MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC!
Greek philosopher Plato said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.“ Visitors to the Southern Shore Region of New Jersey know that music makes everything better, and the tourism businesses and organizations in the area have provided a 2023 line-up that would receive Plato’s approval.
No matter which resort you are temporarily calling “home,” there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to grab a beach chair or blanket, pack up some snacks and cold drinks, and walk or bike to an outdoor concert – most of which are free.
Depending on which type of music and atmosphere you prefer, music lovers can find live bands or individual performers nearly every night in the summer in the many restaurants and bars that populate the resort area. Some of the venues have modest cover charges, but many provide late afternoon or evening entertainment as part of their business operation.
The LeVoy Theater in Millville has scheduled an impressive calendar of spring and early summer events. Starting with “Beginnings” (Chicago tribute band) on April 15, this concert hall in Millville’s downtown has some great moderately-priced concerts in queue. Here’s a sampling: April 16, Jim Messina; April 18, Dirty Deeds (AC/DC), April 29, The Breakers (Tom Petty); May 5, Tusk (Fleetwood Mac); May 20, Dean Ford and the Beautiful Ones (Prince tribute); June 3, John Waite; June 10, Big Yellow Taxi and Late for the Sky; June 21, Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters; and July 13, Trippin Billies (Dave Matthews Band tribute).
Likewise, the City of Cape May has some well-known names in the music industry taking the stage at Convention Hall. On July 9 The Lettermen will visit; and on July 23 Jay and the Americans will perform. The Association will perform on July 16; July 30 brings Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone; on Aug. 6 the Drifters will perform; The Hitmen will appear Aug. 13, and Aug. 26 will see The Hooters take the stage at Convention Hall.
Jazz aficionados will want to check out at least one of Cape May’s two jazz festivals. The Spring 2023 Exit Zero Jazz Festival, slated for May 5 to 7, will be headlined by Samara Joy performing at the Convention Center. The fall festival will be held Nov. 9 to 12. The spring edition of the festival takes place in four venues during the three-day event. For more information visit www.exitzerojazzfestival.com.
Perhaps the biggest musical event of the season will be the four-day Barefoot Country Music Festival on the beach in Wildwood June 15-18. Headliners are Blake Shelton, Kid Rock, and Darius Rucker. Other performers include Jon Pardi, Riley Green, Parker McCollum, Lady A, Michael Ray, and more. If you enjoy country music, partying on the beach, or both, this is the place to be! More information may be found at www.barefootcountrymusicfest.com .
Once the summer tourism hits full stride – around the Independence Day weekend – most resorts in Cape May County host free outdoor concerts every week.
At the Cape May-Lewes Ferry in Lower Township, free lawn concerts are held Wednesdays beginning at 5:30 p.m. In downtown Cape May, free outdoor concerts are held Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday evenings at Rotary Park, with bands taking the state at 7 p.m.
During the season, the beachfront resorts of the Wildwoods host concerts at various locations during each week. In Wildwood Crest, Centennial Park (beachfront at Fern Road) hosts live bands Wednesdays and Sundays at 7:30 p.m. Wildwood’s Fox Park (Burk and Ocean avenues, across from the Convention Center), hosts concerts Each Sunday at 7 p.m., and Byrne Plaza (Oak and Pacific avenues) has free outdoor concerts every Thursday at 7:30 p.m. North Wildwood’s Lou Booth Amphitheater (Second and Ocean avenues) is the locale for free concerts Sundays at 7:30 p.m.
Middle Township's Ockie Wisting Complex, just off Fulling Mill Road, is the site for free concerts Tuesday nights, usually beginning around 6.
Stone Harbor holds “Tuesdays at the Tower” on Tuesday nights, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at the water tower on 95th Street. Just to the north, in Avalon, free outdoor concerts are held Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. at Surfside Park on 29th Street.
In Sea Isle City, Excursion Park at 41st Street hosts Concerts Under the Stars from 7:30 to 9:30 each Saturday. Ocean City Pops will hold a free concert on July 3 starting at 7:30 p.m. at Carey Stadium on Fifth Street.
Over in Cumberland County, there is a Free Summer Concert Series on many Saturdays beginning at 6 p.m. at the New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Finish Line Pub in Millville. Bridgeton's Sunset Lake Amphitheater has traditionally hosted free concerts on Saturdays beginning at 7 p.m.
During the summer tourism season, New Jersey’s Southern Shore Region is alive with music, giving the universe a soul, and letting our minds and imaginations soar.
SPRING HAS SPRUNG
This year, the daffodils, tulips, and crocus apparently couldn’t wait for spring and began emerging in mid-February. Those flowers’ impatience for things to begin blooming and booming is mirrored by the businesses and residents of New Jersey’s Southern Shore Region.
While the sunny, mild weather one typically pictures when thinking about taking a trip to the Southern Shore Region is still in the offing, April – and the Easter holiday in particular – is when the area begins waking from its wintertime slumber.
Little by little, the attractions that were shuttered from November through March begin opening their doors, and the restaurants, taverns, and stores that remained open step up their games as the region comes back to life.
In Ocean City, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier will be open for the Easter weekend, and you can be sure many of the famous Boardwalk’s eateries, shops, and other businesses will be open to accommodate visitors. To the south, the Wildwoods Boardwalk will have shops, eateries and arcades open, but both Morey’s amusement piers won’t be operational until later in the season.
Expect to see “OPEN” signs in other popular shopping areas, such as the downtown areas in Millville, Bridgeton, as well as Cape May County’s mainland towns and promenades.
In preparation for the Easter holiday, many traditional activities will be held a week prior. For instance, in Vineland, the Easter Egg Hunt and children’s costume parade will be held April 1 at Giampietro Park, and in Millville, the annual Easter Egg hunt is April 1 at 11 a.m.. The Cape May County Zoo’s Easter EGGstravaganZOO will also be held April 1, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the zoo in Cape May Court House. Stone Harbor’s Volunteer Fire Company will host an egg hunt on April 1 as well, at 1 p.m. at the firehouse.
In Cape May, the annual Easter egg hunt will be held Saturday, April 8, at 10 at Convention Hall on Beach Drive, and a Fashion Stroll will be held at Rotary Park on Easter Sunday, April 9, at 1 p.m. There will be an Easter egg hunt in North Wildwood at Allen Park on April 8 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Visitors and homeowners who take the trip to the Southern Shore Region over the Easter weekend will find most of their favorite restaurants open, and many venues feature family brunch specials and Easter dinner.
While the beaches and waterways in the region are always open, the beaches will be unprotected until Memorial Day, primarily because the ocean temperature is 50 degrees or cooler. But that doesn’t mean outdoor activities are restricted. The area’s bicycle paths, tennis and pickleball courts, wildlife management areas, and beaches are available for outdoor activities.
Because Easter 2023 occurs about three weeks after the official start of spring, many of those visiting New Jersey’s Southern Shore Region will be eager to get their gardens and yards ready for the coming season. You can bet that all of the area’s nurseries and home stores will be stocked and ready to assist as the region dusts off its wintry shawl and prepares for the beautiful bloom of summer.
Easter in the Southern Shore Region is a time when smiles abound, and optimism is evident because it signals the re-awakening of the time we all love. Easter truly is the harbinger of the tourism season in New Jersey’s Southern Shore.
CELEBRATE THE CELTIC HOLIDAY!
Come St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is at least a little bit Irish. For local residents and regular visitors to New Jersey’s Southern Shore Region, the holiday is not only a celebration of all things Irish, but a harbinger of the season to come. After all, with Daylight Savings Time in effect beginning March 12, and the official start of spring on March 20, there’s more than enough reason for Irish eyes to be smiling! No matter how much or little you claim as Irish heritage, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the Celtic holiday in New Jersey’s Southern Shore Region.
This year, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday, allowing for an entire weekend of opportunities. Myriad taverns and restaurants in Cape May and Cumberland counties will be celebrating the holiday with lively music, endless good cheer, and even Americanized versions of Irish cuisine. Jersey Shore Wineries, Breweries & Distilleries | NJ Southern Shore
The locale that is most associated with Irish heritage, North Wildwood, will celebrate the holiday a week early. After a Mass at the local Catholic Church in Wildwood, the City of North Wildwood will hold a noontime ceremony at City Hall (Ninth and Atlantic avenues), where a parade replete with bands and an Irish pipe brigade, will proceed to the city’s bar district in the northern section of the city. There, places that have become popular throughout the year — and in particular during the city’s Irish Fall Festival held every September – will mark the occasion. To be sure, venues like The Anglesea Pub, Keenan’s, Curran’s Irish Inn, and Inlet on Olde, as well as other Irish spots such as Owen’s Pub, Mulligan’s, Goodnight Irene’s, Cattle ‘n Clover, Olde City Pub, and Fitzpatrick’s Crest Tavern, will be celebrating all things Irish over the weekend of March 17. The Mudhen, a restaurant and brewery located on Rio Grande Avenue (the main street leading into Wildwood), has live Irish music scheduled for Friday and Saturday, March 17 and 18.
In Cape May, a St. Paddy’s Day Plunge into the Atlantic Ocean and a 5K run are planned for Saturday, March 18. Carney’s, the coordinator of the event, has an entire weekend planned, including a pre-plunge beef and beer on the 17th, and a “Kegs and Eggs” party before the Saturday events. The 5K run – and a 1-mile walk – are set to go off at 11 a.m., followed by the plunge at 12:30 on the beach. Carney’s, along Cape May’s Beach Drive, has further events planned over the weekend. Visit www.carneysnj.com for more information.
Lest you think Carney’s is the only place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, Places like the Ugly Mug and Delaney’s on Cape May’s picturesque Washington Street Mall, along with the C-View Inn, near Cape May’s harbor, will surely be marking the occasion. Heading north, Jester’s Dive Bar, formerly Rio Station, will be open and is gaining a reputation as the place to enjoy live entertainment and great American food. Still further north, on the Seven Mile Beach, popular taverns like Fred’s in Stone Harbor and the Princeton and Avalon Brew Pub in Avalon, will no doubt be lively, as will O’Donnell’s Pour House in Sea Isle City.
Over in Cumberland County, it’s a sure bet that the Old Oar House Irish Pub in Millville will be celebrating the holiday, as well as The Brass Tap in Bridgeton.
Although accommodations are not nearly as abundant as they are “in season,” all of the region’s resorts have some hotels, motels, or rentals available.
St. Patrick’s Day weekend is a perfect opportunity to visit New Jersey’s Southern Shore Region to enjoy all the area has to offer without the crowds that populate the region in the prime summer months. Give it a try, because “when Irish hearts are happy, all the world seems bright and gay.”
GIVE OLD MAN WINTER THE COLD SHOULDER
It’s a night like no other, in January no less. Bagpipes, Celtic bands, tartans and kilts at the 17th annual Burns Supper celebrating Robert Burns, the poet laurate of Scotland who also wrote Auld Land Syne. Enjoy a sip of whisky as the haggis is paraded around. Haggis? Don’t ask! Enjoy the Scottish-themed dinner, music, poetry Jan. 28 at Exit Zero at Ferry Park in North Cape May. www.exitzero.com/happening
Breweries, wineries, and distilleries are open, offering fun activities. Cape May Winery on Town Bank Road in North Cape May hosts educational wine tastings on Saturdays in January and February. Taste different wines, learn about the wine making process in one of the production barns or on the upstairs deck, weather permitting. www.capemaywinery.com
Trivia is popular during the winter so brush up on some rather useless knowledge and show off at Trivia Thursday at Cape May Brewery in the cozy Tasting Room with 20 beers on tap. www.capemaywinery.com Nauti Spirits Farm Distillery in North Cape May hosts The Symposium, a ‘spirited” history discourse with a weekly cocktail and open mic – how cool is that! www.nautispirits.com
Need a day outside? Head to Beach Plum Farm – the kids will love the chickens roaming free and who knows what other critters you might encounter on this 62-acre working farm. The Farm Market has fresh seasonal veggies, eggs, and meats right from the farm along with honey, spreads, wines, pastas and more. www.beachplumfarmcapemay.com
Make good on that New Year’s resolution to get more exercise. Head to the Cape May Lighthouse and climb those 199 steps. www.capemaymac.org
Live theater is just that – alive and well at the Levoy Theatre in Millville with a winter calendar that includes Into the Woods and The Phil Collins Experience. Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has a week-long run in February. www.levoy.net
Romance is definitely in the air by mid-February. Plan a romantic Valentine’s Day visit to Victorian Cape May at one of the historic inns around town. Cuddle up in front of the fireplace sipping wine before a leisurely dinner at any of the trendy restaurants offering the perfect ambiance.
Third Fridays in Millville’s Glasstown Arts District are a great way to beat those winter blahs plus galleries and specialty shops have a wide selection of hand-crafted jewelry, art glass, ceramics, wood carvings, and textile art, unique gifts for your Valentine. www.glasstownartsdistrict.com
For a bit of history, the Underground Railroad Trolley Tour highlights Harriet Tubman’s connections to the resort and how she helped enslaved people cross the Delaware Bay under perilous conditions. The Mansions by the Sea Trolley Tour focuses on the early 1900s along the most elegant part of the resort at the time when the area was marketed as the New Cape May at the turn of the 20th century. The Historic District Trolley Tour includes a guided tour of the 1879 Physick Estate Victorian house museum. www.capemaymac.org
The best way to give Old Man Winter the heave ho is March 12 when we all spring ahead to Daylight Saving Time. Until then, stay warm and cozy!
LET THE HOLIDAY FUN CONTINUE THROUGH NEW YEAR’S
Remember: There are 12 days of Christmas even if you don’t have a partridge in a pear tree or seven swans a swimming. So, catch your breath and check out the many holiday events still happening before they vanish, like Santa, for another year.
“An Old-Fashioned Christmas Exhibit: Holiday Traditions through the Years” in the Carroll Gallery on the grounds of Physick Estate in Cape May is a giant indoor Christmas tree display, an elaborate Dept. 56 Dickens Village, model trains, nostalgic photos, toys and more. Guess what? t’s free – a wonderful thing after holiday expenditures and the kids will love it. www.capemaymac.org
Catch one of the remaining performances of One Christmas Carol at Cape May Stage and combine it with dinner, perhaps at the Cricket Club, the newest – and trendiest - spot in town. At the Levoy Theatre in Millville, it’s Genessa and the Selena Experience Dec. 29th or Almost Queen – Tribute to QUEEN on the 30th – a great way to start your New Year’s weekend. www.capemaystage.org; www.levoy.net
Check the schedule of Christmas week tours at Cape May MAC – a trolley tour of the historic district or a trolley ride that includes the lavish Physick Estate offering tours of the first two floors of this Victorian museum, lavishly decorated for the season. www.capemaymac.org
Ring in the New Year with a few thousand of your closest friends at Ocean City’s First Night, Dec. 31. That’s right – admission buttons are limited to 10,000 people, pretty amazing considering that 30 years ago about 800 people attended the first celebration that featured about 25 acts in five locations. This year, from 4 PM to midnight, revelers will enjoy more than 70 alcohol-free entertainment programs at 20 different venues culminating with fireworks at midnight to welcome 2023. Celebrate New Year’s Day your way - a First Day shopping extravaganza with great bargains on Asbury, one last horse and carriage ride, a First Day Run on the Boardwalk – or for the really brave, a First Plunge Jan.1st dip in the ocean….Brr! www.ocnj.us
Sea Isle City’s spectacular fireworks welcome 2023 with a bang at 8 PM on JFK Blvd. Beach. Bring a beach chair – and maybe a warm blanket - to watch the sky light up over the resort. www.seaislecitynj.us
New Year’s Eve dinner at The Lookout is almost a cruise ship experience – without leaving land or Cape May County. On the second floor of the Cape May Ferry terminal in North Cape May, The Lookout offers a panoramic view of sleek, lighted ferries gliding into port or leaving Cape May to cross the bay. Add delicacies from land and sea, handcrafted cocktails and your wine of choice and it’s a wonderful place to bid 2022 farewell. www.visitferrypark.com