Cape May’s 43rd Annual Victorian Weekend Features Tours and Activities Celebrating This National Historic Landmark City

CAPE MAY — Cape May’s 43rd annual Victorian Weekend, sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC), highlights the city’s Victorian architecture and history with a long holiday weekend of house tours, walking tours, living history programs, food and wine events, a crafts and collectibles show, murder mystery dinners, trolley tours and more, from Friday, Oct. 9 through Monday, Oct. 12.

Attention history lovers! These special tours, activities and events during Victorian Weekend are perfect for those who love to explore the past:

Join us on Sunday, Oct. 11 at 4 p.m., as distinguished author and military historian Col. Cole Kingseed presents “D-Day: Why It Still Matters: How America’s European War Established the United States as a Global Power”— the 4th Annual Lessons of History Distinguished Lecture Series — at Cape Island Baptist Church, 115 Gurney St. The lecture will be followed by a meet-the-speaker reception hosted by Doug and Anna McMain at the Queen Victoria B&B, 102 Ocean St. D-Day was the climactic battle of the European Theater of World War II. The lecture will explore the ramifications of the Allied victory on June 6, 1944, not only on the course of World War II, but also as the pivotal step in the United States’ rise to global dominance. This lecture is co-sponsored by MAC and Martel & Associates (Myles & Leslie Martel). Tickets for this limited event are $30. The reception is $20. To purchase tickets, please call (609) 884-5404 or visit www.capemaymac.org.

New in 2015! Come to the Carroll Gallery to see the “Light, Particularly: Alice Steer Wilson’s Cape May” Exhibit. From the summer of 1971 until her death 30 years later, Alice Steer Wilson worked to capture the essence of Cape May with her brush. From the pages of the book of the same name, Wilson’s daughter, Janice Wilson Stridick, brings alive this beloved painter’s vision of Cape May’s dynamic period, when it was growing to become a national treasure – a premier historic, cultural and natural resources destination. At the Carroll Gallery on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St. Admission is free. Open daily 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. during Victorian Weekend.

A special walking tour given by Janice Wilson Stridick and her husband, Paul, will reveal how her artist-mother, the late Alice Steer Wilson, viewed her beloved Cape May and reflected it in her renowned paintings during the “Light Particularly” Walking Tour. The tour is Saturday, Oct. 10 at 10 a.m. and includes places of interest referenced in the book of the same name and in the exhibit at the Carroll Gallery, Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., through Nov. 1. Admission to the walk is $10. Admission to the exhibit is free. Also on Saturday, Oct. 10, Stridick will talk about her artist-mother, the late Alice Steer Wilson, and her paintings during “Light Particularly” Gallery Talk & Book Signing at the Carroll Gallery, Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St. at 1 p.m. in conjunction with the exhibit, “Light Particularly: Alice Steer Wilson’s Cape May,” and her book of the same name. She will be available for book signings. Free admission.

What in the world were they wearing under those Victorian garments? Discover what proper ladies and gentlemen wore during Show Us Your Undies Brunch & Fashion Show, with an overview (or underview!) of Victorian undergarments, at the Carriage House Café & Tearoom on the grounds of the Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St. Grand Oak Plantation will show you what shaped the fashionable Victorian lady; you’ll even see what the proper gentleman had to cope with to dress for the day. Monday, Oct. 12 at 10 a.m. $25 includes fashion show and brunch.

Experience Cape May’s history up close, through the eyes of those who lived it during the Cape May Time Capsule Trolley Tour. Meet characters from the past who visited, lived and worked in Cape May, as your trolley travels through town. Costumed historical interpreters bring to life 200 years of the town’s history. Offered on Sunday, Oct. 11 at 2:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. and Monday, Oct. 12 at 1 p.m. Admission is $25.

Walk the haunted streets of historic Cape May with your guide, psychic medium and ghost writer Craig McManus, who will talk about the houses where he has sensed paranormal activity, during A Walk with the Ghost Writer, on Friday, Oct. 9 at 9 p.m. Admission is $25 per person.

Walk the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate on Sunday, Oct. 11 during the Victorian Weekend Crafts & Collectibles Show on the lawn at 1048 Washington St. Crafters and collectibles dealers from throughout the region will display and sell their unique and hand-made wares from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free and free parking is available.

Are you eager to peek inside some of Cape May’s glorious historic buildings? Innkeepers and private homeowners are opening their doors during Victorian Weekend just for you:

Historic inns and B&Bs offer delicious chocolate delicacies for you to taste as you tour their property during the Chocolate Tasting Tour on Saturday, Oct. 10, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Adult admission is $20; admission for children (ages 3-12) is $15.

See inside a selection of charming private cottages and homes not normally open to the public during the Private Homes Tour on Saturday, Oct. 10, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Adult admission is $20; admission for children (ages 3-12) is $15.

New house tour theme for 2015! Enjoy an entertaining and educational guided tour of Cape May’s only Victorian house museum, the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate at 1048 Washington St., during the Emlen Physick Estate Tour, with the new 2015-16 tour theme, “At Home with Nature.” Tours are offered daily during Victorian Weekend; hours vary. Adult admission is $12, admission for children (ages 3-12) is $8. Combine this house tour with a guided trolley tour of Cape May’s Historic District with the Combination Trolley/Physick Estate Tours, which leave from Washington Street Mall Information Booth. Admission is $22 for adults, $14 for children (ages 3-12).

Get into the “spirit” of things on a guided tour of the historic (some say haunted) Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., during Historic Haunts House Tours. These tours include a discussion of Victorian spiritualism, and are offered Friday through Sunday, Oct. 9-11, at 7:45 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for children (ages 3-12). Combine the Ghosts of Cape May trolley tour during the Historic Haunts Combo Tours, offered at 7:15 p.m. $22 for adults, $14 for children (ages 3-12).

Who was Dr. Emlen Physick? You’ll get to know this Victorian gentleman whose Estate’s grounds at 1048 Washington St. are home to the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) when you see that The Dr. Is In, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11. He’ll be happy to tell you about Victorian cures for your medical ailments, and will share his uniquely Victorian view of the world.

Enjoy food and wine events during Victorian Weekend that celebrate the Cape May region’s delicious wines and famous restaurants:

Why not celebrate New Jersey’s craft beers and the autumn harvest during Victorian Weekend? Come to the award-winning Mad Batter Restaurant 19 Jackson St. at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9 for the Mad Batter Beer Dinner featuring NJ Craft Beer. This four-course autumn harvest menu is paired with some of the finest craft beers brewed right here in New Jersey. Admission is $65 per person. Seating is limited to 60.

Learn more about the red and white wines of Italy during the Cape May Wine School Saturday, Oct. 10 at 1 p.m. This themed class will help refine your palate, at the Washington Inn, 801 Washington St. Admission $40.

Build up an appetite with a walking tour of the Historic District, and then enjoy a Southern-style breakfast buffet with mimosas at the historic Chalfonte Hotel, 301 Howard St. during the Champagne Brunch Walk on Sunday, Oct. 11 at 10:30 a.m. Admission is $20, $15 for children (ages 3-12). The Historic District Walking tour is available for purchase separately subject to availability; admission is $10 for adults, $7 for children (ages 3-12).

It’s a bountiful buffet for chocolate lovers! Enjoy seven plated courses of delicious chocolate desserts during the Chocolate Lover’s Feast and hear how each was created from the chef who prepared it. A chocolate dipping fountain is also included. The Blue Rose Inn, 653 Washington St. on Sunday, Oct. 11, at 1 p.m. Admission is $35. This is a limited event so reserve early.

Join the Impromptu Players who will set the scene for a new original mystery, “To Make A Killing,” during Murder Mystery Dinners offered on Friday, Oct. 9 through Monday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. It’s 1909 in the fashionable resort of Cape May. The well-to-do members of various philanthropic associations have gathered for their annual dinner at The Sand Dollar Hotel. So what could go wrong when everyone is wallowing in an atmosphere of goodwill and rectitude? Who invited Lyman Carver, a broker for the Storey Cotton Company in Philadelphia to the dinner? Will he make a monetary contribution to the cause, or is he looking for a mark? A murderer is lurking and the Sheriff is going to need your help to untangle the mystery. Enjoy a four-course dinner as you contemplate the clues, interact with the cast and help solve the mystery. Aleathea’s Restaurant at the The Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean St. $50 per person.

Stroll Dr. Emlen Physick’s neighborhood on tree-lined Washington Street and hear about the families who lived there and the architecture of the homes, then combine afternoon lunch or tea with your guided walk. Explore one of Cape May’s great mysteries – why the Victorian Doctor chose to live in this area of Cape May, during Dr. Physick’s Neighborhood Walking Tour & Café Combo, on Friday, Oct. 9 at 2:30, Saturday, Oct. 10 at 10:30 a.m. and Sunday, Oct. 11 at 2 p.m. Admission is $20 and includes lunch or afternoon tea at the Carriage House Café & Tearoom on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St. The Walking Tour is also offered separately. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for children (ages 3-12).

Enjoy gracious, yet casual, dining at the Carriage House Café & Tearoom on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St. with an a la carte menu that includes signature sandwiches, salads, crab cake and tea sandwiches, as well as homemade soups and quiche, a kids menu, plus an Afternoon Tea Luncheon featuring loose tea service with teas from the House of Tea in Philadelphia. If you have a busy schedule, everything is available for takeout, too. Open daily 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. For reservations call (609) 884-5111.

Taste while you tour during Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery Tour. Learn how the grapes are grown and the process that turns them into delicious Hawk Haven wines at the Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery, 600 S Railroad Ave, Rio Grande. Tour includes a gourmet cheese tasting on the vineyard-view crush pad. Tour is offered Friday through Sunday at 1 p.m. and tickets are $20 if purchased at the Washington Street Mall Information Booth, the Hill House office or the Carriage House Visitor’s Center at the Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., during hours of operation.

Spend the afternoon touring two Cape May County wineries during the Self-guided Wine Trail. Visit Natali Vineyards and Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery and taste wines at each. Admission is $10 and includes a map with the wineries listed. During Victorian Weekend, offered 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily. You can purchase your tickets in advance at the Washington Street Mall Information Booth or the Hill House office or the Carriage House Visitor’s Center at the Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., during hours of operation.

What’s brewing in Cape May? Some great spirits, as you’ll find out on the Self-guided Wine & Brewery Trail, a tour of two area wineries, Natali Vineyards, Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery, plus the Cape May Brewing Company. Take a tour at each stop; sample wine at the vineyards and receive a brew mug at the brewery. Admission is $15 and includes map with directions. During Victorian Weekend, offered daily 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Purchase tickets in advance at the Washington Street Mall Information Booth or the Hill House office or the Carriage House Visitor’s Center at the Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., during hours of operation.

Visit the Cape May Winery, 711 Town Bank Road, and tour the vineyard to see how the grapes are grown, get an introduction to the winemaker’s art, and enjoy cheese and crackers and a sampling of up to 8 wines during the Winery Cellar Tour & Tasting. Admission is $20 and the tour is offered Friday and Saturday at 3 p.m. Purchase tickets in advance at the Washington Street Mall Information Booth or the Hill House office or the Carriage House Visitor’s Center at the Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., during hours of operation.

Discover the fun of exploring Cape May and uncovering its architectural elements from a kid’s perspective with the Cape May Family Treasure Hunt. Each treasure hunt packet is $5 and contains a clues sheet and map that will take you on a self-guided discovery tour, set to your own pace (answer sheet also included). Only one packet needed per family. The packet is available daily in the Hill House office at the Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., during regular hours of operation and at the Washington Street Mall Information Booth. The Cape May Family Treasure Hunt is co-sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) and Preservation New Jersey.

Discover the Historic District of Victorian Cape May at your own pace with the Self-Guided Audio Tour of Cape May, featuring Acoustiguide Inform hand-held units. The walking tour comes complete with a map and index for 96 historic buildings on 69 sites. Available in the Hill House office at the Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St. Offered daily, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Rental fee is $10 per unit.

The grounds of Cape May’s original haunted house, the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., have been transformed for the spooky season into Scarecrow Alley at the Physick Estate. Scarecrow Alley is a highlight of the Estate’s Halloween decorations. Walk the grounds and vote for your favorite ghoulishly gruesome or foolishly funny scarecrow. Friday, Oct. 9 through Sunday, Nov. 1. Admission is free to the grounds.

Don’t miss these local theater productions during Victorian Weekend:

East Lynne Theater presents “Strictly Dishonorable”: Isabelle, who was raised on a plantation in Mississippi, and Henry, her fiancé from West Orange, New Jersey step into a Manhattan speakeasy for a drink. Here they encounter Tomaso, the owner of the establishment, Mario, a waiter, Judge Dempsey, who lives above the speakeasy, Patrolman Mulligan, and the famous opera star, Count Di Ruvo. Isabelle finds these men enchanting. Henry does not. Where Isabelle and Henry spend the night and what happens the next day all have to do with the decision to play it safe or expand one’s horizons. Opening on September 19, 1929, this screwball comedy by Preston Sturges received rave reviews, and ticket sales remained strong even after the stock market crash in October. Performance schedule is Friday, Oct. 9 and Saturday, Oct. 10 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. First Presbyterian Church, 500 Hughes St. Admission: $30 general, $25 seniors (age 62+) and disabled with support companions, $15 students and children 12 and under free. Sponsored by East Lynne Theater Company in association with the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC).

Cape May Stage presents “Dead Man’s Cell Phone”: When Jean answers the cell phone of a recently deceased cafe patron, she holds on to the device to keep the man alive in a strange yet significant way. Jean’s quiet life is turned upside-down as she’s thrust into a world of mysterious strangers, shady business deals, and the potential for true love. A story about memory, redemption, and connection — and disconnection — in a technology obsessed world, Ruhl’s comedy is a mesmerizing reflection of today. Warning: Contains strong language. Performance schedule is as follows: Friday, Oct. 9 at 7:30 The Robert Shackleton Playhouse is located at the corner of Bank & Lafayette streets. . Admission: $38 adults $33 seniors (62+) $18 active duty and $18 students Presented by Cape May Stage in association with the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC). For more information call (609) 884-5404 or (800) 275-4278 or visit www.capemaymac.org.

Cape May’s 43rd annual Victorian Weekend is sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC), a multifaceted, not-for-profit organization committed to promoting the preservation, interpretation, and cultural enrichment of the Cape May region for its residents and visitors. MAC membership is open to all. For information about MAC’s year-round schedule of tours, festivals, and special events, call (609) 884-5404 or (800) 275-4278, or visit MAC’s Web site at www.capemaymac.org. For information about restaurants, accommodations and shopping, call the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May at (609) 884-5508. For information about historic accommodations, contact Cape May Historic Accommodations at www.capemaylodging.com.

Recent Articles

Get The Weekly DoTheShore Update!