Cape May, New Jersey- “the oldest seaside resort in America.” Visited by Presidents Grant and Harrison, John Philip Sousa, NormanRockwell, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Grace Kelly, Cape May continues to be a fantastic place to “summer,” or, as is the case with most people, take a short beach vacation.
Growing up, I would take an annual trip to Cape May with my grandparents, they liked that it was pretty and quiet, and I liked that there was a beach and a pool in walking distance to our hotel room. In recent years my family has rekindled its relationship with the historic town, as we knowGrandma enjoys it, and the travel isn’t too difficult for her. We continue to stay at the hotel I stayed in as a child, The Periwinkle Inn, a pink, not periwinkle, building right next to the Kiwanis Club across the street from the beach. The Kiwis (as I call them) seem to always be raffling off a car, as doesOur Lady Star of the Sea church, located in the Washington Street Mall. There are certain things you can always rest assured of in Cape May, and these charitable raffles are somehow reassuring to me that this is a place only lightly changed by time. The shuffleboard court at the Periwinkle is also unchanged, though they have slightly updated the cue stick, the shuffleboard discs may very well be the same ones I played with as a 7-year-old with my grandfather, another unchanged element: I seem to be the only person who enjoys shuffleboard ( contact me if you’re interested in a tournament!)
Among the rituals I have in Cape May is a trip to the historicCape May light house. I’m a lover of lighthouses, and of the original (1977) Pete’sDragon in which a young Helen Reddy sings, the Oscar nominated, Candle on theWater from atop her lighthouse. Seriously, watch the film, it is a wildly underratedDisney classic. While Grandma of course can’t make the trek up the lighthouse steps anymore, she likes to wave from the car and try to spot me up top when I make the 199-step climb. The lighthouse oversees both the Atlantic Ocean and DelawareBay and continues to be actively for navigation. The views are stunning, the restoration done by the Cape May MAC is impeccable, and the chance to be part of the maintenance of history is one I never intend to pass up.
I can think of no other edifice constructed by man as altruistic as a lighthouse. They were built only to serve.
-George Bernard Shaw
A short hop from the lighthouse is Sunset Beach. The beach not only offers stunning sunsets, one could guess that by its name, but is the best place to catch a glimpse of the U.S.S Atlantus, a sunken “experimental concrete ship” built during WWI. The ship was towed to Cape May to be used aspart of a dock for what is now the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, unfortunately not long after arriving in Cape May the Atlantus was torn from her moorings and run aground due to a storm, just off of Sunset Beach. For all the things that do not change about Cape May, the sight of the Atlantus certainly has. As years have passed it has become less and less visible to visitors with the ebb and flow of the tide.
Cape May is more than history and old timey seaside fun, it is filled with fantastic food often accompanied by local music, a local brewery and local wineries all with great libations, parasailing, power boats, dolphin and whale spotting, ghost tours, dinner theater and of course the ever present “shore”activity of mini golf. I could extoll the virtues of Cape May for days but it is really a place you should see for yourself.
Sights Sounds and Foods, mostly foods…
Uncle Bill’s Pancake House
Two Mile Landing
The Ugly Mug
Cape May Winery
Delaney’s Irish Pub & Grill
The Lobster House and Schooner American