Shopping, restaurants, culture and history. Downtown Princeton has plenty to do.
Shopping and dining
At the heart of downtown Princeton is Palmer Square, a mix of offices, residential space, shops, bars, and restaurants The square is anchored by the historic Nassau Inn and faces the University and Nassau Street—the main commercial street in Princeton and the boundary between the campus and town.
Along Nassau Street and on the side streets that intersect it, you’ll find high-end clothing stores, jewelers, bookstores, and gift stores.
Off campus, there are many options for shopping, including retailers in the Princeton Shopping Center and Quakerbridge Mall. Nearby on Route 1, Nassau Park Pavilion and Mercer Mall are home to grocery stores, restaurants and many big box retailers.
Restaurants, coffee houses and bars
Downtown Princeton is known for its diverse and attractive restaurants, cafes, bistros, and bars appealing to every taste and every budget. Options range from Thai, Mexican, and Italian to organic and traditional. PJ’s Pancake House and Hoagie Haven are long-time favorites of students and residents, and there are numerous spots for coffee and snack breaks.
Be sure to take a look at Princeton Online for a comprehensive list of restaurants in Princeton and the surrounding localities. You'll find reviews, menus and prices.
Paul Robeson Center for the Arts
Princeton’s rich and diverse offerings in the arts are unmatched for a municipality of its size. The nonprofit Arts Council of Princeton, which operates out of the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, sponsors events and exhibitions for the community and offers a range of arts-based programs, classes, and workshops.
McCarter Theatre Center
Adjacent to campus, the McCarter Theatre Center for the Performing Arts, one of the nations’ leading theaters and cultural centers, puts on more than 200 dance, music, and theater performances each year.
You can see the latest feature films and documentaries at the Princeton Garden Theatre located on Nassau Street.
There are many ways to enjoy live music in Princeton, from a multitude of performances on campus, to live music in venues like bars and restaurants. The Princeton Symphony Orchestra offers orchestral, pops, and chamber music to the community, as well as lecture events, children’s programs, and collaborative programming.
University sponsored events
As a member of the faculty or staff, you are invited to participate in the many University events and exhibits, lectures, and dance, music, and theater performances held on an almost daily basis. The University’s calendar of public events provides more information and details for campus events.
The Princeton Chamber of Commerce is an excellent source of information if you want to learn more about Princeton and the surrounding region. The chamber organizes nearly 100 events per year, including networking, programming, an annual Mercer County economic summit, business showcase events and a leadership awards gala.
The heart of a civically minded and engaged community, the Princeton Public Library, located in the Sands Library building, states its mission "to be the community’s living room, connecting people through words and ideas to enrich their lives and help them realize their dreams." It is located in downtown Princeton, next to Hinds Plaza and the Spring Street Garage, and welcomes thousands of people every day.
The library, which has been in existence for more than 100 years, is innovative in its adoption of the latest developments in information technology, digital content, and new ways of sharing information. It features a café, Technology Center for learning and exploring, English language classes, and multiple events every day, from story times to author visits and film series.
A library card is free for residents of the Municipality of Princeton, and it allows you access to an extensive collection of books and digital resources.
Local newspapers and online resources
The Princeton Packet, Town Topics, and the Newark Star-Ledger—are the local newspapers. Regional websites like NJ.com, Princeton Online, and The Princeton Patch are also great for keeping abreast of news in the area.
The Daily Princetonian is the University’s newspaper and it can be found on newsstands across campus. The Princeton University Bulletin and Princeton Alumni Weekly are other publications you should consider. The Nassau Literary Review, Business Today, Tiger Magazine, and Nassau Weekly are noteworthy publications associated with academic disciplines and departments.