If the perfect playground is a little slice of heaven, then Princeton’s Marquand Park (located off Lover’s Lane) is surely one. This exquisite spot, nestled among 17 acres of preserved land and specimen trees, offers tons of play-time options: swings, a climber with slide, and a much-loved, giant-sized sandpit filled to the brim with tractors, diggers and the like. The surrounding paved path is ideal for a stroller ride or learning bikers, and a picnic area and ball field are on site as well. The beauty of Marquand’s backdrop is astounding, matched only by the grins and giggles abound.
Access: Parking lot on Lover’s Lane. Footpath via Stockton or Mercer Street.
On the other end of Princeton Borough sits “Maggie’s Park”, a hidden gem on a cul-de-sac at the end of Spruce Street. This playground is much smaller in size than it’s Marquand counterpart, but equal in fun. Reminiscent of a New York City playground, there is a surrounding fence and the park is filled with goodies: a sandbox, zip-line, bridge, tall slide, tunnel and more. Just outside the playground gates is a set of swings and a paved path.
Access: Street Parking on Spruce Street
Another perfect spot (with or without a little one in tow) is The Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park, the 70 mile-long linear park which runs through Princeton. The Canal trail, also known as the towpath, is the perfect spot for a walk, run, or bike, and serves as one of Central New Jersey’s most popular spots for canoeing, hiking, fishing and horseback riding as well. The section of the path near Princeton University runs parallel to Lake Carnegie, home to Princeton’s rowing team.
Access: Parking lot and canoe rentals at the Alexander Road entrance.
Other favorites include the Princeton YWCA and YMCA’s child-designed and community-built playground located at 59 Paul Robeson Place, and for rainy day play the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University’s Firestone Library is a dream.