This university-driven downtown is a mini mecca of shopping, dining, and history—but bring your walking shoes because there’s much to do.
Best history class: Self-guided walking tours start at the Bainbridge House (158 Nassau St, 609-921-6748), home of the Historical Society of Princeton, and take you past Nassau Hall, Albert Einstein’s house, and three houses once belonging to Woodrow Wilson.
Off the chain: Micawber Books (114 Nassau St, 609-921-8454) and Princeton Record Exchange (20 S Tulane St, 609-921-0881) are two refreshingly independent shops. Rows of books fill every available space at Micawber’s, and the Record Exchange has a good collection of new and used CDs, tapes, and records.
Worth the wait: Original SoupMan (30 Palmer Sq E, 609-497-0008) may have you waiting in line, but the scrumptious soups are worth it. Remember to step to the left.
Back to school: Stroll through the campus of Princeton University (609-258-3000), visit the galleries at the Art Museum (609-258-3788), or see a show at the nearby McCarter Theatre (609-258-2787).
Local favorite: At the Alchemist & Barrister (28 Witherspoon St, 609-924-5555) pick the formal dining room, the low-lit wooden pub, or the patio. A&B offers fare with a flare, such as a cilantro and chili-marinated chicken sandwich with guacamole—a bargain at $11.
Looking for something? Find it at Palmer Square (609-921-2333), Princeton’s go-to shopping central, with fashions at Zoe (11 Hulfish St, 609-497-0704), antiques at Silver Shop (59 Palmer Sq W, 609-924-2026), and pictures and framing at the Cranberry Station Gallery (28 Palmer Sq E, 609-921-0434).
Crème de la crème: At the Little Chef Pastry Shop (8 S Tulane St, 609-924-5335), sample owner and pastry chef Edwige Fils-Aime’s delicious handmade French tarts and cakes.
Spend the night: Check into the popular Nassau Inn (10 Palmer Sq, 609-921-7500), or rest your head three miles south on Route 206 at the Inn at Glencairn (3301 Lawrenceville Rd, 609-497-1737).