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How to Spend the Perfect Day in Princeton

by Nicole Iuzzolino
princeton nj

Downtown Princeton is where the heart of the community is. It’s full of college students mulling between the Princeton University campus across the street and professors grabbing a coffee before a lecture. There are also a number of tourists from all over New Jersey taking a  trip to see the historic town.  With so many things to do and see, it may be difficult to really narrow down what spots are must-sees. Here is a list of the top places you need to add to your itinerary when spending a day in Princeton, NJ.

Breakfast at PJ’s Pancake House 

There is nothing better than starting your day off with something sweet.  PJ’s Pancake House is more than happy to satisfy it. The original location of PJ’s Pancake House is right in Princeton, and has been a staple to the community since 1962. Even with expanded locations, PJ’s Pancake House strives to keep tradition rooted in each and every restaurant—down to the old wooden tables and chairs. 

The restaurant recently extended a lunch and dinner menu. But, if it is your first time at PJ’s Pancake House, then the  pancakes are a must. Some of the pancakes they are known for are: old fashioned buttermilk, old west buckwheat, spicy apple, pumpkin and potato served with applesauce and sour cream—just to name a few. You can order a full order of five pancakes or a half order of three or even a pancake sampler, where you can try three different flavors of your choice.

Take a Historical Stroll

Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

One thing not to overlook is the incredible Princeton University architecture. As Princeton University is connected to the main street, it is a must to stroll the historical campus. The Princeton University Chapel is a large, carved stone and stained glass structure, providing a place of faith and comfort for students. The chapel is often used for weddings and funerals for alumni. 

Another popular spot on campus is the Princeton University Art Museum—an artistic structure in itself. The museum was officially founded in 1882 and continues to present year-round special art exhibitions for students and visitors. Their gift shop provides visitors the chance to take home a piece of art of their own.

Go Shopping

Palmer Square

You cannot go to Princeton and not stop in one of the many shops scattered around its downtown. Some of these stores include Urban Outfitters, the Princeton University merchandise store, Ralph Lauren and lululemon. There are a number of unique stores to satisfy even the pickiest of shoppers. There is the Cloak & Dagger; a bookstore that specializes in mystery and thriller books; Dandelion; a luxury jewelry store on the main street and the Princeton Corkscrew Wine Shop, selling a selection of high quality wines. From clothing to art, jewelry and even snacks, Princeton is the shopping haven for almost everyone.

Have Dinner Downtown 

Just like with the shopping locations, there are a number of places to satisfy your hunger for dinner. An incredibly popular spot for dinner is Winberie’s, a comfortable dining environment full of classic American cuisines. This restaurant has been serving the community and college students quality food and drinks since 1984. Some of the popular menu items include Cajun macaroni and cheese, the tavern burger and the roasted vegetable grain bowl, just to name a few. This comfortable environment will make you want to come time and time again.

Another popular dinner spot is the Agricola Eatery, a farm-to-table style restaurant that values fresh and down-to-earth flavors. Agricola Eatery strives to “serve food that brings people together to laugh, share and celebrate.” Menus change by the season, but some of their popular menu items currently include spiced red lentils, local mushroom flatbread, shrimp tacos and the seared ahi tuna. 

The Yankee Doodle Tap Room is another popular Princeton spot. Located within the historical Nassau Inn, guests can enjoy modern gastropub cuisine. Some popular items include short rib and wild mushroom risotto, apple bourbon maple glazed pork chop and loaded potato soup.  

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth 

After dinner, it is always time for dessert. If you are in the mood for cookies,  Milk & Cookies is a must for you to check out. Milk & Cookies bake a variety of desserts daily that you can have with cold milk, hot tea or coffee. Some of their popular cookies include toffee, lemon poppy, matcha dreams and so many more. There are even a number of gluten-free and vegan options as well. If you are craving these cookies after your visit to Princeton, you can order them right to your home by mail!

Another great dessert spot in Princeton is the House of Cupcakes, a place that you cannot pass up on your visit. The House of Cupcakes founders, Ruthie and Ron Bzdewka, won Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” in 2011, so you know that these cupcakes have to be delicious. House of Cupcakes offers 35 different flavors such as Boston cream pie, carrot cake, chocolate rage and coconut custard. They also have an ever-changing seasonal menu, so you are always guaranteed unique flavors when visiting.  

Have you tried any of these Princeton, NJ spots? Let us know below!

Main photo by Joshua Jen 

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