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Think of Princeton and you might envision Polo-shirted undergrads practicing lacrosse in a grassy campus quad. They really do! No doubt, the stately stone buildings of the Ivy League university are the centerpieces of this refined colonial-era town. If Albert Einstein, who lived here for two decades, found it hospitable, then who can argue?

A stroll down Nassau Street, the main drag, takes you past bookstores, boutiques and cafes. The Princeton University Art Museum has an outstanding collection of works. Rowing teams glide along the Delaware-Raritan Canal and Lake Carnegie, which mark the town's southern border.

Considering the elite college in its midst, it's unsurprising that world-class theater, dance and music venues are in the mix. A handful of landmark Revolutionary War-era structures, including several beautifully restored inns, add to the atmosphere. A number of important battlefields are nearby, and it's a short drive to the park where Washington crossed the Delaware. New York City and Philadelphia, both less than two hours away by New Jersey Transit trains, are easy commutes.