Our mini-DSTA Tour of the mid-Atlantic region this past weekend brought a bunch of, mostly, great small town surprises.
After checking into our hotel in the small town of Ewing, NJ, we headed toward the town of Princeton, NJ (population 16,027) to check its shops, restaurants and downtown “vibe”, and to wander about the Princeton University campus.
We drove through the historic town of Lawrenceville on our way. The borough features quaint shops, bustling restaurants and some beautiful, stately homes. The town is also home to the Lawrenceville School, whose campus was designed by renowned architect Frederic Law Olmsted (http://bit.ly/btUukk). Entering Princeton, it was hard not to notice Drumthwacket, the official residence of the governor of New Jersey.
Not that we’re drawn to big places, but in this case we’ll make an exception. Look out Governor Chris Christie! We might decide to run for the top spot in Jersey.
Our first stop after finding a parking space on Nassau Street (Princeton’s main thoroughfare) was a great little Italian restaurant (Iano’s Rosticceria) where we inhaled a couple of slices of thin, crispy crust pizza loaded with sausage, pepperoni and gooey, mozzarella cheese. Vegetarians have choices too…We needed this heavenly little snack to hold us until dinner (more on that later).
The Princeton campus, whose main gate opens onto Nassau Street, is magnificent and worth a trip just to enjoy the beauty of the buildings and the grounds. The surrounding town was an added bonus and, even when not crowded with students, was a vibrant, bustling area with an eclectic mix of people and places. Museums, galleries, historical homes, including Albert Einstein’s, local theater, and antiques line this street and many of its side streets.
The weather was perfect for our afternoon stroll, which helped us work up an appetite for dinner. We found a fabulous (4 ½ stars on Yelp) Chinese restaurant called Yao’s, which is located in an unassuming little strip mall (aren’t they all) in the nearby town of Skillman, NJ – population 6,687 (http://www.yelp.com/biz/yaos-restaurant-skillman). Authentic Cantonese food from a place run by Cantonese chefs. Our carry out bag was overflowing with great stuff, which we took back to our hotel and devoured. “Good night”.
Saturday – another beautiful, sunny day – began with a terrific 2 ½ mile power walk on roads and trails near the place we stayed. Later we set out to meet a friend for lunch at the Yardley Inn, which was founded in 1832. “Overlooking the Delaware River, the restaurant served as a stopping point for farmers traveling to the Philadelphia Front Street Market. In 1882 a Temperance Reform Movement rescinded the tavern’s license. From this time until John J. Fitzgerald purchased the inn and regained the license, the building carried on as a cycler’s road house.”*
Our next stop was New Hope, PA aptly described as an “arts and crafts village on steroids”. Running the gamut from retro to New Age with a little Wicca and tied dye thrown in, New Hope is a colorful mish mosh of old and new, bawdy and urbane, hippie and sophisticated. If you want something a little more sedate, just take a 3-minute walk across the bridge to Lambertville, NJ. We found quiet streets lined with old row houses, art galleries, craft shops and antiques. A totally different experience than New Hope.
By now we were starving and, luckily, we stumbled on the Mikonos Greek Restaurant in Ewing, NJ. What a wonderful find! We dug into crisp salads laced with fresh tangy feta cheese and topped with fresh crabmeat, and whole wheat pasta loaded with huge shrimp bathed in the most decadent tomato sauce with a hint of ouzo. It was a feast for all our senses. Our waitress Brie was so efficient, attentive and fun that we insisted on telling restaurant manager George how great she was and how much we enjoyed the restaurant. Thanks Brie and George (who’s also a magician) for a great dining experience!
Our weekend ended on a high note of course. We had “blunch” at a funky local place with our favorite aunt and uncle, Laurie and Stan (it’s weird to call people around your same age “aunt” and “uncle”) who drove in from Cherry Hill, NJ to see us. If you haven’t started your day with a 5-egg omelet, you haven’t lived! This place, called the New Ewing Diner (the “old Ewing Diner” was totally rebuilt and expanded a few years ago in a glitzy style) had it all – including 64 different omelets to choose from. So many choices, so little time.
Laurie and Stan brought us a wonderful bottle of champagne to celebrate our anniversary, which we decided would be better to drink at a later date, rather than opening and consuming during our 3 ½ hour return drive home to Connecticut.
Our adventures in the Bucks County, PA and Washington’s Crossing-area of New Jersey were relaxing, informative, entertaining and FUN! Stay tuned…