Princeton is one of my favorite places in Mercer County and in New Jersey as a whole. It’s a dynamic town, with more awesome things to do and try than you probably know. And let’s face it, Princeton is one of the best places in New Jersey to take a date. But, as fun as it is to just “walk around Princeton” you might be wondering if there are some specific things you can do to make it look like you’ve put a lot of thought into your planning. Well, here are five complete date ideas to impress your crush, special someone, grandma, client or if you’re just looking to “treat-yo-self.”
1. Free lecture, Cross Culture/ Aurelios
We start off with one of my absolute favorite things to do in Princeton: attend a free lecture or event at the University. The University frequently invites scholars, writers, journalists, researchers, psychologists and their ilk to give lectures and presentations on a range of topics. One of my fields of study at Rutgers where I went to school was philosophy. The philosophy department at Princeton is extremely active and generally has guest speakers every single week of the academic year. There are a few other reasons these lectures are great, besides their inherent value of providing stimulation at an intellectual and emotional level.
Just just about every Princeton lecture is followed up with free wine, cheeses, juice, snacks, etc so you can mingle with other lecture goers, students and professors.
Stick around for this extra and you’ll feel quite fancy and part of something very special. Just remember to dress the part (elbow padded blazers are a plus). The other reason these lectures and events are great is that they are completely free to the public, all the way down to the fancy wine and cheese. Here's a complete calendar of lectures and events open to the public at Princeton University: Princeton University Calendar
After you’ve wrestled with the metaphysical and social justice dilemmas of our time you may have found that you’ve worked up a hunger. Take a short drive over to Cross Culture, an authentic Indian restaurant that will transport your mind and body with its exotic flavors. If Indian isn’t your thing, I highly recommend Aurelio’s Cocina Latina. My favorite cuisine is Mexican, and I can tell you that Aurelio’s is a stand-out,authentic Mexican restaurant. It’s a few minutes away from the hustle of Nassau Street but well worth wandering from the usual path. Try the El Pastor Tacos.
2. Afternoon picnic at Princeton Battlefield & Dancing
There are so many great restaurants in Princeton and I could name drop all day long, but one option worth considering is to forego the restaurants altogether. Princeton Battleground is just a few minutes from Nassau Street and is a stunning open space to have a picnic. It almost looks like something out of Downton Abbey. So, grab your paPAH, your finest linen suit and your most charming under-butler for an old fashioned picnic on a beautiful day. If you’re wondering what to bring to the picnic, you can also grab a delightful sandwich to go from Olive’s before plopping down.
The next part of your date will find you at one of Princeton’s best kept secrets: dancing. And I’m not talking about hitting up a club.
Have you ever wanted to learn to Tango? Or swing dance like they do in Hellsapoppin? How about learn to salsa?
Well, you can stop wishing because the awesome secret of Princeton that people don’t know to take advantage of is their high quality and very affordably priced dance lessons at the University. I’ve done ballroom, latin and swing dancing since I was a wee lad, and going to the University for some dancing is one of the best parts of my weekly routine. Here are the links for each club, all of which are open to the public and welcoming of newbies: Princeton Swing Club, Princeton Tango Club, and Princeton Salsa Club. Swing Club is free for all, Tango Club costs $10 per lesson, and Salsa Club costs $15 for the whole night. All of these clubs offer beginner and intermediate level lessons and have open dancing afterward. This can be a great activity for a night out with friends or family, and an especially fun date night with your special someone. If you find yourself at one of these clubs and recognize me please say hi!
Most of the clubs meet on Prospect Street which is quite close to our last stop of the night. We’ll top off the night by sitting at the fountain next to the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. The famous zodiac heads line a beautiful fountain, illuminated by the tungsten light reflecting off the water. It’ll be a beautiful place to catch your breath and talk about your fun day out!
3. PU Art Museum, House of Cupcakes, Triumph
This next one is a fantastic way to spend a romantic evening with someone special. Our first stop is the Princeton University Art Museum. Though a night at the museum is great for all couples, this is an especially nice date for early in a relationship. You’ll never run out of things to talk about since you’re constantly interpreting and judging artwork together. It’s also a nice change of pace to be walking around together rather than sitting and staring across the table at them like most traditional dinner/ drink dates. Plus, admission is completely free!
A short stroll from the museum, your next stop is to enjoy a delicious treat at Cupcake Wars Winner, House of Cupcakes.
You’ll be blown away by the bombast of their baking-ballsiness.
Don’t forget to use the trick my dad taught me when I was a kid: ask your date if you think their cupcake smells weird. When they go to take a sniff, run out of the restaurant and leave them with the bill. Just kidding. Just get a little icing on their nose. It’s cute and your date will laugh. Or they’ll dump you on the spot. But probably they’ll just laugh.
If your date is still with you, top off the night with a frosty brew from the micro brewery, Triumph, just a few minutes’ walk from House of Cupcakes. You can get a plethora of craft brews at this hipster-hub-O’-hops.
4. McCarter Theater and Mediterra
Your next date in Princeton will start with a show at McCarter Theater. It’s a great spot to watch a performance that interests you, your family or your significant other. Shows are an especially great date idea because when you hang out after you can mutually revel and discuss how much you liked or disliked what you saw. Whether you liked the show or not, it’s a win—win since it’s engaging conversation either way! But where should you go to talk about the performance? Well I have the perfect place for you.
You’ll be taking your date to Mediterra. Mediterra is swanky, and the prices reflect that. However, since I’m a cost-friendly blogger, my recommendation is to go during happy-hour which is Monday through Thursday, 4:30-6:30 and 9:00-11:00. Let me just say, that Mediterra’s happy-hour is no normal happy hour. They should rename it “very happy-hour” because it really is a cut above the rest. This window-O’-bliss gets you $2 tapas (bites of heaven). Check out the tapas menu here to get an idea of the luxury about to adorn your taste buds. The wine selection is delightful as well and is subject to a generous discount. You’ll feel like a Queen (as I’ve vocalized to my friends when we are there) as you dine on their latest and greatest culinary concoctions.
5. Terhune Orchards
Our last Princeton date is one that is a little different but just as enjoyable as the others. This one has rustic charm and character. Terhune Orchards is beautiful little farm where you can pick your own apples. After you pick apples with the apple of your eye (make sure to drop that line while you're there,) take a walk over to the barnyard where you can pet and feed goats, ponies and chickens. I’m an animal lover so seeing the goats is probably the coolest thing about this date to me. But wait! There’s more. Sometimes (you’ll have to check the calendar,) Terhune has Sangria tastings that you will definitely want to attend.
Sangria? Goats? Nature? Good company? You’ll remember this day the rest of your life.
Your last stop will be the bakery where you’ll purchase some apple cider and apple cider donuts. You can eat these delicious treats right there on the farm, or eat them amid a setting sun at the Princeton Battlefield or even Nassau Street. The limits are endless when you have a delicious donut in your hand.
I hope you enjoyed this article on cool date ideas in the lovely town of Princeton.
My name is Brandon Rasmussen and I’m a Realtor. If you are thinking of buying, selling, or renting a home I can make it simple and stress-free. Give me a call or text at 609-651-5167. Or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.