Island Hopping: July 29 to August 4

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 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 seventh edition of Island Hopping, offering our map of suggestions of where to “do the shore” for a great week of Cape May County fun.

Start your day by hitting the water at Utsch’s Marina, THE place to experience the waters of Cape May. Located at the base of the Cape May Bridge, choose from whale watching, parasailing, jet skiing, deep-sea fishing or partying on a boat – there is something for everyone to have fun on the water!

Prefer to spend your morning high and dry on land? Step back in time into the “age of homespun” at Historic Cold Spring Village, New Jersey’s largest open-air living history museum representing the life of South Jersey villagers during 1789-1840. This weekend is ‘Hands-on History’ weekend, where you can try your hand at crafts and trades from the 1800s such as blacksmithing, basketweaving, woodworking and more. Children can get their ‘Pastport’ stamped for each hands-on activity they complete, and redeem it for a free treat in the Country Store!

When the lunchtime hunger kicks in, hop over to Clarke’s Sunset Market in Stone Harbor for a full line of gourmet Dietz & Watson deli meats, USDA choice and prime meats cut to order, sirloin patties made in house, homemade salads, local fruits and veggies, and more. With endless lunch options, Clarke’s is sure to have something to please every palate in your family!

Thinking about heading to the beach for an afternoon by the sea? Think again. Cape May County is home to many golf courses that welcome golfers of all skill levels, so head over to the green at Cape May Par 3 & Driving Range in Rio Grande instead. This 18-hole course allows those of all skill levels to have a successful game, making for a fun-filled afternoon. If you’re still thinking about stopping by the beach to soak up some sun, Cape May Par 3 welcomes those in beach attire to hit a round of golf before hitting the sand!

When Happy Hour rolls around, the options are endless! Go for no-shower Happy Hour at Harpoon Henry’s in North Cape May, located on the scenic Delaware Bay. Swing by Monday through Friday from 3 to 5:30 p.m. for $2 light drafts, $5 house wines, $5 chicken fingers, $7 steamers, $3 half-foot onion rings and $6 U-Peel-Um shrimp. Stick around for premium sunset views and the nightly conch blowing ceremony at the sunset’s end. This tradition originated in the Florida Keys, and Harpoon Henry’s owner Ed Henry has brought it right here to the Jersey Shore.

Another Happy Hour option is On the Rocks Dockside Grill at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal, overlooking the waters where to Cape May Canal and the Delaware Bay meet. Happy Hour is Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. featuring $1 off all beer, wine and well drinks, and flip flops are encouraged so you can kick back. Bring the kids and relax while they putt and play on the nearby mini golf course and playground, and stick around to catch an amazing sunset!

For a different Happy Hour scene, check out Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery in Rio Grande to experience local, handcrafted wine. Visit the wine bar for an educational tasting of a selection of wines while a guide answers any questions you may have and helps you to find a wine you love. Or get a more in-depth experience as you tour the facility. Taste through the wines as your guide leads you through every step of the wine making process from the vineyard to the vast steel tanks and French oak barrels, and learn the history of Hawk Haven as you sip.

When dinnertime rolls around, fill your family’s stomachs with Italian cuisine from Trattoria Conte in Wildwood Crest. At Trattoria, all meals are made to order from the finest imported Italian products, brought together with local caught seafood, locally sourced meats, poultry and vegetables to present you with a meal like no other. Add homemade dessert made from family recipes to your meal, and don’t forget the espresso!

If you are looking for a more casual dining experience, head down Ocean Drive in Cape May to H&H Seafood. Whether you’re looking for Blue Claw crabs, lobster, Cape May scallops, shrimp, clams, oysters or other local fish, you’ll find it in this fresh seafood market. The dockside dining menu changes daily depending on the catch, so stop by to check out the catch of the day. Be sure to take advantage of the all-you-can-eat Blue Claw crabs special. Come hungry and leave satisfied!

Rather do dinner in the comfort of your own home, hotel or rental? Sample the renowned Asian fusion flavors of Dragon House in the heart of Wildwood. All menu items are available for takeout and/or delivery, including the ever-popular Scallion Pancakes appetizer, nicknamed “Chinese Pizza.”

After a long day of island hopping, relax and unwind at 5 West Pub in North Cape May and grab some cool cocktails with friends. Even furry friends are welcome, as 5 West Pub’s outside patio is pet friendly and open nightly from 5 to 10 p.m. Water is probably the best choice for Fido, but for you, we suggest the signature “5 West” cocktail made with Bacardi Dragonberry Rum, lemonade, cranberry juice and 7Up. If you stop by on a Sunday night, you’ll catch the all-day Happy Hour with some great drink specials! Cheers!

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