Island Hopping – July 4th to 10th!

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

Grab a few of the heartiest breakfast sandwiches known to the shore for the entire family to enjoy pre-beach only at Blitz’s Market in Cape May Court House. Get your day started the right way with a Blitz’s signature featuring a meat of your choice, melted cheese, and lots of eggs for extra fuel! Feed the whole crew at Blitz’s, where family comes first. From there, hit the beach of your choice and ring in Independence Day weekend with some waterfront relaxation. No beach day is complete without a great beach read. Be sure to hit Cape Atlantic Book Company of Cape May’s Washington Street Mall before you hit the sand. Here, the staff is armed with lots of great suggestions based upon your favorite genres and authors. All mystery-lovers should check out the seven original mystery titles re-released from Hard Case Crime by the late Michael Crichton writing as John Lange. These titles are best described as the perfect “Hard-Boiled” mysteries.

Those who set up shop on Cape May’s beaches can take a quick lunch break at Harry’s Ocean Bar & Grille located at the Montreal Resort. Here, the motto is, “Keep calm and Harry on,” but the excellent line-up of appetizers, salads, and burgers is definitely something to get excited about. Harry’s is home to a panoramic patio bar, live entertainment and an extensive collection of beer, wine and cocktails. Be sure to ask your server about the daily drink special!

Keep the beachfront fun rolling with a stop at the Fin Bar at Marq’s Pub, also located on Beach Avenue in the heart of Cape May. Pull up a chair and stay a while at this outdoor gazebo bar, perfect for people watching and taking in the sights and sounds of Cape May in the summertime. Here, bartender Mazz is proud to present his signature “Dani’s Peach” cocktail. A refreshing yet surprisingly strong concoction, the Dani’s Peach is definitely worth a try.

Spend the night of Friday the Fourth catching the fireworks like never before courtesy of MAC and the Cape May Lighthouse. They are now offering an exclusive chance to see an Independence Day celebration from the best vantage point of all: atop the Lighthouse. Participants will be picked up by MAC’s trolley at the Washington Street Mall Information Booth and taken to the Red Store in Cape May Point for a delicious, seasonal, five-course dinner prepared by Chef Lucas Manteca. After dinner, board the trolley for a short ride to Cape May Lighthouse, where you will climb to the top to watch the fireworks from the watch gallery. Call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278 to book the Independence Day experience of a lifetime.

Rather hit North Cape May for a casual family dining experience? Head over to 5 West Pub and take a seat on the brand new outdoor patio and feast on their innovative takes on classic pub fare. 5 West’s variety of small plates and appetizers includes choices such as loaded fries, pan-seared scallops, and very unique tater tots, made with crispy bacon and parmesan cream. With its own brick oven, 5 West also crafts a number of unique pizzas with its own dough made daily.

Just a quick drive away and right on the bay, Harpoon Henry’s is North Cape May’s place to be as the sun starts to set. Choose from an extensive menu of over 150 frozen drinks and watch as owner Ed Henry celebrates another sunset with his Conch Blowing Ceremony, a tradition in the Florida Keys.

Spend your next shore morning on the green at Avalon Golf Club of Swainton. Avalon Golf is an 18-hole championship course that artistically blends various hole personalities to create an experience that dazzles the senses. With holes measuring from 6325 to 4924 yards, Avalon can be considered a fair yet tough test for golfers of all skill levels. While other local course layouts are based on target shots, the layout of Avalon Golf Club is more traditional. Post-match, be sure to stop by Avalon Golf Club’s extensive pro shop, the largest in South Jersey.

If mini golf is more your speed, Duffer’s of Wildwood’s Pacific Avenue is the perfect place to get your putt on. On the outdoor grounds, an eighteen-hole miniature golf course allows customers to tee up at the foot of a huge sand castle or a few feet from the tentacles of a giant purple octopus. The nautical theme of the course is perfect for the “gone to the beach” mood of the shore town’s patrons. Finish up the game at the shipwreck of the final hole where golfers putt to win a chance at a free game for their next visit to Duffer’s.

Rather spend the day shopping on the boards? Make Marcellina Boutique your destination. Marcellina of the Wildwoods Boardwalk has quickly become a go-to shopping destination for high quality clothing and accessories and personalized customer service. Featuring popular designer lines such as Tommy Bahama, Pandora, Brighton, and Vera Bradley, Marcellina offers looks for the beach, boardwalk, or a nice evening out.

Also a great stop during a Wildwoods shopping excursion, M.S. Brown Jewelers now carries Wind & Fire stackable charm bracelets, one of this summer’s hottest trends. Collect one for each and every of life’s milestones, to commemorate a great vacation, or just to express your personality! When the evening rolls around, choose from one of Wildwood’s many premiere dining establishments for a dinner to remember. Those seeking a fine dining moment can set their sights on Marie Nicole’s of Wildwood Crest, voted “Best of the Shore” by both Philadelphia Magazine and South Jersey Magazine. Enjoy seafood, steak and fresh pasta in a relaxed, yet sophisticated and stylish atmosphere. Take a seat in their intimate dining room or relish the summer breeze on the terrace. For a waterfront taste of the sea, head over the bridge to Two Mile Marina for an evening on the Crab House’s scenic deck. he vibe here is relaxed, fun and family friendly. Dine on all you can eat Blue Claw Crabs, fresh seafood, casual sandwiches and frozen drinks.

Craving a taste of Italy? Little Italy of Wildwood Crest brings the unique personality of the boot-shaped nation’s sights, sounds, smells, and tastes to Cape May County. 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. Gioia Ristorante of downtown Wildwood specializes in a modern approach to Italian classics, but strives to remain true to the “old country” as well. The LaMonaca family originally hails from Sicily and, much to the delight of diners, has brought generations-old Sicilian recipes right here to the Wildwoods. The Daily Martini Specials complement Gioia’s varied selection of dinner entrees and small plates.

Residing on Seven Mile Island? Make the Reeds at Shelter Haven your dining destination for the evening. New for the summer of 2014, the bayfront Water Star Grille at The Reeds is accepting large party reservations (10 or more) to enjoy ballroom seating and our new shared plates menu concept!

By Meg Kummer