Getaway Guide: Weekend Road Trip To Princeton, NJ

September 22, 2012 7:00 AM

Princeton University

When the name Princeton, N.J., is mentioned, most people immediately associate the town with Princeton University. But the Mercer County town is home to a number of scientific, educational and theological institutions, such as the Educational Testing Service, the Princeton Theological Seminary and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In 2005, Princeton was also ranked number 15 out of the top 100 towns to live and work in according to Money Magazine.

The home of the Lenni Lenape, commonly referred to as the Delaware Indians, the origin of the town’s name is somewhat of a mystery; some suggest it was named for King William III, who was Prince William of Orange of the House of Nassau; others suggest it was named for a land owner, Henry Prince. Princeton was also the site of the Battle of Princeton in 1777. Hit the road, visit and explore!

Getting There

With a driving time of about one hour, the most direct route to Princeton from Philadelphia is to take I-95 North to 206 North. Follow the fork to the traffic light and then stay right to Nassau Street/Route 27. Travel three more blocks, and you will arrive at Palmer Square, the town center.

What To Do

Princeton Battlefield State Park
500 Mercer Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
(609) 921-0074

On Jan. 3 in 1773, the woodlands and fields around the town of Princeton were bathed in blood during one of the most intense battles of the American Revolution. The night before, Gen. George Washington’s troops successfully turned back an attack of British regulars at the Battle of Assunpink Creek, near Trenton. Later that night, the Continental Army took up positions surrounding British troops under the command of British General Charles Cornwallis. In a series of three battles over a 10-day period, American troops forced the British from their stronghold in southern New Jersey.

While visiting the Princeton Battlefield, take a tour of the Clarke House Museum. The structure was designed by Thomas U. Walter, the architect of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Hiking trails traverse the 588-acre Institute Woods next to the park and are open to the public, too.

Related: Weekend Road Trip to Shawnee

Princeton University Art Museum
McCormick Hall
Princeton, NJ 08542
(609) 258-3788

In 1882, the president of Princeton University, then called the College of New Jersey, bestowed two of the school’s illustrious alumnus with the task of developing a history of art curriculum. First known as the Museum of Historic Art, this place was known for its collection of ancient porcelain and pottery. By the early 1900s, medieval and Renaissance paintings and arts were added to the collection. In the 1930s, Chinese and Japanese art was also added.

During the past decade, an impressive number of new exhibits have been added. The collection of more than 72,000 objects ranges from ancient to contemporary art from the Mediterranean, China, Latin America, western Europe and of course, the United States. It is well-known for its collection of Chinese bronzes, tomb funerary figurines, painting, calligraphy and for its examples of Mayan and other pre-Columbian art objects. The museum also houses a collection of more than 27,000 original photographs.

Princeton Record Exchange
20 S. Tulane St.
Princeton, NJ 08542
(609) 921-0881

The Princeton Record Exchange, founded in 1980, is one of the nation’s largest new and used record, CD and DVD retailers. The company boasts an inventory of more than 140,000 new and used CDs, DVDs and vinyl records. It buys private collections from estates, radio stations and the liquidated stock of retail music stores that go out of business. Shop from a huge collection of jazz records, as well as selections of rock, metal, alternative, classical, R&B, hip hop, rap, blues and folk music selections.


Winberie’s Restaurant & Bar
One Palmer Square
Princeton, NJ 08542
(609) 921-0700

A favorite college pub, Winberie’s Restaurant & Bar, founded in 1984, features tables with famous Princetonians carved into them, including Brooke Shields. Its customers include Princeton football fans and those of the Olympic rowing team that trains on nearby Carnegie Lake. The menu includes crab cakes, Irish nachos and Mediterranean humus for a great variety that customers love. House specialties include free-range chicken, classic meatloaf and char-grilled tilapia.

Related: One-Tank Trip to Little Tinicum Island

163 Bayard Lane
Princeton, NJ 08540
(609) 924-0078

A five-star restaurant helmed by Executive Chef Scott Anderson, Elements features locally grown organic foods and sustainably raised seafood and meats. The restaurant offers a casual dining experience with selections from the four-course tasting menu, which also features choices of garden salad, soups, fish and desserts. For starters, try a summer squash with yogurt, fennel, cherry tomato and almond. Move on to fresh potato soup or a rib-eye tartare, and finish with a main entree of swordfish.

Nassau Inn
10 Palmer Square
Princeton, NJ 08542
(609) 921-7500

Price: from $199 per night per person

Surrounded by boutiques, spas, salons and the town green, the Nassau Inn is known for its warm atmosphere, elegant accommodations and gentile, historic setting. Originally built in 1756 as the Nassau Tavern by Judge Thomas Leonard, it served as a stop-over to members of the first Continental Congress, which met in nearby Philadelphia. A number of signatories of the Declaration of Independence enjoyed its fare and fellowship. With 188 guest rooms and suites, the Nassau Inn is also pet-friendly. Enjoy great service surrounded by Colonial-style decor. Amenities include 14 banquet rooms and 10,000 square feet of space for events large and small. For in-house dining, the Yankee Doodle Tap Room includes the largest Norman Rockwell mural ever commissioned.

Jeffrey B. Roth, has won numerous state and national news and feature-writing awards during his career. A well-known crime writer, investigative reporter and a feature writer, Roth writes for a number of magazines and newspapers. Listed in the Locus Index of SciFi and Fantasy authors, Roth is the author of a number of published short stories and poetry. His work can be found on

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