The days of warm weather are numbered for East Coasters, and September usually has people scrambling to make plans for one final beach getaway. With its white sandy shores, farm to table dining, and charming landscape of Victorian-era architecture, Cape May is the little-appreciated crown jewel of the Jersey Coast. While Cape May might not have a reputation for being a gay destination, all of the businesses listed below (with the exception of PSI) are gay owned:
Check In With Style
Vacation like a president and station yourself at the landmark hotel, Congress Hall. With its reputation as America’s first seaside resort, Congress Hall guests can enjoy the historical charm without sacrificing any modern amenities. Steps from the ocean, the hotel offers beach cabanas, poolside service, and an award winning Sea Spa. But first, drop your bags and take in the ocean air with a quick beach walk or a drink on the veranda before heading to dinner.
Romance Is In the Air, And In The FoodSaturday:A Late Brunch
Walk just two short blocks from Congress Hall to its sister hotel, The Virginia, located on Jackson Street. Inside you’ll find Cape May’s most romantic dinner spot, The Ebbitt Room, which offers diners a fresh perspective on American cuisine. With a serious commitment to the farm to table movement, the menu at The Ebbitt Room draws seasonal ingredients from its very own 62-acre farm, located a few miles away. Start with the Farm Salad with fresh strawberries and house made herb vinaigrette, then indulge in the Beach Plum Farm Pork Chops with bourbon-blackberry glaze and blue cheese cheddar grits. The ingredients of the Ebbitt Room’s signature cocktails are also sourced from the farm so indulge in a Lemon Drop Martini with fresh basil or a Whiskey Smash with muddled blackberries.
For the perfect ending to a relaxed first night in Cape May, enjoy a post dinner nightcap back at Congress Hall’s stylish 1930s Havana-inspired lounge, The Brown Room. Nicknamed “Cape May’s Living Room,” The Brown Room’s cozy fireplace, leather sofas, and sultry live entertainment make it the perfect setting for an intimate drink or to socialize with fellow travelers. After a few cucumber and mint gin and tonics, it’ll be a short walk back to your room.
Don’t set an alarm. Just let your appetite wake you in time for brunch at The Blue Pig Tavern
downstairs. Wake up with a fresh cup of coffee from La Colombe and enjoy a seaside omelet with crabmeat and leeks or any of the locally sourced free-range egg dishes. The frittata with wild mushrooms, asparagus and goat cheese is killer. Don’t be afraid to eat big here and settle for a lighter lunch later.
To work off some of those brunch calories before the beach, take a stroll for a few blocks in any direction to appreciate the ornate architecture as Cape May has one of the largest collections of late 19th-century buildings in the country. If you’re on the hunt for a unique souvenir or a funky collectible, check out West End Garage on Jackson Street. It houses over 60 artists and vendors from across the Northeast. It’s not your typical tourist trap.
Since soaking up those last moments of summer sun is the reason you came to Cape May, spend most of your day here. Congress Hall provides complimentary towels and beach loungers, but if you’re in the mood for ultimate relaxation, rent a cabana instead. Cabana rentals include all of the complimentary items plus a cooler filled with water, juices, and soda and, most importantly, a cabana boy (or girl) to deliver your lunch.
Beach Bar Happy Hour
If beach day has you thirsty for something more than water, head over The Rusty Nail for an afternoon libation. This come-as-you-are beach bar located at the Beach Shack Hotel has plenty of outdoor seating and a firepit. The Rusty Nail also welcomes canine companions and has a selection of treats and even a doggy beer on their menu.
A Dining Love Affair
After a relaxing day in the sun, get cleaned up and head back to the ocean for dinner at Peter Shields Inn, or PSI as it’s called by locals. Consistently rated the top restaurant in Cape May, this oceanfront mansion will romance you with the sound of crashing waves and live piano music playing in the background. Make a reservation early so you can eat on the veranda. PSI is BYOB so be sure to make a pitstop at Collier’s Liquor Store before you go.
Make the most of your last day in Cape May by grabbing a fresh kale, spinach, and pineapple juice and an egg white panini from the poolside breakfast menu at Congress Hall. Lounge at the pool for as long as humanly possible and try not to think about the long drive home.
What better way to end a relaxing weekend in Cape May than even more relaxing? Treat yourself to a day at the luxurious Sea Spa in Congress Hall. You can opt for a traditional mani, pedi or facial but why not indulge in one of their signature treatments? The Ocean Memory Marine Ritual is 100 minutes of pure bliss that includes a sea salt body scrub, a full body massage, and a tingling mud wrap. You’ll never want to go home.