Fun in the Sun: 12 Summer Adventures Around the Orange Bubble

Posted on June 27, 2016

by Nazik Elmekki '18

As our fellow Princetonians have left campus faster than our alumni flocked to it for Reunions, Princeton and the surrounding area can begin to resemble a ghost town colonized by camp children more than a college campus. But for those of us left behind, occupied by internships and research positions (or simply townies who never get enough of the orange bubble), here are a few suggestions for fun and sustainable summer adventures to take on in the absence of school work:

1. Discover Local Vendors at the Princeton Farmers’ Market 

Every Thursday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., local vendors occupy Hinds Plaza (next to the Public Library on Witherspoon St.) and provide everything from fresh strawberries and apples, to soap made with the honey of local bees. The market is rain or shine. Check out the Farmers’ Market website to view a complete list of vendors.

2. Wander through the Institute Woods

Near the Institute for Advanced Study lie the Institute Woods where great minds like Albert Einstein and John Nash have diligently studied. The Woods consist of 300 acres of deciduous forest containing a vast network of trails and an unusually high number of bird species. Get more details on their website to plan your next weekend hike. Photo credit:

3. Visit a State Park

The Princeton area has several parks that will allow you to experience just about any nature scene you desire. Closest to campus is the Delaware-Raritan (D&R) Canal State Park, which runs 74 miles along the Delaware and Raritan canal from Milford to Trenton, including the frequently visited “Towpath”. This corridor offers space for canoeing, jogging, hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback riding. View a list of other parks in the area on the visit Princeton website. Photo credit:

4. Go on a Bike Ride!

There are a number of mountain biking trails in the area surrounding Princeton: the ETS (Educational Testing Service) in Princeton is 13 minutes from campus and has trails on its property; the D&R Canal has a long, flat dirt trail extending north of Princeton (“The Towpath”); also nearby, Mercer County Park has numerous trails of varying difficulty; and about half an hour away from campus, Washington Crossing State Park is a great option for those just getting started. For more information and more trails, check out Outdoor Action’s website. Photo credit:

5. Climb a Rock Wall

Chances are you’ve seen at least one email over the course of the year promoting Princeton’s very own rock wall located on the second level of the University Stadium. Well if you never found the time to check it out during the school year, now’s your chance! Until the end of July, the Outdoor Action (OA) Climbing Wall will be open Mondays and Wednesdays, 5:00-7:00 pm. There are also a number of commercial climbing walls in the area, many of which are listed on Outdoor Action's website. Photo credit:

6. Try Something New at the Smorgasburg (Brooklyn, NY)

If you’re looking for new adventures nearby in New York City, check out the Smorgasburg food market, started by Princeton alum Jonathan Butler ’92. The market features 100+ local and regional food vendors and is open every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and brings together several vendors to satisfy the foodie in you. Read our interview with Jonathan and learn more about Smorgasburg on their website. Photo credit:

7. Get Your Hands Dirty with the Princeton Garden Project!

If organic gardening is another one of those things you never quite got to do during the school year, now is definitely your chance! The Forbes Garden has even more things growing in the summer, so be sure to follow the garden project’s Facebook page and check out one of the upcoming workdays! 

8. Kayak or Canoe on Lake Carnegie!

Princeton Canoe and Kayak Rental is only a 10 minute walk from the Dinky and is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. on the weekends. You can paddle to the D&R Canal directly from their dock or portage a little ways to Stony Brook and Carnegie Lake. One of the most popular routes is the 2-hour Carnegie Lake-D&R Canal Loop, perfect for a relaxing afternoon or evening floating on the water. Photo credit:

9. Spend a day at the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Reserve

Open from dawn to dusk, the Stony Brook-Millstone watershed reserve contains 930 acres of land, the Stony Brook, and Wargo Pond. The reserve is located a 15-20 minute drive from campus, and the reserve also has over 10 miles of hiking trails full of birds and other wildlife. The trails are for foot travel only, and there are also picnic tables throughout (be sure to carry out any trash!). More information can be found on their website. Photo credit:

10. Camp at Washington Crossing State Park

The closest camping site to Princeton, this state park is a great option for those of you looking to really immerse yourselves more fully in nature. The park also provides a great opportunity for hiking and discovering wildlife and is located about half an hour from campus. Reservations for campers can be made anytime on their website. Photo credit:

11. Explore the Mountain Lakes Open Space Area

This open space area is a 400 acre “central park” in Princeton just north of the center of town. There are several different hiking trails as well as two biking trails. You can also see Tusculum, the estate built by John Witherspoon, as well as Coventry Farm. Offering an appeal to both those seeking a historical outing and those seeking the outdoors, more information about this local park can be found on the NJ Trails Association website. Photo credit:

12. Take a Virtual Green Tour of Campus!

If you don’t quite have the time to plan an outing, you can learn more about the sustainable features of Princeton’s own campus from the comfort of anywhere with an internet connection. The online sustainability tour can be found in the Green Tour section of our website.

Get out there and enjoy exploring outside the Orange Bubble! If there’s a fun, sustainable summer activity you enjoy and would like us to share, feel free to email