Island Hopping

Cape May County is a treasure trove of thrills, games, specialty seafood, happy hour specials, traditional family-style restaurants, beach gear, breakfast favorites, and relaxing rituals. Yet with its six hundred and twenty square-mile span, this Jersey shore county can be quite daunting. With all this ground to cover, where should you even begin? “Blast” is here with our fifth edition of Complete Island Hopping, our map of suggestions for a great week of Cape May County fun.

In the fair weather summer months, Jersey Shore golf enthusiasts have their fair share of putting greens, par-3s, and sprawling 18-hole courses to choose from. This week, let us make your choice easier. Tee up on the unique 27-hole sprawling course at Sand Barrens Golf Club of Swainton. With its sandy stretches set against green fairways, it is the closest thing to a desert course in the county. Five sets of tee boxes ensure that players of all skill levels can be comfortable on the course. When considering which nines to play and how to play them, remember that the South Nine is the prettiest, the North is the toughest, and the West is everyone’s favorite.

Can’t spare the time for a full golf match? Cape May Par 3 is the perfect place for a quick golf fix. A full game only takes about two hours to play. Even better, beach attire is perfectly appropriate at Cape May Par 3. Wake up, hit a few balls at the driving range, polish overall skills on the 18-hole full-sized greens, and then head directly to the beach for the day. The greens are kept in pristine condition. Cape May Par-3 visitors who also belong to private clubs often find that the course conditions are very comparable. Golfers of all experience levels feel comfortable at Cape May Par 3. Grab your clubs and try it for yourself…

Later in the day, take a beach break with a shopping excursion. Cape May, Wildwood, and Rio Grande are home to the one-of-a-kind Winterwood Christmas & Gift Shoppe. As the area’s largest Christmas shop, Winterwood presents their thousands of ornaments on their very own trees. Inspired by its coastal locations, Winterwood also features a vast collection of nautical and sea-themed ornaments and gifts. Intricate bottled ships and lifeguard stand and shell lamps are just a few of Winterwood’s beach-themed home accents.

Looking to show your shore pride? Cape May Patrons seeking beach-themed apparel can choose from the varied custom line of tees at Great White Shark of the Cape May Washington Street Mall. From Cape May pride to witty phrases, each of these tees expresses its own bold statement.

For a relaxed dinner, head to Oceanside Seafood of Dune Drive in Avalon and check out their vast selection in their very own seafood market. Oceanside’s market offers a huge variety of fresh catches including locally caught Fluke, Mahi-Mahi, Tilapia, Shrimp, Crab Claw, Lobster Tail, Grouper, Shrimp, fresh produce from Tony’s, and more. Can’t find the seafood item you’re looking for? Give Oceanside 24 hours notice and the staff will personally order it for you. Grab your favorite catch and a few fresh vegetables and host your own Jersey Shore style feast.

Prefer to dine out? Hit the Wildwood island for a range of cuisine choices. Ice House Bar and Restaurant of Park Boulevard offers indoor fine dining or a cool outdoor ambiance. Take a seat in the modern dining room and sample one of Ice House’s unique starter options. Every night from 5 to 6 p.m., the downstairs dining area features its three-course Early Bird Special. For a casual, open-air vibe, take the elevator up to the spacious Ice House Deck overlooking historic Otten’s Harbor. The Harbor-View Deck’s weekday specials are not to be missed.

Elsewhere on the island, Beach Creek Oyster Bar & Grille offers live entertainment nightly to be enjoyed with one of their many custom specialty martinis. Beach Creek’s eclectic menu offers contemporary coastal cuisine with an international flair. To start, fresh oysters are just $2 each and the Crab & Bass Bites remain a favorite.

A few blocks north on Atlantic Avenue, diners make a quick trip to the Mediterranean at Little Italy. Little Italy’s interior is designed in the warm terracotta and tile characteristic of Italian streets and features it very own 3-dimensional piazzas. The meal is just as much visual as culinary. Its nearly endless menu of pasta possibilities includes a choice of five of the freshest pastas and twelve sauce and toppings options from classic Marinara to Italian specialty Agilo e Olio Broccoli & Chicken.

Sample a taste of a local surf shop legacy at Dogtooth Bar & Grill on Taylor Avenue. Inspired by his father’s love for the ocean and long-time Kona Surf shop ownership, Brendan decided to open a unique restaurant concept that offers a great place for locals and tourists to start their night off with their favorite drink and a selection from a tempting menu. Dogtooth is known for its chill atmosphere and eclectic Asian/Mexican/ American fare. Be sure to try the Tuna Bites or Volcano Shrimp.

The night begins and ends at Oceanic Hotel of Wildwood where the biggest local entertainers and DJ’s hit the stage until the early hours of the next morning. Grab your scrunchie and spandex and travel back in time at Oceanic’s Barefoot Bar every Friday night with the 80s Disco Party with DJ Tim Otto in the mix.

The next morning, wake up on the waves at Pier 47 Marina with one of their pontoon boat or fishing & crabbing skiff rentals. Their very own tackle shop features all and any bait you could possibly need.

Find a fun beach day alternative at Historic Cold Spring Village where the past comes to life. More than two dozen historic homes from Cape May and Cumberland Counties are clustered together much the way the houses in the original Cold Spring Village were grouped together back in the 1800s. Visitors will find many Village “residents” demonstrating what life was like during America’s first days.

Spend the day on the water and visit the shores across the Delaware with the Cape May Lewes Ferry. Enjoy historic lighthouses, picturesque harbors, oceangoing vessels, unique seabirds and, just maybe, your very own dolphin escort. The 17-mile cruise can be followed by a guided trolley tour of historic Lewes, a shopping trip to the nearby premium outlets, or a visit to the Fenwick Island Lighthouse.

Grab a late lunch or dinner at Rio Station Restaurant & Bar of Rio Grande where the handmade paninis are delcious and the prime rib has been called “The Best in the Universe”. Cape May County wine-lovers have found paradise here with their extensive wine list, which has received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and has been rated Top Ten Value in the state of New Jersey. Build your own burger or sample K.C.’s World-Famous Crab Cakes. Aspiring stars get their chance to shine at Rio Stations’ Friday night karaoke. For dessert, head just next door to YoGo Factory of Rio Grande where the flavor variety is truly mind-blowing. YoGo offers a rotation of 52 non fat unique flavors those of a sugar-free diet can enjoy YoGo No Sugar Added flavors such as Strawberry Banana and Praline.

Start your jaunt into Jersey Shore nightlife at Goodnight Irene’s Brew Pub. There is no better pub for beer lovers and the beer-curious. Irene’s is home to Wildwood’s largest craft beer selection and was voted “#1 Best Neighborhood Bar” on PHL 17’s Jersey Shore Hotlist. 50 ever-changing taps offer local specialties such as Flying Fish, Stone, Victory, Dogfish Head, Sly Fox, Sierra Nevada, and Cape May Brewing Company. The night heats up at Westy’s Irish Pub of the North Wildwood Entertainment District. Rock out on the brand-new Art’s Big Deck with local favorites such as The Nerds, Long and the Jersey Horns, and Bigg Romeo. Take a seat at the huge bar and be sure to check out the deck’s extended exclusive menu.

Capture any of these or your very own Cape May County experiences with the help of the talented staff at On the Island Portraits of Cape May. This personal photography service strives to capture the best photo in the most relaxed atmosphere at prices that are second to none.

By Megan Kummer