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 ninth edition of Complete Island Hopping, our map of suggestions for a great week of Cape May County fun.

Start your day on the links at Avalon Golf Club of Swainton. Avalon Golf Club’s course, with its 18-hole layout, can be considered a fair and tough test of skill for golfers of all levels. While other local course layouts are based on target shots, the layout of Avalon Golf Club is more traditional. If you hit straight and long, you score well. If you stray, you pay. Post-match, be sure to stop by Avalon Golf’s extensive pro shop, the largest in South Jersey. The shop offers a wide selection of equipment, apparel, and accessories.

Spend the afternoon with the kids at Historic Cold Spring Village and take a trip back in time to a simpler era. New for 2012, Cold Spring Village presents its Needle Arts Coop, housed in a charming octagonal house c. 1880. Inside of the Coop, guests have the opportunity to get hands-on and receive lessons on a variety of fiber arts including knitting, crocheting, quilting, sewing and more. Take-home kits and supplies will be available for purchase as well as handmade artisan wares from Villagers and local craftspersons.

From your lesson in history, hit the Jersey Shore beach. Those in the Wildwoods can enjoy a quick afternoon cooldown at the Oceanic Hotel’s ever-popular Tiki Bar – the only one in the Wildwoods. The Oceanic Hotel is conveniently located directly across Ocean Ave. from the Wildwoods Convention Center and Wildwood’s world-famous Boardwalk. Get a true island vibe with tropical drinks, ice cold beer, and the coolest staff. The Tiki Bar opens at 11:30 a.m. and features live entertainment daily such as DJ RayMan who spins everything from 50s classics to today’s hits.

For those soaking up the sun farther north on the island, hit Flip Flopz Beach Bar & Grill for lunch and an afternoon cocktail. Flip Flopz Beach Bar & Grill serves American cuisine with a Caribbean flair. From soups to salads, appetizers to entrees, all items are prepared fresh and homemade on the premises. If that isn’t enough to satisfy…take a walk upstairs to Tiki Topz by the pool with fabulous views of the Hereford Inlet. Don’t miss the hot Tiki Topz Pool Parties every Saturday and Sunday all summer long with DJ Tony Stef.

For those with plans for a home-cooked post beach meal, make a pit stop at H&H Seafood Market for the freshest local catches. Nestled on the harbor between Cape May and Wildwood Crest, H&H features a full service seafood market offering only the freshest clams, shrimp, scallops, softshell crabs, oysters, fresh fish, and conch. The market also offers a number of unique specialty items and hand-picked crab meat. No backyard seafood cookout or barbecue is complete without the perfect dessert. Let Hankins’ Fudge do the work. The Hankins’ namesake and claim to fame – their homemade fudge – has been perfected throughout its history. Only the freshest all-natural ingredients are used in its production. Made on the store’s premises daily, the fudge is slow cooked using copper kettles. Hankins’ homemade fudge flavors include chocolate, chocolate nut, vanilla, vanilla nut, rocky road, chocolate vanilla swirl, chocolate peanut butter, cookies and cream, and sugar-free chocolate.

Prefer to skip the home cooking hassle? Head to the Wildwoods island to dine out. Entering its fourth season, Ice House Bar and Restaurant has become Cape May County’s top choice for both evening cocktails and family dining. The Ice House remains focused on providing guests with outstanding service and a quality dining experience. The friendly staff and varied menu truly have something to offer for family members of all ages and tastes. Ice House offers six varieties of house wine by the glass plus an extensive wine list including white, blush, red, and sparkling wines. On a Wine Wednesday, select bottles of Ice House’s large wine collection are sold for only $15.

For a more casual, pub atmosphere, try Tucker’s of Atlantic Avenue. The Tucker’s Pub menu mixes traditional Irish fare with classic burgers, sandwiches, and salads. Tucker’s delicious dinner platters offer generous portions of your favorites including the award-winning, slow-cooked pot roast served with Guinness gravy and caramelized onions. Tucker’s famous crabcakes are also sure to please. Daily lunch and dinner specials offer big taste for a small price. Located in a former bank, you’ll enjoy Tucker’s historic architecture, including the bank vault which now keeps Tucker’s beer collection cool and safe.

Alternatively, just one street over on Oak Avenue, experience the best in “all you can eat” at Red Oak Restaurant. Red Oak, in business for 40 years, serves the finest breakfast and “sea & land” dinner buffets to satisfy the entire family at the most reasonable prices. Dinner buffet offers over 60 items – soups, a complete salad bar, pasta galore, stuffed flounder, broiled tilapia and grouper, hand carved beef and ham, chicken tenders, ribs, meatballs, chicken cordon bleu, roast stuffed turkey, macaroni & cheese, rice pilaf, fresh vegetables, homemade desserts and more.

After dinner, grab a drink at Wildwood’s favorite “hideaway on the waterway”, The Wharf. Overlooking Otten’s Harbor the Wharf’s deck is home to unbeatably beautiful golden sunsets. The sounds of the best local bands including The FGBR Band, Sindi Raymond, Mike Goldman, Joe & Josie, Juliano Brothers, Cowabunga Chris, Bangarang, Vince Schneider, Looseleaf Trio, and Sound Escape heat up the deck daily. Grab a basket of their signature The Wharf Bay Fries and split a beer tower with good friends for only $19.99.

After a Wildwood night, why not give Cape May a try? Hop aboard one of the several available trolley tours sponsored by MAC that allow visitors to get to know more about this historic beach town’s haunted and star-studded past. On the War at the Shore ride, learn about the impact of World War II on the Cape May area as you visit several historic sites. Architecture enthusiasts may prefer the Mansions by the Sea Trolley Tour. Take the cherry red trolley along Beach Avenue and discover its rich diversity of Victorian, Craftsman and ’90s architectural wonders.

Don’t leave the Jersey Shore’s oldest seaside resort before sampling the spectacular shopping experience at Winterwood Christmas & Gift Shoppe. Located in Cape May’s Washington Street Mall, Winterwood’s presentation of its thousands of decorative goods is quite striking. As the area’s largest Christmas shop, Winterwood presents their thousands of ornaments on their very own trees. Strung with lights, beads, and even topped by Santa hats or witches, each individual tree has its very own design theme coordinated to the theme of the room it stands in. Proud alumnae can find their alma mater among a vast collection of college-themed ornaments while fierce sports fans can pick up a nutcracker dressed in Phillies or Yankees attire.

For dinner and a show, be sure to make plans for an evening at Lighthouse Pointe. The King himself makes an appearance Mondays at 7:30 p.m. Dinner with Elvis includes a delicious dish and direct interaction with performer Johnny Tocco. The King serenades and awards a lucky diner with a bear during his rendition of “Teddy Bear”. For those with on-stage hopes, prepare yourselves. Tocco selects back-up dancers for his Vegas act and dresses them the part in feather boas. Rock on…

After your date with Elvis, grab a cold cocktail at Wildwood’s Blue Water Grille of the Bolero Resort. Margarita Monday features $4 margaritas and $.35 steamers. Grab a $2 domestic bottle or buy one appetizer and get one free on 2 For Tuesday. Sample $3 house wine on Wine Down Wednesday, or celebrate the week’s end with $5 frozen drinks on Friday and a $3 Bud Light Platinum on Super Saturday. Prefer a quick night cap at home? Gleeson’s Liquors of Ocean View features their very own craft beer collection including Lindemans, Victory, Rogue, Magic Hat, and Samuel Smiths just to name a few. They also offer a large number of imports from around the world including Peroni, Sapporo, Boddington, and Smithwick.

By Megan Kummer