Forever known for its sleepy beaches and historic gingerbread cottages, Cape May has a new cool factor for foodies and families.
Virginia Hotel’s White Cottage
Check in to the Virginia Hotel’s White Cottage, a gorgeous circa-1891 home with working replaces, a winding staircase, saltwater tay-hued living spaces and triple-decker porches with ocean views (25 Jackson St., 609.884.5700, caperesorts.com). After dropping your bags, walk around the corner for breakfast at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House (261 Beach Ave., 609.884.7199, unclebillspancakehouse.com) or get some sightseeing in by climbing the 199 steps of the Cape May Lighthouse (215 Light House Ave., 609.884.5404, capemaymac.org).
Washington Street Mall
Stroll over to the Washington Street Mall, Cape May’s quaint pedestrian retail stretch. Skip the stores selling beachy knickknacks and head right to menswear shop Galvanic (514 Washington St., 609.600.2608, galvanic.co), where 28-year-old couple Ryan and Samantha Platzer stock the shelves with Hershel duels, Shinola watches and Reigning Champ tailored sweats. At the opposite end of the Mall is Congress Hall (200 Congress Place, 888.944.1816, caperesorts.com), the Virginia’s historic sister property, where you’ll check into the Sea Spa for the hourlong Gentleman’s Facial.
Congress Hall Bike Shop
Post-spa, grab a set of wheels from the Congress Hall Bike Shop and start out on a leisurely 6-mile route to Cape May Brewery (1288 Hornet Road, 609.849.9933, capemaybrewery.com) for an afternoon tour and ight at the 24-tap tasting room. Look out for their obeat sours and barrel-aged beers like Topsail and Brothel Madam, then hit the Taco Shop (1288 Hornet Road, 609.849.9045, tacoshoptacos.com) next door for lunch, where chef Lucas Manteca of Cape May’s renowned Red Store does killer tacos al pastor and push-pops in avors like coconut dulce de leche.
Bike over to Harpoons (91 Beach Dr., 609.886.5529, harpoonsonthebay.com) in North Cape May, a bayside enclave divided from the city proper by the Cape May Canal. e beachfront tavern is a real locals’ hangout that draws a crowd all year long for its live music, happy hours and spectacular sunsets, which in October happen between 6 and 6:40, depending on the day. Grab a west-facing seat and watch the sun sink below the horizon like a giant blazing grapefruit.
Head back to the Virginia for dinner at the Ebbitt Room (609.884.5700, caperesorts.com), the hotel’s distinguished dining room. Order the charcuterie board, featuring cured meats new chef Jason Hanin crafts from the hogs that roam the hotel’s nearby Beach Plum Farm, and the roasted rib-eye with caramelized shallots. After-dinner drinks are a good idea at Boiler Room, Congress Hall’s subterranean bar, but after this Cape May day, retreating to White Cottage’s powder-blue master suite is perfectly acceptable.