This week, my husband was going on a business trip to Princeton, NJ, so I took advantage of the travel opportunity and went along! If you’ve ever been to Princeton, you might agree that the city itself is not so lovely. But tucked behind Route 1 lies three art-inspiring locations to explore.
Princeton University Art Museum + Library
One of the first days after we arrived, I set out early in the morning to explore the campus of Princeton University. The architecture and academic bustle around campus made it feel as if I was back in Cambridge England, where we visited last summer. I could have spent the whole day taking in the detail and design of the architecture and landscape, but since it was roughly 20 degrees outside, I decided to go indoors.
What better place to venture indoors than the campus art museum! Free to the public (!!), this museum houses over 92,000 works of art. Their permanent collections include pieces from Western Europe, the Mediterranean, the United States, Latin America, and Asia. In addition to that, they also have several special exhibits. Needless to say, I spent my morning walking through the galleries, taking in the creativity and inspiration.
Once I finished at the museum, I took a peek at the Marquand Library of Art and Archeology next to the museum. I was quickly overwhelmed by its four floors, packed full of books on a variety of topics. I thumbed through a few books on color theory, pattern making, and graphic design until it was time to head back to my car before the parking meter ran out.
Outside Princeton University lies a lovely historic downtown, filled with fun shops and restaurants. Parking is sparse and a bit pricy, but if you can catch a metered spot for an hour or two, it’s well worth it! Here are a few of the cafes and shops I visited while I was there…
- Small World Coffee – I went here on my first day in Princeton and found out that they only take cash (FYI). I returned the next day and ordered a cafe a lait, which was served in two lovely glass jars. The coffee was fantastic, but seating was limited. It was definitely a college hang-out spot!
- Terra Momo Bread Company – Terra Momo is a super authentic Italian bakery! This shop is also cash-preferred, but the cashier graciously let me us card. I ordered a chocolate brioche pastry and it was above and beyond my expectations!
- Rojo’s Roastery – I visited here after my first failed attempt at Small World Coffee. Although there was little-to-no seating indoors, they did take card payments. I ordered a case a lait here as well and it was great!
- The Bent Spoon – Really, the way I judge a town is by its ice cream, and thanks to this little shop, Princeton passed with flying colors. Along with traditional flavors, The Bent Spoon also has several unique and inventive flavor combinations. The ice cream had great flavor and texture. The worst part was trying to decide which one to get!
- Homestead Princeton – This lovely little store had so many fun things to look at – from unique home decorations to handmade gifts!
- Labyrinth Books – SO many books! I spent quite a while here…mainly looking at their vast collection of cook books. They had several great sales too!
- JaZams – This is a fun children’s book store, which my husband and I explored one evening together. We love reading children’s stories. (If you think that’s weird than you can ignore this one…but if you like children’s books or have children with you on your visit, then definitely check it out!)
Grounds for Sculpture
The day after I explored Princeton University, I came across an advertisement for a sculpture garden in a nearby town – Grounds for Sculpture. These “grounds” consist of 270+ sculptures spread across 42 acres of land. The sculptures ranged from literal objects to abstract art and everything in between. There were also several buildings placed throughout the grounds, which featured special exhibits, including works by Joyce J. Scott, a 2016 MacArthur “genius” award winner.
When I arrived, I asked the woman at the information desk what time the next tour would begin. She gave me a funny look and informed me that there would be no tours that day. So I took a map and set out by myself for the trail of sculptures. It didn’t take long for me to discover why there were no tours… the path was covered in several inches of snow/ice/mush from a storm earlier in the week. It was a wet walk, but fully worth it! If I could walk through a whimsical storybook, I image it would be like Grounds for Sculpture.
For being a small northern town, Princeton had plenty of inspiring sights to keep me busy in the hours between design projects. Do you have other recommendations for Princeton? Comment and share – I would love to hear about it!