The municipalities of Princeton and Mercer County have a rich history that began in 1675 when the first settlers, Quaker missionaries, came from England. Fortunately for today’s visitors who appreciate a glimpse into the past, many historical sites were preserved and have been restored as a tribute to those settlers. It’s a richly historical area open to the public, thanks in great part to the Trenton Historical Society and the Historical Society of Princeton.
Princeton University itself was founded even prior to the American Revolution. Princeton moved to the community in 1756 from where it had previously been located in Newark. That made Princeton an important college town, and it also began being the home of other institutions as well as major corporations.
The total area of Princeton is just over 18 square miles. The population is 28,572, making it a decently-sized urban area without really sprawling too much. Perfect for the historically-minded tourist who enjoys discovering the history of America’s small-but-notable places.
The town was ranked 15th of the top 100 United States towns to live and work in by Money magazine in 2005. It is an equal distance from Philadelphia and New York City and is close to Trenton, which is New Jersey’s capital city. Since 1945, the governor’s official residence has been in Princeton.
Princeton features many historic sites and landmarks that are worth your time:
- The Jugtown Historic District is an assortment of historic buildings that date back to the colonial times.
- The 681-acres Princeton Battlefield Historic District is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The Princeton Battlefield is where American and British troops fought on January 3, 1777, in the American Revolutionary War. The British soldiers surrendered, and that occurred soon after Washington crossed the Delaware River. A portion of the battlefield became a state park.
- The Albert Einstein House was his home from 1936 until his death in 1955.
- Princeton University is one of the most prominent research universities in the world and is often ranked highly, which included topping the 2019 list in U.S. News & World Report.
- The Morven Museum and Garden is a colonial revival mansion featuring galleries, decorative arts displays, fully-furnished period rooms, and exhibitions that change periodically. It was built for Richard Stockton, who was a mid-18th-century lawyer and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. There are guided tours, which are included with admission, on the hour from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
- Some of the other sites include the Quaker Meeting House, George Washington’s wartime headquarters at Rockingham, the Updike Farmstead, and others.
Where to Stay
When you search for hotels near Princeton University, a top pick would be the four-star hotel, the Hyatt Regency Princeton, which is centrally located and just about a mile from Princeton University. It has a modern design, which can be a nice contrast to make you appreciate all the history you’ll be taking in the area. It is very convenient for exploring the area and making use of scenic biking and running paths outside.
If you’d like to go all-in on your historical trip, consider the Inn at Glencairn. This historic boutique hotel is set in a meticulously renovated 176 Georgian manor. Between the stellar service, gorgeous setting, and on-site fine dining, you’ll enjoy every second of your stay.