We can be creatures of habit. Knowing what we like, it’s easy to stick with that favorite spot, that you can always count on.
We’ve been to Cape May, NJ more times than I can count, and always did just that. During our family trips to nearby Wildwood Beach, every rainy day meant a drive to Cape May. But this time we set out to cover some ground. And what we found was an historic treasure with more to see and do than we’d imagined…
1) Take a horse and carriage ride. Cape May is a city at the southern tip of Cape May Peninsula in Cape May County, New Jersey, where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. One of the country’s oldest vacation resort destinations, hosting vacationers from Philadelphia in the mid 1800’s.
The entire city of Cape May is designated the Cape May Historic District, a National Historic Landmark due to its concentration of Victorian buildings. The best way to experience and learn its history is to take a step back in time and use the mode of transportation from back in the day. As we learned from our perky driver and tour guide,
The brightly painted facades were a symbol of wealth, as residents tried to out-do one another. There’s a story on every street of the historic district, each as colorful as the ornate homes and inns of yesteryear.
2) Explore the Washington Street Mall. Ok, so this is the go-to place mentioned earlier, but it’s a must-do for any visit. Three pedestrianized blocks full of shops and restaurants could take the better part of a day to cover.
Our favorite restaurant, the Ugly Mug, has the some of the Jersey Shore’s best seafood, along with ice cold beers. The hundred year old tradition continues as the ceiling is lined with mugs, belonging to members of the ‘club’. When a member passes on, the mug is turned to face the ocean.
Don’t get too full…the Fudge Kitchen, Kohrs Ice Cream, and the endless array of candy and chocolate shops are irresistible, and you might as well splurge.
Don’t miss the Cape May Peanut Butter Company, where you can taste the unique flavors that go way beyond the ordinary. My personal favorite was the Honey Mustard.
3) Congress Hall. This stately 1816 hotel sits right across from the beach, and has enough to do for the entire weekend.
We enjoyed sitting on the perfectly manicured lawn in white Adirondack chairs, having drinks and enjoying the piano in the cozy, sophisticated Brown Room, and partying into the night in the hip Boiler Room music club and Pizzeria. Honestly, it couldn’t have been a more fun and diverse atmosphere.
The beach has great facilities and our dear friends tell us the Blue Pig restaurant is the best brunch in Cape May.
4) Willow Creek Winery
Continuing with our ‘try the New Jersey wines theme’ (see our post on Cava Vineyards
), the short ride inland was a complete departure from the beach.
On a beautiful sunny day we enjoyed the spectacular views, tasting flights, and tapas menus. The ‘Wilde Cock’ Red was the clear favorite.
5) Cape May Lighthouse
6) The Red Store
This charming general store, cafe and restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating, serving an eclectic South American cuisine.
I had a fantastic Cuban sandwich, and also enjoyed a stop into St. Agnes Catholic Church right across the street.
7) Sunset Beach
This pebble-strewn beach has views of the concrete shipwreck, the nautical gift shop and casual grille.
Spread out a blanket and dig for ‘Cape May Diamonds’ the quartz crystals easily found among the smooth stones.
8) Cape May Beach
We visited after Labor Day, and although the town was lively, the stroll and views of the Atlantic were quiet an peaceful. It’s a beautiful beach.
What we missed…a lot! Several natural areas to explore, wetlands, parks, the zoo, and lots of great restaurants and places to stay. Please tell us your favorites and what we missed!
If you live in NJ, we have all of this right in our state, and it deserves exploring. If you live anywhere else, we hope you visit.
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