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Published: October 23rd 2013
A passer-by told us this home is only occupied 2 weeks of the year. It's magnificent and has a lovely garden with sculpture. Those flowers on the porch --- faux but pretty!
On our first ever visit to Cape May we’re wondering why we never came to this New Jersey beach community with a Victorian flair before! The southern tip of New Jersey is less than 6 hours from our Saratoga County, NY home even considering that RVs with a Jeep in tow can slow one down. We like to find new routes for our road trips to Florida and this three night stop was ideal.
Cape May’s many highlights include sweet Victorian architecture, dripping gingerbread from porches, eaves, rooflines, and cupolas from the tiniest cottage to huge historic hotels; a hundred gas street lights for delightful strolling in the evening; miles and miles of sandy beaches; and, even for the non-shopper, quaint boutiques and galleries.
We set up camp at Seashore Campsites, 720 Seashore Road. It’s a great RV resort with full hookups, very neat and clean and close to the town and local attractions. We scurried out to catch the sunset. Most Atlantic beaches don’t have great sunsets; but thanks to Delaware Bay; Cape May is among the exceptions.
Dinner at historic Aleathea’s at the Inn of Cape May (formerly known as the Colonial), 7
Alethea at Cape May Inn DSC02499
We ate on the porch of this great restaurant at the Inn of Cape May. It was formerly known as the Colonial.
Ocean Street was fantastic. We ate in Victorian splendor on the enclosed porch. Wes is still raving about his pork tenderloin swimming in a pool of gumbo. We shared a lovely salad and my ahi tuna and seaweed salad was delish. Our server was tops. She marked a map for us and was spot on with all her suggestions.
We scoped out the Ferry Terminal where we will be taking the ferry to Delaware on Saturday. A restaurant and cocktail lounge with a great view of Delaware Bay looks great for relaxed sunset viewing. We also picked up a sticker for the Jeep and a nautical birthday gift to send home.
We declined the $10 fee to climb the 199 steps to reach the top of the Cape May Light House, c. 1859 and still providing navigational assistance to sailors. The lighthouse shares a parking lot in Cape May Point State Park with a Hawk Observation and Counting Station – yes, you read right. There is an observer who counts birds; principally hawks and makes daily records on a board that display each day’s results and even compares each day with previous years.
We happened to
The Cape May Lighthouse
The Cape May Lighthouse - 199 steps - $10. fee. Nice Gift Shop on the grounds.
meet up with a WW II vet at the World War II Lookout Tower for an interesting chat. Cape May and other Atlantic coastal cities played a vital role in defense during WW II. An old bunker on one of the beaches and a sunken “cement ship” on another reminded us of the beaches of Normandy (sans cliffs).
The West End Garage on West Perry Street is a fun and funky artists cooperative in the front and other vendors including vintage and antiques toward the rear of a huge indoor space.
Back in the heart of Cape May, Washington Street Mall, a three block pedestrian area with over 50 independent, locally owned businesses including a 5 & 10 with a soda fountain caught our attention.
The street amenities, including a pergola hiding the dumpster, were well conceived. We grabbed a bite at the Ugly Mug and enjoyed our stroll.
We took the long way back to the RV Park and I could hardly stop snapping pix of the Victorian houses known as “Painted Ladies!” The photos are at the end of the blog’s photo section. Strict zoning requirements, great research and attention to detail including a paint chip list (in
This vintage soda shop is inside the 5&10 in the Washington Street Mall.
olden times the deeper the color the wealthier the home owner), maintenance mandates, prohibition of changes of any type (even interior changes), and other issues about preservation are closely monitored by the Historic Society which is much to their credit as the town is just beautifully lived in.
We put down $40 and took a guided tour in a “Hansom Carriage” pulled by a Percheron horse named Shadow and commentated by our driver, Anna! Thank you Anna for telling us about Hughes Street, so beautiful in that evening’s lantern glow and The Merion Inn at 106 Decatur Street where we had a wonderful meal. Merion has a full bar, piano player nightly, a fabulous menu including some “plans” for the economically minded, and just swell arty/lacy/ Victorian ambiance. The promo that says we could pretend we were Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald rang true.
After the horse drawn carriage ride we strolled through Congress Hall, a huge resort hotel that was setting up for a wedding on the lovely lawn with an ocean view. The famed Brown Bar was likely not there when the place was a Methodist camp ground. We bought sandwiches in the coffee shop; nabbed
Cape May has quite a history as a point of defense during World War II.
two Adirondack chairs with an ocean view and ate our lunch in sunny splendor. Thanks for the tip, Rosemary Carney!
Next was a tour of “The Southern Mansion,” which was also setting up for a wedding. Ken, our slightly bawdy tour guide, made the $10 fee worthwhile. The original owner had the very best Italian artisans helping with the amazing décor. The house, which was quite the party house in its day, had naughty goings on way back when (or so says Ken). Today it is a lovely and pricey B & B!
The Jeep was perfect for our nice little drive to the harbor and marina where we would keep our boat (if we had one here). This is where to book dinner cruises, whale watching tours, etc. and where the fishing boats dock to stock a handful of great looking seafood restaurants.
Back to the beach with our sand chairs and books before we hied ourselves back to the RV to freshen up for dinner at The Merion!
We broke camp early on Saturday morning to get in line for the Ferry to Lewes, Delaware! The RV and Jeep loaded great without unhooking. The Ferry tariff
Wes at the Veteran's Eternal Flame
This is near the WW II observation tower. Cape May and other seaside towns played important roles in the war effort.
was about $81. for 50 feet of connected vehicle. One slightly odd thing is that we were “boarded” by security when we were in line for the ferry. Homeland security or an officer curious about the RV?
For the Future:
Among the things we have on the short list for a return visit include eating in one of the many lovely restaurants that invite BYOB, a winery tour, a brewery tour, and the zoo (highly recommended by the WW II Veteran and FREE), and spending more time at the beaches.
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