22 Things to Do in Princeton, NJ: Campus Tours, Museum Visits, Nature Walks & More

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Get ready for an exciting trip to Princeton, New Jersey!

Located in Mercer County, Princeton is super easy to reach from big cities like New York and Philadelphia. 

And it is home to one of the most prestigious Ivy League schools in the country: Princeton University.

Our guide lists some of the best things to do in Princeton — perfect for locals looking for weekend fun or a visitor seeking interesting adventures.

Get ready to be wowed by the stunning Princeton University campus, with its mix of old and new buildings.

And don’t miss the chance to chill out in beautiful parks like Marquand Park with a picnic on sunny a day.

If you want a break from the outdoors, hit the shops and dine at a variety of charming eateries.

For history buffs, you’ll love Princeton Battlefield State Park, where the past comes alive!

Whatever your taste is, this town has activities and destinations that’ll be sure to entertain you during your time spent here.

For more places to visit throughout the state, you might want to check out our list of NJ state parks, New Jersey beaches, and Jersey Shore towns.

Or just check out all of our New Jersey guides.

Best Things to Do in Princeton New Jersey

Our list of stuff to do in Princeton starts at the heart of it all on Princeton University Campus and places within easy walking distance.

From there, hop into your car to check out some places farther afield in the surrounding area.

Princeton University Chapel

Architecture enthusiasts and those seeking spiritual solace will be amazed by the stunning Princeton University Chapel.

You will be awed by the immense scale of this historic chapel — which can hold nearly 2,000 people — along with its beautiful architecture.

While the original church may have burned down in 1920, this new construction is still over 100 years old, and its Collegiate Gothic style transports you to another time.

Princeton University Nassau Hall

If you plan on touring the campus, you absolutely must make a stop at Princeton University Nassau Hall.

The university’s iconic centerpiece played a significant role in American history, having served as the United States Capitol building at the close of the American Revolution in 1783 and the months immediately following the end of the war.

Nassau Hall was one of the largest and most significant buildings of the 1700s, and while it is currently an administrative building for the university, it is registered as a National Historic Landmark and is full of hundreds of years of US history in its articulately-crafted brick walls.

Nassau Hall at Princeton University at night in New Jersey

Agricola Eatery

Foodies will appreciate Agricola Eatery (11 Witherspoon Street), a farm-to-table restaurant offering delectable dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.

Indulge in their seasonal menu and don’t miss their renowned wood-fired pizzas and wine bar.

Local favorites include the Conchiglie Balsamico, Margherita Pizza, and Penne Pecorino.

Princeton Public Library

Any parent of young children understands the importance of the closest and nicest library, and Princeton Public Library (65 Witherspoon Street) stands out as an experience that anyone would enjoy.

Housing nearly 150,000 books and events for all ages, this library is a beautiful and inviting space nestled in the heart of downtown by Palmer Square.

Take your kids to storytimes or the Children’s Book Festival, or just grab a book yourself and find a comfortable spot to read for an hour or two.

Princeton Farmers’ Market

Food enthusiasts and supporters of local produce will enjoy the Princeton Farmers’ Market (Hinds Plaza, Silvia Beach Way), offering a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and artisanal products.

Engage with local vendors and savor the flavors of the region.

Vegetable at Farmer's market.

Princeton Cemetery

While it may seem morbid to take a stroll through a cemetery, it can actually be enriching and moving to explore one as notable and famed as Princeton Cemetery at the Nassau Presbyterian Church (29 Greenview Avenue).

History buffs can explore the final resting place of notable figures like Grover Cleveland, Aaron Burr, and Jonathan Edwards, while also learning about many lesser-known figures who were equally important to the town of Princeton.

Uncover stories of the past as you wander through the tranquil grounds, thinking of the many accomplished and notable people who called this town their home.

Mistral

Culinary enthusiasts seeking a unique dining experience should head to Mistral (66 Witherspoon Street), a contemporary American restaurant offering innovative dishes crafted with locally sourced ingredients.

Don’t miss their delectable seafood dishes, selection of local-ingredient cocktails, or their mouth-watering desserts — most notably the Brown Butter Cake.

Teresa Caffe

Food connoisseurs will delight in the authentic Italian flavors of Teresa Caffe (23 Palmer Square).

From homemade pasta to mouthwatering desserts, this cozy restaurant promises a memorable dining experience.

The Bent Spoon

Treat yourself to a scoop of heavenly ice cream from The Bent Spoon (35 Palmer Square), a local favorite known for its unique flavors and use of fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

Try some crowd-favorite flavors while you’re there, including the lavender mascarpone and the dark chocolate sorbet.

Princeton Battle Monument

History enthusiasts should highlight Princeton Battle Monument (55 Stockton Street) on their list, a statue commemorating the Battle of Princeton during the American Revolutionary War.

This historical monument is near the top of the things to see in Princeton, a stunning work of art commemorating one of Princeton’s crowning achievements.

This limestone carving is located at the Morven Museum & Garden, showcasing a long list of notable people from the time, with George Washington protruding elegantly from the top of the 50-foot sculpture.

If you have the time and are a fan of American history, take the time to sit and study this impressive and complex work of art.

Princeton Battlefield Monument in New Jersey

Morven Museum & Garden

History lovers will appreciate Morven Museum and Garden (55 Stockton Street), a historic mansion-turned-museum, showcasing the rich heritage of New Jersey.

The home has been a part of the Princeton area since the 1750s, registered as a National Historic Landmark due to its immense significance in American history.

Originally home to Richard Stockton, former New Jersey governor and signer of the Declaration of Independence, the museum now hosts countless artifacts from the time and runs regularly occurring events such as guided architectural tours and garden workshops.

The museum is also one of the popular spots for those looking for things to do in the Princeton area.

McCarter Theatre Center

Theater enthusiasts can catch a show at the McCarter Theatre Center (91 University Place), a renowned venue that hosts a variety of performances, including plays, musicals, dance shows, and live music concerts.

Having served as a performing arts theater for nearly 100 years, McCarter is highly respected for its dedication to the production of meaningful art featuring the best performers in the area.

Attending a show at McCarter Theatre is one of the best activities in Princeton, both entertaining and artistically significant.

Albert Einstein House

Science enthusiasts and history buffs can explore the former residence of the renowned physicist at the Albert Einstein House (108 Mercer Street).

There are many places to visit in Princeton, but the Albert Einstein House is uniquely interesting because of its recent historical significance; this is basically living history right near the center of town!

Discover the life and work of this brilliant mind through the exhibits and artifacts on display at the home in which he spent the last 20 years of his life and articulated some of the most meaningful scientific contributions of his storied career.

Marquand Park

Both home to open green space and outdoor activities, Marquand Park is a serene oasis with picturesque walking trails, beautiful gardens, a full baseball field, and more.

The 17-acre park is a great space for parents and kids, with a playground featuring an oversized sandbox and climbing equipment as well as a children’s arboretum that is perfect for young ones to run and explore.

Institute for Advanced Study

For the intellectually curious looking for things to do around Princeton, the Institute for Advanced Study (1 Einstein Drive) is a renowned center for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry.

Attend public lectures, seminars, or exhibitions to engage with cutting-edge ideas and research.

The beautiful grounds are also open to the public for walking and birdwatching, as well as cross-country skiing in winter.

Princeton Battlefield State Park

Of all of the Princeton attractions, none may be as historically significant or as engaging as the Princeton Battlefield State Park (500 Mercer Road).

Tour the site of the historic Battle of Princeton, a pivotal moment in the Revolutionary War.

This beautifully-preserved space transports guests back to January 1777, when George Washington led the first victorious battle of the American Revolution.

The Thomas Clark House is a historic museum completely preserved from the 1700s, hosting events and guided tours of the space that reveal what life was like hundreds of years ago.

Drumthwacket

Drumthwacket (354 Stockton Street) is the official residence of the Governor of New Jersey.

The beautiful residence is a good spot to at least drive by and marvel at the architecture, and if you are looking for a chance to tour the home you can come on Wednesdays for a guided tour.

There is so much to learn about this home, which has housed every New Jersey governor and was featured prominently in important moments in American history.

Greenway Meadows Park

Nature enthusiasts can wander through the preserved open spaces, forests, and meadows of Greenway Meadows Park (275 Rosedale Road).

Experience the beauty of the natural landscape and engage in outdoor activities like bird watching and hiking.

There are also plenty of events available at the D&R Greenway Land Trust, including art classes, live performances, and art exhibits.

Billie Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve

Nature lovers and hikers can explore the scenic trails and tranquil lakes of Mountain Lakes Preserve (30 Mountain Avenue).

If you are curious about what to see in Princeton, consider walking the trails of Mountain Lakes for the day and taking in the beautiful natural scenery.

Take in the breathtaking views and enjoy the serenity of the surrounding woodlands, while still being only about a mile from popular Palmer Square.

Community Park North Playground

Families with children can have a fun-filled day at Community Park North Playground (Elm Road and Route 206), featuring various play structures, swings, and open spaces for little ones to enjoy.

There are also walking trails, green space for the kids to run, and a beautiful lake to sit and admire.

Herrontown Woods Arboretum

Families, nature enthusiasts, and outdoor lovers can spend a relaxing day at Herrontown Woods Arboretum (600 Snowden Lane).

Pack a picnic, explore the trails, and admire the diverse flora and fauna.

If you have the time in your schedule, head to the Veblen House for an outdoor yoga class, held once per week.

Lake Carnegie

Lake Carnegie was designed by Andrew Carnegie in the early 1900s after he learned that the D&R Canal was not wide enough for proper rowing.

Utilizing bridges and dams, Lake Carnegie was constructed with the original objective of providing the rowing team of Princeton University with a proper competitive space.

While it is still used by Princeton University, Lake Carnegie also encourages kayaking and other water activities (although not swimming) by anyone that is interested in enjoying the water.

Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park

Looking for more places to go in Princeton where you can enjoy nature?

You might need to take a whole day exploring Delaware and Raritan (D&R) Canal State Park (14 Mapleton Road).

Enjoy walking, biking, or jogging along the canal path, or simply relax and have a picnic amidst the more than 70 miles of picturesque natural space.

In addition to great walking trails, the canal itself is a great spot for water activities like canoeing and kayaking.

If you are going to the park in the summer, check out their scheduled ”After Work Evening Walks”, which are guided tours along the walking trails where you can observe the local wildlife and the many stories of this historic area.

Read next: Things to do in New Brunswick, and Things to do in Trenton.

Final Thoughts

We hope this guide has inspired you to check out some of the exciting activities and best places to see in Princeton!

Let us know in the comments which one you enjoyed the most or if you have any additional suggestions.

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