Princeton has been hosting successful meetings since 1783, when Congress convened to consider the Treaty of Paris in the temporary capital of the American colonies.
While Princeton’s history is a big draw, it’s hard to settle on just one thing that makes Princeton a “wow” destination.
“Princeton is synonymous with education, American history and arts and culture,” says Adam Perle, vice president of the Princeton Regional COC. “It’s really an idyllic location with four seasons and scenic woodland beauty.”
And its appeal extends not only to small groups. Princeton is the home of five of the 50 largest conference facilities in the Northeast, Perle notes.
More than 5,200 guest rooms are located in the Princeton region, which encompasses 18 municipalities, including Princeton. The community known as Princeton actually consists of two municipalities, a township and a borough.
Another “wow” is Princeton’s enviable location—practically equidistant between Philadelphia and New York.
“Two million people visit Princeton every year,” Perle says. “Of those, 700,000 people visit Princeton University.”
Princeton has more than an Ivy League vibe. Its schools offer top-notch attractions and high-tech meeting and event space. The Princeton University Art Museum, which is free to the public, includes works ranging from ancient to contemporary periods. Highlights of the museum are its collections of Chinese art, pre-Columbian art and an exceptional collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, including ceramics, marbles, bronzes and mosaics from the university’s excavations in ancient Antioch near modern day Antakya, Turkey.
On the collegiate facilities front, Rider University includes around 100,000 square feet of event space. The Conference Center at Mercer County Community College features 38,000 square feet of high-tech meeting space amid 292 woodland acres.
A major triumph for budget-minded meeting planners is Princeton’s affordability.
“Princeton is halfway between New York and Philadelphia and at half the price,” Perle says.
The Conference Center at NJHA (New Jersey Hospital Association) is a good bet for affordable weekday conferences for groups ranging from a few people up to a gathering of 200-plus.
Princeton’s eclectic mix of off-site venues won’t disappoint, either. Grounds For Sculpture is an interesting choice for an alfresco reception. The 35-acre sculpture park features a garden and arboretum with paved terraces and courtyards. The park includes Rat’s Restaurant, the name of which belies the fact that the restaurant was conceived to look like the French town of Giverny, where Impressionist painter Claude Monet lived.
“It’s one of the most unique venues in Princeton,” Perle notes.
The Yankee Doodle Tap Room, a pub located inside the Nassau Inn, is a unique choice for cocktails. Groups can check out a 1937 Norman Rockwell mural that hangs above the bar.