Princeton is generally known to be expensive, with its upscale shops, fine dining, and four-star hotels. However, there are a number of services and events free of charge, and great deals to be found. You just have to look for them. I’ve decided to compile a list of things to do that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Basically, this is Princeton proper on the cheap for tourists and residents.
- Princeton Public Library – They have hundreds of free programs and events, and there are several offered daily. They also loan out to card holders a Nook Color, Kindle and Sony Reader for a week at no charge AND you can get a museum pass good for four adults for the local Grounds for Sculpture (amongst others) all for FREE.
- Spring Street Garage – You get up to 30 minutes parking on the house per visit.
- Metered Parking – Meters in the Central Business District are free Monday – Saturday 8 PM – 8 AM and Sundays until 1 PM and after 8 PM. See site for more details.
- freeB Jitney Shuttle – This shuttle bus loops around Princeton Borough during rush hour, including a stop at the Dinky station.
- Drumthwacket Tours – Advance reservations are taken for a Wednesday tour of the governor’s mansion. Closed in August and around holidays.
- Princeton Cemetery – Locals call this America’s Westminster Abbey, and it’s a pageant of U.S. History. Signers of the Declaration of Independence, a U.S. President & Vice President, a Nobel Prize winner, a Civil War general, and many other prestigious individuals are buried here.
- Prospect Gardens – These gorgeous manicured gardens surround the Prospect House on the Princeton University campus.
- Princeton University Campus – The university has a beautiful campus to walk through with its classic Collegiate Gothic architecture.
- Orange Key Tour – Instead of walking around on your own, you can opt for a guided university tour.
- Princeton University Art Museum – They have a fabulous collection of art from around the world, including pieces from big names like Manet, Monet, Picaso and Kadinsky.
- Cotsen Children’s Library – This library on the university campus is a magical place for children that resembles scenes from story books, which is probably why they call the reading space Bookscapes. A must see!
- Princeton University Visitor Parking – You can park here free if you’re visiting the university.
- Historical Society of Princeton – The Historical Society is headquartered in the Bainbridge House on Nassau Street that serves as a museum and library.
- Lake Carnegie – This picturesque reservoir is home to Princeton University’s rowing team. You can fish here, and in the winter when it freezes over, you can ice skate on it.
- Palmer Square – Hosts free seasonal activities. Their events directory is occasionally updated.
- Princeton Shopping Center – They host free activities, and they have free parking. Their events directory is occasionally updated.
- Origins – Schedule a free mini-facial without obligations.
- Spirit of Princeton – Their firework display next to the University Stadium in early July is a Princeton tradition.
- McCarter Theatre Parking – Free parking in the West Garage on Elm Drive off Faculty Road on the university campus.
- Communiversity – The Arts Council of Princeton and the university get together to host a Festival of the Arts. There is a charge for food and most activities, but the entertainment is free.
- Princeton Record Exchange – Used and/or new vinyl, CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays for purchase and for sale.
- Princeton Tour Company – Their bike, walking, trolley, and ghost tours, and pub crawls are the best in town.
- Princeton Athletics – Men’s and women’s athletic departments offer basketball, football, lacrosse, and hockey tickets for under $15. There’s even free football tailgating in the non-reserved area for up to three hours before the game.
- Morven Museum & Garden – This former New Jersey Governor’s mansion was also the home of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. It’s now a museum preserving U.S. history.
- Princeton Garden Theatre – Daily showings of art house films and some blockbuster movies.
- Great Clips – This Princeton Shopping Center haircutter is the cheapest in town, especially if you have a coupon. You can even check in with an Android or iPhone app.
- Halo Pub – The least expensive ice cream in Princeton is made locally at Halo Farm.
- Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Princeton – They offer an introductory dance lesson at a rock bottom price!
- McCarter Theatre – Broadway-like productions at suburban prices.
- Magnificent You – A 90 minute massage for the price of a 60 minute treatment.
What are some of your favorite free or cheap things to do in Princeton?