Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Beach week: Cape May

Most every one goes to the shore for the beach but if you ever wanted extra curricular activities I must say, Cape May has it all.

Things you can do in Cape May in no particular preference order. It is all interesting and exciting stuff depending on your interest.

The Catholic nuns retreat house is not a bad little cottage. First clue, the cross on the top.  It almost makes you want to join the order. Maybe that is what so inspired me in 4th grade to want to be a nun. I heard the calling of the seashore perhaps.

The Cape May Court House, you have probably passed a sign for it or passed right by it on your way to Cape May.  You can just start singing the Al Alberts song now, On the Way to Cape May..............It is something, and worth a stop.  Check out its roots. Impressive and nicely maintained.

The First United Methodist Church next to the Court House looks pretty cool too with some history to it.  I would have gone inside but a service was in session.

The NAS (Naval Air Station), Aviation Museum and the Forgotten Warriors Vietnam Museum are technically in Wildwood but so close to Cape May. If you have the opportunity go to both.  They are right next to each other. Try and see what exhibits are there. A bonus is an aircraft show weekend. I lucked out when I was there.

The Emlen Physick Estate is not to be missed. Famous Frank Furness designed that place. It is a beauty inside and out. Take the tour inside it is awesome.  You can't take pictures inside or you know I would have, just for you. The cafe food is really good too, stay for lunch and take a Dr Physick soda pop for the road, they sell them in the gift shop. Emlen's father invented it. The family dynamic is a whole different story take the tour to get the gossip.

 The Cape May Playhouse, I do not know the history of that building but I would opt for the dinner and a show.

 When it comes to food you have to follow the crowds lead.  I did not eat here but all these peeps can't be wrong. Just sayin. I will have to try it once the line slows down.

You will also be able to find some good eats and shops along Washington Street Mall.

Once you arrive in Cape May proper, parking, traffic, all that mess needs to be dealt with. Park it and get a bike or BYOB.  You can travel almost anywhere you want to go by bike but take the Victorian House Trolley Tour first then you can go find them all again on the bike.

There are so many beautiful houses to see and so much history to learn about Cape May, you will be busting at the seems with knowledge and if you don't take notes and look at your pictures for another two years, you might forget some of it.  I remember the gentleman's club and gambling hall with bedrooms on the third floor. The rooms above were supposedly for the ladies that served the gentlemen. Today it is the House of Royals Bed and Breakfast, beautiful and tastefully decorated. I am sure it is a lovely and respected establishment today but if walls could talk. They might be speaking easy.

The Chalfonte built in 1876 is the oldest continuously operated hotel in Cape May. You can read on their website why it is referred to as, "Where the South meets the North".

The Inn of Cape May was built as a 60 room boarding house. It catches the eye as you travel along Ocean Street. The original building built in 1894 was known as the Colonial.

There's more?  Oh yeah!  This is not on the tour but bike on over to the Firehouse Museum.  It tells all about the great or would it be not so great fire of 1878. There is a great map of the area that was affected.

Congress Hall is legendary all on its own. Originally built in 1816 by Thomas Hughes who called it the "Big House" and locals called it "Tommy's Folly".  It burnt to the ground during the 1878 fire and was rebuilt in one year. Presidents of the United States, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Ulysses S. Grant and Benjamin Harrison vacationed at Congress Hall, and Harrison made Congress Hall his official Summer White House. John Philip Sousa regularly visited Congress Hall with the U.S. Marine Band and composed the "Congress Hall March", which he conducted on its lawn in the summer of 1882. That is some history.

Still not done here, you have to go see the lighthouse. Note the boardwalk in front of the lighthouse.  It was built for birders. Cape May is an excellent birding spot that hosts a birding festival in the fall and the World Series of birding in May.

an then there is Sunset Beach, just be patient and watch the spectacular happen.

Cap May should be on every one's list and stay in a bed and breakfast and bring a bike or rent one. Yes they do have a beach but who has that kind of time with so much else to do!

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