Take a tour of the charming town surrounding the No. 1 college in the US

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

If there's one insight I took from my day trip to Princeton, New Jersey, it's this: It's really pretty. Not just the Princeton University campus — the town surrounding it, too.

According to Business Insider's rankings, the Ivy League university is the top college in the US, thanks to its 90% graduation rate and stellar academic offerings. Students there even boast a thriving social life.

One brilliantly sunny day in mid-November, I visited the school to sit in on a psychology course, and to rub elbows with the über-bright youth in the lecture hall. The class and my meeting with the professor took up the morning, which meant I had the rest of the day free to explore.

Princeton is home to about 30,000 people, and it's a relatively affluent town — the median household income is about $117,000, and there are plenty of designer clothing stores and fancy jewelry shops.

Over the course of the afternoon, I strolled through downtown Princeton, stopping to snap photos of bookstores, ice cream shops, and street corners that were too charming not to document. Below, get an idea of what it's like just outside the gates of the top college in the United States.

20 PHOTOS
Around Princeton, New Jersey
See Gallery
Around Princeton, New Jersey

Princeton is about an hour and 15 minutes by train from New York City's Penn Station on New Jersey Transit.

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Once you arrive, you hop on the "Dinky," a small commuter train, from Princeton Junction to Princeton Station.

(Photo by Shana Lebowitz/Business Insider)

Downtown Princeton, New Jersey, begins just across the street from Princeton University's campus. The dividing line is called Nassau Street.

(Via Google Maps, Shana Lebowitz/Business Insider)

The psychology class I was there to attend is offered through the Woodrow Wilson School, located in Robertson Hall.

(Photo by Shana Lebowitz/Business Insider)

After class, I stopped for tea and a sandwich at Small World Coffee. As I sat there going over my notes from the morning, I felt like a grad student who blended right in with the rest of the studious customers.

(Photo by Shana Lebowitz/Business Insider)

I paused at the intersection of Witherspoon St. and Nassau St. to take in the view. Those trees to the right are on the university's campus.

(Photo by Shana Lebowitz/Business Insider)

The sales on literature, cookbooks, and more outside Labyrinth Books, on Nassau Street, caught my attention.

(Photo by Shana Lebowitz/Business Insider)

PJ's pancake house looked adorable.

(Photo by Shana Lebowitz/Business Insider)

This two-screen movie theater shows independent, foreign, and classic films.

(Photo by Shana Lebowitz/Business Insider)

Mamoun's Falafel looked familiar. Turns out there are two other locations in New York City.

(Photo by Shana Lebowitz/Business Insider)

Every Thursday, there's a farmer's market near the public library. A live band played while patrons shopped for pickles, honey, and fresh veggies.

(Photo by Shana Lebowitz/Business Insider)

Princeton Public Library is immaculate. Before class, I had breakfast in the library cafe.

(Photo by Shana Lebowitz/Business Insider)

It was a little too cold for ice cream — but locals say Halo Pub is the place to go.

(Photo by Shana Lebowitz/Business Insider)

This tavern from the Revolutionary War era is now a hotel, the Nassau Inn. It books up fast around important days for the university, like graduation.

(Photo by Shana Lebowitz/Business Insider)

The Bent Spoon, another ice cream shop, is tucked into a courtyard just around the corner from campus.

(Photo by Shana Lebowitz/Business Insider)

And while I didn't have time to stop in, I peered through the window at Agricola, a farm-to-table restaurant. It was pretty trendy — and pretty pricey.

(Photo by Shana Lebowitz/Business Insider)

On the way back to the Dinky, I saw McCarter Theater, which features theater, dance, and music performances.

(Photo by Shana Lebowitz/Business Insider)

Where the Dinky used to be located, there's now a bar and restaurant. Today, the Dinky sits by the Wawa supermarket, near Alexander Road.

(Photo by Shana Lebowitz/Business Insider)

Bye, Princeton!

(Photo by Shana Lebowitz/Business Insider)

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

See Also:

SEE ALSO: Why Princeton is the best college in the US


Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners