Cape May’s 44th Annual Victorian Weekend Features Tours & Activities Celebrating this National Historic Landmark City

Cape May’s 44th 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. 7 through Monday, Oct. 10.

History Lovers

Join us on Sunday, Oct. 9 at 4 p.m., as distinguished national intelligence expert the Honorable Joan Dempsey presents “Our Nation’s Security: How Intelligence History Affects the Future”— the 5th Annual Lessons of History Distinguished Lecture Series — at Cape May Convention Hall, and get the ultimate insider’s perspective on the history of modern U.S. intelligence. The lecture will be followed by a meet-the-speaker reception hosted by Doug and Anna McMain at The Queen Victoria B&B. Tickets for this limited event are $30. The reception is $20.

Carroll Gallery Exhibit “Tommy’s Folly: The 200th Anniversary of Congress Hall Hotel”: Guest curated by Curtis Bashaw and Exit Zero publisher Jack Wright, this exhibit features the history of Congress Hall, one of America’s most illustrious hotels. In the Carriage House. Admission is free. Open daily, hours vary, during Victorian Weekend.

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. Monday, Oct. 10 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. Costumed historical interpreters bring to life 200 years of the town’s history. Offered on Sunday, Oct. 9 at 2:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. Admission is $25.

Behind the Walls & Under the Crawls Trolley Tour will show you Cape May from a builder’s perspective. Explore the technological advances of the era and learn how things really worked on this one-hour guided trolley tour. Monday, Oct. 10 at 1 p.m. Admission is $15 adults, $10 (children ages 3-12).

Mansions by the Sea Trolley Tour features a century of beachfront development, from Victorian cottages of the 1870s through the most up-to-date of today’s housing. Friday, Oct. 7 at 2:15 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 8 at 10:45 a.m. and Sunday, Oct. 9 at 10:45 a.m. Admission is $12 for adults and $8 for children (ages 3-12).

Explore some of the strange beliefs, superstitions, oddities, fads, curiosities and mysteries from the end of the 19th century — the Victorian era — during the Cape Mayhem Trolley Tour, a trolley tour through the gas lit streets of Cape May. Offered on Friday, Oct. 7, at 7:45 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. and 7:45 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. 7:45 p.m and 8:30 p.m. Admission is $12 adults, $8 children (ages 3-12).

Join in the fun at the Carriage House Café & Tearoom during An Evening of Victorian Parlor Games. Play the parlor games Victorians played, including such favorites as “Charades” and “Pass the Slipper.” Victorian dress encouraged but not required! Dessert is included with coffee or tea, and punch or beverage of your choice. $15 adults, $12 MAC members. Monday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m.

Come dressed as your favorite Victorian character and join others (including Sherlock Holmes and Alice in Wonderland) during Croquet on the Lawn with Victorian Literary Characters. Play a game of croquet, or just come and watch. Free admission. Sunday, Oct. 9 noon to 2 p.m. A gift basket prize goes to the best-dressed Victorian!

House Tours

Historic Inns, private homes and restaurants offer delicious chocolate delicacies for you to taste during the Chocolate Tasting Tour, as you tour their property, on Saturday, Oct. 8, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $20 adults, $15 for children (ages 3-12).

See inside a selection of charming private cottages and homes not normally open to the public during the Private Homes Tour on Saturday, Oct. 8, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Adult admission is $20; admission for children (ages 3-12) is $15.

Enjoy an entertaining and educational guided tour of Cape May’s only Victorian house museum, the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate, during the Emlen Physick Estate Tour, with the new 2016-17 tour theme, “What the Heck Is That Thing?” 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. Admission is $22 for adults, $14 for children (ages 3-12).

Take a guided tour of the Emlen Physick House that focuses on the mechanical systems that made things run during the Nuts & Bolts Tour of the Physick Estate. Saturday, Oct. 8, 11:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. $12 for adults, $8 for children (ages 3-12).

Get into the “spirit” of things on a guided tour of the historic (some say haunted) Physick Estate, during Historic Haunts House Tours. Offered Friday through Sunday, Oct. 7-9, at 7:45 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for children (ages 3-12). Combine this tour with 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 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. 9.

Food, Wine, Beer & Spirits

Come to the Carriage House Café & Tearoom to sample dishes inspired by local products accompanied by wines from a local winery during the Harvest Wine Tasting Dinner. Limited event; reservations are necessary. Admission is $100 per person.

Come to the award-winning Mad Batter Restaurant at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7 for the Mad Batter Beer Dinner featuring NJ craft beer. This four-course comfort food menu is paired with craft beers brewed right here in New Jersey. Admission is $65 per person. Seating is limited to 60.

Increase your knowledge of wines during the Cape May Wine School Saturday, Oct. 8 at 1 p.m. at the Washington Inn. Admission $40.

Build up an appetite with a walking tour of the Historic District, and then enjoy a Southern-style breakfast buffet at the historic Chalfonte Hotel during the Brunch Walk on Sunday, Oct. 9 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).

The scene is set for Murder Mystery Dinners at the Inn of Cape May for a new mystery in 2016-17: “Marriage and Other Crimes.” What happens when the family doesn’t approve of the fiancée? Enjoy a four-course dinner as you contemplate the clues. Friday, Oct. 7 through Sunday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. Aleathea’s Restaurant at the The Inn of Cape May. $50 per person.

Enjoy gracious, yet casual, dining at the Carriage House Café & Tearoom, with an a la carte menu that includes signature sandwiches, salads, tea sandwiches, 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. Everything is available for takeout. Open daily from noon to 4 p.m. Call 609-884-5111.

Walking Tours

Stroll Dr. Emlen Physick’s neighborhood on Washington Street and hear about the families who lived there and the architecture of the homes near the grand Physick Estate during Dr. Physick’s Neighborhood Walking Tour. Offered on Friday, Oct. 7 at 2:30, Saturday, Oct. 8 at 10:30 a.m. and Sunday, Oct. 9 at 2 p.m. Admission is $10 adults, $7 children (ages 3-12). Combine lunch or afternoon tea with your walk. Dr. Physick’s Neighborhood Walking Tour & Café Combo is $20 and includes the walking tour and lunch or afternoon tea at the Carriage House Café & Tearoom from noon to 4 p.m.

Walk the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate on Sunday, Oct. 9 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.

Go on a clues hunt and discover answers to questions as you search the grounds of the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate during the Physick Estate Scavenger Hunt. Purchase a packet for $5 that includes a clue sheet and ponder the answers as you explore the estate grounds as a family or group. Available daily, year-round. Costs $5 per packet (only one packet is needed per family).

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). The packet is available daily in the Hill House office at the Physick Estate, or at the Washington Street Mall Information Booth.

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. 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, have been transformed for the spooky season into Scarecrow Alley at the Physick Estate. Walk the grounds and vote for your favorite ghoulishly gruesome or foolishly funny scarecrow. Friday, Oct.7 through Monday, Oct. 31. Admission is free to the grounds.

Trolley Tours

Get acquainted with Cape May on a trolley tour as knowledgeable guides present entertaining and educational stories about the nation’s oldest seashore resort during Historic District Trolley Tours. Offered daily; hours vary. $12 for adults and $8 for children (ages 3-12).

Board a MAC trolley tour for an evening ride through the haunted streets of Cape May during Ghosts of Cape May Trolley Tour. Ride past the flickering gas street lamps, the haunted properties of Cape May and experience spine-tingling tales. Offered nightly; hours vary. $12 for adults and $8 for children (ages 3-12).

Discover points of interest, activities and special events sponsored by both MAC and other non-profit organizations throughout Cape May during the Welcome to Cape May Trolley Tour. Offered daily, hours vary. $12 for adults, $8 for children (ages 3-12).

Theatrical Productions

East Lynne Theater Company presents, “Biography”: Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 6-8 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. First Presbyterian Church. Admission: $32 general, $27 seniors (age 62+) or disabled, $17 full-time students and military; children 12 and under free.

Cape May Stage presents “Disgraced”: Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. The Robert Shackleton Playhouse. Admission: $38 adults $33 seniors (62+) and $18 students and active duty military.

The 1879 Emlen Physick Estate Victorian House Museum is the setting for the popular interactive production featuring a new mystery each year: Clueless at the Physick Estate: Behind the Curtain. Can the actors keep it together when a sudden death interrupts their performance? Tour-goers try to determine the solution as they question suspects they encounter throughout the Physick House. Saturday, Oct. 8 at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. $18 per person.

For more information on any of these tour, activities and events, or to purchase tickets, call (609) 884-5404 or visit