Thanks to its historical background and modern, exciting attractions, Trenton, the dynamic capital of New Jersey, offers an appealing mixture of educating spots and laid-back thrills. From magnificent museums to picturesque parks, the city, which was once the capital of the USA, is thriving with culture and boasts an array of unexpected hidden treasures. Try something new and explore these 10 things to do and see in Trenton; you never know what you’ll find.
New Jersey Statehouse
Built in 1792 by Jonathan Doane, the New Jersey Statehouse is a must-see in the city and is one of the most historic sites in the area. One of the only working capitols in the United States, the building provides business and legislative needs, and also offers guided tours for first-time visitors. The most popular rooms within the building are the assembly chamber, the senate conference room, the state house annex and the plaza. The painted ceiling room is an elegant and artistic interpretation of New Jersey history, with intricate drawings highlighting the highs and lows of the city’s timeline, and throughout the statehouse stained-glass windows of former governors can be spotted. The best time to visit here is on a Monday or Thursday afternoon, as legislative and committee meanings are open to the public at these times, meaning everyday citizens can view government discussions as well as bills and public addresses being announced.
Lower Trenton Bridge
One of only three bridges in the United States to connect two different communities, the Lower Trenton Bridge links Trenton, New Jersey, with Morrisville, Pennsylvania. Additionally, in 1806 this toll-supported bridge became the first structure to span the Delaware River. It was originally constructed completely out of wood, but was rebuilt in 1928 to update its design, and today includes a mixture of steel and iron fixtures too. It welcomes local traffic as well as interstate railroad traffic, and what makes the Lower Trenton Bridge really unique is its colorful sign, which reads: ‘Trenton Makes The World Takes’. Originally put up in 1935, New Jersey locals take pride in this patriotic phrase, believing it to convey their city’s importance to the rest of the world.
William Trent House Museum
The famous William Trent House Museum was once the lovely residence of William Trent, a fur trader and merchant from the area, and although it has been used for a variety of things over the years, the site was returned to its original appearance as Trent’s home and opened as a historic museum in 1939. Located near the Falls of the Delaware, this 1719 structure began as a simple brick home, filled with life and love. A pathway of English cherry trees characterized the property when Trent was alive, but after his death his son James sold the property to a distant family relative, and the building assumed more of a serious purpose. The city of New Jersey made the building an official residence to almost all of the New Jersey governors beginning in 1742, and notably, throughout the American Revolution the house was used as a supply house for Washington’s army. A house truly filled with history, this structure still remains an extremely important part of the New Jersey culture, and was recently recognized as a national landmark by the United States Congress.
Arm and Hammer Park
Formerly known as Waterfront Park, Arm and Hammer Park opened in 1994, and was one of the most modern outdoor spaces of its day. Presently home to minor-league baseball, specifically the team of Trenton Thunder, a game here provides an intimate and comfortable sporting experience with family and friends. Even better, families can receive all of the enjoyment of a professional baseball game here, but for a much lower cost. The park is conveniently located right off of the highway, and offers a variety of concession stands and merchandise for fans. Amenities include delicious dishes from Famous Dave’s BBQ, and much more. The park has an open concourse at the top, with luxury boxes also located on this level for fans to walk around and explore, with spectacular vistas abounding all around. Two electronic scoreboards as well as between inning contests, such as the Dizzy Bat Race, are just a few of the reasons why watching a game at Arm and Hammer Park is a top thing to do in Trenton.
Old Barracks Museum
Another example of the colorful history in Trenton, the Old Barracks Museum has impacted the American nation in significant ways. It was primarily built and used to house British soldiers in the French and Indian War, and was used again as a military hospital in the Revolutionary War. For a short period of time it served as a boarding school, until it was turned into a museum by the Old Barracks Association in 1903. Today, the building stands as the last remaining British military barracks in North America, and is currently funded by the state of New Jersey. It serves as an ideal spot for field trips as well as a place to reminisce about history. Reenactments of battles and realistic interpretations of colonial life are held every day by the enthusiastic staff here, and initials and words inscribed in the stone by original soldiers can still be found on the sides of the building today.
Grounds for Sculpture
With more than 270 sculptures, Grounds for Sculpture is located in the heart of Trenton and is home to 42 acres of art and visual enjoyment. The outdoor area is beautifully landscaped, with constantly changing sculptures dotted throughout the place, and up-and-coming artists as well as already renowned designers are featured heavily here, for example, the work of Kiki Smith and Clement Meadmore can currently be found in a variety of exciting exhibitions. Visitors can enjoy unique moonlight tours around the grounds, and there is also the chance to take part in sculpture classes as well as host a personal event on the site. The exhibitions that are currently ongoing are “Disruption,” “Team Work,” and “Jae Ko: Force of Nature.”
Sun National Bank Center
Most recently attracting thousands of families and ecstatic young children with its Disney on Ice show, the Sun National Bank Center is Trenton’s main arena for almost every event, game and show imaginable. Past sold-out concerts have included Cher, Bruce Springsteen and Carrie Underwood, and as well as music the center is home to hockey tournaments and basketball games, and is notably the abode of international superstars the Harlem Globetrotters. The stadium has been open for 16 years and incorporates three different levels of seating, including a general admissions floor and a topmost floor for luxury suites. Additionally, the Sun National Bank Center offers seven different concession stands, three bars and two tasty grill restaurants.
Celebrating 50 years as a successful business and 25 years with its Trenton location, Artworks is an open-minded, innovative visual arts center in the city. Situated in downtown Trenton, the center includes a colorful gallery, art classes for all ages and an open studio free to be used by visitors. Whether a professional or first-time artist, the company makes it their mission to help you succeed in all that you do here, as they strive for the utmost diversity, creativity, and an appreciation of the arts. Artworks holds various large showcases each year, and one of the most interactive and exciting is the upcoming Carnival of Shadows: Art of Darkness event. Tickets are sold to visitors who are 18 and older, and the event includes live music, art, a costume contest, silent horror films and of course, good food and beverages. All visitors are sure to be spooked, but will also leave with a grab bag which carries a mystery piece of original artwork. Artworks is always accepting donations or volunteer help; be sure to visit today.
Trenton Downtown Association
Trenton Downtown Association is a company which aims to promote a love for the city of Trenton, New Jersey. It is fully dedicated to persuading local residents and businesses to become more engaged with the local community, and strives to ensure that all tourists feel welcome during their stay. This non-profit organization hosts a wide variety of events to make Trenton’s downtown area significantly more appealing. Patriot Week is one of the biggest weeks of the year in Trenton. It is a week-long festival to celebrate Trenton’s small-town yet pivotal influence on the American Revolution. Food, art, literature and live music can be enjoyed at this time whilst citizens reminisce on their city’s overall history, and appreciate the live history that continues to make Trenton the hub that it is. On Wednesdays the association holds outdoor concerts, sidewalk art shows and more, to inspire locals to make new friends and mingle with other Trenton residents. This urban redevelopment program has enjoyed immense success since it began, and continues to make Trenton a cleaner, safer and more enjoyable place to be.
Passage Theatre Company
Passage Theatre Company has a main focus of producing challenging theater; making viewers question and really think about our the issues affecting our world today. Important affairs engulfing our present culture are transformed into captivating performances here. The theater strives to use professionalism and integrity to allow themselves, as well as the audience, to better understand diversity within ethnicities and cultures. The company takes pride in the collective cultures of the world, yet believes we need to understand differing perspectives within these communities in order to better ourselves. The theater is also extremely educational and provides classes for acting, dancing and playwrighting for all ages. Passage puts on three to four shows a year, with their next show at the Solo Flights Festival premiering in March 2016.
By Emily Langan
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