Top Ten Reasons to Visit Princeton In the Summer
Sip Sangria and Margaritas at Mediterra.
The restaurant’s outdoor patio at the base of Palmer Square is the place to relax on balmy summer evenings. As darkness descends, the lights come on around the fountain, a popular and perfect spot for sipping Tony’s refreshing drinks and people-watching.
Watch the P-rade.
Every year Princeton University alumni descend on the town and the University for an extended weekend of orange and black fun. The annual P-rade is a highlight! Watch as the alumni parade through town in their classic orange and black-themed jackets. The oldest living alumni leads the charge as the head of the parade.
Chow down at Hoagie Haven.
This local landmark at 242 Nassau Street is beloved, especially by those with big appetites. The hoagies are legendary and have been since the 1970s. If you haven’t had fries or mozzarella sticks ON your hoagie, especially late at night (they stay open till the wee hours), you haven’t lived, the purists say. Fun fact: The original owners, who were from Greece, meant to call the shop Hoagie Heaven, but their command of English was limited at the time and “Heaven” became “Haven.” The name stuck.
Attend a summer concert at Princeton Shopping Center.
The green lawn inside the shopping center on Harrison Street is the place to be on Thursday evenings throughout the summer months. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket to hear the best in local and regional jazz, folk, world music, rock, and blues. In case of rain, the concerts move to the Arts Council of Princeton’s pop-up studio in the shopping center.
Rent a bike and pedal the tow path.
Princeton is a cyclist’s town. At Kopp’s Cycle Shop, 38 Spring Street—the oldest bicycle store in the country—or Jay’s Cycles at 249 Nassau Street, the oldest family-owned bicycle store in Princeton—you can rent a Trek or other brand of bike and head over to the historic tow path for a ride under the trees and along the D&R Canal. You’ll meet joggers, birdwatchers, and canoe paddlers along the way.
Rent a canoe or kayak.
Princeton’s Turning Basin Park on Alexander Road has a canoe and kayak launch that is the perfect place to start a relaxing paddle onto Lake Carnegie or Stony Brook. What was once a thriving commercial area used to have two turning basins where boats on the D&R Canal could turn around as well as unload. One of those basins can still be seen. It’s hard to believe this quiet paradise is only a half mile from Route 1.
Princeton is blessed with several ice cream shops that could easily be called “artisanal.” There’s The Bent Spoon at 35 Palmer Square, where ardent fans swear by such delicacies as blood orange sorbet and olive oil ice cream. Listen to live music Saturday nights from Apil through October around the corner at Halo Pub, 9 Hulfish Street; the more traditional but no less delicious ice cream comes from Trenton’s Halo Farms dairy. And the original Thomas Sweet, 183 Nassau Street, is the creamery of choice for those who are big on blend-ins.
Small World Coffee.
The cafe at 14 Witherspoon Street and its sister shop at 254 Nassau Street are local institutions, buzzing with energy at all hours of the day. Among the standouts: NOLA iced coffee, which used to be available only in summer but became so popular that it joined the year-round menu; and the famous Pile Driver breakfast sandwich — fried egg, bacon and aged Cheddar cheese on an English muffin slathered with garlic butter. As one enthusiastic diner says, “It’s the bomb.”
Landau’s Einstein Museum.
It’s hard to believe that the only permanent exhibit devoted to Princeton’s most famous resident, Albert Einstein, is located in a retail store. But the rear of Landau, the family-owned woolens shop at 102 Nassau Street is the place to see historic photos of the great scientist, at work, at home, playing his violin or relaxing on his front porch.
Croissants at Terra Momo Bread Company.
Located at 74 Witherspoon Street, this French-style bakery turns out prized tarts, cakes, and eclairs. But it is the croissants that are baked each morning that draw the lines of daily regulars, some of whom wait on their idling bikes. You have to get up early, but it’s worth it.