Often when non-locals think of New Jersey, they think Sopranos, they think strip malls, they think of one big suburb of New York City and in some cases they’d be right. But there is much more to the Garden State than meets the uninitiated eye. Just scratch a tiny bit beneath the surface and you will find a beautiful state full of dense woodlands where deer frolic (until they are hit by speeding SUVs), charming, quaint colonial towns centered on greens and mainstreets, and miles and miles of sandy beached coastline.
One of my favorite places in New Jersey has always been the attractive town of Princeton. Originally a stagecoach stop between the equidistant cities of New York and Philadelphia, today’s Princeton is a vibrant small city chock full of historic sites, diverse eateries, lots of green space, and magnificent mansions.
Of course, the most famous thing in town is the eponymous University. Founded in 1746, Princeton University is one of the eight Ivy League universities in the United States. A walk around campus will not disappoint – Gothic architecture, arched doorways, stained glass windows, and the apropos ivy-covered buildings abound. Some notable alums? James Madison, Aaron Burr, Jr, Ralph Nader, Donald Rumsfeld, Brooke Sheilds, Jimmy Stewart and F. Scott Fitzgerald. And let’s not forget famous Princetonians like good old Albert Einstein, Mary Chapin Carpenter, architect Michael Graves, professor and mathematician John Nash, Jr. (portrayed by Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind), actor Christopher Reeve, and President Woodrow Wilson.
A stroll around the compact downtown is a nice way to pass an afternoon. Shops, cafes, and bars line Nassau street and Palmer Square. We stopped for a “beer flight” at the local cavernous Triumph Brewing Company. Princeton’s dining scene runs the gamut from independent cafes, the eclectic Asian cuisine to fine dining. We ducked into lively Mediterra which oddly had Mediterranean cuisine. If you ever happen to be around New Jersey, or want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of New York City, don’t miss an afternoon in Princeton, I promise you won’t be disappointed.