Nice Things to Do Around Princeton, NJ

(maintained by Sanjeev Arora)

I maintain this page because I  am hoping that people will now tell me about other interesting places in the area.
  1. Restaurants
  2. Walks, sights to see.
  3. Cultural Activities

This list leaves out Manhattan and Philadelphia, the two biggest attractions in the area.

Most activities listed here require a car. I haven't included addresses or directions, but you can find those in the Yahoo! Yellow Pages or Yahoo! Maps.

You can send me email.

Current weather: Click for Forecast

cafelogoCAFEs, Hangout spots

The main cafes in downtown are Small World, Halo Pub, Starbucks, and Panera's. There is a cafe in the public library.
On campus, there is a nice cafe and hangout spot in Frist campus center, and the Chancellor Green building.

Servehot.wmf (15120 bytes)RESTAURANTS:

$=Main entree under $10.   $$= Main entree from $10-20. $$$= Main entree from $20-30. Ratings (1-4 stars) are based
upon food quality. Almost all places below welcome kids. Kids seem to love the large "mall" restaurants along Rte 1.

  • Cafe Graziella: Italian. Somerville, NJ. (20 min) $$ , star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)
  • Teresa's Pizzetta Cafe: Italian. Princeton, NJ . Nice, noisy atmosphere.(0 min) $$, star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)
  • Seoul House. Korean. Somerset, NJ. (20min) $, star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)
  • Ajihei. Japanese. This hole-in-the wall Japanese has already made it to the New York Times.
    Best sushi in town(0 min), $-$$, star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)
    wpe21.jpg (739 bytes)

  • Conti's Pizza. My favorite in Princeton. Sometimes there's a wait for the tables. $, (5min) star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)
  • Acacia. French, nouvelle,fusion. Lawrenceville, NJ.(10-12min) $$-$$$, Graceful dining, innovative
    menu. star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)
    star.jpg (804 bytes)
  • Cafe Fedora. Gourmet-ish cafe. Lawrenceville, NJ.(10-12min) Good sandwiches, desserts and brunch items.Next door
    to Acacia.  $.star.jpg (804 bytes)
    star.jpg (804 bytes)wpe21.jpg (739 bytes)
  • Happy City. Chinese. Lawrenceville, NJ on Rt 1. (10min) This used to be a very good restaurant and
    since summer'05, has become truly great after a change of management.  Let the friendly manager
    (an MIT graduate ---ask him for his Bill Gates story!)  guide you through the menu. Try the
    seafood specials. $-$$, star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)
    star.jpg (804 bytes)
  • Prospect Garden. The university's faculty club; payment is only via university ID. I take out-of-town
    visitors here for a terrific Sunday  brunch ($15-20 or so). The setting is especially nice when the
    flowers are out. $$,  star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)
    wpe21.jpg (739 bytes)
  • Upscale restaurants in downton Princeton: The choices are Les Copains, Ferry House, Lahiere's, Alchemist
    and Barrister, and (if you willing to walk 5-7 min) Le Plumet Royale at  the Peacock Inn. Continental
    food prepared and served competently. I have had good meals at all these places. Entrees at Ferry House are often
    around $20 and closer to $30 at the other places. Food rating is star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes) . Reservations recommended.
  • Ichiban. Japanese. Bright and cheerful room. Princeton, NJ. $$, star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes) (Added Nov'02: Had great sashimi there.)
  • Triumph Brewery. Princeton, NJ. Hip brew pub. Good beer, exciting space, unexciting food (best to
    stick with "beer food" here), and live music.  $-$$.  star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)
  • Small World Coffee. Princeton, NJ. A "happening" cafe, with live music on some (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes) (If you find it too noisy  try Bucks County cafe or Starbucks nearby.)
  • Halo Pub. Ice cream shoppe and Cafe with only two tables. But the offerings are great and the prices are
    incredibly low ($1 cappucino, anyone?).On hot summer nights the line goes around the block. (The same is
    true for Thomas Sweet nearby, but I prefer Halo Pub.)
  • The Bent Spoon. Artisan ice cream with many loyal fans. My complaint:Why can't they sell a single scoop
    portion?  star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)
  • Tortuga's Mexican Village. Mexican. Princeton, NJ. Dark room but good food (a "21/30" rating from
    Zagat's).  (5min) $. star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)wpe21.jpg (739 bytes)
  • Taste Of Mexico. Mexican. Princeton shopping center, NJ. (5min). Small place with cheerful owner who
    hails from Mexico City.    ("Food as good as in Mexico City," he claims.) $,star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)
  • Masala Grill. Competent Indian with organic twist; the lunch buffet is justifiably popular.
    Downtown Princeton NJ. In the same spot as the old Twist Rojo.$-$$star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)
  • Witherspoon Bread Co. Bakery. Best bread in town. Baked fresh several times a day. $ star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)wpe21.jpg (739 bytes)
  • Chez Alice. Bakery. Great if you need desserts for guests (or at any other time).star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)wpe21.jpg (739 bytes)
  • Nassau Seafood. Seafood and fresh veggies. Not a restaurant, but it does have good bread, fresh produce,
    seafood, and good takeouts (usually seafood).
  • Blue Point Grill (Nassau St., next to Chez Alice) Seafood restaurant. Great food but some wai for (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)
  • "Luncheon block" near Chez Alice and Blue Point Grill. There are over almost a dozen establishments in this
    block, popular with the lunch crowd. Offerings include Thai, Indian, Japanese (x2), Chinese (x2), Burgers,
    takeout sandwiches/hoagies (Hoagie Haven and George's are two institutions that have fed generations of
    Princeton undergrads), Fish n Chips. Nothing great, but  fine for a quick lunch.
  • Dosa Grill: The influx of middle-class Indians into the Princeton area has led to the opening of  many new Indian
    restaurants on Route 27, many selling South Indian food. Dosa Grill is my current favorite. star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)
  • Khasiyat Fast Food. Indian "chaat" and other fast foods. Iselin, NJ. Order just the chaats; ask your
    waiter for guidance. When in doubt try the chaats with yogurt and be modest about how spicy you want your
    chaat. Try their falooda drinks too.$  star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)wpe21.jpg (739 bytes)
  • Sahara. Middle eastern. Montgomery, NJ (10 min) Usual mid-eastern foods served by friendly Lebanese family. $-$$ star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)wpe21.jpg (739 bytes)
  • Ota Ya. Japanese. Lambertville, NJ (30 min). Best sushi I've had within a 1 hour radius of Princeton. Zagat
    rating 24/30 (underrated in my opinion). New York will equal this, but at twice the price (at least when you
    take portion sizes into account). Nice place to end an afternoon in Lambertville/New Hope. $$-$$$ star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes) (Added Oct'05:
    Prices have gone up, so no longer as good a deal. But quality is still excellent.)
  • Swagath Gourmet: South Indian Vegetarian. 1700 Oaktree Road, Edison NJ. (50 min)  $ . Best Dosa in the New York
    area (or maybe North America)?
    star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)
  • Chowpatty. Indian "chaat" house.  Iselin, NJ. Takeout available next door. (50 min)  $ , star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)
  • Madras Garden. South Indian vegetarian. Edison, NJ. OK for a quick bite on Route 1.
    (35-40min)$ star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)
  • Keum Ho Jung. Korean BBQ. Edison, NJ just off of Rt 1. Excellent BBQ and heavenly pancakes.
    Possibly the best Korean restaurant in the region, including NYC. I have tried Korean restaurants in
    NYC with 23-24 Zagat ratings but they were not as good.  (35 min from Princeton. Also visit   the 
    Kam Man Chinese supermarket next door, it is huge and quite  amazing.) $-$$star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)
  • Penang. Malaysian. Edison, NJ, next to Keum Ho Jung. Cuisine from Penang region of Malaysia,
    featuring Malay, Indian and Chinese influences. The friendly staff give good recommendations.
    (35 min).$-$$, star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)star.jpg (804 bytes)wpe21.jpg (739 bytes)


trees2.wmf (3356 bytes)  SIGHTS TO SEE, WALKS ETC.:

  • The woods at the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton are nice to walk in,
    especially in winter. If you walk South, you come to historic Princeton Battlefield Park.
    There are many other neighborhood parks and lakes within a few miles of town.
  • The following places on campus are good to hang out at and maybe have a coffee: Genomics Cafe
    (wins my vote for best view on campus; coffee is the machine variety, unfortunately),
    Frist Campus Center's Cafe Vivian, Chancellor Green building.
  • Mountain Lakes are in Princeton on Mountain Ave. just off of Route 206.  They are
    only a 15-20 min. walk from Palmer Square. There are walking trails all around them.
  • Island Beach State Park at the NJ coast is a little over an hour away and has miles of
    pretty beaches. At its nicest in early fall when the water and wind are warm, and the
    crowds are gone. As you exit the park, Berkeley Seafood on your left sells delicious,
    nongreasy fish and chips , and also fresh seafood. (They are closed in winter.)
  • Trenton Grounds for Sculpture. About 15-20 min from Princeton. A beautifully landscaped
    garden featuring large works of sculpture and a couple of very good restaurants. (I can vouch for
    the excellence of their Sunday brunch.) Entry is cheap on weekdays and expensive on weekends.
    (Added June'01): They continue to improve this place and it is now extremely nice. The cafe is
    excellent for the price.
  • Washington Crossing State Park on the Delaware River is 20-25 min away by
    car. It can be combined with visits to the two touristy towns of Lambertville and
    New Hope. New Hope is the weirder one. Lambertville is famous for  pricy antiques.
    It also has many historic houses and streets. Some good restaurants (including Ota-ya);
  • Southern New Jersey, especially the Pine Barrens.
  • Delaware Water Gap and the Poconos Mountains. (Off of Route 80 at the border
    of NJ and PA.; 1 hour away.) Pretty landscape. The Poconos are a popular ski area,
    and hence a bit touristy.
  • Trenton farmers' market. (15-20 min. south on Princeton Pike). Good place to
    stock up on European (read German, Polish, and Italian) goodies such as cheeses,
    olives, cookies, sandwich meats etc. (ps: The people at the Italian  store, Frederick's,
    give good recommendations on their best  olive oils, cheeses etc.)
  • Philadephia's Old Italian Market and Reading (pronounced "Redding") Terminal
    Market. Good places to buy food or to pick up a lunch. About 1 hour away.
    Philadelphia's old city is nice to walk in. North of Market St it features art galleries and other
    stylish shops.
  • Amish country near Lancaster, PA, is about 1.5 to 2 hours away and is worth a
    visit for a step back in time. The Amish have preserved their way of life from the
    past century. Try driving off the main roads on to local roads for the best views.
    Pack a picnic lunch or stop at the various farmer's markets (the biggest is in Lancaster).
  • Lehigh valley, PA (around the town of Bethlehem) is about 1 hr 45min away. It has many old
    industries and the towns are full of solid-looking stone houses from America's industrial age, when Bethlehem
    was the steel capital of the US. Historic Bethlehem is also interesting; it was founded by the
    Moravians, a Christian sect from Europe. Nice bed-and-breakfasts and restaurants in the area
    make this a worthwhile overnight excursion from Princeton. Here is a writeup about my trip to Lehigh valley.
    There are also many covered bridges (as in "Bridges of Madison county") and old canal locks; pick
    up a map and visit them in a pleasant hour or two.
  • Here is another list of area attractions.

Condctr.wmf (5602 bytes)  trumptr1.wmf (4352 bytes)     CULTURAL ACTIVITIES:


  • Princeton online's events page.
  • Check out this list.
  • Most cultural activities around town will be found on campus. Here is the weekly calendar
    that lists music, dance, and other performances at the University, as well as academic talks. Many groups based
    on campus have web pages. Taplin and Richardson auditoriums have an active concert schedule .
    Student theater (sometimes so-so, often quite decent) is based in Theater Intime and the
    Program for Theater and Dance. The latter is your best bet for contemporary plays performed
    in an interesting, intimate theater. Also check out events listed on the  Calendar of Council of Humanities.
    The Frist Campus Center also holds many events, and continues to hold them over the summer (when a lot of
    the other places are closed).
  • Going further, you can learn about events throughout the state here.
  • Princeton Art Museum on campus is small but excellent. They do not have space to exhibit most of their
    huge collection, so they rotate between their exhibits. Don't forget to check out the Asian section in
    the basement. Entry is free. They have also started to hold special events (sometimes involving live music)
    on the first Friday evening of each month.
  • McCarter Theater. Featuring plays, dance, music. They sell discounted tickets to
    Princeton students, and occasionally, half-price rush tickets. To ensure best seats, buy
    a subscription at the start of the year (can be tailored to your tastes and budget).
  • The famous Westminster Choir college is in Princeton and has many performances.
  • Philadelphia has several interesting museums, including a terrific Museum of Art
    and a Science museum. Students on a budget may note that museum entry is free on
    certain days. Parking on the street is easy on weekends.


Number of times accessed since June 6 2000: