Girlfriend Getaways: New Brunswick

Sophisticated doings in a college town.

New Brunswick is home to a number of theaters, such as the George Street Playhouse and the State Theatre.
New Brunswick is home to a number of theaters, such as the George Street Playhouse and the State Theatre.
Illustration by Lisa Adams.

New Brunswick is New Jersey’s ideal college town, full of Rutgers pride, cool craft beer and cocktail lounges, a vibrant theater scene, and fine foodie spots. But why let the kids have all the fun? This sophisticated, walkable destination is the perfect location for girls to relax in style at a luxury hotel—with top-notch theater and excellent restaurants just steps away.

Stay: Got lots of girlfriends? You can book a two-bedroom corner suite that will fit up to 10 at the elegant Heldrich in the heart of town. Hand your keys to the valet; you won’t need the car. Start with a relaxing manicure, massage or sauna session at the Spa at the Heldrich, and be sure to arrange a private Saturday-morning yoga class for your group. With Christopher’s restaurant right in the lobby and 24-hour in-room dining available, you could easily make it a pajama party. But with so much to do nearby, we suggest you pack your party clothes.

Eat & Drink: Clydz (55 Paterson Street), with its extensive menu of vintage cocktails, is a must. The French 55 is a winner. Reserve the cozy room behind the bar with a view of the fish tanks, then dig into the duck-confit deviled eggs or alligator in a blanket from the small-bites menu. Or go to the dining room and order from their unique game menu, with its wild boar arancini and bison hanger steak. Creative food and drink also reign at INC.

For a fine-dining experience, the mainstays are Stage Left (5 Livingston Avenue), an NJM critics’ pick for best American restaurant and best burger; and its upstairs neighbor, Catherine Lombardi (3 Livingston Avenue), an elegant Italian classic with an extensive wine list and endless windows looking out on the theater district.

Delta’s (19 Dennis Street) is another dinner option, with its authentic Southern cuisine and live entertainment. Reserve a booth and enjoy fried chicken, grits, catfish, jambalaya and ribs while listening to jazz and R&B. Or dine on wine and sushi at the Sushi Room (12 Eaton Avenue). Craft-beer lovers can slake their thirst at World of Beer (335 George Street), with its selection of 500 brews, or the New Orleans-style Old Bay Inn (61 Church Street).

To relive your college days, head to Ale ’N ’Wich Pub (246 Hamilton Street), a cash-only bar with pool table, darts, jukebox, pinball machine and all the characters—minus the throng of undergrads—you’d expect to find at a dive bar. Last call is 2 am.

Cap off your getaway with Sunday brunch at the NJM Top 25 Frog and the Peach (29 Dennis Street), where you can recount the trip and plan your next one.

On the Boards: The State Theatre presents live concerts; the George Street Playhouse stages theatrical works; and the Crossroads Theatre mounts shows about the African-American experience. All are located immediately across from the Heldrich. Or opt for a night of laughs at the Stress Factory Comedy Club.

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