There is no better way to be introduced to Cape May’s charming neighborhoods, beautiful Victorian architecture and interesting history than to take a Trolley Tour. Even many of you veterans of Cape May could learn a thing or two about your favorite vacation destination. Let’s face it, a big part of what makes Cape May so special is the wonderful historical nature of the town. Knowing that history makes being in Cape May more meaningful and enjoyable for most people. During the summer months the “Historic District” trolley tour runs 7 times a day between 11:00 and 2:45. Some days there are also tours scheduled for the early evening as well.
So history is not your thing? No worries, you can still enjoy a trolley tour on one of the several other trolley tours offered daily, including the “Welcome to Cape May”, “Mansions by the Sea”, and “Ghosts of Cape May” tours. Yes, there is a trolley tour for just about everyone.
So what is the number one, most popular attraction in Cape May? You guessed it, the Cape May Lighthouse. Nearly 100,000 people climb the 199 steps to the top of Cape May’s historic lighthouse every year. I can attest to you that it is worth the climb.
Cape May’s lighthouse was built in 1859 to guide seafaring vessels into the Delaware Bay. It was restored and opened to the public in 1988. To date, over 2,000,000 people have climbed to the top.
So 199 steps might sound like quite a workout for some of you, but I can assure you that it is not as hard as you might think. Along the way you’ll encounter 8 landings with a window and interpretive plaques showing you what you might have seen out that window 150 years ago. Once you get to the top, step out onto the circular deck around the top and enjoy the view. It is enclosed by a fence, so there is no danger at all.
If you haven’t climbed the Cape May lighthouse before (or maybe even if you have) it is something you’ll enjoy immensely.
OK, so maybe 199 steps IS too much for you. Or maybe you’re looking for something a little more exotic than a lighthouse. I recommend the WWII Fire Control tower (also called a lookout tower).
This interesting edifice was constructed during WWII as part of a coastal defense system called Fort Miles situated along the coastline between North Wildwood, NJ and Bethany Beach, DE to protect the coast from German u-boats. The purpose of the tower was to send in firing coordinates to the gun bunker located on the beach near the lighthouse, thus the term “Fire Control” (it wasn’t about putting out wild fires).
Like the lighthouse, the Fire Control tower was beautifully restored and opened to the public by MAC (Mid Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities). Though there are about 100 steps to the top of this tower, there are 3 “floors” between the bottom and top, each filled with interesting historical information about the tower, the coastal threats posed by German u-boats, and the American soldiers from Cape May who served in World War II.
I really love this tower. It is full of interesting history and provides a great view of the Delaware Bay and Delaware coast line without all the steps of the lighthouse.
One of Anna Marie and my favorite things to do, especially if it isn’t a great beach day, is to go wine tasting. You may be surprised to learn that there are now 6 wineries in Cape May County, all of them within a 20 minute drive of The Queen Victoria. One of them is close enough to walk to!
If you’ve never been wine tasting before, let me share with you what we find so enjoyable about it. First of all, wineries are cool places. Most of them have very pretty tasting rooms with lots of charm and character. They usually have decks, patios or balconies overlooking the neatly symmetrical rows of vines, often with bistro tables and umbrellas. Throw in a fountain and we’re talking serious charm. Secondly, wine is the perfect beverage. It comes in an endless variety of flavors, is completely natural, is good for you (seriously, my doctor told me a glass of wine daily is truly good for me), and it never fails to make me happy. Another thing I love about wineries is the opportunity to learn about the different wines, types of grapes, and the process of making wine. I’ve discovered that the more I know about wine the more I enjoy it.
Next time you’re in town, plan a visit to one (or more) of our favorite wineries, including Cape May Winery, Hawk Haven Winery, Willow Creek Winery, and Turdo Winery. All of them are a short drive from the inn and well worth the trip.
Visit the Designer Show House
One of Cape May’s most interesting attractions this summer is the Designer Show House. This year’s show house is a brand new home built in a Victorian style, but with all of the luxurious, modern amenities that you would expect in a beautiful, expensive new home. As usual, the designers have each made their own contributions to really bring this house to life.
Since the Cavalier Cottage (the name the owners have christened the home with) is located directly across the street from the Emlen Physick estate, lots of our guests are making an afternoon of it, by either eating lunch at the Carriage House Cafe located on the grounds of the estate and then visiting the show house, or perhaps combining a tour of the Physick Estate with a tour of the Designer Show House.
We always love the Designer Show House, and this year’s house is truly special.
Attend a Free Concert
Once again this Summer, Cape May is hosting an extensive array of free concerts in the Bandstand at Rotary Park. Nearly every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday you can stroll over to the bandstand and enjoy an amazing variety of music.
Coming up this August there will be Barbershop Quartets, Klezmer, Dixieland Jazz, Symphonies, Orchestras, String Bands, and much more. Free outdoor concerts on a beautiful Cape May evening. How much better can it get than that? Most of the concerts start at 8:00pm, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy a nice dinner before the show.
OK, so last month I teased you with the mention of our “Soon to be featuring” Harney Tea blurb. I’m pleased to share with you that it is now official. We proudly serve Harney teas at both breakfast and tea, and we are stocking it in our pantries as well. Everyone has really been enjoying this high quality tea. I’m sure you will too on your next visit to The Queen Victoria.
Our guests have also been appreciating the fact that they can purchase beautiful decorative tins of virtually every tea we serve in our gift shop. In fact, most of our tea drinkers who are discovering Harney teas for the first time have been purchasing some to take home with them. It is a great way of taking a little bit of that Queen Victoria feeling home with you on that sad day when you have to return home.
Each Tin of tea sachets is only $8
Lessons From Lincoln (Oct. 13)
Anna Marie and I are very excited about the 2nd Annual “Lessons of History” Lecture returning to Cape May this October 13th. This year MAC (Mid Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities) is bringing the preeminent Lincoln Scholar and speaker in the country to Cape May to present a lecture entitled “Lessons from Lincoln:The Poetry and Prose of Freedom“.
Harold Holzer is the author of 43 books on Lincoln and the Civil War era, and the historical advisor for Steven Spielberg in the making of his recent film “Lincoln”. He will be examining how Lincoln balanced the prose and poetry of his Gettysburg Address and Emancipation Proclamation, as he recounts the year that Lincoln so deftly balanced the political, military, and historic to preserve government of, by, and for the people.
This is sure to be a fascinating and entertaining lecture. It is being held at the Presbyterian church, right next door to The Queen Victoria. Immediately following the lecture we will be hosting an optional Meet the Speaker reception at The Queen Victoria.
Tickets are $25 before Sep. 2 and $30 after Sep. 2. The additional charge to attend the reception is $20.
Cape May Designer Show House Jun 28 through Oct 31
2nd Annual Craft Beer & Crab Fest Aug 10
Herman’s Hermits Concert Aug 12
Food & Wine Festival Sep 14-22
Victorian Weekend Oct 11-14
Lessons from Lincoln Lecture Oct 13
Cape May Wine Festival Oct 12-13
Halloween Happenings Oct 18-31
Sherlock Holmes Murder Mystery Weekend Nov 1-3
Exit Zero Jazz Festival Nov 8-9
Channeling with Craig McManus Nov 16
Christmas in Cape May Nov 22 – Jan 1
Dickens Extravaganza Dec 8-10
What could be better than a day on Cape May’s beach in the Summer? Well, not much, in my opinion. But you might be surprised to learn that many of our summer visitors to The Queen Victoria never even go to the beach! So what do these folks do? I’m glad you asked.
As you know, these newsletters are filled with wonderful ideas of fun things to do in Cape May. In this edition I’ll focus on some of the wonderful “non-beach” activities & destinations in Cape May. You might just end up extending your visit with us to squeeze a few of them in!
By the way, these “Non Beach” activities are also great in the event of a rainy day, which does happen once in a great while in Cape May.
Don’t you wish these were YOUR beach chairs?
Featured “Room of the Month” … Princess Alice
Lots of folks enjoy the private balconies that are found in four of our rooms in the House of Royals. One of those rooms is the Princess Alice room, whose balcony faces the beach. It is a lovely room with elegant wallpaper, dramatic 14 foot ceilings, a queen sized bed, and a spacious step-in shower. Princess Alice is also our most affordable balcony room.
One of the things that I like about the Princess Alice room is the fact that the sink, beautifully set into an elegant marble counter, is in the bedroom portion of the room and not the bathroom. I think this “privacy” feature, which allows one person to brush their teeth or attend to their appearance, even if the other person is using the facilities. I’m not sure the average person thinks these things through like I do, but I’ll bet most people agree with me once they do.
I’ve never actually spent the night in the Princess Alice room, but I can assure you that if I did, you would find me relaxing on the balcony each morning, enjoying the sunrise and watching the waves roll into the beach. What a terrific way to start a day!
Shopping Tip of the Month: The Queen Victoria Cat’s Meow!
It isn’t very often that we’re able to announce a new gift item in our gift shop that guests have been clamoring for for years. I’m pleased to tell you that after literally years of attempting to have a “Cat’s Meow” house commissioned of The Queen Victoria, we were finally successful. The result is the lovely decorative item you see pictured above.
I know lots of you collect the Cat’s Meow houses, so here is your chance to get one that really means something to you. These are only available in The Queen Victoria gift shop.
Visit the Emlen Physick Estate
I know I’ve featured the Emlen Physick estate in my newsletters before (if you’re paying attention, you’ll recall that it was in last month’s edition). I couldn’t exclude it from my list of suggestions for “non beach” activities this month, however, as it is certainly one of the most interesting things to do in Cape May.
I know many of you have already visited the Physick estate, but I can assure you that it is worth going back to. Though the building and most of the furniture is well established, the curator is always changing things up a bit, re-focusing the experience seasonally to highlight different aspects of the life of the wealthy Emlen Physick and his household. I’ve taken the tour a dozen times over the years and I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed it more each time through. There is so much to see that there is always something new to be discovered.
I suggest you make it a point to tour the Physick Estate during your next visit to The Queen Victoria. I know you’ll be happy you did.
This is probably my favorite picture of the Cape May beach. Late afternoon in the summer is my favorite time to be on the beach and this is why.
This photo pretty much tells its own story. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Cape May Stage – Boeing Boeing (thru Sep 13)
Cape May Stage’s latest production, opening on July 31, is a hilarious revival comedy called Boeing Boeing. We love a good comedy, so we’re really looking forward to this one. Since it hasn’t opened yet, I don’t know much about it beyond what I’ve read on their site. I’ll share that with you here:
Bernard is engaged to Gloria. And to Gabriella. And to Gretchen. His supersonic lifestyle hits turbulence when all three invade his swanky bachelor pad in this high-flying farce from the swinging sixties. This 2008 Tony Award winner for Best Revival of a Play, is an uproarious jet-propelled comedy that had audiences and critics cheering in London and on Broadway. Grab your boarding pass for a rollicking good time because “Boeing Boeing” is coming in for a landing this summer at Cape May Stage!
Exit Zero Jazz Festival (Nov 8-10)
I’m pleased to announce that the 2nd annual Exit Zero Jazz Festival is returning to Cape May this November 8. Last year’s first effort was successful despite the fact that it was held just one week after Hurricane Sandy visited the Jersey Shore. It was a great event with some terrific artists. But I have to say that I think this year’s event will be even better.
Pictured above is Dianne Reeves, the Friday night headliner and one of the premier vocalists in the world. She’ll be featuring her new album “When You Know”, which is a stunning array of performances of old and new standards along with an infectious, uplifting new original.
Other artists featured this year include Eddie Palmieri, a 9-time Grammy winner, Kenny Garrett, the Aaron Diehl Quartet, Lakecia Benjamin, Robin McKelle & the Flytones, Jaimeo Brown, and many others.
This is going to be an amazing event. The folks at Exit Zero Jazz have been working hard to make their Jazz Festival a world class event, and you can see the results. Now you have to book a visit to The Queen Victoria for November 8-9 so you can experience it yourself.
Doug & Anna Marie’s Restaurant Pick Of The Month … Pano
Last year the owner of George’s Place opened up a place called Pano on the Washington Street Mall. You know that building that looks like an office building in the middle of the mall, the one with the escalator? That is the one, right at the top of the escalator. Anyway, it turned out that his concept of a cool place to hang out, drink coffee and sample Greek pastries wasn’t as well received as the owner had hoped.
When I tell you that this year Pano is “New & Improved”, I am seriously understating the case. Pano has been completely reinvented to be a light dining alternative for visitors to Cape May. Pano is basically a salads and appetizers place now, offering something completely different.
Anna Marie and I LOVE Pano. Though we’ve enjoyed meals from Pano’s many times, ironically, we’ve only been there once, and that was before they were actually open to the public. That is the other great thing about Pano: they deliver; anywhere, for a 50 cent charge. Several of our guests have had salads delivered to the beach (though I think they had to come up to the beach entrance to pick it up).
So let’s talk about the food itself. When I say salads it is probably way more than you are imagining. My personal favorite is the Salmon Papardell salad on baby arugula with artichoke hearts, which is served with a Lemon Vinaigrette with capers. A side of pita completes it. This is a seriously delicious salad, which is very generous and ridiculously inexpensive at $9. How does Crab & Couscous with cherry tomato, red pepper, snow pea shoots, red onion,
fennel, celery & lemon vinaigrette sound? How about Shrimp & Avocado with cherry tomato, cucumber, fresh herbs, tortilla & schiracha ranch dressing? These are all excellent, and I know there will be something on the menu that you’ll love. Bring a bottle of your favorite wine (yes, it is a BYOB), and you’re ready for a great meal.
By the way, Pano is the Greek word for “Upstairs”. As you can see from the photo, the dining room is a very cool place to hang out, enjoy a wonderful, light and inexpensive meal and watch the world go by down below on the Washington Street Mall.