Thanks to the now infamous MTV show, the shores of southern NJ have become synonymous with fist pumping, clubbing and lewd behavior. While you can definitely find that scene in some places, my memory of summers at the Jersey Shore is worlds different.
Once a year, my family and I would travel to the shore, stopping in Atlantic City, Wildwood Crest, and the tiny island of Cape May.
Cape May is quaint town home to historic B&B’s, white sandy beaches and, most notably, grand and picturesque Victorian style homes. A trip to “Exit Zero” (named for being the last exit on the Parkway) is a step back in time, but it somehow remains fresh and inviting to the young and old alike. Continue reading
Feeling nostalgic and wanting to take a quick beach vacation, we decided to travel down the Parkway to exit 0, and I was happy to see that not much had changed.
As we embrace the last week weeks of summer, I suggest planning a relaxing and unique beach stay for you and your family (or furry family).
Where to Stay:
The Chalfonte Hotel: Full disclosure: Walter was a former employee of this hotel – not that that would sway my opinion of The “Great White Lady”.
This massive hotel was established in 1876, it is the the oldest continuously operating hotel in Cape May.
The kitchen staff at the hotel’s restaurant, The Magnolia Room, known simply as the “The Ladies” are notorious for their Southern style home cooking, sassy personalities, and most notably, their fried chicken and crab cakes.
Other Great Options: I’ve only stayed at the Chalfonte, but these two hotels come highly regarded – Congress Hall and Peter Shields Inn.
What to See:
Cape May Lighthouse: 99 steps is all it takes to reach the best view of the island.
Cape May Winery: A very affordable activity. If the weather is nice, sit outside on the deck and take in the view of the vineyard, but also a good rainy day activity with seating indoors.
Cape May County Zoo: With free admission this is a great chance to entertain the kids (or adults) for a few hours.
The Beach! White sand, blue water, but remember – you need to purchase a beach tag.
Marion Inn: The classy atmosphere of this bar pairs nicely with the grand piano player – and make sure you taste the cheesy sticks at the bar.
The Ugly Mug: If there were ever a salty sailor’s bar, this would be it. This bar seems to attract the most amount of locals, so if you’re looking for a more authentic experience, dress down and mug up.
The Brown Room: Order the Beach Plum Royale and get treated to an insanely tasty Luxardo cherry. Stay for the Cuban-inspired decor, great customer service, and nightly live music.
King Edward Bar: Located in the Chalfonte this bar has a small but well chosen beer and wine selection. I particularly love the the mermaid painting and patio seating.
Magnolia Room at The Chalfonte: Famous Fried Chicken and Crab Cakes in a white tablecloth dining room.
410 Bank Street: NOLA style food with a modern twist makes this my favorite restaurant in Cape May. We dined on fresh seafood and Cape May county wines in a beautiful covered garden. Very romantic.
Lobster House: The casual cool vibe of this restaurant is a quintessential beach vacation experience. Order from the raw bar and watch the sunset from the bay-facing deck.
Mad Batter: For brunch visit the sidewalk patio and order the French toast – thick sliced brioche dipped in a rich batter of heavy cream, eggs, fresh orange juice and almonds. The best French toast I’ve ever had.
Where to Shop:
Washington Street Mall: touristy, but unique outdoor mall. It’s a great stop to pick up souveiners and gifts. Here are my favorite stores within the mall:
Bath Time: Situated right in the heart of Washington Street Mall, this can’t miss bath and body shop (the window display is a giant bathtub full of rubber duckies) stocks all-natural and unique items from brands such as Farm House Fresh, Tokyomilk and Love & Toast.
My favorite part of this store is definitely Cape May Customs Blends – where you select a personalized scent from a wide range of fragrance oils to make into a variety of different bath items (massage oil, shower gel, even shampoo and bar soap).
Morrow’s Nut House: It’s not a trip to the shore without some Salt water taffy. Not only will you find this seaside treat, but old classics like vanilla nut fudge, liquorice, and Philly favorite, Irish potatoes.
Love The Cook: My new obsession with beach plums is fixated at this quirky kitchen shop.
Love The Cook carries locally made gourmet treats (like beach plum coffee and jam), strange but useful gadgets, and gifts for the food enthusiast in your life.
What’s your favorite Cape May haunt? Let me know in the comments!