Whenever I plan a trip, it usually has some semblance of “kid’s menu” written on it. But, since I turned fifty…vomit…and Gianmarco is four and gave my husband and myself the gift of a new king size bed (we’ve had it for fourteen years, but everything old is new again) we didn’t realize we had, we decided to take a grown up weekend “down the shore,” as we Jersians say. I think the shore has its charm for low-key beachy fun with the family, and short jaunts for the casual, no heirs, no make up (good luck) are a great getaway, but not my first choice for a real vacation. However, Cape May made me reformulate my skewed view on the beauty-less ( I didn’t say charmless) Jersey shore. I loved it, loved it, loved it.
We live at the second to last exit on the Parkway, 171. Cape May is exit “0,” literally. Any true Jersey Babe or Guy will understand what the question “Are you from Jersey? I’m from Jersey! Oh yeah, which exit?” when you ride up and down the Parkway for most of your life. Some of this can be captured in Jersey boy, Joe Piscopo’s several part rendition of “New Jersey” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7NT_4SLXvc. But, Cape May is in it’s own world. It’s clean, manicured, cultural and charming.
I found this new town (new to me, that is), that had the illusion of visiting a hybrid of Savannah and Santa Monica. The Victorian dwellings, from small to gargantuan, ranging from B&Bs to restaurants and private homes, that lined the side streets and Beach Avenue, must all use the same landscaper, on schedule, because the baby lawns were pristine, without a hair out of place. The flowers and foliage were some of the most colorful and freshest I have seen aside from Capri, Italy. The beach, which is typical of Southern Jersey, from the Wildwoods down to the Cape was welcoming and wide, and not a drop of garbage. I think Cape May town hall must be well versed in the age old art of cleaning up after yourself, or the town has it’s stealth bombers, just like Disney, who clean up and plant without you ever knowing they were there.
Al and I stayed at the Ocean Club, to which the only drawback, as it is with other hotels on Beach Ave, is the highway running between the front door and the beach. We sat at the pool one afternoon, and I got a great tropical feel, similar to Punta Cana, until I realized there were cars and parking meters on the other side of the pool. On the bright side, the pool was immaculate and warm, with a shallow end, probably just for kids, but we sat in the water for hours. We ventured to the beach the day prior, but even as a welcomed hotel guest, the town gets you for beach badges at 6.00 a pop, and the hotel provided comfy lounge chairs and towels, but if you didn’t want to get basal cell in one afternoon, you needed to spring 10.00 for an umbrella…am I buying the umbrella? Anything on the beach is cash, so if you left your wallet at home, you could die of dehydration.
I have to say, I loved, loved the bedding and the sheets in our room, whose outside was quite deceiving. The lobby of the hotel was similar to an upscale Caribbean resort, and echoed the feeling of the Cape May streets, that you may not really be at a Jersey shore resort. But, the small elevator and rustic room entrance threw me off. Behind the blueberry steel door, with a tiny laminated room placard to the left with the room number, was surprisingly, a great room, a tiny suite, clean, vacuumed, crisply linened bed, (which was one of the most comfortable I have slept in) and cute balcony overlooking the pool. (But DO NOT walk around your room naked. You will be the poolside entertainment unless you close the blinds). The hallway façade was just a masquerade for a better than most beach hotel room.
We were able to dine at a few hip joints, and finally just ask for a table for two, which got us in much quicker, and we were able to soak in the ambience. Thumbs up: The Mad Batter, The Blue Pig, 410 Bank Street..all great eats, each with their own signature grub. My favorite find? The Cape May Peanut Butter Co., which will get its own blog entry….
There were a lot of kids around, strollers, parents pushing strollers, fumbling with beach toys, coolers and bags of crap you just need for a three hour visit to the beach. For the first time in a long time, I could just walk by them and think for 72 hours, “better you than me.” I heard “mom,” about ten times a morning as we walked, but it was a relief that I didn’t have to answer, although I had to psych myself into adult mode that it wasn’t my kid.
A definite travel thumbs up to an undiscovered Hip Mom hideaway in my own state. Not a great family spot, for a couples get away, it fit the bill.
Hip Mom Hint: Nothing is cheap here…not a bargain to be found, so before you come down, scope out http://www.jerseycapecoupons.com for some possible bargains. If you are on a budget, take this into consideration. Lots of fun places to eat, too, that are not sit down. Dying to try this spot…looked yummy and great reviews. Take lunch to the beach: http://www.hotdogtommys.com/