Autumn Weekend in Cape May
Last weekend, my friend and I headed to Cape May for a girls’ getaway weekend. We almost didn’t go as the weather wasn’t looking too great. The forecast called for clouds and a possibility of rain on Saturday, with rain definite for Sunday. But there is always so much to do in Cape May that we decided to bite the bullet and go – we knew that even if it rained, we wouldn’t be bored.
Boy, were we in for a pleasant surprise! This is what was waiting for us….
We arrived in Cape May at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. The sky was cornflower blue with occasional wispy thin clouds drifting by and brilliant sunshine. Upon checking in at Congress Hall, we learned our room was ready so we changed into our bathing suits, loaded up our new wine sacks with some adult beverages, and headed to the pool.
This was the last weekend that the Congress Hall pool would be open for the season, and we were pleased to find that full pool service was available. We were greeted by a pool attendant who covered our lounge chairs with pink terry cloth covers, rolled up towels for headrests and took our order for lunch. We decided to split guac and chips and a Caprese Sandwich – both delicious – and ordered two glasses of wine. After lunch, it was pretty hot so we we took a dip in the pool. Refreshing!
Despite it being October, the hotel was filled with guests, many there for weekend weddings. After relaxing by the pool we headed to the beach, passing the grand lawn where cocktail hour tables awaited wedding guests. What a beautiful day for a wedding!
Once on the beach, we were lucky to find that the Congress Hall beach service was also in full effect. We were led to some lounge chairs and an umbrella already set up at water’s edge. The attendant again covered our chairs with the trademark pink terry lounge covers and rolled towels for headrests.
We sat there for a few hours soaking up the sun and enjoying the waves. Our lives are busy at home, with 4 kids between the two of us, so we finally had some time to relax and catch up, adult style. Back at home, our husbands were having a “Boys’ Night In” – grilling steaks, drinking beer and watching college football on TV. As my friend and I surreptitiously sipped our wine and enjoyed an unseasonably warm day on the beach, we deci to be on the beach in October.
That evening, we headed to Washington Street Mall to shop and have dinner. The mall area, as well as the whole town, was adorned in beautiful harvest decorations.
The weather was still nice and warm, so after doing some shopping we chose to dine al fresco at Delancy’s Pub. Their big, juice hamburgers were delicious!
On Sunday we arose to find that it had rained during the night, and it was overcast and still very warm and humid. After enjoying our coffee from Tommy’s Folly while we watched the ocean from the comfy Adirondack chairs on Congress Hall’s lawn, we decided to spend the day exploring the Cape.
First on the list was to check out Cove Beach. My friend couldn’t believe the story about South Cape May, the Atlantis of the Jersey Cape. Built upon marshland that had been filled in, South Cape May was especially susceptible to the forces of weather. By 1910, the community was forced to move a block back towards the mainland due to coastal erosion. Between 1936 and 1950, three major storms destroyed the community and it took all the buildings and land that comprised South Cape May. We walked the beach a bit and contemplated the fact that at one time there was a bustling little town where the cove now is.
Next on our list was to hunt down and find the Free Little Libraries scattered across the cape. I had first read about these little homemade box libraries, housed on people’s lawns, in the Cape May Magazine. We drove around and checked out the creative boxes and their contents. Each library had a collection of various books including novels, cookbooks, self-help books, biographies, children’s books and more. We loved visiting each one and seeing what books were offered. Since we would be leaving the following day, we chose not to take any of the books. For more information on Free Little Libraries and where they are located along the southern Jersey coast, click here.
Next it was off to photograph the beautiful, iconic Victorian architecture of Cape May.
After our photo session, we found ourselves on Jackson Street and saw that Hot Dog Tommy’s was open for business. Once again, I had read about Hot Dog Tommy’s in the Cape May Magazine and I had witnessed the lines that form in the summer but I had never been there myself. I knew we had to give it a try. It was their last day of the season, so we were thrilled to be able to cue up in line and try special hot dog offerings.
We talked with Bruce, the owner who took over the business from the original Hot Dog Tommy in 2015. Bruce has largely kept the popular menu the same to continue serving its loyal customers. Bruce gave us some great suggestions and we ended up ordering the Carrot Dog, Chop Suzy style, and “Bad Dog” (all-beef Black Angus dog) with brown mustard and carmelized onions. We headed to the boardwalk and sat on a bench to enjoy our delicious dogs and Herbal Mist ice tea. Our made-to-order dogs were phenomenal! We were sad that we’ll have to wait for next summer to try more specialty hot dogs. It was great talking with you Bruce – we WILL be back!
After filling our bellies we got back in the car and headed to the inner cape. Destination: Wine Country.
Our first stop was at the Beach Plum Farm, which grows and supplies Cape Resort hotels and restaurants with fresh, farm-to-table ingredients. The Beach Plum Farm is a 62 acre farm featuring over 100 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers that are grown and harvested, three times a week, and are delivered to the restaurants’ kitchens. Chefs then develop daily menu specials around the ingredients. The farm has a beautiful wooden barn with a market consisting of fresh produce, local artisanal products and farm-inspired merchandise. There is also a Farm Kitchen which serves up farm-fresh breakfast and lunch items. Plentiful outdoor seating areas are surrounded by beautiful gardens and landscaping. Weekly events are held at the farm, including guided tours, a Friday Farm-To-Table dinner, Community Campfire nights and seasonal festivals and activities.
Just down Stevens Street from the farm is the Willow Creek Winery, the second destination on our wine country tour. The Willow Creek Winery features a gorgeous, expansive hand-carved post and beam wooden structure. Inside are tables, lounge areas with leather couches, a grand stone fireplace, a tasting area and gift shop. Outside is a beautiful outdoor brick patio with fireplace surrounded by a 50-acre vineyard. During the summer, the winery hosts Fire Pit Fridays, Yoga in the Vineyard, Wine and Paint nights, Wine-Paired Dinners and “Uncorked” Comedy Nights. It is an absolutely gorgeous setting to enjoy a selection of tapas menu items, do a wine tasting, take a guided tour or attend one of their festivals or events. On this day, a craft show was being held on the grounds so we enjoyed browsing the hand-made featured items, followed by a delicious wine tasting. Willow Creek is open daily at 11 am, year-round, for wine tastings, tours and private wine paired events.
Our next stop was the Cape May Winery located on Townbank Road. Inside the winery is a gift shop where 16 varietals of wine are available for purchase, as well as wine accessories and gifts. There is also a large tasting room and rooms available for private events. Outside is a gorgeous patio with tables and chairs shaded by a colorful array of umbrellas and a beautiful fountain, nestled in the middle of a 70 acre vineyard. The winery is open year-round from noon – 5:00 pm daily (6:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays). Vineyard tours, tastings and special events such as a Wednesday Summer Grill Night and Lobster Bakes are hosted throughout the summer. For more information on the Cape May Winery, click here.
Each year, Monarch Butterflies make their migration from as far north as Maine to a mountian range in Michoacan, Mexico where they will spend the winter. Cape May is a major stop along their route, and we decided to stop in Cape May Point to see if any butterflies still remained. We were lucky to catch this little guy, dining on Goldenrod. He went from flower to flower, providing us with a great opportunity to see his beautiful colors.
Each fall a local group called the “Monarch Monitoring Project” focuses on the fall migration of monarch butterflies along the Atlantic coast. For over two decades, the group has gathered data on monarchs moving through Cape May, as well as engaging in tagging and providing informational programs. For more information about this organization and about the butterfly migration, click here.
No girls’ weekend trip to Cape May is complete without a stop at the West End Garage, an eclectic collection of independently owned boutique shops. The West End Garage is located in Wilbraham Park in West Cape May. The sprawling marketplace was recently expanded. Vendors from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania offer specialty items including antiques, hand-crafted clothing and accessories, home décor, culinary treats, seasonal items and much more. There is truly something for everyone at West End Garage.
Back at Congress Hall, it was time to shower and dress for our fun night out – a Murder Mystery Dinner at Aleathea’s Restaurant located in the beautiful Inn of Cape May. We took a nice walk along Ocean Avenue to Aleathea’s where we were treated to a delicious four course dinner and an entertaining, interactive murder mystery experience sponsored by the Cape May Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts. It was a perfect way to spend an October evening. The Murder Mystery will run again next weekend, October 21, 2017. Tickets are $50 per person available online at the MAC website.
Monday was Columbus Day and even though we were both off that day, our real livesawaited us at home. The promised rain was finally starting to roll in, which made it easier leaving Cape May.
After a sumptuous breakfast at the Blue Pig Tavern, we checked out and headed home, comforted by the fact that in less than two short months we’ll be back to enjoy the holiday festivities of Christmas in Cape May.
If you’ve spent time in Cape May in fall, we’d love to hear about it! Please leave a comment below.
For more information about Cape May, please follow the links below:
Find out why Cape May is “The Nation’s Oldest Seaside Resort”
History of Cape May
Cape May Beach Information
Where to Stay in Cape May
Where to Eat in Cape May
Upcoming Events in Cape May – Fall/Winter 2018
Free Weekly Summer Events in Cape May
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