8 Things To Do In Princeton With Your Kids


With a rich history, Ivy League status, and family-friendly vibes, there are plenty of things to do in Princeton for a day trip or staycation. Of course, there’s the renowned Princeton University, but even if your kids are far from college-bound, you’ll find unique museums that give a peek into our state’s history and celebrate the arts, imaginative play spaces for hands-on play, tours that show off the haunts of famous residents (Einstein, anyone?), and lots of fun activities for every age. Scroll down for the top ten things to do with kids in Princeton, and while you’re there, don’t miss Princeton’s Terhune Orchards for seasonal farm fun or see the unique art exhibits at Grounds For Sculpture in nearby Hamilton. (featured photo credit: istock/DenisTangneyJr)

Princeton: From professors to playspaces

things to do in princeton art

You won’t have to go far to find art and sculptures around Princeton. Photo taken in Princeton

Gain University status

Chartered in 1746 and known as the fourth oldest college in the United States, Princeton University is the centerpiece of the town, and a walk on the campus is a must for any visit. Start at Nassau Hall to see the building ravaged during the American Revolution when British troops surrendered to General George Washington during the Battle of Princeton, later serving as the nation’s capital. Kids will want to make a beeline to check out the largest cast bronze sculpture in the United States at the Fountain of Freedom (located at Scudder Plaza on Washington Road). Other highlights include the University’s Prospect House & Gardens, a “small” Italian-style garden with thousands of planted flowers in the heart of campus (shh, it’s a well-kept secret spot). Or simply take in the collegiate gothic style architecture while realizing that you are walking the path of the famous footsteps of Albert Einstein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Brooke Shields, and John F. Kennedy (though he was only enrolled for two months before transferring to Harvard). 

Things to do in Princeton fountain

The Fountain of Freedom at Princeton University is a must-see. Photo taken at Princeton University 

Be a tourist

For a real insider’s look, take a tour with the Princeton Tour Company, which offers self-guided tours and guided ones with tidbits and facts about Princeton. Popular ones, like the Guided Princeton Five Star Shameless Name Dropping Tour, take you past the homes and hangouts of Einstein, T.S. Eliot, and other notable residents. Or take their Guided Ghost Tour, Ghost Hunt & Cemetery Visit Tour in October. Hop aboard their trolley tour during the holidays to learn about the past and present Princetonian culture. The Historical Society of Princeton at Updike Farmstead also hosts weekly historical walking tours and special events throughout the year, like Building Princeton, where teams work to create iconic downtown buildings from Legos, or batter up and try 19th-century equipment during the Vintage Baseball Game held in the summer.

things to do in princeton frost fest

There are so many exciting museums and events around Princeton, such as Frost Fest in February. Photo Credit: palmersquare.com

Make learning fun

Make it a museum day by visiting the unique Morven Museum and Gardens, the former home of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and five NJ governors, and offers a peek into the past. Throughout the year, the Morven hosts family events like the Fourth of July Jubilee, Festival of Trees, and various dance and art presentations. If you’ve got a crew of multi-age kids, the Princeton Public Library in the heart of town hosts a bunch of events for all ages, like storytime, classes like “NASA and Space Technology,” and a STEM circle for kids and teens. Or take the kids on an art scavenger hunt—The Arts Council of Princeton has a Public Art Map that gives you a guided tour of the public art installations on display all around Princeton.

Pretend grocery shopping in the pretend town at Princeton Playspace. Photo taken at Princeton Playspace

Play in the parks, playgrounds, and playspaces

When it’s time to take a break from history and learning, Princeton Playspace, an indoor playground where kids can safely play, use their imagination, and socialize, is a cool and fun spot for littles to run around (and parents who need a rest and a cup of coffee). They offer story time, meet and greets, and a variety of themed activities almost every day. For some outdoor fun, head to one of Princeton’s many parks, such as Marquand Park and Arboretum on Lovers Lane, which features a giant sand pit, a swing set, a playground, and a picnic area. If the weather is warm, check out Mary Moss Playground, which has a spray ground, playground equipment, and a book nook.

things to do in princeton show

Shows like Dueling Pianos and Summer Concerts are in the Square during the warmer months. Photo Credit: Palmersquare.com

Take in a show

If you plan to hang out in town for a while, check the calendar at the renowned McCarter Theater for theater, music, or dance performances. The historic Princeton Garden Theatre was originally built in 1920, and it is a great place to grab some popcorn and catch a film during their Family Matinee Series. If you are in Princeton in the summer, stop by the Princeton Summer Theater for a show, including an annual Children’s Show in July.

things to do in princeton shop

Palmer Square is the perfect place to shop when you are looking for things to do in Princeton. Photo Credit: palmersquare.com

See some sophisticated shopping

You haven’t shopped in Princeton until you shopped at Palmer Square. This quaint area with stone and brick buildings and large windows is like walking along a movie set—each storefront oozes charm. Step into JaZams for some indoor fun with unique kids’ toys and books.  Arhaus Studio and Miya Table & Home are the spots for home and gifts. Pick up English countryside wear at the Barbour shop,  Or try unique shops like the Princeton University Art Museum Store or the Toobydoo children’s wear lifestyle shop. But any visit to Princeton isn’t complete without a visit to the Princeton University Store to find fun collegiate gear for the whole family.

things to do in Princeton dine

Dining in Princeton is a treat both indoors and outdoors. Photo Credit: istock/aimintang

Grab a bite to eat

Hungry yet? There are a bunch of classic, ethnic, and gourmet options around Princeton. Stop by PJ’s Pancake House on Nassau Street for hand-spun milkshakes or old-fashioned potato cakes. Or dine where Paul Revere and Thomas Paine indulged over 250 years ago and enjoy a meal under the oak timbered ceiling at the Yankee Doodle Tap Room in The Nassau Inn. If you want a quick bite, the sandwiches at Hoagie Haven or Chez Alice Patisserie will fill you up. Wanna skip right to the good stuff? Thomas Sweet, Halo Pub, and The Bent Spoon will satisfy your littles with a sugary treat.

things to do in princeton jazams block party

There are so many fun things to do in Princeton like Jazams Block Party. Photo Credit: palmersquare.com

Experience events

What makes Princeton even more appealing for a day trip is the roster of events they have in any season. In the winter, try Frost Fest and see ice sculptures, or glide along with Skating on the Square from November to February. Spring is the annual Pi Day celebration, which includes everything from pie samples to rides on “the Dinky” with Albert Einstein. In the summer, experience movies on the green at Palmer Square. And every October, the Children’s Book Festival, a traditional event where young readers can meet and interact with their favorite authors and illustrators and even get their books signed, is a must for book lovers and budding readers. And be sure to check out what The Arts Council of Princeton on Witherspoon Street is doing, including children’s classes from painting to puppet making, as well as events like a Day of the Dead celebration and the Sauce for the Goose Outdoor Market.

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About Author

Melanie Bodner has always had a love for writing, but now she has a new love…being a mom. Before having her kids, Melanie was no stranger to writing or working with children. She wrote for a local newspaper as a reporter and taught English and Dance in a public school. Now Melanie enjoys spending time with her kids, doing yoga, writing and decorating her home. Check out her Instagram @burlapbythebeach.