WHERE VICTORIANS STILL REIGN
Seasonal celebrations of past and present in Cape May. By Deborah Carter
CAPE MAY DAYS:
Locals in Victorian
garb, below, stroll
past the Mainstay
Inn. Inset: A visitor gets up close
and personal with
a fresh-baked pie
at the Beach Plum
When the fall chill chases beachgoers from the water’s edge, Cape May, Jersey’s south- ernmost Shore town, embraces autumnal outdoor fun while offering off-season elbow
room for shopping, dining and overnight stays.
Often cited as America’s first beach resort, Cape May, now
a national historic landmark, has attracted vacationers with its
stately Victorian architecture and fine beaches since the 1800s.
The town, once decidedly formal—a product of its years hosting
society’s elite, including presidents—has morphed into a well-heeled, casual resort town with plenty to see and do.
A horse-and-buggy ride from Cape May Carriage Company
(Washington and Ocean streets) will trot you through town
to view highlights such as the impeccably restored Victorian
homes and bed-and-breakfasts throughout the historic district.
Or you can stroll through the shops that line Beach Avenue and
the Washington Mall, a pedestrian shopping strip in the center
of town. From beach souvenirs to art galleries, high-end jewelry
and clothing outposts, there are lots of year-round stores to peruse. A short walk from the mall, and definitely worth a visit, is
the West End Garage (484 W. Perry Street), a spacious ware-house-style co-op, where vendors sell specialty foods (such as
artisan peanut butters and balsamic oils), artwork, handmade
jewelry, quirky vintage finds and clothing.
A bevy of outdoor activities are on tap during October.
The first weekend of the month brings Oktoberfest. Historic
Jackson Street is lined with vendors selling German food,
hearty beers, fine art, crafts and collectibles. Stop at the Vir-
ginia Hotel’s ( 25 Jackson Street) Brown Cottage beer garden,
where Cape May Brewery offers local craft brews on tap dur-
ing the festival. October 4 also kicks off the Beach Plum Farm
Festival, with corn mazes, hayrides, tie dying and pumpkin
picking. The 62-acre farm ( 104 Stevens Street) produces fruits,
vegetables, herbs, honey and flowers for its affiliated eateries.
On the farm tour during the hayride guests will see an array
of chickens, Berkshire pigs (and piglets!) as well as a tiny clus-
ter of Clun Forest sheep.
October 10 through 13, Cape May salutes its past with the
annual Victorian Weekend, sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Cen-
ter for the Arts and Humanities. Festivities include living-his-
tory programs, house tours, arts and crafts, chocolate tastings
and trolley rides. At the museum tearoom on October 13 at the
Victorian Emlen Physick Estate ( 108 Washington Street), guests
are given a peek under the formal garb of the day with the Show
Us your Undies brunch and period-dress fashion show.
Trick-or-treating gets an early start
at noon on October 19 at the Washington
Street Mall. At 3 PM ghosts and goblins
take to the street for the Halloween pa-
rade (registration begins at 1: 30 PM). The
13th annual Phantom Ball at Congress
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