For the past 12 years of my life, up until August of 2011, I lived in California. Moving to the East Coast was not only a big opportunity to branch out of my comfort zones in the living category, but also to explore new areas in the tri-state area. It is obvious that New Brunswick is nearly the midpoint between two large metropolitan cities-Philadelphia and New York City. However, there are also various other areas to consider, two of which have a much more laid-back feel (just what I like).
The first is Princeton, NJ. I first went here during the fall of 2011 and absolutely fell in love. It reminded me of a city near home, Old Towne Pasadena, with all the cute shops and delicious food. If you’re here, there are two places I highly recommend: the bent spoon, and Greene Street. The bent spoon is an ice cream shop that uses local ingredients, but also specializes in strange and enticing flavors. My favorite is the ricotta flavored ice cream, with local ricotta cheese from New Jersey. Other flavors I’ve seen include peach sriracha and chocolate hazelnut. It is one of the best ice cream shops I’ve been to. In addition, Greene Street is a consignment shop that is clean, well maintained, and quite large (there are 2 stories, one for women, and one for men). What I love about this consignment store is that is has not only cheap finds, but also luxury goods at a decent price point. I’ve seen anything from the likes of Gucci boots to Marc Jacob sunglasses to Celine purses for purchase. I feel that these types of consignment shops are difficult to find, and it’s nice to look around for hidden treasures.
Another quite similar area I frequent is a suburban area in Philadelphia called Chestnut Hill. It has the most amazing houses around–of course, I am biased, since I am used to Spanish-style California houses, but the old, rustic, grandiose feel of the houses are amazing. There is a small downtown area with local shops, surrounded by cobblestone roads. There is a great sit down place called Top of the Hill, and it is definitely a great place to grab a coffee and people watch.
While New Brunswick itself does offer a great atmosphere, lots of food options, and a bustling downtown area, it is sometimes nice to get out of the city without going into the two cities surrounding (Philly and NYC). Princeton and Chestnut Hill both offer a relaxing day out, especially when my California-self can survive the harsh East Coast weather.