The Almost complete Guide to Mercer County
Bridge in Fog on Carnegie Lake near Princeton
May 5, 2020 at 8:00 AM in Things to Do by
With Princeton located in the heart of the county and Trenton to the south, there’s a lot going on in Mercer County, New Jersey. Plus, it’s considered as part of the New York Metropolitan Area in addition to bordering the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area, so it’s populated with lots of movers and shakers from two of the east coast’s most dynamic cities. What does that mean for visitors? Well, here you can expect to find lots of wonderful cultural offerings, great food and dining as well as fun shopping. The region is a whole bastion of history, so you can bet that here each of the buildings and sites of historical significance have been buffed and polished for all to appreciate.
Best of all, all this is set within a low-lying coastal plain abundant with rich farmland and verdant hillsides. For a good taste of Mercer County’s bounty, head straight to Blue Moon Acres, a delightful organic farm in Pennington. Family-owned and operated, this socially-conscious business sells their fresh products along with other locally-made goods in their farm market. Rice and micro greens are among their specialities; it’s no wonder they’re purveyors to some of the finest dining establishments in the region.
Fruits of the vine may also be enjoyed at a number of vineyards within the area, including Hopewell Valley Vineyards in Pennington. Here the Neri family has married their Italian and Greek roots to create an authentic Old World experience. In addition to ongoing wine tastings, the vineyard also offers light fare such as pizza, spanakopita and salads. It’s a lively place, too, since their stage showcases a variety of musical acts weekend evenings and for Sunday brunch. With wine classes that round out their program, wine aficionados could easily spend a whole day and evening here.
Families love Terhune Orchards Vineyard & Winery for their delicious variety of products and activities. From pick-your-own fruit to wine tastings, there’s something for everyone, no matter the age. And how about picking up a fresh-baked fruit pie? Yum, there’s nothing like farm lifein this rural part of New Jersey.
Here’s another sweet place set within the Princeton Battlefield/Stony Brook Settlement District:the Historical Society of Princeton at Updike Farmstead. The beautifully-restored late eighteenth-/early nineteenth-century farm and outbuildings (including a windmill!) ranks as one of the most picturesque sites in the county to hold a special gathering such as a wedding. Good news is that the public can enjoy this delightful place by visiting the museum exhibition on the first floor or by attending one of the many events organized here, including book discussions, walking and eating tours and performances.
The Cranbury Inn, an historic property established in 1780, is another wonderful place to hold a special gathering. Whether it’s a wedding for two hundred people or a romantic dinner à deux, this elegant establishment steeped in history promises a memorable time for one and all. Plan to spend some time here and also within the township of Cranbury where you’ll find all kinds of good shopping to while away the day.
For a more intimate experience, go to The Peacock Inn, a premiere boutique hotel that also offers exceptional dining and an exclusive teatime (always the sign of a first-rate establishment!). Whether you spend the night folded into their luxurious triple-thread bed linens or stop in for a craft cocktail at their bar, know that here you will be indulging in some of the best hospitality in Mercer County.
Outdoor enthusiasts can find many places to recreate within Mercer County all year long. Princeton Battlefield State Park, located just outside of downtown Princeton is a favorite and within this historic site you can find all kinds of great places to hike, bike, picnic and camp. It was here on January 3, 1977 that one of the fiercest battles of the American Revolution was fought. Under the command of General George Washington, the American troops surprised and defeated the British in what is known as the Battle of Princeton. When recreating within this scenic and peaceful land, it’s almost hard to believe such carnage took place here. It’s a good thing these trees cannot talk! To have a sense of the historical significance of this place, take a tour of the Clarke House Museum, a house built in 1772 that contains period furniture and Revolutionary War exhibits. General Mercer, for whom the county was named, was wounded during this fierce fight and died in this house nine days later.
Probably the best known place within the county to recreate is Mercer County Park in West Windsor Township. With over 2,500 acres filled with all kinds of open space, recreational facilities, ballparks, festival grounds and even a big lake, there’s always all kinds of doings here.There’s even a boathouse and marina where you can rent a variety of watercraft. Best of all, Mercer County Park organizes lots of events and programs from summer nature camps to owl watching and photography.
There’s something for everyone in Mercer County. You just have to head out and explore.