intrigued me.

But when city lights obscure my view of the night sky, I find solace in the Planetarium at the New Jersey State Museum.

It's a budget-friendly haven that provides an unforgettable experience of the cosmos right in the heart of the city.

During my visit, I was treated to a show called 'Touch the Stars.'

The sheer beauty of the celestial bodies was breathtaking.

It was an incredible peek into what the night sky would look like in its purest form.

Afterward, I spent an hour soaking in the museum's exhibits.

While there aren't many interactive pieces for children, I found the fine art, cultural, natural history, and archeology exhibits engaging.

View of New Jersey State Museum from across the street
Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

However, I would advise parents to plan accordingly if they are bringing their little ones along.

My trip to the museum didn't end there. I wandered into their gift shop and found an unusual coffee mug.

It had the Bill of Rights inscribed, but the text disappeared when filled with hot water.

While some might find it in bad taste, I thought it was an interesting object that sparked conversations.

The museum doesn't offer food services, but you can bring snacks and enjoy them in their designated food area.

I highly recommend the New Jersey State Museum if you're a local like me or even visiting.

It's not only a place of learning but an escape into the wonders of our universe—a place where you can touch the stars without ever leaving the ground.

Take a Stroll through Ellarslie Mansion

Exterior of the Ellarslie Mansion
Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every trip to Ellarslie Mansion is like stepping back in time.

Nestled in the heart of the beautiful Cadwalader Park, this stately edifice has been integral to our city's history.

It's a testament to Trenton's rich culture and manufacturing heritage.

The mansion is a sight to behold.

Walking through its halls, I often find myself lost in the exquisite art exhibits that constantly change, keeping the mansion alive and vibrant.

The permanent displays of local history are a treasure trove for anyone interested in knowing more about our city.

Daytime view of Ellarslie Mansion
Smallbones, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

But what truly sets Ellarslie apart are the year's cultural events and artistic performances.

I fondly remember one winter evening - the mansion bathed in soft light, a local play in progress, the audience rapt.

It was a magical experience.

The surrounding Cadwalader Park is a gem in itself.

And did I mention the best part? Admission to Ellarslie is free!

So, whether you're a history enthusiast, an art lover, or simply looking for a peaceful afternoon, Ellarslie Mansion is the place to be.

Enter a Bakery Paradise at Guatepan

You know that feeling of walking into a bakery, the sweet aroma of fresh pastries filling your nostrils, and your taste buds tingling with anticipation?

That's the sensation I get every time I step into Guatepan Bakery.

This gem tucked away in our town is every sweet tooth’s dream come true, with a wide array of cakes and other pastries charmingly displayed in glass cases.

The bakery offers so many different types of cakes that even a seasoned dessert lover like me finds it challenging to choose.

I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so I frequently stop by, always leaving with at least two different types of cakes.

What I love about Guatepan is their commitment to freshness.

Every time I bite into their pastries, I am met with a burst of flavor that can only come from freshly baked goods.

You can taste the love and care they put into their products, and it's no wonder that the more delectable items tend to sell out early.

So, if you plan to visit, ensure you get there early.

If you're ever in town, do drop by Guatepan. I guarantee you it's an experience you won't forget.

Enjoy a Night at Trenton Thunder Baseball Stadium

A Trenton Thunder player during a Baseball Game
Ian D'Andrea, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There's nothing quite like a balmy summer night at the Trenton Thunder Baseball stadium.

The crowd's electrifying energy, the bat's crack, and the tantalizing aroma of delicious food from the vendors create an unforgettable experience.

I took my grandson for a game one evening, and we had the time of our lives.

The ticket prices were incredibly reasonable; it's a great spot to enjoy some quality baseball without burning a hole in your pocket.

We were both instantly taken by the charm of the bat dogs – adorable and a hit with the kids.

There's ample parking, which is always a plus point, and the seating is spaced just right, so you don't have to worry about being too cramped.

One thing that stands out is the array of food options available.

The snacks are tasty, and there's something for everyone.

It adds to the whole experience and is one of the many reasons we keep returning.

The Trenton Thunder team put up a fantastic performance each time.

They're talented semi-pros who love the game as much as the fans.

Supporting local teams is always great, even better when the game is this good.

The Trenton Thunder Baseball stadium isn't just a place for a game; it's where memories are made.

Whether it's a family night out, a date, or a get-together with friends, it's guaranteed to be a home run.

Enjoy an Afternoon at the Old Barracks Museum

Exterior of the Old Barracks Museum
Old Barracks Museum, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stepping off the beaten paths of Trenton, I often find myself wandering into the heart of our city’s history at the Old Barracks Museum.

Housed in a British military building from 1758, the museum is a Colonial American history treasure trove.

Its exhibits are a testament to the rich tapestry of early American and local history.

Wandering through its halls is like stepping back in time.

A particular room always captivates me with a captivating video depicting the movement of Washington's troops during the war.

It's a thrilling journey into the past.

The gift shop, tucked away within the museum, offers an array of historical memorabilia.

Part of the Old Barracks Museum
Jeffrey M. Frank / Shutterstock.com

Every old stone in this place tells a story, and I believe they are worth listening to.

Stone exterior of the Old Barracks Museum
Alizada Studios / Shutterstock.com

Visit the World War II Memorial

Daytime view of the World War II Memorial
Felix Lipov / Shutterstock.com

There's something incredibly moving about standing in the middle of the World War II Memorial.

It's one of those New Jersey places you must see for yourself.

On my regular visits, I always make it a point to take a few snaps.

The views are beautiful, and there's always a sense of peace here that you can't quite find anywhere else.

The artist, Tom Moran, has done an exceptional job with the design.

Close view of the World War II Memorial
Felix Lipov / Shutterstock.com

Moreover, the timelines are especially impressive, a testament to the sacrifice and courage of those who served in the war.

It's the perfect spot to sit back and reflect on the historic significance of the place.

Immerse Yourself in History at the William Trent House Museum

Exterior of William Trent House Museum
Zeete, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every time I step into the William Trent House Museum, I feel like I travel back in time.

This historic brick house, built in 1719, is a gateway to the past, a window into the life of William Trent and his family in the early years of New Jersey.

The museum can only be visited via guided tours, but don't worry about making a reservation.

Just walk in, and you'll be taken on a journey through the house by a knowledgeable guide who'll reveal Trenton's fascinating origins.

I always learn something new, and the guides are passionate about sharing their knowledge.

The fun doesn't end with the house tour.

For instance, the William Trent House Museum hosts various events and lectures.

I remember attending the Annual Hogmanay celebration during Patriots Week.

That night, I learned so much about history, and the best part was interacting with other history enthusiasts.

Not to mention, the museum is surrounded by beautiful gardens.

This historic oasis is a gem in the heart of Trenton, and I feel fortunate to have it right in my backyard.

Go Skating at Freedom Skate Park

Every town has its spots - those hidden gems close to the locals' hearts.

For me, and many others in my town, that spot is the Freedom Skate Park.

It's a community, a place for growth, and a haven for skaters and bikers.

Everyone chips in to keep the park clean, safe, and welcoming.

From dawn to dusk, you'd find a diverse group of skaters and bikers, each with unique style and flair, but all with a shared love for the park.

The camaraderie among the regulars keeps me returning; it's about the shared experiences, laughter, and memories we create here.

The Freedom Skate Park symbolizes our shared love for skating and biking.

It's our sanctuary.

Stroll through Mill Hill Park

A battle reenactment at Mill Hill Park
Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A perfectly serene day in Trenton, New Jersey, isn't complete without a stroll through Mill Hill Park.

This leafy sanctuary is just the right place for soaking up nature in the city's heart.

Just picture it.

You grab a coffee at a nearby café and find yourself here, ready to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Mill Hill Park welcomes you with open arms and a wide, smooth walking path – perfect for a stroll, a jog, or a bike ride.

The path might be short, but who cares when it's this good?

Breathe in the fresh air as you walk, your steps punctuated by the gentle rustle of leaves overhead.

And then, you see a quaint walking bridge that spans a gentle creek.

It's an idyllic scene, begging to be captured in a photograph.

But, of course, it's about the moment, the peace, the silence broken only by the sound of water flowing beneath the bridge.

A creek at Mill Hill Park
Famartin, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

But that's not all. This park is about connection with nature and with fellow residents.

Chances are you'll bump into a few familiar faces, share a smile, a wave, or chat.

Yes, sometimes, you might spot a few less-than-favorable elements hanging around.

And sure, the water in the stream might not look crystal clear.

But the place is well-kept, with little litter to mar your experience.

In the heart of Trenton, Mill Hill Park offers a respite, a moment of tranquility amidst the city's commotion.

Whether you're looking for a spot to unwind, take picturesque shots, or enjoy a pleasant day out, Mill Hill Park is just the ticket.

Experience the Serenity at Cadwalader Park

Road entrance of Cadwalader Park
Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You know, there's something deeply calming about strolling through the winding paths of Cadwalader Park.

Every time I go there, it's like stepping into an oasis of tranquility amidst the bustle of Trenton.

With its expansive grassy lawns, the park is the perfect place to unwind.

You can't help but be captivated by its beautiful landscaping - trees that provide comforting shade and the newly installed benches perfect for a quiet read or a friendly chat.

BBQ grills are available if you're into BBQ.

Just remember to bring charcoal!

The park is teeming with wildlife, and since it's right next to a canal, it has always been a go-to spot for fishing enthusiasts, myself included.

And the playground? Kids love it here! There are plenty of age-appropriate options for them to explore and enjoy.

Amongst all of this, the park's hidden treasure is undoubtedly the mansion turned museum.

It's a beautiful addition to the park's appeal, adding a dash of history and culture to the natural beauty.

Moreover, it always amazes me how the park retains its charm and allure despite being in the middle of the city.

Experience the Vibrant Hispanic Culture at Pura Vida

Pura Vida is my go-to spot for an authentic taste of Costa Rica right here in Trenton.

This charming restaurant and lounge, whose name translates to "pure life," truly lives up to its moniker.

I love immersing myself in a vibrant Hispanic atmosphere with karaoke nights and DJs spinning Latin tunes that make every visit a fiesta.

Just another Monday evening, I decided to drop by Pura Vida to unwind after a long day.

With the game playing in the background, I settled in for a feast.

The ceviche and pork belly appetizers were a flavor explosion, setting the tone for an unforgettable culinary journey.

Size does matter, and Pura Vida has plenty of it.

The large dining area is perfect for a casual get-together with friends or family, and the ample off-street parking is a bonus.

Catering to a lovely daytime crowd, Pura Vida exudes a warm, friendly vibe that makes you feel at home.

Compared to other Spanish restaurants in the city, Pura Vida might not top the list regarding food.

However, what it slightly lacks in culinary finesse, it more than makes up for with its lively ambiance and top-notch service.

As someone who appreciates good Latin cuisine, Pura Vida is undeniably one of the best in Trenton.

The authentic dishes, vibrant atmosphere, and friendly service create a fantastic dining experience.

Whether you're a local or just passing through, Pura Vida is worth a visit.

Explore the Heart of Jersey Politics at the New Jersey State Senate

Exterior of the New Jersey State Senate
Paul Brady Photography / Shutterstock.com

One must start at the heart of the New Jersey State Senate to understand politics in my home state of New Jersey.

One rainy Tuesday, I decided to take the plunge and delve into the intricacies of my state's governance.

Initially, I was taken aback by the Capitol's aesthetic.

Although a temporary fixture, the scaffolding overshadowed the grandeur often associated with such significant buildings.

And unlike other state capitols I've seen on my out-of-state travels, the absence of numerous statues and memorials was palpable.

The only exception was the WWII Memorial, a touching tribute that adds a poignant historical touch to the place.

But the Capitol's lack of conventional beauty didn't deter me.

It piqued my curiosity.

With a quick call ahead, I booked a spot for myself on a guided tour.

The tour turned out to be a highlight!

A chamber in New Jersey State Senate
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

However, I can't deny the bitter truth that some parts of the building are deteriorating.

It's disheartening to see such essential establishments not being appropriately maintained.

On the bright side, though, the grounds around the Capitol are beautifully manicured.

The New Jersey State Senate remains a unique symbol of our state's history and politics.

So, if you're from the area and have a few hours to spare on a weekday, I recommend stopping by.

Just take your photo and delve into our state's unique political landscape.

Aerial view of a chamber in New Jersey State Senate
Alizada Studios / Shutterstock.com

Feel the Thrill at CURE Insurance Arena

My weekends often find me at my favorite local hangout - the CURE Insurance Arena, a magnificent red-brick structure hosting many sports and entertainment events.

It's where a professional indoor football match can captivate you one day, and a soulful concert can transport you into a musical trance the next.

Just last month, I had the pleasure of attending a concert by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

The arena was, as always, packed nearly to the brim with enthusiastic fans.

Moreover, the immensity of the arena never ceases to amaze me, let alone when it's filled with the infectious energy of a live concert.

In these moments, you truly feel the enormity and grandeur of the venue.

The arena deserves a special shoutout for providing easy access to handicapped spots, making it a more inclusive space for everyone.

One thing I've always admired is the range of food options available.

It's a blessing for someone like me whose body doesn't function like a 15-year-old anymore and needs sufficient fuel to keep up with the excitement.

The seating is comfortable enough for long events.

I remember attending my granddaughter's cheer competition and later her high school graduation here, spending hours in the same spot.

The arena did a commendable job accommodating large graduating classes, making the event memorable.

There's just one minor hiccup that the venue needs to iron out - the sound quality.

While the lighting has always been top-notch, a concert or event is only as good as its sound.

Improving this aspect would catapult the venue into an unmatched league.

No matter the event, the CURE Insurance Arena never fails to deliver a thrilling experience!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Discover Art in Nature at Grounds for Sculpture

Scenic view of Grounds for Sculpture
Kelleher Photography / Shutterstock.com

I lace up my comfy sneakers every morning and head to my favorite local sanctuary, the Grounds for Sculpture.

This sprawling park, brimming with contemporary sculptures and seasonal exhibits, is more than just a walk.

It's an adventure that combines horticulture and art, a testament to the creativity that thrives in our town.

My explorations always start with a stroll, accompanied by the cheerful chirping of birds.

With each step, I encounter a surprise—a sculpture peeking out from a bed of flowers, a statue resting beneath the shade of an old tree, or an exhibit beckoning from one of the two on-site museums.

As I wander through the arboretum, the vibrant colors of blooming flowers paint a beautiful canvas against the backdrop of the sky.

Eolith sculpture at Grounds for Sculpture
Kelleher Photography / Shutterstock.com

These scenes are even more breathtaking in spring when the park explodes with a riot of colors.

You see, every season at Grounds for Sculpture has its unique charm.

It's like visiting a new place every few months.

The grounds are well laid out, leaving ample open spaces for visitors to soak the art in all its grandeur.

My visits to the Grounds for Sculpture are never shorter than three hours.

Each trip is a mini vacation, a retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

But for those coming from afar, plan a half-day trip to experience this place's magic and wonder.

First love sculpture at Grounds for Sculpture
Kelleher Photography / Shutterstock.com

Enjoy Delightful Days at Mercer County Park

What's not to love about Mercer County Park?

This vast nature preserve is my go-to spot whenever I need a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

I'm lucky to have such a gem right in my backyard.

One of the highlights for me is the lake.

Not only is it a tranquil spot to take in nature, but it's also an excellent place for some fun water activities.

I often find myself renting a pedal boat, exploring the waterways, or hopping on one of the boat tours.

There's something incredibly calming about gliding along the water, with the potential to spot some of the local wildlife.

If you're a county resident like me, you'll be pleased to know that discounts are offered on these boat tours.

Visit Mercer County Park for more information.

The park's play areas are a hit with the kids. My little ones can't get enough of the playground and splash park.

Moreover, the splash park is a free and fun way to cool down during summer.

When I feel more athletic, I challenge my friends to a game at one of the three volleyball courts.

The park is also the perfect spot for a picnic with a large group.

There are plenty of barbecue stands and benches, so finding a place is never a problem.

And for those who enjoy fishing, the park's lake is teeming with fish.

Whether you're looking for a day of fun activities or a peaceful retreat, Mercer County Park offers it all.

Enjoy the Day at Trenton Farmers Market

Road sign of Trenton Farmers Market
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Every week, I am drawn to the commotion and vibrant colors at Trenton Farmers Market.

There's something so appealing about buying vegetables that are so fresh they might as well have been plucked from the farm that morning.

It's not just the quality of the produce that appeals to me; it's also the fantastic prices and the wide variety of sundries available.

What I love most about this market is the palpable sense of community.

The retailers are so friendly, always ready to chat and offer advice.

Some even go out of their way to offer discounts, making it a godsend for those working with a tight budget.

Then there are the food stands, offering an array of delectable delicacies.

I still remember the homemade apple pie I got from there, as fresh and delicious as if it were baked in my grandmother's kitchen.

But the Trenton Farmers Market is more than just a place to buy groceries.

The shops of Trenton Farmers Market
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

It's a diverse cultural hub boasting an impressive eateries, bakers, and delis lineup.

I've seen it evolve over the years - it's been serving the community for over 80 years.

And the best part? The market is open five days a week, not just for a few hours like others.

They're also committed to the environment, having just installed new energy-efficient lighting.

Whether you're a foodie, a bargain-hunter, or someone who enjoys a good community vibe, the Trenton Farmers Market has something for everyone.

Final Thoughts

Trenton, New Jersey, is a vibrant city that offers a rich blend of historical, cultural, and recreational experiences.

Whether you're a history buff, a sports enthusiast, or an art lover, Trenton offers unique experiences that cater to a myriad of interests.

It's a city that embodies New Jersey's spirit, and I look forward to many more adventures in this dynamic city.

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