What to See, Eat, and Do in Cape May
It’s been a month since our Jersey shore vacation and please, please, please can I go back?!? I need the sound of waves, some sand between my toes, and boardwalk fries asap. In case you missed it, the first part of my vacation is recapped in this post.
Today’s post is all about our adventures in Cape May. Guys, I am a sucker for historic resort towns and Cape May is truly a gem. That’s why I decided to dedicate one whole post to what to see, eat, and do in the southernmost NJ beach town.
We ended up visiting Cape May twice while we were staying down in Brigantine. It’s about an hour or so from the Brigantine/Atlantic City area but it’s a whole lot farther, like 2.5-3 hours, from where we live in Central NJ. That’s why I only went once before, but once was enough to convince me to go back.
Cape May is a great mix of history, beach, and good local food and drinks. The town is full of big Victorian homes with wide porches and seriously beautiful gardens. It is just so charming and you could spend the day wandering and snapping pictures (believe me, I was tempted but Violet and Nick were not having it). There’s a downtown promenade with restaurants, shopping, ice cream shops, and of course candy shops stocked with saltwater taffy.
Now we didn’t stay in Cape May but after visiting again, I’m just dying to plan a little getaway in the off season. While you can pick from tons of adorable BnBs, there are some equally charming hotels and resorts to choose from. If you want history, luxury, and comfort wrapped up in a seaside resort, Congress Hall is a must. It is so beautiful and well-cared for, even though it is the oldest seaside resort in America. It has onsite restaurants (more on that below!), a pool, and a beautiful and fun bar area. Another hotel that looks absolutely lovely is Beach Shack. It’s a family friendly hotel with a tropical vibe that’s just across the street from the beach. We ate at their restaurant, The Rusty Nail, and it had such a fun vibe. Last but not least, the Lokal Hotel in Philly headed down the shore to open up Lokal Cape May. It wasn’t yet open when we were there but from the outside (and then later looking it up online) it looks stunning and just as amazing as their other locations.
What to see and do in Cape May
Shop and walk the Washington Street Mall - this central walkway is lined with shops, restaurants, candy stores, and ice cream shops. It’s pretty touristy and can be crowded but there are some very cute local businesses too. I popped into Givens and fell in love with a Mara Hoffman maxi dress that was way above my price range. If you’re looking for the classic beach sweatshirt, you’ll also find it on Washington Street.
Take a history tour or simply walk around the neighborhoods - there are plenty of history tours to take, from ones on horse drawn carriages to walking tours. Even if you don’t take a formal tour, I highly recommend walking through the different streets and admiring the gorgeous Victorian homes.
Visit Cape May Brewing Company - of course, this was one of our favorite activities from our Cape May visit. It’s outside of Cape May proper, technically in Rio Grande, so you’ll need to drive or Uber out there. But it’s definitely worth it. They have a great tented outdoor area, have a comfortable taproom and bar, and there’s a taco shop right next door that offers killer tacos for take out.
Sip some wine at Cape May Winery - there are plenty of wineries down in Cape May county so you could make a whole day of touring wineries. But if you’re going to go to one winery, we loved Cape May winery. It had a beautiful vineyard, offers full plates, and you can grab a flight of wines if you’re not into a whole tasting. There are plenty of places to sit inside and out and it was super relaxing.
Grab a bite to eat and explore Beach Plum Farm - right outside downtown Cape May is Beach Plum Farm which has a lot going on from being a working farm to a hotel to a small restaurant to a farmer’s market. Yup, there’s a lot going on. When we went, the farm was very quiet but it was in the late afternoon. You can visit the main building to purchase local produce, meats, and other products produced by the farm or other places in the area. It is also part of the Cape Resorts, the group that oversees Congress Hall and the Beach Shack (the hotel group offers free transportation between the properties). There are private cottages on the property that you can book and they’re fairly hidden from daily farm visitors. I loved the free range chickens that were all over and how peaceful it was to stroll through the farm gardens.
Where to eat in Cape May
I’ll be completely honest: I barely scratched the surface of where to eat in Cape May. We actually went to eat at the Rusty Nail at the Beach Shack hotel because we liked it so much the last time we were in Cape May. There are plenty of recommended restaurants, whether you want farm-to-table or family friendly. But these are the two restaurants I actually ate at and they’re both very good.
The Rusty Nail - this is the restaurant at the Beach Shack and it has a very old school beach vibe and very relaxed. The food is not fancy but it’s pretty good. The real plus is you can sit on picnic tables in the sand, get a good cocktail, and feel like you’re at the beach, even when the beach is across the street.
Blue Pig Tavern - this was hands-down the best meal we had down the Shore. It’s at Congress Hall and it’s a bit more on the fancier side but not stuffy at all. Nick and I were a bit worried about bringing a five month old for dinner but it was full of families around 5:30pm so no worries there. Most of the ingredients for the dishes are sourced from Beach Plum Farm and other local sources and you can tell they’re super fresh. They have a great wine list too. Plus the decor is a fun twist on a tavern with pink and white striped walls and the blue pig painting above a fireplace in the main dining room.