Countdown to SPG Platinum: 9 Stays to Go!

 

Until this past weekend, I’d never been to Princeton.  I feel I only have the SAT’s to blame for this…

Since I never quite fulfilled my quest for the perfect score with the Educational Testing Service, the terms “Ivy League” were just as foreign to me as the vocabulary words that plagued my young teenage mind in cold classrooms on early Saturday mornings at Manasquan High School.  As a result, places like Princeton didn’t make it on my list of safety schools, and therefore, I was never given the opportunity to tour the campus, nor did I dare fill out an application.  I was destined to a future of higher education in two less-than-Ivy League, but more than incredible universities in the beautiful state of Maryland.  To Salisbury and Loyola, I am most grateful for the education I received and the memories I made.  I was too busy developing a Maryland accent, pumping my own gas, and picking Old Bay smothered crabs, to ever find the time to explore my home state and travel to Princeton.  Until now…

Back when Paul was a school administrator, he attended a week-long principal’s academy in Princeton.  Each evening, once released from the fun and excitement of principal camp, Paul enjoyed roaming the town, stopping in restaurants for a quiet dinner, and exploring the beautiful campus of Princeton University.

Since Paul always looked forward to returning, and since we’d heard so many lovely things about the Grounds for Sculpture in nearby Hamilton, we decided a quick last-minute fall trip to Princeton was just what we needed.  Plus, they have a Starwood…

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The Westin Forrestal Village, while not located in downtown Princeton, is conveniently located off of US 1, just a short drive away from Princeton University.  Here, in Forrestal Village, we discovered another Salt Creek Grille, a restaurant we used to believe only existed in the town of Rumson, New Jersey.  Now we know it is a small, NJ chain with another location in a Princeton shopping center overlooking the highway.  We much prefer Rumson’s version with its beautiful view of the Navesink.

The staff at the Westin Forrestal Village were outstanding and super accommodating when it came to adding our “stowaway” (my mother-in-law) to our reservation.  We all got a good laugh out of the situation, including the ladies at the front-desk.  In addition to their pleasant personalities, they also served up warm hospitality by providing us with information about the Grounds for Sculpture, and honoring our Gold status by upgrading us to a better room.

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Grounds for Sculpture is amazing, especially in the fall when the leaves are boldly colored and seemed perfectly placed and scattered along the paths and around the sculptures.

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We especially loved Seward Johnson’s sculptures, as you almost have to touch them to believe the people are not real.

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We also got the chance to eat at Rat’s Restaurant, a beautiful dining location serving up delicious country French cuisine, right on the grounds of Grounds for Sculpture.  Sticking with my love for vegetables, I was pleasantly surprised by the eggplant “mignon” dish I ordered, which looked just like a piece of filet mignon, but when cut into, was a juicy and thick, well-flavored piece of fleshy eggplant.  It’s crazy what chefs can do with vegetables these days.

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After a beautiful morning of touring the Grounds for Sculpture, and after a quiet and relaxing lunch at Rats, we made our way to downtown Princeton.  I was amazed by how beautiful the university looked as we past by its grand buildings and vast lawns.  We parked the car in the cheapest parking garage we’ve ever parked in, and made our way to the Triumph Brewing Company, to catch up on college football.

While we didn’t get a chance to see a lot of the university itself, we did wake up early on Sunday morning to make our way over to Carnegie Lake to watch the crew teams row.  We stood along a crowded overpass overlooking the lake, sipping our coffee, with the sounds of paddles and coaches roaring below us.  It was the perfect way to end our little weekend getaway.

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