EXCLUSIVE Q&A WITH PRINCETON EXPERT MIMI OMIECINSKI

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Mimi at Princeton Pi Day, an annual event she created to celebrate Einstein’s birthday which falls on 3/14.

Lucky for all of us, Mimi Omiecinski (aka Mimi O’) moved to Princeton in 2006 with her husband and son. And while many of us consider ourselves very lucky to call the Princeton area home, Mimi put her Princeton passion to work.  She started the Princeton Tour Company, and her New York Times recommended tours are the #1 most popular Princeton activity on Trip Advisor.  Why tours? Mimi’s goal was to “create a business that would honor all of Princeton – her history, culture, residents, university and merchants so I knew a touring company made sense”. We are thrilled to share our A-LIST Q&A with the fabulous Mimi O’:

A-LIST: How would you describe Princeton to someone who has not yet been here?

MIMI: Princeton is akin to every European village you’ve visited.  It’s gorgeous, lively, values quality, and portrays all the traits of a  welcoming community.  You drive into Princeton and, literally, start to relax.  We have a gorgeous Ivy League campus and diverse shopping district which offers plenty of diversions for a first time visitor.  Our Art Museum holds the most exquisite collection of its kind in Northern America.   You read that right, the most exquisite art collection in Northern America.  Go into the museum and see Picasso, Monet, Degas and more inside the boutique museum.  There’s also world-class theater at McCarter Theater where Christopher Reeve, Ethan Hawke, John Lithgow and Lucille Ball had their stage debut.  There’s a small movie house called Garden Theater  that will take you back in time with oldies alongside the hottest Sundance movies.  Rent a bike and see Carnegie Lake – the most expensive man-made lake in America and playground to Olympic hopefuls.  Go off the beaten path and see the neighborhoods of Einstein, TS Elliot, Robert Oppenheimer, Toni Morrison, Paul Krugman, Joyce Carol Oates, Jeffrey Eugenides, Paul Muldoon, Cornel West, F Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Mann, John von Neumann, Woodrow Wilson, Grover Cleveland, Andrew Carnegie, Robert Wood Johnson ……Clearly, I’m a slave to shameless name dropping so I’ll just stop there ….

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Albert Einstein House Princeton, NJ. Photo courtesy of GoHistoric.com

A-LIST: What are some of your favorite things about living here?

MIMI: I love being able to walk anywhere and get anything I need or want.  From a face to face class with the Dalai Lama to a crossing guard that texts me that my son made it to his first day of middle school okay.  Princeton is a globally recognized world-class brand but if you able to live here it feels like Mayberry.  It’s not bragging to say I’ve seen the world – I did it – and I’m telling you, there’s no better place to live in America.

A-LIST: Why did you start Princeton Tour Company
MIMI: I met my husband in my mid-30’s as a career girl in the South  (there weren’t many of me – I was a bona fide workaholic).  I met my husband on a plane and it was love at first sight so we eventually got in the same zip code and decided to marry.  I knew I wanted a baby but his career required us to move so I stopped working to follow his career, which required a lot of travel.  I would tag along and take tours of major cities and villages.  When my husband was done working I was his tour guide before we would catch a plane back to the states.  When we were relocated to NJ, I toured the state and after a long weekend in Princeton, I knew I was home.  There is no better village on earth.  I don’t have an Ivy League education but I’ve seen the world and can, beyond a shadow of a doubt, say there is no better village in America.  I took all the tours in Princeton and loved them all.  I wanted to create a tour company that combined all of the wonders of Princeton – the University and surrounding town.
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Mimi is known for her fun AND fact-filled tours!

A-LIST: What classes did you audit at Princeton University?

MIMI: There are too many to list here but I can tell you that taking a class on campus is a wonderful experience.  The University offers many lectures from visiting scholars which are listed on their Community Page.   As I’m writing this, I’m going to see Meryl Streep perform on campus – free to the community compliments of Princeton University.

A-LIST: What is your most recent discovery in Princeton?

MIMI: I never stop discovering new people/places and things about Princeton.  I’m currently stalking Aaron Burr, Jr. whose history seems so tragically misunderstood.  EVERYONE knows about that duel with Alexander but no one knows he was the first male feminist in America.  He taught his daughter as if she were a son which was dangerous territory back then.  I like telling the full truth about a person in history.  We’re all complicated and they were too.  I tell their stories as if they can hear me to be sure I’m respectful.

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Callaway Henderson Sotheby’s International Realty agents stay “in the know” thanks to private lectures with Mimi O.

A-LIST: What is your most memorable tour?

MIMI: My most memorable tour was the one I gave to my grandfather.  He said he was proud of me.  After that, there was no turning back.

A-LIST: What’s the one thing you wished we’d ask about living in Princeton?
MIMI: I guess a lot of people wonder if they can truly make friends in Princeton.  The “brand” can feel intimidating but if you have a love of learning, curiosity of heart and sincere desire to contribute to a community you’re going to feel at home in Princeton.
Thank you Mimi!
PS…catch up with Mimi on Saturday, March 14th, and celebrate Princeton Pi Day (and Einstein’s birthday!)