Island Hopping: Cape May

Cape May County is a treasure trove of thrills, games, specialty seafood, happy hour specials, traditional family-style restaurants, beach gear, breakfast spots, sweet treats and relaxing rituals. Yet with its 620-square-mile span, this Jersey Shore county can be quite daunting. With all this ground to cover, where should you even begin? We’re here with our first edition of Island Hopping for the season, offering some of our favorite places to “do the shore.” This week we’re hopping to the island of Cape May, a historic seaside gem known for its charming Victorian architecture.

Bacon Bloody Mary, anyone? Wake up with Harry’s Ocean Bar & Grille on Beach Avenue, featuring panoramic views of Cape May’s beautiful sand and surf. Start your day with a traditional breakfast favorite such as Harry’s Signature Hotcakes or eggs any style, or opt for something a little more unique such as the Crab & Avocado Omelet or Banana Bread French Toast. And we can’t forget about Harry’s extensive collection of breakfast cocktails! Pair your delectable cuisine with a Bloody Mary, a famous Orange Crush or a flavored Mimosa such as pineapple or pomegranate. Before heading out, be sure to take notice of Harry’s fun décor which highlights Cape May artifacts and historical photos.

After everyone’s stomachs are full, discover the waters of Cape May at Utsch’s Marina. Located at the base of the Cape May Bridge, Utsch’s isn’t just home to 300+ slip-holders; it also serves as a home base for other water activities. Experience the island of Cape May from above with parasailing, or jet ski around the Cape May Harbor and areas close by. Charter boats offer various types of fishing trips to all, as well as the option to fish on your own. If fishing isn’t your thing but you still want to hit the water boat-style, party boats are available for some fun in the sun. Lastly, the Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center at Utsch’s Marina provides both a fun and educational experience, following the migration and antics of our local whales, dolphins and birds via cruise. At Utsch’s, there’s a way for everyone to have fun on the water!

When your morning on the water is complete, it’s time to learn about Cape May’s past. The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) offers multiple tours, both walking and trolley, throughout the summer. This weekend, consider a visit to the Cape May Lighthouse. Climb this 1859 structure’s 199 steps to the watch gallery and see gorgeous views of the Jersey Cape and Delaware Bay. Or, hop aboard the trolley and tour Cape May’s Historic District while hearing entertaining and enlightening stories about the nation’s oldest seaside resort and how it survived. Another option is to have an adventure at the Emlen Physick Estate, using a map to explore the grounds while looking for the answers to an educational scavenger hunt. With over 20 tours and activities happening in a day, everyone in your family will surely enjoy their day in Cape May (while learning a thing or two!).

When afternoon hunger strikes, head to Congress Hall and grab lunch at the beloved Blue Pig Tavern, offering a farm-to-table menu full of classic American comfort cuisine. Sit on the secluded patio and feast on fresh produce, herbs and eggs from Cape Resorts’ very own 62-acre Beach Plum Farm. Start out with house made guacamole or beer battered calamari for the table, then choose from a variety of delectable salads, burgers and sandwiches for your meal. And of course an afternoon cocktail is never out of the question! Before you leave, be sure to take a seat on one of Congress Hall’s iconic rocking chairs overlooking the Grand Lawn.

A performance is the perfect way to spend your late afternoon. Witness true theatrical talent at Cape May Stage, now presenting “Billy Bishop Goes to War.” Experience the trials and tribulations of World War I through the eyes of Billy Bishop, a WWI pilot who struggles to reconcile his joy of flying with the horrors of the war. Set to music, this tale of heroism takes you down into the trenches, up through the skies and inside the human spirit, all within the intimate, unique and historical venue of the Robert Shackleton Playhouse. “Billy Bishop Goes to War” runs through June 23, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Post-performance, visit Cape Atlantic Book Company on Washington Street and pick up your summer beach read. With a wide selection of books for all ages from fiction to nonfiction, mystery to romance, this bookstore allows you and your family to find the perfect book to get lost in on a summer day. You’ll find floor-to-ceiling collections of both current best sellers and old classics, plus a large children’s department for little bookworms.

End your exciting day in Cape May with a delicious sit-down dinner at Sapore Italiano in West Cape May. Set in one of the oldest homes in the seaside resort town, this restaurant offers classic homemade Italian food including antipasti options, carne, pollo, pesce and “real” Italian pasta. Some favorites include the Risotto Scampi – Arborio rice sautéed with shrimp and garlic in extra virgin olive oil in a pink cognac sauce – and Salmon alla Bruschetta – grilled or blackened Salmon served with sautéed spinach and
bruschetta sauce on the side. Whatever you choose, your authentic Italian meal will be made with only fresh and local ingredients. With a menu like that, there is no reason to leave this fine dining establishment hungry!