Archive for the Travel Category

Trio of Sunrise and Sunset Photos

Posted in Photos, Travel with tags , , , , , on November 29, 2011 by shutterbuggeek

Vacations always inspire me to take more photos to share with family and friends. So I’ve decided to show you some of my favorite shots. Here is a trio of sunrises and sunsets. Let me know which is your favorite by voting below.

Sunset at the Marshlands of St Johns River in Christmas, FL

Sunset of the Norwegian Gem Returning From FL and the Bahamas

New York City Sunrise

My Top 20 iPhone Travel Apps

Posted in iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad, Lifestyles, Travel with tags , , on December 29, 2010 by shutterbuggeek

I love to travel, and certain devices can enhance the experience. iPhone apps are just as vital as a suitcase to me when I’m away from home. There is a constant flow of new applications in the App Store, and I must admit, I need to browse through them to stay current, but for now, here are my top 20 iPhone apps, and why.

  1. Skype – This is a great app to use while out of the country. I’ve used it in Europe and the Caribbean to make calls stateside for free as long as there was wi-fi nearby.
  2. The Weather Channel – Whether here or abroad, I need to know what the day holds for me weather-wise
  3. FourSquare – I’m not addicted to this app, but it’s cool to check in outside of my stomping grounds to get new badges. Just sayin’.
  4. New York Times – I need to stay informed, and this is THE digital paper to read.
  5. Netflix – Sometimes I need to unwind with a movie. They don’t have the biggest selection, but it’s on-demand.
  6. Sun Moon – As a photographer and lover of sunrises & sunsets, this helps me know what time I need to be on location for the golden hour.
  7. TripDeck – This keeps my entire travel itinerary on hand.
  8. Currency – I’m too lazy on vacation to calculate Euros into Dollars. There, I said it!
  9. Converter – I’m also too lazy to convert cm into inches, kph into mph and lbs into kilos on vacation.
  10. Translator – No habla español. Je ne parle pas français. You get the picture.
  11. Yelp – This app helps me find restaurants, gas stations, banks and more.
  12. Text+ – When I need to text while oversees, this and wi-fi come to my rescue.
  13. Evernote – I can store PDF files, web pages and more here to have great info at my fingertips.
  14. iBooks – This is great when I need to unwind and would rather read the book than watch the movie.
  15. Pandora – Music soothes the savage beast. At times I just get tired of my playlists.
  16. Facebook – Sometimes I take a peak to see what my friends are doing when I have down time. Sometimes I share a photo or two.
  17. Photo Shop Express – I usually edit photos on the laptop while away, but this is a back-up. And I can upload photos to Facebook.
  18. flickr – Just in case I want to post a photo or two on flickr.
  19. TweetDeck – I only use this if I’m away for a business event, so I can tweet live with #hashtags to promote the event.
  20. Worldmate – I just discovered this app which I used on my old Palm. This actually eliminates the need for a few of the above.

What are your favorite iPhone travel apps?

Princeton Tour Company’s Haunting Ghost Tours

Posted in Lifestyles, Travel with tags , , , , , on October 29, 2010 by shutterbuggeek

Princeton Tour Company is renowned in the Princeton, NJ area. They offer a nice variety of services, i.e. bike rentals and tours, walking tours, pub crawls, and more. You can check the schedule here. But the tours that’ll have you screaming for more, are the ghost tours, especially round Halloween. The professional tour guides really get into character. They dress in period clothing and lead you around with a lantern.

Since lanterns are used as you go walking through the Princeton Cemetery, it’s obviously not taking place during the day. You pass homes and other sites, hearing ghost stories from the days of yore from your guide that will make your spine tingle. The places visited have all had ghost sightings, and you’re encouraged to bring your camera to capture orbs. The tours last over 60 minutes, and you don’t walk more than a flat mile, but there are many stops. The following video shows Mimi on the Travel Show Live speaking about things to do in Princeton.

The next time you’re in Princeton, you should definitely look up the Princeton Tour Company, and take one of their tours. If the ghost tour isn’t for you, there are many more tours to choose from.

Mimi Omiecinski is the owner. Her southern charm will surely win you over. She wasn’t born in Princeton, but her enthusiasm more than makes up for it. Her love of the town matches are exceeds natives! She makes sure that whoever leads the tour has all of the knowledge to share the facts, and has a personality to keep the crowd engaged. Below is a video that gives you a taste of Mimi’s charisma.

OBX – The Outer Banks, NC Where Summer is a Verb!

Posted in Lifestyles, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2010 by shutterbuggeek

The Outer Banks was first introduced to me by a friend. It’s a chain of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, with a collection of beach communities.  The word summer as a verb, simply means you spend weeks away from your primary residence during the summer. For some, this means staying in their beach/lake house along the northeastern coastline or lakes in the north. For others it means renting a property in one of these locations. Ideally, you’re there for all of July and/or August. Being from the northeast all I knew was southern New Englanders summered on Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Cape Cod and Block Island; New Yorkers summered on the Hamptons and Fire & Shelter Islands, and New Jerseyans summered on the Jersey Shore. These summer colonies are often in seasonal regions. The south is usually considered more of a winter resort area. Even though North Carolina is in the south, it’s not deep enough to be too hot in the summer on the coast, so North Carolinians actually “summer” on the Outer Banks. After my friend’s descriptive recap of her days and nights in NC during these months, I decided to check out OBX!

Each location on the Outer Banks is different, and offers a unique vacation, often catering to a particular lifestyle. Some places are quiet, and offer lots of privacy, which can be a nice backdrop for exclusive soirees, while others are in the middle of all the action where you can make a quick escape to go out for a beer and hear a live band, or challenge the  kids to some rounds of mini golf. The Outer Banks offer diversified activities, and it’s really worth the trip to experience this chain of barrier islands. From Carova Beach in the very north to Ocracoke in the south, there’s something for everyone. I’m going to focus more on the northern beaches, since I know them better.

Milepost 1 starts right after the Wright Memorial Bridge bringing you onto the barrier islands. The gateway to the Outer Banks is Kitty Hawk. It’s a mix of residential and commercial real estate. There are strip malls along the four-lane Hwy 158 offering chain stores and eateries, as well as individually owned shops and restaurants. The Monument to a Century in Flight can be found here. The Hilton Garden Inn is one of the few hotels are located on the islands. If you’re fortunate, you can witness a wedding held on the beach behind it. I love watching the skim boarders and surfers around the pier in Kitty Hawk. There are also many fishing on pier.

If you turn left onto NC 12 North and drive to the very end, you’ll discover a sign that reads only 4 wheel vehicles are allowed past that point. It definitely made me feel like a rebel to drive a 4 x 4 vehicle on the shore. As a matter of fact, that’s the only way to get to the cottages on Carova and Swan Beaches, because there are no paved roads on this northern most section of the Outer Banks. You will also not find supermarkets, gas stations, or shops of any kind in this area either. It’s just the beach, dunes, and houses here, so if renting, you’d better bring ALL necessities, and fill up the tank. The good thing is, you don’t have to completely rough it on these beaches. There are enough large rentals here to host family reunions in a manner to which you are accustomed, or at least to which you would like to be. You might be isolated, but you could have all the conveniences of a modern mansion. There are also smaller, and moderately-sized cottages here as well.

Driving along the shore can be like being on an obstacle course at times, due to the driftwood and gnarly uprooted dead trees lying about. Have no fear, because the beach is fairly wide here, and there is PLENTY of room to navigate. What I found most exciting though, was seeing wild Spanish mustangs roaming free on the beach! Score! If you don’t have a 4×4, you can take a tour that leads you over the dunes, and will search for the wild horses, which aren’t often on the beach. If you prefer, you can rent a Jeep, and have the pleasure of driving on the shore yourself.

Corolla is the next stop heading south. This location is known for its lighthouse. There are a few shopping centers offering tours, casual and fine dining, supermarkets, gift shops, etc. The historic Whalehead Club residence of Heritage Park is right next to the lighthouse. The Currituck Club provides the best golf course on OBX, which was created by Rees Jones. As a matter of fact, Golf Digest recognized it as one of the top 25 courses in the entire state of North Carolina in 1999!

As you continue to drive south, you’ll find the prestigious Pine Island community of Corolla. Here the homes are large and beautiful, offering many ammenties for discriminating tastes. These homes can even host several families or large groups for special gatherings, boasting 5 – 11 bedrooms, home theaters, arcade rooms, gourmet kitchens, swimming pools, and more to accommodate all guests, sometimes up to 28. However, this enclave is not exclusive to luxury properties. There is also The Sanderling resort hotel here, which offers suites, casual & fine dining, a spa & salon, and access to the Pine Island Racquet and Fitness Club. Weddings are also popular here.

Next up is Duck. I know, it’s an odd name for a town, but it’s actually my favorite based on its layout. Biking is very popular here due to the bike lanes on either side of the road. The largest two shopping centers (Scarborough Lane and Scarborough Faire) are designed like bi-level boardwalk, and the town offers a wide variety of shops, as well as, a large selection of restaurants including fine dining. Duck has a wonderful Americana beach town atmosphere.

Southern Shores is suburban until you get to Hwy 158. There’s a small shopping center on the two lane NC 12, and two more on Hwy 158. Otherwise, most of the town is very quiet. You can spot dolphins and surfers just after sunrise here, especially near the pier in Kitty Hawk.

Past Southern Shores, you’re back in Kitty Hawk, and then on to Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head. They are similar to Kitty Hawk, with Hwy 158 running through them. Sites at Kill Devil Hills include the Wright Brothers National Memorial, and the Nature Conservatory at Nags Head Preserve.

Nags Head is home to Jockey’s Ridge State Park, the largest natural sand dune on the east coast. This is an ideal place to fly a kite, or go hang gliding. Just south of Nags Head, you’ll find the Bodie Island Lighthouse, named after the northern island it calls home.

Roanoke Island is just west of the lighthouse over the Virginia-Dare Memorial Bridge. I’ve only been to Manteo, which is the northern end of this island. Here I visited the Lost Colony Waterside Theater, and the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse. There is also the Elizabethan Gardens and the North Carolina Aquarium in the area. Also, lots of water activities are offered here, including a jet boat tour, and dolphin watching.

Once you cross the bridge over the Oregon Inlet, you’re on Hatteras Island. You’ll pass the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge, then on to Rodanthe. For anyone who has seen the movie “Nights in Rodanthe”, you’ll recognize the house on the left as you pass through. It had been in disrepair for a while. The house is on stilts, and was literally over water at high tide. It was purchased by a couple who has set it further back due to beach erosion, and is restoring it back to its beauty of when it was in the movie. Further south on the island, is Cape Hatteras, which can boast of having the tallest lighthouse in the US.

Pamlico Sound is where you’ll find the best kiteboarding on OBX. Further down is the southern most island, Ocracoke. You have to take the Cape Hattereas-Ocracoke Ferry to get there. This is where the fourth lighthouse is located.

The ocean side properties get to wake up to beautiful sunrises, but the sound side cottages get the amazing sunsets. Most of the towns are narrow, and allow a short walk to witness both. Ocean front cottages get the most amazing views. There’s nothing in front of you except a small dune, and some towns don’t have that. There is also no boardwalk, so those hoping to stroll along the beach looking for ice cream and salt water taffy will be disappointed. Some sound front properties have their on dock, so if you own a boat, this is ideal! They too have a nice waterfront view, just without the waves.

If you ever have a chance to summer on the Outer Banks, you can choose to relax on the beach and just soak up the sun, take part in water sports, go fishing or sailing, tour various parts of the barrier islands, host fabulous parties, or all of the above. I’ve had the opportunity to see all of OBX from the northern most to southern most tips. There is more shopping, fine dining, spas, activites and water sports available on the northern beaches. So if you like to be pampered or crave excitement, Bodie Island is the place for you. The southern beaches are great for fishing, crabbing, and relaxing. This is where there is a more casual, laid back atmosphere, and also some remote homes like on Carova and Swan beaches. If this is your thing, consider Hatteras or Ocracoke Islands.

So, where will you summer this summer?

For more photos, visit my Flickr set http://bit.ly/cgKuef  For more OBX information, visit http://www.outerbanks.org

Vancouver, BC – A Canadian West Coast City With Charm

Posted in Lifestyles, Photography, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2010 by shutterbuggeek

I went to Vancouver for a couple of days in the summer of 2009. My first impression was made at the airport. I liked its design, and was surprised they offer free wi-fi throughout. No doubt, this will impress the herds of tourist coming in for the olympic games. The city remotely reminded me of other winter olympic cities I’ve visited like Innsbruck, Garmisch-Patenkirschen, and Lillihammer. I guess the common link is a beautiful area surrounded by mountains for skiing events. This beauty always captures my heart, especially when the peaks are dusted with snow. I truly love being near these majestic ranges.

I found one aspect of the city to be different from what I expected. Being from the east coast, the homeless can be occasionally spotted in tourist areas, but they are usually “tucked away” in less populous places like remote areas of train stations, and they make themselves sparse to “panhandle”. In Vancouver, they were out and about amongst the crowds, often in groups. Not necessarily looking for hand outs, just socializing, and there were a number of younger people. This is something I also witnessed in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR. A Seattle native told me this is a problem of the west coast. They tend not to bother you though.

Gastown is a historic district in the downtown area, and the known landmark is the steam-powered clock (below). Shown above is Water Street, which is lined with brick and stoned buildings housing shops and restaurants. There are also beautiful flower baskets hanging from the lamp posts during warmer months. There is a nostalgic charm about this street that made me yearn to watch a parade, as kids eat popcorn and cotton candy. I almost felt like I was on a suburban main street instead of being in a big city.  I don’t recommend walking up Carrall Street.

The Gastown District Steam Clock & Downtown

Vancouver’s skyline is highlighted by Vancouver Outlook atop the business/retail/university complex Harbour Centre, and enhanced by the white peaks of Canada Place, where cruise ships set sail to Alaska.

Above are First Nations people at Brockton Point in Stanley Park, known for its totem pole display, which represent various First Nations from British Columbia.

The Jubilee Fountain in the Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park.

Stanley Park perfectly balances the brick and mortar of the big city. Here is a natural getaway, where you can have a quiet moment. You can choose to stroll, bike, take a horse drawn carriage, or the shuttle bus to see the 1,000 acre park. There are beautiful gardens, The Lions Gate Bridge crossing the Burrard Inlet connecting Vancouver to North Vancouver, scenic views of the city, and so much more to see.

In my opinion Robson Street is the premiere shopping area. It’s concentrated with boutiques, chain stores, jewelers, restaurants, and nearby hotels. It has a lot to offer for residents and tourists alike.

Yaletown is an old warehouse district which has been re-gentrified into a trendy area filled with restaurants, clubs and shops. It has a slower pace during the day, but is vibrant at night. Weather permitting, many restaurants offer al fresco dining in the front , so you can see and be seen. Music is in the air muddled with conversations and laughter.

Float planes are often flying overhead. You can watch them take off and land in the Burrard  Inlet.

During my visit, parts of the Twilight saga were being filmed. I believe they were finishing up New Moon, and about to start filming Eclipse. The whole town was abuzz about the phenomenon. Tours were sold out for days. Vancouver is a popular location for Hollywood, so they are often filming a movie in or around the city.

The beautiful Whistler ski resort is just over 90 miles from Vancouver. Renown for it’s offering of winter sports, it also serves up some nice summer activities.

As I mentioned earlier, I was only in Vancouver for a couple of days. It’s not a large city on the scale of New York, London or Paris, which gives it a cozier feel. It’s lower keyed, diversified and charming. The fact that it’s the site for the 2010 Winter Olympics certainly adds to its appeal!

Cruise Control – Choose a Cruise Line and Stateroom to Suit Your Lifestyle, and Pamper Yourself Like a VIP

Posted in Lifestyles, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2010 by shutterbuggeek

A century ago, only the aristocratic society could partake in a luxurious ocean liner vacation, but today many can turn their dream of cruising into a reality. Whether you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, or part of the working class, these all-inclusive journeys to amazing destinations offer a lot for every budget.

The key is to choose the ship that meets most needs. Consider destination, budget, accommodations, and activities when researching. The first step is to set the budget. Then figure out where to go. If the budget is very tight, forgo flights and drive to the closest port. The prices are lower if the vacation is booked at the beginning or end of a season.

Next, find the cruise line that sails to the most desirable ports of call, and works within the financial constraints. Many lines have multiple boats going to the same region; however, they offer slightly different itineraries and have somewhat altered cabin and deck accommodations. Basically, the smaller the boat, the fewer the conveniences onboard. So if a bowling alley or surf simulator are not needed, choose a smaller ship to save money.

Luxury Lines

For passengers with the means to travel first class, the world is your oyster! VIP guests are treated like royalty. Luxury cruise lines will pamper them on their floating 5-Star hotels. Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Crystal Cruises, and The Yachts of Seabourne have small to mid-size ships, are more detail oriented, and offer the finest there is to offer. Delectable gourmet food, flawless butler service, fabulous staterooms and suites, and top-notch spa treatments are just the tip of the iceberg of the comforts available. The accommodations are spacious, elegantly furnished, fine linens are used, and high quality bath products are supplied. Fresh fruit and flowers are awaiting patrons, often complimentary wine is given with the meals, enrichment programs are offered, there are no crowds or lines, and the staff anticipates the guests’ every needs.

Premium Lines

Taking it down just a notch, are the premium lines like Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, and Celebrity Cruises. The ships are mid-size to large, offering many different quarters ranging from inside cabins to large balcony suites. The decor is tasteful, the cuisine is fabulous, and the activities are diversified. Often instructional classes (yoga, cooking and wine tasting), workshops (digital and PowerPoint), and lectures from naturalists and curators are offered. There are top performances, and the staff will be attentive and friendly. Holland America is know as a foodies favorite.

Mainstream Lines

Many people start out with the mainstream lines, due to their entertainment, extensive activities, and affordability. These ships are large to massive offering attractions you would never imagine on a ship, i.e. a full-size carousel, rock climbing, ice and roller skating, bowling, and boxing, along with Las Vegas-style night entertainment. These lines really appeal to teens, kids, and the young at heart. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Carnival are in this category.

Suites

If a suite is affordable, amazing amenities await. They have bathrooms with bathtubs and often a separate shower, eating area, living space, private bedroom(s), larger verandas and some with hot tubs, and more. Take full advantage of everything being offered. Perks can include complimentary limo service, escort to the suite, champagne on ice upon arrival, butler unpacking (and packing) luggage, VIP cocktail party, priority check-in, concierge service, priority theater seats, a private restaurant/club, sometimes a private deck just for them with their own pool and hot tub, fresh cut flowers, and the list goes on.

Balcony Staterooms

Staterooms with a veranda are usually a bit more spacious than an ocean view cabin, and often have a loveseat sitting area.

Outside Cabins

These are the same as inside cabins with a window or porthole. The view is obstructed on decks with life boats.

Inside Cabins

On a really tight budget? Book four people in an inside cabin. The first two guests often pay full price, and then the third and fourth passengers pay a reduced fare, which is even lower if they are kids. There is a week long vacation to the Caribbean, where a family of four can travel for about $1,700 or $61 per day per person. The same entertainment, food, and activities are offered as to guests in suites with some exceptions. It is 1/10th the price to sacrifice space, a view, and luxuries, but for the most part, it is a similar experience outside the cabin. By the way, there are inside rooms with balconies as an option for passengers on the RCL ship Oasis of the Seas (see video below).

It is clear that if a luxury line or a suite is booked, a vacationer will be indulged like an A-Lister. But what if a non-suite stateroom is booked on a premium or mainstream line? How can guests feel pampered like a celebrity while only paying as little as 90% of the cost of a top suite passenger? Cruise lines tend to pamper ALL guests a little, but to take it to the next level requires some planning.

Space is at a premium. If finances only allow for a small cabin, use it for sleeping, showering and dressing, then spend the rest of the time in wide open public spaces. Before you board, purchase a bouquet of flowers, and exotic fruit for your stateroom. Read a book poolside, listen to an iPod while strolling or jogging on an open deck, and take advantage of all the ship has to offer, including going to shows and out dancing after dinner. If there is a balcony in the stateroom, order room service for breakfast. Be comfy and pampered eating eggs benedict on a veranda in a bathrobe while watching the beautiful landscape or architecture pass by.

Room service will make you feel spoiled, and is often at no charge, just a tip is suggested. Even if you eat in a sit down restaurant for lunch, go to the buffet and make a cheese or anti-pasta platter and order a bottle of wine, or gather cake, cookies, and sweets with some tea bags for an afternoon treat. Store the items in your refrigerator for later. If there is no balcony in the stateroom, bring the delights to an upper deck filled with sunshine and a view, and enjoy nature or architecture passing by. This is priceless! Ladies, if the budget allows, go for a spa treatment. Even if it is just a manicure, it is the makings of VIP service. Use the fitness room, and work off the extra pounds added consuming the delicious meals. This is a bonus for those who do not have a membership at home. If traveling with children, drop them off at the supervised clubs for kids or teens and the vacation becomes a bit of a second honeymoon. Avoid eating in the buffet restaurant for dinner. Being served a multi-course meal will certainly make you feel more special than walking in a line piling food on a plate. If there is an amazing performance scheduled for the evening, eat early, then arrive ahead of the crowds to ensure front and center seats.

When selecting a ship, remember, luxury lines are more expensive, cater more to personal needs, and tend to host an older crowd, meaning fewer kids. The reason youth programs are not the norm. The mainstream lines are more affordable, attract more families, provide youth clubs, and have lots of mind-blowing attractions. The premium lines are an amazing medium, offering activities to stimulate your mind, body and palate also offer supervised activities for children and teens. Suites and veranda staterooms have more square footage and outdoor privacy. Ocean view and inside cabins have less real estate, but are more affordable. The passenger’s lifestyle and wallet should determine, the combination. Passengers with restricted funds will have one of the best vacations imaginable. For those who are willing to pay top dollar to be pampered, be ready to experience the star treatment! In our own minds, are we not all VIPs? Grab the opportunity to be treated like one!

Visit Princeton, NJ: A College Town Abundant in U.S. History and Culture

Posted in Lifestyles, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2010 by shutterbuggeek

Equidistant from New York and Philadelphia lies the affluent town of Princeton, NJ, which is a bedroom community to these two metropolitan areas, and is rich in U.S. history, intellect, diversity, and architecture. Located in Mercer County, Princeton comprises of two municipalities. One is the borough (population over 13,000), which is home to Princeton University, the central business district including parts of Nassau Street, Witherspoon Street, Palmer Square, and several historic districts. The other is the township (population over 16,000), which surrounds the borough, and transforms from historic sites and beloved sidewalk rich, residential neighborhoods bordering the borough, to bucolic hills of suburban and rural environs. They share the same library, volunteer fire department, and public school district, but police department and public works are separate.

Many don’t know that this town briefly served as the nation’s capital from June 30 to November 4, 1783. It has witnessed the victory of  General Washington’s battled over the British, and was home to a couple of U.S. presidents. Even though Trenton is the state’s capital, the Governor’s Mansion is housed here. From 1945 – 1981, Morven was the residence, and in 1982, Drumthwacket was given the honor, and still is home to the state’s Governor. Notable Princetonians are, but not limited to Albert Einstein (physicist), Grover Cleveland (22nd & 24th U.S. President), Woodrow Wilson (28th U.S. President), Aaron Burr (third U.S. Vice President), Paul Robeson (singer, actor, civil rights activist), Michael Graves (architect), and John Witherspoon (signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence), whom actress Reese Witherspoon is a descendant of.

Princeton is a college town, and its town and gown relationship is quite interesting. The town is not pleased with the low amount of taxes the university is paying. On the other hand, every spring, there is an event named Communiversity, sponsored by the Arts Council of Princeton and the students of the university. There are performances, booths, food stands, and more. Residents also have access to the university’s art museum, housing works by Monet, Manet, and Van Gogh; the Cotsen Children’s Library, offering free programs to the community; the beautiful gardens of the Prospect House on campus, and the acclaimed McCarter Theater with quality performances including, Branford Marsalis, Our Town, Riverdance, and The Nutcracker.

This area has an ample supply of culture; a restaurant row including several fine dining choices from New American to Mediterranean to Japanese cuisine; shopping from local boutiques and well-known shops like Kate Spade, Lindt, Ralph Lauren, Coach, Talbots and Pierre Deux to name a few, so I would hardly call the sophisticated residents “townies”. The atmosphere is almost like Mayberry meets Madison Avenue. What I’m trying to say is the town has a metropolitan style in a small town atmosphere.

A New Yorker could have a trip to the country, and still not miss some of the refinements of the big city. A day could be waking up at the Nassau Inn in the center of town, have breakfast at Chez Alice Gourmet Cafe & Bakery, then go off for a little sightseeing. Drive to Drumthwacket which includes a guided tour (by reservation, only on Wednesdays). Drive back to the center of town to see the previous Governor’s mansion Morven, and the houses of Einstein, Cleveland and Wilson. Now you’ve worked up an appetite, so on to lunch at The Ferry House for New-American cuisine. Next up, a little shopping. Guys, Hamilton Jewelers can provide you with that IWC watch you’ve been looking for, and ladies, you can pick up a strand of Mikimoto pearls for your daughter’s graduation gift. Ladies, send your man up to Nick Hilton on Witherspoon Street for a custom suit, while you go to La Jolie for a mani-pedi or massage, then off to J. McLaughlin for your “country” wardrobe. Take a quick walk over to the university museum, and then it’s back to the Nassau Inn to freshen up for dinner. Stroll over to Lahiere’s for a contemporary American/French dining experience. Walk off the meal, by strolling over to the McCarter Theater, where you have tickets to see Yo-Yo Ma perform. After the performance, it’s back to the inn for a drink at its Yankee Doodle Tap Room  before a good night’s sleep. How’s that for a day away from the city without feeling totally removed from “civilization”? Of course, there is so much more to see in Princeton. You can take a guided tour of the town with Princeton Tour Company if you don’t like to venture out on your own. For more tourist information check here.

For those on a different budget, there’s plenty to offer as well. Eat breakfast before you leave home. Arrive in time for the Drumthwacket tour. Your morning can be the same as above. You can have lunch at Panera Bread, The Original Soup Man, or Theresa Caffe. If the weather is nice, you could pick up a hoagie from Hoagie Haven or wings from Chuck’s, and eat at the plaza adjacent to the library. Shop at Ann Taylor, J. Crew, Banana Republic, The Princeton Record Exchange, Landau and Kitchen Kapers. Next, visit the art museum and stroll through the campus. Catch a movie at the Garden Theater, have dinner at Karen’s Chinese Restaurant or Triumph Brewery, and top it off with some ice cream from Thomas Sweet’s, known for their blend-ins, or the Bent Spoon who has the BEST gelato around!

Now I’m about to tell you things you don’t see in any tourist books. I have been fascinated with all walks of life, after taking a cultural anthropology course in college. So it didn’t take long for me to notice something different about Princeton compared to some other Garden State towns of means. It seems like many people wear their intellect more than donning top designer threads. Between the Advanced Institute of Studies, the university here and others in the surrounding towns, plus all of the brilliant scientists working nearby, the IQs are quite high. There are a number of people who do wear top designers, but everyday wear seems to be from Talbots, Brooks Brothers, LL Bean and Lands End. This is a Preppy town where it’s not unusual to see pink & green Lilly Pulitzer dresses on women and girls, and whale embroidered pants on men and boys. Though you see plenty of Mercedes, BMWs and Land Rovers, there are many minivans parked on driveways of mansions in town, and some of them are American built. There is a sense of New England understatement in Princeton, that I don’t see as much of in fellow upscale Jersey towns like Short Hills, whose mall offers New York shopping (Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Jimmy Choo, and Neiman Marcus), valet parking and dog stroller rentals, and some female shoppers look like runway models. Keep this image, and switch back to Princeton, where during the day, many women do not wear make-up, and dress more casually. It has more of a feeling of being of Greenwich, New Canaan or Westport, CT , only with a college campus. It is also a lot more diverse than other affluent towns. This holds true for race, creed, color and socio-economic status.

There are many towns in New Jersey of greater affluence, but none are as rich in the combination of historical sites, the arts, European charm, and intellect. There is no mall here, just Palmer Square, and three streets of shops, restaurants, salons, etc. in the central business district, which gives it a cosmopolitan flair with a little splash of Americana. Walking across Nassau street filled with bookstores, cafes, and the Historical Society of Princeton will make you feel like you just gained IQ points in an environment filled with university eating clubs, country clubs, and book clubs. Escape the concrete jungle, and go out to the country. Get off the farm or away from the shore and grab some history. Leave your suburban cul-de-sac for a little culture. There something in Princeton for everyone!

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