Mercer Marvels

A big part of my recent trip to Jersey was spent exploring the towns of Mercer County. Jersey undeservedly gets ragged on for one reason or another, but it’s bursting with gems that you have to drive past the highway on the fringes of New York to find.

Lawrenceville–After arriving in town Thursday evening, we wandered to the Music in the Park concert series in downtown Lawrenceville’s Weeden Park. The Hot Taters played a jazzy, upbeat set while Fedora Cafe sold fresh comfort (think pulled pork mac & cheese) and summer food (like fruit salad). A later trip to Fedora that weekend proved their food does not disappoint. Emma and I enjoyed some fresh and filling sandwiches the next day for lunch after exploring Princeton that morning. Though the cafe has some outdoor seating, taking a seat indoors may be even more fascinating as the restaurant is decorated with artsy, dark purple murals and curtains, becoming of an elegant circus psychic.

For breakfast, check out the Gingered Peach. We checked this bakery out back when they first opened this winter, and since then they’ve continued to decorate and expand their offering of baked goods. Though they only serve hot coffee, they have a couple different iced teas available, and I found the blood orange hibiscus to be quite refreshing. If you are looking for coffee, though, Wawa is known for serving popular and cheap iced coffee. As a Rhode Islander, I’d never been to one of these gas station convenience stores, so I didn’t quite understand what the big deal was, but this is no Cumberland Farms. A new location opened in Lawrenceville and it boasts a clean interior and some simple sandwiches which are good to grab if you’re on the road. I will say, though, that their iced coffee was a little too sweet for my liking.

Back on Lawrenceville’s main street is also the Purple Cow, a classic ice cream store serving ice cream sundaes loaded up with toppings and ample hot fudge. The shop is a quick stroll down the road from the park, so it pairs well with a night listening to music in the commons.

If you’re looking to walk off all the food, go for a stroll around the Lawrenceville School’s campus, also along Main Street, or head into Village Park which also has different sporting fields and leads into the public trails of Mercer Meadows.

Princeton–I’ve written about Princeton before, and I visited many of the same spots this time around. Small World never disappoints with its velvety iced cappuccinos or rich and smooth Iced NOLA. Their pumpkin muffin and lemon poppyseed scones also come highly recommended. If you have time, stick around and people watch. I like to pretend that everyone who comes here is an eclectic professor on the verge of publishing a groundbreaking book or a true eureka moment.

Labyrinth Books is another locale which makes me love Princeton. Their sales bins out front are fun to rummage through, staff recommendations abound inside, and they seem to have a little bit of everything stocked on their shelves. A new place we visited this time around, though, was the Princeton Art Museum. They have a star studded collection with work by Picasso, Monet, Degas, Warhol, O’Keeffe, Sisley, Prendergast, John Singer Sargent, and Winslow Homer. The collection of ancient artifacts from around the world is impressive and brimming with art from the Americas, Africa, and Asia. I found their current exhibition on Painting on Paper to be quite enjoyable.

Hopewell and Pennington–Though quiet, Hopewell is home to a few shops you don’t want to miss. At the Boro Bean, come for the coffee and stay for the environment. They serve well made drinks using Small World Coffee (and sell them for cheaper too, I should add), and guests can enjoy their drinks and food while sitting back on the sweeping front porch overlooking the quiet main street as bikers glide by. After caffeinating sufficiently, head down the street to the Brick Farm Market, a busy local Whole Foods-type market. If you go, make sure to pop upstairs and sample some of the artisanal cheeses.

Finally, Pennington has an ice cream shop you don’t want to pass up. They offer delicious soft serve (and hard ice cream, though I didn’t try it) out of their decidedly old school roadside shack with bright yellow walls. It goes by the name of Cream King. Hmmm…


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