Sunday morning activities in Princeton have long been influenced by fading Blue Laws that restricted commerce to encourage church attendance. This makes it challenging for some to find things to do in town on Sundays, especially so early in the day. Add children to the mix, and choices dwindle. Here are some ideas that will entertain adults and kids on a Sunday morning, even if you plan on attending a worship service.
Breakfast is in order for early risers. For those who have to wake up at the crack of dawn, Starbucks is serving breakfast items at 5 AM. Witherspoon Bread Company has the best baked goods in Princeton ready for take-out as early as 6 AM. Panera Bread is also open at this time for dining in. The beloved Princeton traditions PJ’s Pancake House and Small World Coffee let you in at 7 AM, as well as Bagel Barn in Skillman where you can buy the best bagels in the area. If you can wait until 8 AM, Jammin’ Crepes opens its doors. The Little Chef is ready to sell authentic Parisian-style croissants to go at 8:30 AM. Basic breakfast items await you at Olives at 9 AM, and for those who are not picky, the Wawa convenient store at the Dinky Station Complex is open 24 hours.
Brunch is a great choice for those who like to sleep in. Many restaurants in town have brunch menus, but if your kids have a fine palate, Agricola, Mistral, and Peacock Inn offer delectable gourmet fare to gently start your day. Arigcola, Mediterra, Mistral, Teresa’s Caffe, and Yankee Doodle Tap Room provide outdoor dining, while Alchemist and Barrister has an enclosed patio. Winberie’s and Yankee Doodle Tap Room have family-friendly booths.
Community Park North
Community Park North is a wonderful activity option after breakfast or brunch. Your party could go for walk around the many trails in this wooded area. Venture through Pettoranello Gardens, passing its amphitheater and then around the lake. It’s perfect for kids who need to release a little energy after sitting at a table for a bit. The entrance is on Mountain Avenue. (This is a geocaching site.)
Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park
Walk, bike, or fish along the D & R Canal towpath. All of the following entry points offer parking spaces. If you start just over the border in Kingston, you will find the most exciting spot for kids featuring a beautiful red mill, lock #8, plus the locktender’s house and station. Walking north of Quaker Road entrance will take you through Princeton Country Club’s golf course with an occasional cart driving through on mild days. If you enter at Alexander Road at Turning Basin Park, you will find picnic tables. North of Princeton on Washington Street in Rocky Hill is another access point.
There are 16 geocaching locations in Princeton. Geocaching is basically a digital scavenger hunt, and is fun for all ages. Before you begin, create an account online. Also, download the free iOS or Android app Geocaching by Groundspeak on your smartphone if you prefer not to use a portable GPS. Bring a pen to sign the log book left in the container, and if you’d like, bring a trinket to leave behind or exchange. Some containers are as small as a finger and others are a large box depending on location. You can choose an easy or difficult adventure that can take place downtown, in nearby neighborhoods, or in wooded areas. There is some simple deciphering of clues necessary to help figure out the location, which could involve one or several caches.
Greenway Meadows Park
Greenway Meadows Park off Rosedale Road includes the 1.5 mile Poetry Trail that features 30 poems on signs along it. There are other trails through the park and along a stream, plus a playground and restrooms. (This is a geocaching site.)
There is a shady playground with sandpit filled with toys to play with, walking trails, and a picnic area at Marquand Park on Lover’s Lane. If it’s warm enough, you can eat breakfast, brunch, or a snack here. Maggie’s Park on Spruce Street is a smaller, gated version of this sans walking trails.
On a windy day, bring a kite to the field. Otherwise, bring a frisbee or a ball to throw around the battlefield. There are hiking trails that lead to the D & R Canal. The Princeton Battlefield is located on Mercer Street with parking on either side of the road.
Princeton Canoe and Kayak Rental
Starting at 10 AM you can rent a canoe for up to four people, or a kayak for up to two to paddle up and down the D & R Canal. Parking is on Alexander Road near the canal.
Princeton University Campus
Princeton University was voted as having one of the most beautiful and iconic campuses in the United States. Walk around the campus and count the gargoyles on buildings, or marvel at the outdoor sculptures. The animal heads and fountain adjacent to Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs (near Washington Road), the lions in front of Nassau Hall (facing Witherspoon Street), and Oval with Points near Stanhope Hall are popular with kids. Also, stroll through the manicured Prospect Garden. (The campus is a geocaching site.)
You can drive down to Terhune in Lawrenceville, which opens at 9 AM. Visit their barnyard animals and bring dimes for the corn vending machines if you want to feed the animals. Meander along the family-friendly farm walking trail, which is a half mile loop. The farm store will be open to purchase plants and flowers, fresh produce, and baked goods. Terhune also provides stationary and peddle tractors for little ones to have play time. You can pick your own flowers, fruits, or vegetables from April – October also starting at 9 AM (see schedule).
Bonkerz Laser Tag
Doors open at 11 AM. Bonkerz offers laser tag, a rock climbing wall and arcade games. Located in the Kingston Mall on Route 27.
Chuck E. Cheese’s
Famous indoor arcade and eatery popular with pre-schoolers and elementary school kids. Chuck E. Cheese’s opens at 11 AM at Nassau Park Pavillion in Lawrenceville.
Cotsen Children’s Library
This gem finds its home within the Firestone Library on the Princeton University campus. It opens its doors at noon, and its Bookscape will amaze you and the little ones making all feel as if they are in Wonderland after sipping the Drink Me potion.
All aboard! Take the little ones on a five-minute ride in the two car Dinky operated by NJ Transit to Princeton Junction and back. While it is a quick form of entertainment, kids are crazy about trains. The first departure is 9:19 AM and returns at 9:36 AM. Up to three kids under the age of 4 ride free, plus up to two kids ages 5-11 ride free with a full paying passenger.