Situated about halfway between Manhattan and Philadelphia, Princeton is a picture-perfect location – easy access to major East Coast cities while maintaining a rural, woodsy atmosphere. Princeton is probably best known as the quintessential college town – it is, after all, home to the Ivy League Princeton University, which dates back to 1756 and is one of only nine Colonial Colleges – those founded before the American Revolution.
While the university is arguably the most famous landmark in Princeton, it isn’t the only landmark. Princeton is home to the beautiful Carnegie Lake, which is bordered by the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail. It is also home to Princeton Battlefield State Park, the location of a fierce battle during the Revolutionary War in 1777. The park features hiking trails, cross-country skiing, open lawns, the Princeton Battle Monument, and the Clarke House Museum.
Whether you are moving to Princeton to be close to the university or if you just enjoy the beautiful landscape of this historic town, here’s what you need to know about living in Princeton.
Things to Do in Princeton:
After you rent an apartment in Princeton, be sure to stroll down Nassau Street, the main downtown avenue. It is lined with high-end boutiques and wonderful restaurants. Princeton University’s main gates open onto Nassau Street, just across from Nassau Hall, the university’s oldest building. Built sometime around 1756, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a US National Historic Landmark.
Another historic landmark belonging to Princeton University is Prospect House. This house was built in 1878 by John Notman, a Scottish-born architect who immigrated to the US in 1831 and helped popularize the Italianate style of architecture. Woodrow Wilson lived in the house before he was elected New Jersey’s governor and then President, and he designed the gardens to resemble the university’s seal when viewed from above. Today, Prospect House is a private dining club for the faculty and staff at Princeton University.
The Princeton University Art Museum is free and open to the public. The museum dates back to 1756 as the university was moving into its new home, Nassau Hall. The Colonial Governor at the time gifted the university with a painting of himself. The portrait of Jonathan Belcher was hung in the central prayer hall, and soon other paintings and art objects were collected and added. Unfortunately, these early works were destroyed during the 1777 Battle of Princeton. Early works that managed to survive this event were destroyed by a fire in 1802. But despite these early setbacks, the museum continued to grow, and today the museum contains an amazing collection of more than 92,000 works of art, from ancient to contemporary.
Princeton is a beautiful town that truly exemplifies New Jersey’s motto, “The Garden State.” The university campus is set in a lush landscape filled with trees and flowers. You can also visit the Herrontown Woods Arboretum, a 142-acre arboretum containing more than 30 species of plants and trees. It also contains a pine forest and walking trails. The Abbott Marshlands is another beautiful location that contains tidal and non-tidal freshwater marsh, forest, swamps, and streams. This park also includes picnic areas, the 1708 Watson House (the oldest house in Mercer County), and the Tulpehaking Nature Center.
To truly appreciate what life was like for farmers in the late 1800s to the early 1900s in New Jersey, visit the Howell Living History Farm! This working farm covers 130 acres and includes meadows and streams. It is located in the Pleasant Valley Rural Historic District. The farm features several historic buildings, including the farmhouse, the barn, and the wagon house.
Mercer County Park is a vast 2,500-acre park that hosts a variety of events year-round, including the Renaissance Faire and Trenton Kennel Dog Show in May, the Dragon Boat Festival in August, the Irish Festival and Italian American Festival in September, and two 5k races benefitting animals in October. The park contains hiking trails, dog parks, bike trails, a boathouse and marina, an ice skating center, tennis center, picnic areas, basketball courts, 17 athletic fields, and sand volleyball courts. Activities in the park include hiking, mountain biking, fishing, cross-country skiing, jogging, and more.
Street fairs, art fairs, and concerts make Millyard Park the Princeton gathering place! This downtown park is adjacent to Roebling Marketplace and is a favorite lunch spot for in-town business people. The park includes a café area, a fountain, and cozy benches under shade trees.
After choosing your Princeton apartment, you may find yourself spending quite a lot of your free time in Palmer Square! This beautiful downtown shopping area contains local boutiques, high-end shops, restaurants, charming cafes, old-fashioned ice cream parlors, and more tucked into elegant historic buildings set along wide sidewalks. The area also features shade trees, period lighting, and terrific events such as Jazz Fest and the Summer Music Concert Series.
And of course, if you enjoy college sports, Princeton is home of the Princeton Tigers. Put on your orange and black and cheer on the Princeton football team, an NCAA Division I-AA school in the Ivy League conference. The Tigers play at Princeton University Stadium and have competed since 1869. Of course, this is Princeton, and the sport-de-jour is rowing. Rowing has been a part of campus life since 1870, and the award-winning Shea Rowing Center is considered one of the nation’s top rowing centers. It is located on Lake Carnegie. Crew is Princeton’s largest varsity sport and several rowers and coaches have competed in World Rowing Championships and the Olympics.
Of course, there’s so much more to do in Princeton. The McCarter Theatre offers over 200 performances each year in theatre, dance, and music. Crossing Vineyards is internationally known for the quality of their wines. Take the family to Terhune Orchards, where you can pick pumpkins and try their delicious apple cider. And with easy access to both New York and Philadelphia, living in Princeton is jam-packed with endless possibilities … head to the city to see a Broadway show or cruise into Philly for dinner or nightlife. Rent your next apartment in Princeton and you’ll never be without interesting and exciting things to do!
What to Consider When Moving to Princeton:
With its historic sites, beautiful parks, exciting nightlife, great shops, and variety of theaters and festivals, Princeton is more than a college town. While Princeton University is most definitely the heart of this community, there’s so much more to this stunning New Jersey town. It is home to the Institute of Advanced Study, which was the academic home of Albert Einstein.
Several major companies and research corporations are located in Princeton, including Berlitz International, Church and Dwight, FMC Corporation, Opinion Research Corporation, Siemens Corporate Research, SRI International, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, and the Dow Jones & Company. In addition to Princeton University, Princeton is home to the Princeton Theological Seminary, the oldest independent seminary in the US, Westminster Choir College, the Institute for Advanced Study, and Mercer County Community College.
As the halfway point between New York City and Philadelphia, Princeton enjoys easy access to both through Princeton Junction, one of the NJT rail system’s busiest stations. A short branch of the Northeast Corridor Line is known as the Dinky Line – a 2.8-mile stretch from the Princeton Branch to Princeton Station, which is located at Princeton University.
Why Princeton Apartments Are Hot:
An entire town that could basically be declared an arboretum, there is so much natural beauty … historic architecture that lines the streets and inspires residents to discover the past … delightful country inns … a fabulous and historic shopping district … what’s not to love? Add in one of the most-recognized universities in the world – top-ranking, Ivy League Princeton University – and it is easy to see why apartments in Princeton are being snapped up quickly. And the fact that New York and Philadelphia are both just a quick train ride away? How could Princeton apartments be anything but hot?
The mixed-use Palmer Square features a variety of offices, shops, restaurants, and residential spaces.
In addition to Princeton University, other schools in Princeton include Mercer County Community College, Westminster Choir College, and the Institute for Advanced Study.
Recreation includes a community pool, tennis courts, ball fields, golf courses, and several parks and playgrounds.
Herrontown Woods Arboretum is a beautiful, wooded park with rolling hills and is one of the area’s best hiking locations.
The Princeton Train Station connects Princeton with New York City and Philadelphia, providing quick, convenient access to both cities.