Follow in the footsteps of famous Princetonians from Scott Fitzgerald to Albert Einstein, with a walking tour of the fabled university town. Enjoy classic films al fresco on the lawn of the Princeton University Art Museum or at the Princeton Public Library and the Princeton Garden Theater, which also screens live performances from the Royal National Theater. Go out to a vintage ballgame or run an amazing race with the YMCA.
Take a hike or a bike along the D&R Greenway Canal. Shop at the best boutiques and dine at nationally acclaimed restaurants, casual cafes, or a picnic in a park. All summer, Princeton is alive with the sound of music, with concerts spanning opera, country, classical, pop, the Beatles, and that Old Time Rock n’ Roll. The past is present at the Princeton Battlefield and on the Princeton University Campus that dates from 1746. And it’s showtime at McCarter Theatre, one of America’s most acclaimed playhouses.
It’s all happening this summer in Princeton, New Jersey, where history, academia, and the arts combine with acres of green spaces, topflight entertainment and shopping, and fine dining in a town of memorable grace and beauty.
“Year-round, Princeton offers amazing variety for visitors and residents alike,” says Mimi Omiecinski, founder of Princeton Tour Company, which offers tours showcasing Princeton’s history, arts, and dining. “This summer will be just spectacular with dynamic activities and new parking facilities to bring people back downtown again and again.”
The new parking system is designed to keep visitors in town longer and to make parking easy and affordable. Pending council approval, the new Smart Meters, installed in November, will be reprogrammed to extend parking time available from two to three hours and at a lower cost of $1.75. The program will begin after June 17, and “Parking Ambassadors” will be on the streets to help with questions about how to operate the meters.
The Princeton Merchants Association is developing a new app that will enable visitors to find events, shops, restaurants, businesses, museums, theaters, and tourist attractions. The website will also direct visitors to parking, local charging stations, and a “how to” on downloading the new parking meter application. For visitors coming by train, the Dinky is back on track, speeding passengers from Princeton Junction to the campus, Lewis Center for the Arts, and McCarter Theater.
Since 1930, McCarter has launched award-winning plays that went on to Broadway and today is one of America’s most prominent regional theaters. It also sets the stage for Princeton’s Triangle Club and its musical comedies, performed by Princeton University students. McCarter has an exciting summer line up of drama, comedies, memorable musicals and the revival of a unique opera, “Nixon in China.”
Music lovers rejoice: there are three concert series to choose from in Princeton, featuring local bands and performers and internationally renowned professional artists.
Princeton Festival: Through June.
Palmer Square Summer Music Series: Saturdays, noon to 2 p.m. in July and August.
Princeton Shopping Center Summer Concert Series: Thursdays 6 to 8 p.m. starting June 27.
Designed around the historic Nassau Inn, Palmer Square is the epicenter for unique and stylish shops, from national brands to exclusive boutiques. Special events and sidewalk sales add to the excitement. Just say Spa-aah for a makeover, facial, massage, mani-pedi, or hairstyling in one of the downtown salons. Many of Princeton’s favorite restaurants are set on Palmer Square and adjacent Nassau and Witherspoon streets. Just minutes away from downtown is the Princeton Shopping Center, where more shops, restaurants, and health and beauty options await. On July 11 at 4 p.m., the PMA will host the Annual Waiters Race at the Princeton Shopping Center where more than 60 wait staff from area restaurants will compete.
Princeton’s diverse dining scene reflects its international demographic and sophisticated palate. Restaurants span Asian, Middle Eastern, Italian, Mexican and innovative new American. In an era of greater concern for wellness and sustainability, these restaurants creatively meet the changing demands of consumers.
“From our leading destination restaurants to casual sandwich shops, there are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and other options,” says Jack Morrison, President of the PMA. Princeton’s location close to Central New Jersey’s many farms and its legendary seashore, gives local chefs a wide choice of fresh vegetables and seafood. “We have the best of coast and country,” he asserts. For home cooks, those same ingredients abound at farmers markets, along with artisanal cheeses, organic produce, grass-fed beef, and come mid-summer, the beloved Jersey Tomatoes.
In March, Princeton’s first Restaurant Week drew thousands of diners to downtown restaurants, an increase of about 5 percent. “It’s definitely something we will do again next year.”
Princeton is a paradise for history buffs and Morven Museum & Garden & Historical Society of Princeton will be offering their weekly walking tours throughout the summer. On June 22 they’re partnering to provide a vintage baseball game.
The Paul Robeson Center for the Arts will have continuous artwork on display with weekly artists’ talks, painting and musical events. The annual Cafe Improv, a local favorite, will be held June 22.
Princeton Department of Recreation sponsors the Community Night Out on August 6 and provides musical performances at the pool and at Community Park North Amphitheater.
Look for more events and information about Princeton’s merchants at princetonmerchants.org.