Remedy the Winter Blahs with a Central Jersey Culture Cure

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Here's a tonic for the long winter ahead: a generous dose of Central New Jersey's arts and culture offerings. Refresh yourself with vibrant performances, eclectic dining and shopping, and cozy getaways in three unique destinations. This seasonal pick-me-up from New Jersey Travel & Tourism comes just in time for your winter planning.

Winter Stages in Historic New Brunswick

If your favorite "date night" is dinner and a show, New Brunswick is a must-go destination. For a provocative evening that is sure to spark conversation, see American Hero at George Street Playhouse. This probing drama examines how America honors its vets and questions what it means to be a hero (Running Jan.30-Feb. 25). A performance calendar of more lighthearted fare, like amazing magic (The Illusionists Jan. 24-25) and classic rock (the band America Feb. 23), can be found at New Brunswick's State Theatre.

For pre-theater dining, savor seasonally inspired cuisine at the venerable Frog and the Peach, fine Italian dining at Due Mari and Catherine Lombardi Restaurant, or casual fare at Stuff Yer Face. This New Brunswick stromboli institution is located on the Rutgers University campus, where you can also see the opera "Le Nozze di Figaro" at Mason Gross Performing Arts Center (Jan. 26, 28 and Feb. 2, 4) or view the permanent galleries and special exhibitions at Zimmerli Art Museum, which offers free admission to the public. With the money you saved, treat yourself to an overnight stay. Can't find a pet-sitter? Your fur babies are welcome at The Heldrich in downtown New Brunswick, which offers the Pampered Pet Package. Or check out pennywise deals like the Park and Stay at the Hyatt Regency New Brunswick.

Seasonal Openings in Ivy-Covered Princeton

Princeton's arts & culture scene is always lively—especially at the Tony Award-winning McCarter Theatre. Scoop up tickets to see the rollicking Olivier Award-winning Stones in His Pockets (Jan. 12-Feb. 11). Other upcoming events include Sleeping Beauty performed by the State Ballet Theatre of Russia (Feb. 11) and Grammy Award-winning Blues Traveler, celebrating 30 years of music-making in their hometown (Mar. 2)

On campus, don't miss an exhibition of 40 rarely seen modernist still lifes from The Phillips Collection at the Princeton University Art Museum (Jan. 27-Apr. 29). The museum is free to the public. Or see what's happening at the brand-new Lewis Center for the Arts. It presents over 100 public performances, exhibitions, readings, film screenings and lectures annually. (Many are also free!) Use your spare change to help finance an overnight getaway. Savor a sleep-in with the Bed & Breakfast Package at the Hyatt Regency Princeton, also home of Catch a Rising Star comedy club. Or stay at the quaint Nassau Inn, a landmark in the heart of Palmer Square, Princeton's charming shopping and dining area.

Frosty Strolls in Lambertville

The Delaware River town of Lambertville exudes plenty of Victorian charm, and you'll see why it's nicknamed "The Antiques Capital of New Jersey" as you stroll along its main streets (Bridge and Union). Shopping includes antique dealers, boutiques and fine art galleries like Jim's of Lambertvile. Take NJ-179 from town to catch Broadway favorites at New Jersey's newest stage: Lambertville's Music Mountain Theatre, which also offers relaxed productions for patrons with autism or sensory sensitivities. The winter season features 42nd Street, Nunsense A-men! and Suessical.

Lambertville is also known as a dining destination, and many of its restaurants, like Hamilton's Grill Room, El Tule Restaurant and Liberty Hall Pizza, are BYOB. Instead of driving home after that bottle of Cabernet, enjoy a cozy stay at the Lambertville House Hotel, which has been welcoming guests since 1812, or the charming Chimney Hill Estate Inn. You can also extend your weekend escape with the Sunday Getaway Special at The Inn at Lambertville Station. For more food, music and fun, consider timing your visit to coincide with the Lambertville-New Hope Winter Festival (Jan. 20-28).

Make the most of your winter with a Central New Jersey arts & culture getaway. For more artsy ideas, go to VisitNJ.org, and don't forget to download a free NJ travel guide or sign up for e-news.