There’s a lot to love about Central NJ: Our great public schools, picturesque natural surroundings, and charming historic communities draw residents from all over the world. And our enviable location at the center of the state means that New York City and Philadelphia, two bustling cities, are just a short distance away — making each perfect for a weekend getaway.
To help our friends take advantage of those not-too-distant urban cousins, we’ve put together a two-part, A-List feature on quick weekend trip ideas for both places. First up is our neighbor to the north, New York City.
How to get there: NJ Transit is the most convenient way to reach New York City. Trains depart frequently from Princeton Junction and the Hamilton Transit Center, which features a massive parking garage that’s ideal for extended trips. The station offers trains that will get you there in just 60 minutes. Or you can opt for the 55 mile drive to Manhattan from Princeton.
What to do: No matter what you fancy, it can be found in New York. The biggest challenge is packing it all into a weekend. Here are just a few recommendations to get you started:
The lights of Broadway: No trip to New York is complete without a stop on the “Great White Way,” where the world’s most talented actors and actresses delight audiences with classic plays and musicals.
Explore the arts: New York is a worldwide hub for the visual arts – from tiny galleries to expansive collections of art from all epochs. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Guggenheim are all wonderful places to spend an afternoon immersed in art. The Roof Garden at the Metropolitan Museum is a must-see.
A walk in the park: Central Park is the most visited urban park in the country and it’s easy to see why. At 843 acres, the park is a perfect place for an extended stroll or a picnic lunch. Central Park’s many playgrounds are great for kids, like the Ancient Playground modeled off the Met’s collection of Egyptian art, the Carousel at 64th street, the Alice in Wonderland statue, or the Kerbs Boathouse at 74th street, where you can rent tiny sailboats like the ones depicted in the classic Stuart Little.
Brooklyn Bridge: One of our nation’s proudest engineering achievements, the Bridge linked the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Today, it attracts visitors from around the world who walk across it, taking in magnificent skyline views and the structure’s architectural splendor.
9/11 Memorial and Museum: Opened in 2014, the Museum honors the victims of this infamous tragedy and educates visitors about that fateful day and its continuing historical significance.
Where to eat: There’s no end to the options for culinary delights in New York. Picking the best restaurants in a city so vast is simply impossible, but here are a few recommendations that are sure to please foodies of all stripes:
Keens: The carnivores in your family will love this traditional steakhouse, where a legendary selection of Scotches from around the world offers the perfect finish to steak that’s cooked to perfection.
Nobu: Still a place to see and be seen after over two decades in business, this famous Japanese restaurant serves delicacies like Rock Shrimp Tempura and Lobster with Wasabi Pepper Sauce. Make a reservation because tables can fill up fast.
Union Square Café: Danny Meyer’s longstanding staple is consistently ranked as one of most adored restaurants in the city. Diners can feast on masterful new American dishes in an elegant, iconic setting.
Katz’s Deli: A perfect place for lunch, this world-renowned deli’s sandwiches are piled high with pastrami and other cured meats — it’s a New York institution.
Eataly: Mario Batali’s Italian food mecca is a gourmet wonderland with wall-to-wall offerings of rare and fine meats, cheeses, pastas, olive oils, and sweets from the old word.
Magnolia Bakery: Made famous by “Sex and the City,” this bakery continues to serve up unique takes on baked favorites, like a Pretzel croissant and Blueberry Handpies.
Lure Fishbar: Seafood lovers will go wild for Lure’s selection of the freshest fish and seafood from around the world. Served in a hip, casual setting, the plates here are guaranteed to satisfy land- and sea-lovers alike.
Ninja New York: A perfect spot to bring the kids, your little ones will delight in the whimsical interior décor, which replicates a feudal Japanese village, along with surprise visits from ninjas and roaming magic acts. Parents can savor the menu of expertly prepared Japanese delicacies.
For the kids: The big city is not just for big people; attractions that appeal to children of all ages abound. Your little ones can get up close and personal with lifelike replicas of icons from pop culture, film, and history at Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum. Animal lovers can see creatures from around the world at any of the city’s several zoos — our favorites are the Bronx and the Central Park zoos. And The Museum of Natural History offers educational exhibits and interactive activities about science, nature, and the environment for all ages, including a self-guided “Night at the Museum” tour.
There’s no other place on the planet that rivals the excitement, culture, and vibrancy of New York City. You could spend months exploring the “City that Never Sleeps” and still not see it all. Luckily, with fast rail and driving options from the greater Princeton area, you can visit again and again.