Monday, September 17, 2012

A Cape Escape

Attending Boston College, we often escaped to the Cape (Cod, that is) for a quick weekend away. From Chatham to Woods Hole, we enjoyed many a day on the beach or ferrying over to the Vineyard or Nantucket. So many great memories!

For Labor Day weekend 2012, The Boy chose a getaway to the Cape, but this was a different one than that of my college years. For over 200 years, Easterners have been frequenting Cape May, one of the oldest seaside resorts in the nation. This charming beach enclave, a 3-hour drive from NYC, is located at the southern tip of my new home state of New Jersey!

Our goal was to leave by 8 AM Saturday, which meant we would leave by 10 AM. At 10:05, Starbucks in tow, we drove out of Hoboken and towards the turnpike. At 10:35, we hit traffic on the Parkway. At Exit 143. We were headed to Exit 0.
Skee Ball...I won (obviously!)
Despite the traffic, our spirits remained high - it was vacation regardless - and we rolled into our first stop, the newly founded Cape May Brewing Company. Opened last July, Cape May Brewing Company is still a small production team, catering mostly to the Cape May and Wildwood areas. Only open on Saturdays from Noon to 4 PM, we stopped by the brewery for a tasting. Located adjacent to the Cape May airport in an industrial row of buildings, the Brewery's minimalist style shows a lot of potential. For $11 a person, we upgraded from the free plastic cup tasting to a commemorative Cape May Brewery glass shaped like a beer can. Legitimately a cool addition to our future bar. From the Saison to the award winning Centennial IPA (Best IPA at the 2012 Atlantic City Beer Festival), we were impressed with the flavor profiles and breadth of their beers. Pick up a growler next time you're in the area or head to Sea Salt where they carry the Saison on tap!

Congress Hall, accommodating visitors since 1816
When The Boy and I go on vacation, we somehow get the perfect mix of adventure, activity, culinary treats, and relaxation all at once. For our Cape May escape, this ranged from skee ball shoot outs to sour salt water taffy bombs, body surfing in the ocean to cruising on our bikes around town. There are too many detail of our trip to list them all so I'll highlight a few dining spots I'd recommend checking out in case you're ever down at the most southern tip of New Jersey. 

  • The Rusty Nail:  Voted one of America's Best Beach Bars by Travel + Leisure magazine, the Rusty Nail does not disappoint. The perfect mix of dive bar, beach side location, quality cocktails, and perfectly greasy variety of scrumptious bar food. We also were lucky enough to enjoy some local Reggae music that played live for us while we sipped our Dark & Stormy's.
  • Sea Salt Restaurant: Located within the Ocean Club Hotel, which admittedly doesn't have the most curb appeal, the cuisine at Sea Salt was beyond our expectations. From a smoked trout with roe appetizer special and the succulent local oysters on a half shell to the pan seared red snapper in pea risotto and squid ink with shellfish entree special, there wasn't one thing we didn't enjoy. Our waitress, who looked like a naive college student, was surprisingly well versed with the menu and quite capable to adeptly describe each dish.
  • Peter Shields Inn: Disclaimer - we stayed here, which was NOT our best move (more on that later), and we only ate breakfast here, which was lovely, but the dinner menu and the presentation of the food that we saw looked pretty appetizing. If nothing else, the setting of the Inn overlooking the beach in this lovely 1907 Georgian Revival mansion is worth a visit. It's BYOB as well, so bring something tasty and try it out.
Peter Shields Inn
Without a doubt, I would go back to Cape May. It offered the perfect blend of upscale at one end of the beach with the right mix of approachable beach shack styling at the other end. Easily surmountable on beach cruiser, this small community offers a little something for everyone looking for a nice beach escape. 

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