From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
A town with immense historical significance and a wide range of present-day attractions, too, Trenton is something of a hidden gem in New Jersey. While it doesn’t share the fame of the Shore or the glitz and glamor of Atlantic City, Trenton offers everything you could want from a city, from cuisine and culture to nightlife and the great outdoors.
Even if you’ve called Trenton home for decades, chances are you’ve missed at least some of the seemingly endless to-dos the town has to offer. From battlefields and barracks to Sesame-Street-themed fun, there’s plenty for the whole family to get into… which is exactly why we put together this helpful guide, which will get you even more acquainted with this one-of-a-kind river city! Here are our very favorite things to do and places to explore in Trenton.
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
Situated as it is along the Delaware River, right across from Pennsylvania, Trenton is blessed with a multiplicity of amazing state and national parks and preserves. Here are some of the green spaces to add to your itinerary while you’re in Trenton, NJ.
Famously home to a 77-mile trail, which traverses three counties along its three segments, Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park is a beautiful spot for hikers to take a nice, long amble… and also a great opportunity to get your kayak out for some paddling. Meandering as it does along the scenic creek banks, this park is also home to more than 160 species of birds, as well as other types of wildlife.
Preserving the historic hillside on which 1778’s Battle of Monmouth was waged as part of the Revolutionary War, Monmouth Battlefield State Park is as idyllic as it is historically significant. Despite its bloody history, today, it is a pristine place to enjoy a picnic or a stroll, all while remembering the events that brought us to the America we live in today.
In 1777, this serene landscape was the site of a fierce battle — but today, Princeton Battlefield State Park is a popular getaway for folks from around the Trenton area. Covering more than 650 acres of New Jersey countryside, the park also hosts some historic remains of buildings and structures and offers a number of walking and hiking trails.
Just across the Pennsylvania border, Tyler State Park beckons, offering over 1,700 acres criss-crossed with country roads, trails, and facilities. Maintaining its original farm and woodland setting, this park is favored by hikers, horseback riders, and bird watchers, and also boasts a number of event venues for concerts and other gatherings.
See the spot where — as famously captured by Emanuel Leutze — George Washington forged the icy waters of the Delaware River back on Christmas of 1776. Along with its historical significance, Washington Crossing State Park is today a great place to amble away an afternoon, offering a museum and visitor center, interpretive facilities, natural areas, trails, playgrounds and more.
The wild is all around you when you’re in western New Jersey! Here are some of the best hiking trails in Trenton to add to your must-do list.
Short and sweet, Stacey Park Loop runs less than a mile altogether and is tucked right into the landscape of downtown Trenton, running alongside the New Jersey State House Museum and other attractions. Seeing very little in the way of elevation gain, Stacey Park Loop is a great option for a quick walk with Fido or the kids.
A three-mile loop tucked into John A. Roebling Memorial Park, Abbott Marshlands Spring Lake Trail offers a wonderful escape from the urban area without having to get very far from town at all. Along with its forest-covered path, the trail also features waterside views and is popular amongst canoers, and is open to dogs, as well.
One of the most popular trails in all of Trenton, the network of Assunpink Wildlife Management Area Trails runs about six miles in length and sees about 550 feet of elevation gain along the way, making it a moderately challenging endeavor that offers tons of rewards to those willing to take it on. Known for its lovely lakeside views, dense green foliage, and a good chance of spotting local wildlife, this hike is a great mid-level option for both advanced beginners and more seasoned hikers in the mood for something not so difficult.
Running about four miles through the popular Clayton Park, Doctor’s Creek and Old Forge Trail is a great moderate hike for those looking for a little bit of exercise and fresh air. Seeing a little more than 300 feet of elevation gain along the way, this trail brings gently undulating hills and beautiful creekside views, and is also open to leashed dogs. Woof!
Running about seven miles and seeing more than a thousand feet of elevation gain along the way, Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain is a great option for those in need of something longer and more strenuous. Give yourself plenty of time to meander this moderate-to-challenging course, which delights with beautiful wildflowers during the bloom and beautiful tree cover year round.
With so much adventure to get into, one thing’s for sure: you’re gonna have to keep up your strength, and that means eating! Good thing Trenton is home to some incredible restaurants, from Mexican and Indian to Italian and more. Here are our faves.
Considered by some to be the very best restaurant in Trenton, Blue Danube serves up Eastern European fare including stuffed cabbage, pierogies, chicken paprika, beef goulash, wiener schnitzel and more — so if you’re in need of something both exotic and comforting, and which will stick to your ribs for a good long evening, this is the place to come.
Casual and cozy, but offering some of the very best Mediterranean and Tuscan dishes you’ll find this side of the river, Trentini’s is well known amongst locals who enjoy a good pizza or pasta night. From classics like primavera and baked ziti to special dishes like crabmeat ravioli, one thing’s for sure: you won’t leave this place hungry!
Widely regarded as one of the best Mexican restaurants in the entire tri-state area, let alone the city of Trenton, Chencha y Chole is best known for its yummy mole, satisfying Mexican breakfasts, and casual-yet-festive internal atmosphere. Takeout and delivery are also available.
Tucked into a strip mall in the nearby neighborhood of Hamilton Township, Amaravati Indian Cuisine may be unassuming… but once inside, you’ll be gobsmacked by its flavors. Serving up fresh and authentic Indian delights like curries, tandoori options, biryani and more, this spot is a great place to kick back and enjoy a great meal. Just be sure to BYOB if you want to imbibe!
Think “plant-based” and “boring” always go hand in hand? Think again! Savory Leaf Cafe is Trenton’s go-to spot for vegetarian and vegan fare, and its options will have even the most hard-to-convert carnivore second-guessing their lifestyle choice. With hearty and comforting options like a seitan-based Cuban sandwich and buffalo “chick’n,” you’ll be sure to leave satisfied — and maybe even a little surprised.
Great dining and the great outdoors are just the start. Here are some more of the top things to do in Trenton, whether it’s this weekend or whenever the fancy strikes.
Exploring Trenton with the family? Good call — there are so many amazing fun and informational things to do in this town! Here are a couple family friendly options to put on your list.
Want to take your kids (and yourself) back in time to when Trenton was a Revolutionary hub? Old Barracks Museum will give you an insider view into life here in 1777, allowing you the opportunity to visit, as its name suggests, authentic, restored Revolution-era barracks as well as the unique grounds on which the whole thing is situated.
Wondering how to get to Sesame Street? We’ll do you and the kids one better: head just over the border to Langhorn, Pennsylvania to visit Sesame Place, a theme park fashioned after the uber-popular children’s television show and filled with rides, water slides, live entertainment, parades and more. Be sure to stop by Elmo’s World to visit with everyone’s favorite, friendly red monster.
While there’s plenty to keep your attention in Trenton during the daytime, there are some incredible things to explore at night, too. Here are some of our favorite after-hours options for date night or any night of the week.
Your one-stop-shop for after-sunset fun, Colonial Bowling and Entertainment offers bowling lanes and other games as well as an onsite restaurant, full bar, and rentable event space. Despite its name, this place is thoroughly modern, and a purveyor of serious fun. Enjoy!
Escape the day-to-day to an idyllic hillside where you can sit back and enjoy the flavors of local fruit. Old York Cellars Winery offers a unique vineyard experience accompanied by tastings, exquisite cuisine, and beautiful views — and is definitely one of our top picks for those looking for things for couples to do in Trenton, particularly if you visit at sunset.
Don’t want to spend a whole bunch of money in the interest of getting familiar with town? You don’t have to! Here are our favorite affordable things to do and places to explore in Trenton.
Wander through some of the most beautiful New Jersey countryside while enjoying beautiful and unique works of structural art, as well as well-manicured gardens, on-site dining options, and more. Grounds for Sculpture is open to the public at affordable ticket prices, starting at under $20 per head for adults and even lower for children!
A beloved local spot that’s one part grocer, one part pick-your-own farm, one part fall festival, one part winter wonderland, and a wholly awesome experience, Shady Brook Farm truly offers something for everyone at every time of year. Whether you’re just dropping by to pick up some produce or you’re exploring the garden center with hopes of doing some planting of your own, you’ll be helped by friendly and informative staff — and you won’t have to take out a second mortgage!
It’s true: there are some amazing and totally free things to do in Trenton, New Jersey. Here are a few to consider.
Beautifully situated overlooking the Delaware River and home to a huge range of exhibits and collections, the New Jersey State Museum stands apart from other museums of its type with one incredible benefit: it’s totally free to enter! Although the onsite planetarium does require ticketed entry, visitors can explore the remains of ancient dinosaurs and read up on natural and human history all without paying a dime. It’s a great way to spend a snowy or rainy afternoon!
Another option located in neighboring Hamilton Township, Sayen House and Gardens is a lovely and well-maintained plant and wildlife sanctuary set aside for nature lovers, garden enthusiasts, and, yes, history buffs — like almost every other thing in this part of the country, the site does hold historical significance! Learn more by visiting for yourself; since it’s totally free to enter, nothing’s stopping you!
Everyone needs some TLC from time to time. Here are the best day spas and salons in Trenton for those in need of some rest, recovery, or just a new hairdo.
A comprehensive spa and salon offering haircuts and coloring services for men and women as well as retexturing, waxing, and other beautifying services, DiModa Salon & Spa will help you look as good as you feel… and since they also offer manicures and pedicures with nail design, you’ll feel fierce right down to your claws!
With a stated goal of leaving its guests feeling “relaxed, refreshed and invigorated,” Sorella Day Spa is the perfect spot to enjoy massage, facials, and other spa services such as waxing, professional makeup application, nail care, and more. Sorella is also available for bridal spa services as well as gentlemen’s treatments.
Staying in shape isn’t just for the Jersey shore! Here are some of the best gyms and yoga studios in Trenton for those looking to get stronger and more grounded.
A welcoming and familial atmosphere characterizes Agape Healing & Yoga Wellness Center — which makes sense, since their business name literally means love. Find yourself and your strength on the mat while guided through a variety of practices by knowledgeable and empathetic professionals. Everyone is welcome.
Breathe, awaken, move, balance, unite — that’s the mission of BAMBU Yoga, a beloved local yoga institution that’s been serving the Trenton area for years. Classes include slow flows and restorative yoga series as well as more challenging, heat-building options.
Want to dance your way to fitness? VIVA Ballroom makes getting moving fun — whether it’s salsa, meringue, or tango that’s caught your eye. Along with dance classes, fitness-specific events are available, such as body sculpting, barre classes, and boot camps.
While you certainly don’t have to venture very far from Trenton to enjoy yourself, there are some wonderful day trips that don’t take very long at all to get to! Here are our favorite Trenton-area getaways.
There’s nowhere on earth quite like New York City, New York — and all of that energy is just over an hour away from the relative calm of Trenton. Meander the Big Apple and enjoy a bagel or a slice of pizza before taking in a Broadway show and hailing a cab right back to wherever you’ve managed to stash your car; you can easily be home in time for dinner.
New York might be considered the “center of the universe” by some, and Washington D.C. is, of course, the nation’s headquarters these days. But Philadelphia bears the distinction of being America’s first capital, and its overwhelming amount of historical significance makes it an attractive option for families and curious solo travelers alike. Plus, let’s be real: you need to have a Philly cheesesteak in Philly at least once in your life! It’s all less than an hour from Trenton; just a quick hop across the river and you’re there.
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Trenton that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Trenton? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.