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Spotlight On: Cape May, New Jersey

September 7, 2011

The town of Cape May, New Jersey had its humble beginnings in the 1850′s, named after a 17th century Dutch captain named Cornelius Jacobsen Mey, who explored and chartered the area from 1611-1614. With a year-round population of just over 3,500, Cape May is the definition of a charming, small town, where somehow life just seems a little easier. Ever since its earliest days, Cape May has hosted vacationers, and is currently recognized by the United States government as the country’s oldest seaside resort. In Cape May, a wealth of beautiful harbor beaches, historic buildings and sites, and the area is known for its relatively mild climate year-round. Keep reading for some of our favorite points on the beautiful, historic Cape May, New Jersey!

Our lodging pick in Cape May, New Jersey is the Heartland Trails Top-10 Bed & Breakfast Inn, the Mainstay Inn. Located at 635 Columbia Avenue and tucked only blocks from innumerable restaurants, theaters, and the waterfront, the Mainstay Inn is a fantastic home-point for your trip to Cape May! Since 1976, the Mainstay Inn has been in operation offering travelers elegant, grand accommodation with fourteen foot ceilings, and high-quality antiques throughout the home. Originally built as a public house where gentlemen gathered for gambling and other amusements, the atmosphere has since quieted down and now, the Mainstay Inn serves as a relaxing, restful place for all of its guests. The Inn features six luxurious, large guest rooms, each with their own distinctive style and character, and the cottage houses a further six rooms which parallel the main house’s accommodations. If traveling with that special someone, be sure to inquire about the Evening of Romance package which features a $100 gift card to a restaurant of your choice, a bottle of champagne, and a special rose. If you’d like to learn more about the Mainstay Inn, click this link to visit their website.

No romantic trip would be complete, however, without a visit to some museum-quality, Victorian-era splendor. At the Emlen Physick Estate, you can get a glimpse back in time, over a hundred years from the present. This historic house museum was completed in 1879 for the Gentleman farmer, who bought and sold a great deal of real estate, and owned two tenant farms in Cape May. The estate is characterized by elegant bays, wings and towers, stick-work overlaying clapboard walls, and simple yet elegant geometric decorative touches, which is unconventional compared to the commonality of ‘gingerbread’ styled trim on many historic Cape May houses. Because this home is so different from other homes in Cape May, it draws many visitors who are interested in architecture and history alike. You can learn more about the Emlen Physick Estate by clicking this link!

Of course, because this is Cape May, a coastal harbor town, no visit would be complete without climbing to the top of a historic lighthouse for a proper view. At the 1859 Cape May Lighthouse, visitors can do just that, performing a rite of passage for any visit to the Jersey Shore. For those who don’t wish to climb, or are unable to, the lighthouse is still a fantastic photo opportunity, and also has a handicap-accesible visitors’ orientation center and Museum Shop filled with maritime memorabilia. For those brave enough to climb to the top, they will be rewarded with a grand view of the sea, bay, and countryside, as well as the town of Cape May from a unique perspective. Click this link to learn more about the Cape May Lighthouse!

For those who can’t get enough history in one day, visit the famous living history museum, Historic Cold Spring Village. This Early-American open-air living history museum features 26 restored historic buildings, complete with guides in period clothing who demonstrate the handiwork of our 19th Century ancestors. This is one of the few places in the United States where you can see blacksmithing, woodworking, and basket weaving all in one place, and right alongside an old-fashioned Ice Cream Parlor, Bakery, and Old Grange Restaurant. In the Country Store, many heritage goods are available, as well as old-fashioned specialty foods, jewelry, and gifts. Family activities and special events are nearly always happening here, as well! To learn more about Historic Cold Spring Village, click this link.

Finally, we come to Cape May Winery and Vineyard. Over the past two decades, some of South Jersey’s most revered wines have come from Cape May Winery and Vineyard. Thanks to the mild climate and sandy soil of South Jersey, coupled with the decades of experience that goes into every bottle, Cape May Winery and Vineyard’s selection has been loved both locally, and abroad. Their wine lineup includes 20 wines, including everything from special Port and Apple Wines, to big, bold Merlot and their refined, easy-drinking Pinot Grigio and Riesling. Cape May Winery and Vineyard frequently hosts events like the Cape May Winery Summer Grill Nights, where wine-lovers can commune and eat, drink, and be merry all in the stunning, scenic surroundings of the winery and vineyards. If you’d like to learn more about Cape May Winery and Vineyard, just click this link.

We hope you enjoyed reading about these highlights of Cape May, New Jersey! Of course, these are only a small handful of select businesses in Cape May, and many other fine establishments can be found by clicking the link below. Cape May, New Jersey has been a beloved travel destination for well over a hundred years, now, and we implore you to go, visit, and find out why Cape May is touted as one of the finest destinations in the United States. If you’ve been to Cape May, New Jersey, please share your story in the comments section below! We would love to hear about your favorite establishment, or the best beach you’ve visited…or you can share your photos with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Click here for an instant 10-mile search of Cape May, New Jersey on Heartland Trails!

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