By Mimi Omiecinski
Seeing the world has always been important to me. And I’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of it with my husband. So you can believe me when I tell you this: There is literally no place on earth like Princeton, New Jersey.
Of all the places I’ve been, I’ve never found a community that was so passionate about being a whole community. And nowhere else could I say I’ve made friends with Nobel laureates, small business owners, and captains of industry who all live in the same place.
I fell in love with Princeton eight years ago and I’m still in love. Back then, I gushed so much about how I love this town that one of my nearest and dearest told me I was a one-note orchestra.
Guilty. That’s why I started the Princeton Tour Company. Because not everyone will have the opportunity to live in this little utopia of ours, where even the presidents of one of the world’s greatest universities know the town’s merchants on a first-name basis.
Princeton is always busy in the summer months, with pop-up sales and events and people from all over the world casually taking in our bright, sunny days. At the same time, Princeton is pretty laid-back in the summertime.
The students are out and the whole town runs on a kind of semi-vacation that lets you wander in and out of our shops to get to know the owners, or around the streets to get to know our great historical landmarks, like the home of Albert Einstein or the bustling Palmer Square.
It’s one of the many awesome things about this town—you can walk the entire downtown in just a few hours and along the way see historical sites, find cuisine of just about any variety, meet people from all over the world, catch a play, hear a symphony, drop in on a film festival, tour a world-class museum, listen to some music, walk in the shade of endless trees, visit a boutique, have lunch next to a Nobel laureate, wander across a yard sale full of actual treasures from the town, visit Princeton Abbey, or watch Olympic rowers train on Carnegie Lake.
This summer, you can get around on your own with the new Princeton Community Map, developed through the Princeton Merchants Association in collaboration with Princeton University and which will highlight every business in town that provides a service to visitors.
The Princeton Community Map will be available online at our website, www.PrincetonMerchants.org, and in print at various locations around town—the Princeton Visitor’s Center at the Princeton University Store on Nassau Street, area hotels, the Princeton Public Library, Princeton Junction train station, and, of course, at many of the great stops around town. And by the way, those stops on the map are all the great places that fall inside the Witherspoon/Johnson area, out to the Princeton Shopping Center, and all the way up Nassau Street.
Or, better, you can take a Princeton Tour with me or one of the great Princeton Tour Company guides who will show you something unique at every turn. And that’s not just me bragging, our Princeton Tour guides have such a deep knowledge of the town that they still surprise even me.
Maybe you want to learn about Einstein? Our guide, Tim, can help you with that. You’ll understand and appreciate the greatest mind of the 20th century in a whole new way when Tim’s done talking.
Or maybe you’d like to see just how haunted Princeton is? Shelly will have you believing Princeton just may be the most ghostly town in America. And Gerry will walk you through our famous graveyards, where you’ll find such historic names as Kurt Godel and Grover Cleveland.
Want to see Princeton Battlefield through the eyes of a strategist and a savant? Jake and Kim will energize you so much, you will change how you see the way a business can be run just from their presentation on leadership.
How about learning all about the Princeton University campus and the great history it offers, like the Red Scare of the atomic age, or the timeless literature written by some of the greatest writers ever? I will personally make sure you know the university as well as I do.
And if you want to know what Princeton is really about, its heart and soul, Jackie will leave you understanding why Princeton is the unique place it is—because the people of Princeton start with the students of Princeton University, and those students are brought here because they all bring a global vision to how they want to change the world for the better.
In other words, there’s a lot to see and do, and once you see it and do it, there’s no way you’ll ever forget it. So I guess we’ll see you this summer.
Mimi Omiecinski is the owner of the Princeton Tour Company. The Hometown Princeton column is provided monthly by the PMA. On the web: princetonmerchants.org.