Blog | NJ Southern Shore

Your journey begins here...

ST. PATRICK’S DAY & EASTER MAKE IT A DOUBLY FESTIVE HOLIDAY MONTH AT THE JERSEY CAPE!

blogEasterPat2

Easter at the Jersey Cape marks the reawakening and anticipation of the upcoming summer season. Event planners in the charming resorts of Cape May, the Wildwoods, Stone Harbor, Avalon, Sea Isle City, and Ocean City have curated special events that might just entice you to pack your bags and head to the Jersey Cape. While the sun-drenched days of a full-blown summer vacation are still a few months away, as winter-weary attractions open their doors, restaurants, taverns, and stores, March offers an ideal opportunity for a quick escape to the Jersey Cape. This year, March brings a delightful fusion of St. Patrick’s Day and Easter, making it a doubly festive holiday month.

Everyone is Irish on Mar. 16 at the Jersey Cape. Wear your green to parades and celebrations in North Wildwood and Sea Isle City. If your plan is to go to both parades, you can! Beginning at Noon, revelers wearing the green will parade down Atlantic Avenue beginning at 9th St. On the same day, make your way over to Sea Isle City, the parade starts at 83rd & East Landis Avenue and follows Landis to 63rd St. Sea Isle’s celebration continues with a best dressed contest and more. www.wildwoodsnj.com and www.visitsicnj.com

The place to be on St. Patrick’s Day Weekend is Carney’s in Cape May. Kegs and Eggs are on the menu and brave partakers “give it a lash” in the St. Paddy’s Day Polar Plunge and 5K slated as part of a weekend of events that begins on Friday, Mar. 15. www.carneysnj.com

Staying in “America’s Greatest Family Resort,” 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. On Easter Sunday, Mar. 31, come dressed in your Easter best and meet the Easter Bunny for a photo in an Ocean City Lifeguard Boat from Noon to 2 p.m. in front of the Music Pier at Moorlyn Terrace where a Dueling Pianos Show by The Philly Keys will begin at Noon. Don’t miss the Great Egg Hunt on Mar. 23 and again on Mar. 30 from 1 to 3 p.m. at 6th to 14th Sts. along the boardwalk, stop by participating stores for treats, until supplies last. www.oceancityvacation.com

Mark your calendars for Mar. 30 for the Spring Fling Family Fun Day at Excursion Park, JFK Boulevard., and Pleasure Avenue from 1 to 3 p.m. Enjoy Spring and Easter themed fun starting with a Dress to Impress Easter Stroll, photos with the Easter Bunny, music, crafts, face painting, games and more.

In the Wildwoods, even though Morey’s amusement piers won’t be operational until later in the season, there will be plenty of shops, eateries and arcades open on the popular wooden way. On Saturday, Mar. 30, the beach at 19th Ave. in North Wildwood will be the place to be for the annual Easter Egg Hunt beginning at Noon. The Greater Wildwood Jaycees will also host an Egg Hunt on the beach beginning at Noon on the same day. After all, two Egg Hunts are better than one! www.wildwoodsnj.com

Cape May County Zoo’s Easter EGGstravaganZOO is set for Mar. 29-Apr. 7 at the zoo in Cape May Court House. Bring the whole family to one of your favorite summertime attractions and enjoy special events throughout the ten-day EGGstravaganZOO. www.cmczoo.com

In Stone Harbor, the Volunteer Fire Company will host an egg hunt on March 23, at Noon at the firehouse. In Cape May, the annual Easter Egg Hunt will be held Saturday, Mar. 30, at 11 a.m. at Convention Hall on Beach Drive, and a Fashion Stroll will be held at Rotary Park on Easter Sunday, Mar. 31, at 1 pm. www.capemaycity.com

Because Spring begins March 19, many of those visiting the Jersey Cape will be eager to get their gardens and yards ready for the coming season. You can bet that all 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.

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.

ROMANCE IS A SWEET REASON TO PLAN A GETAWAY

blogFebRomance


Looking to beat the winter doldrums? Plan a quick getaway to New Jersey’s Southern Shore Region, where romance is in full swing in the month of Cupid.

February at the shore is a lot different than the peak season months, but many of the area’s accommodations remain open, and the dining options are nearly as abundant as they are in July or August. The pace is a little easier as the long lines are nonexistent and many of the large family outings with children are on hold until summer.

In 2024, Valentine’s Day falls in the middle of the week, making the Wednesday holiday a reason that the weekend prior to Valentine’s Day, or the weekend after are both appropriate for romantic celebrations. What’s more, the President’s Day weekend (Feb. 16 to 19) includes a day off for most visitors. Having that extra day means squeezing in another dinner at one of the area’s fine restaurants, spending another day at a nearby winery, or booking that couples stay at the spa that there just isn’t time for during a regular weekend.

One of the best spots for your getaway is Victorian Cape May, which has a plethora of fine dining options, nearby wineries, a beach, and plenty of other open spaces. The organization that coordinates most of the tours and events in America’s first seaside resort, Cape May MAC, even holds trolley tours of the resort every weekend in the month and is planning a Cape May WIne Trail Tour on Saturday, Feb. 17. Although there are two wineries operating in Cumberland County (Ashenfelter Vineyards in Vineland, and Cedar Rose Vineyards in Millville) Cape May County’s wineries are growing in popularity as well as quality. The Cape May Wine Trail Tour includes Jessie Creek Winery, and Natali Vineyards, both in Cape May Court House, after lunch at the Bellevue Tavern in Court House. Visit Cape May MAC for more information.

In addition to Jessie Creek and Natali, other popular wineries in the region include Cape May Winery on Townbank Road in North Cape May, Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery in Rio Grande, and Willow Creek Winery in West Cape May. All these facilities have indoor and outdoor options, with heated outdoor seating and cozy fire pits to help keep patrons warm.

A visit to the spa is another popular activity for visitors, and spas can be found nearby in Congress Hall, Cape May, Cape May Day Spa, and the Salt Spa at the Reeds at Shelter Haven in Stone Harbor

While few people are taking their beach chairs to the beach, all the area’s beaches are accessible, and perfect for a bundled-up stroll along the strand. If you are interested in touring Cape May’s sites, in addition to the MAC tours, Cape May Carriage operates during the weekends to take patrons on romantic horse-drawn carriage rides through the resort.

If the weather permits and the great outdoors beckon, the area’s many hiking trails in state parks, wildlife management areas, and beaches are open and lack the crowds one might encounter in season.

When the sun goes down, the area’s vibrant nightlife comes alive. New Jersey’s Southern Shore is well-known for culinary excellence, and visitors will be surprised to find many of their favorite restaurants open and better than ever. Afterward, pay a visit to some of the taverns, bars, and nightclubs that Jersey Shore vacations are known for. There are many spots with live music, so maybe a little dancing can cap off a romantic evening out on the town. After all, romance never goes out of style!

Whether you are looking to book a couples’ getaway or even a girls’ weekend, look no further than the Southern Shore Region. It’s nearby, it’s open, and the local businesses are waiting to help you escape the everyday and pursue your passion.

WINTER ESCAPES

blogWinter

With the holidays in the rear-view window, many people may be thinking of a winter getaway, and there are few places within a few hours’ drive that are better than New Jersey’s Southern Shore region.

Although beach time will be limited to a bundled-up stroll or a quick “polar plunge” into the frigid Atlantic, there are still plenty of outdoor recreational and entertainment options, as well as myriad indoor activities. In fact, many people prefer a visit to the Jersey Cape in the winter as crowds are few and there’s a feeling of calm absent during the bustling summer tourism season.

Hotel rooms are available (and usually significantly discounted over “in-season” prices) in most of the area’s resorts, and parking meters are off as local innkeepers and shop owners welcome those who venture to the area during the shoulder season.

Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a week-long stay, there’s much to see and do in the region. For the spots that usually thrive in the outdoors – such as the area’s fine wineries – visitors will be pleasantly surprised to find seating under outdoor heaters or around cozy fire pits.

If relaxation is the goal, what’s better than a massage and spa day at a local spa, such as Cape May Day Spa, the Sea Spa in Congress Hall, Cape May, or the Salt Spa in the Reeds at Shelter Haven in Avalon?

Fresh air and physical activity cannot be overrated, so if the weather allows, bicycle rides on the area’s promenades, boardwalks and bike paths are perfect ways to enjoy the unobstructed seaside views. Furthermore, the area’s hiking trails are markedly less traveled during the winter, and as the seasons have changed, so too have the natural flora and fauna. A great trail that involves a beach walk is Higbee Beach in Lower Township, near Cape May. Lucky hikers will get to see the 100-year-old train tracks that were buried in the sand for decades but are visible at low tide.

Many of the top-rated restaurants and pubs Southern Shore Region visitors enjoy in the summer remain open through the winter, albeit perhaps on a shortened schedule. Be sure to call ahead to check operating hours or to make reservations.

Indoor pursuits are to be expected as the Jersey Shore wraps herself in a winter shawl, and there are breweries, bowling alleys, escape rooms, and historical museums to interest visitors. One of the area’s newest venues is Cape Square Entertainment Center in Rio Grande, which sports eight movie theaters, 16 bowling lanes, an arcade, three bars, two restaurants, and a golf simulator. The owners of this facility also operate movie theaters at Harbor Square and in Stone Harbor.

Finally, there’s shopping. The region’s niche shops that offer one-of-a-kind and hard-to-find items are open, minus the crowds that typically result in a long queue.

So if you are looking for a fun, relaxing, winter getaway, book a trip to New Jersey’s Southern Shore, and get ready for exhilarating walks along (nearly) empty beaches, imbibing warming cocktails around a cozy outdoor fire pit, relaxing massages, and making memories that will last a lifetime.

CAPE MAY, THE GHOSTLIEST RESORT IN AMERICA & OTHER HAUNTINGLY FUN

blogHalloween

“Ghosts are all around us. Look for them, and you will find them.” When Indian author Ruskin Bond made this observation, he must have had Cape May in mind. It has been said that Cape May is the most haunted town in the country. And while Salem, Mass., may have the claim to being the witchiest resort in the United States, it’s a good bet that Cape May is the ghostliest resort in America.

The entire Victorian seaside resort is described as haunted, and possible explanations range from the convergence of the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean at this southernmost point in the state, to an abundance of quartz in the ground. Whatever the reason, there are many people who will swear to the haunted-ness of many of Cape May’s fine establishments. Among the haunted hotels are Congress Hall, Southern Mansion, the Hotel Macomber, Stockton Inn, Virginia Hotel, and Inn of Cape May. Additionally, restaurants such as the Peter Shields Inn, the Washington Inn, Elaine’s, and the Ugly Mug have reportedly had their share of ghosts, not to mention the Emlen Physick Estate, a former home that is now a museum.

Throughout October – which is considered by many to be the best month to visit Southern New Jersey because the weather lacks the humidity of summer but is still warm – there are events leading up to the spookiest of all holidays. The hub for many tours is the Emlen Physick Estate, operated by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts. In addition to having a spooky Dept. 56 Halloween display at the museum, there are themed tours nearly every day of the week, as well as plays and presentations. Scarecrow Alley at the Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., is a highlight of the Estate’s Halloween decorations. There is no admission fee.

On Oct. 13, 21, 27, and 28 “Phantoms of the Physick Estate,” an original play by Jacklyn Fazio, takes the audience along from room to room on the first floor of the 1879 Physick House Museum as the story unfolds and strange happenings occur. The play is staged beginning at 8:30 p.m. The cost is $25 for adults and $20 for children ages 3 to 12.

The Graveyard, Ghosts, and Mansion Tour shares with guests the stories and experiences of ghost activity in the 1879 Physick House Museum from tour guides who know them personally. It starts with a trolley ride to the historic Cold Spring Presbyterian Cemetery to see the graves of Dr. Emlen Physick and his family. Here you’ll hear EVPs (electronic voice phenomena) recorded by tour guides and staff at the estate. The return trip to the Physick Estate includes information about unusual Victorian funeral customs. Then, inside the Physick House guests visit several rooms and hear several more EVPs while learning more about the activity observed there. The tours are held on Mondays, Oct. 3, 10, 17, and 24 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m., and the cost is $40.

The Historic Haunts Combo Tour, held Tuesday evenings from 7:30 to 9:30, includes a trolley ride through the Historic District and stories of haunted Cape May. Step off the trolley at the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate with your guide and see Cape May’s only Victorian house museum, reputed to be haunted, as you learn about Victorian spiritualism. In the museum, guides will compare the methods of spirit contact used by the Victorians with those of today’s paranormal investigators. Select rooms on both floors are included in the tour. The cost is $25 per person.

Wednesdays throughout the month feature the Strange Victorian Obsessions House Tour at 6:45 and 8 p.m. Victorians were fascinated with mystery and illusion and this tour through first-floor rooms in the 1879 Physick House Museum shares that fascination. Learn about the famous Harry Houdini who captivated Victorian audiences with his intricate escapes, the Goddess of Mystery, Ionia, a Belgian beauty whom Victorians worshiped for her spectacles of magic, The Great Lafayette, who became known as the world’s greatest magician, and Pepper’s Ghost, an illusion still used today, with Sherlock Holmes, Jack the Ripper and more. The cost is $20 for adults and $15 for children.

For more information or to purchase advance tickets for any of the Emlen Physick Estate or MAC tours, call 609-884-5404 or visit www.capemaymac.org

Nearly every day is a Spirits & Oddities Trolley Tour focusing on Cape May ghost stories and unusual tales from Cape May history. The Ghosts of Cape May tour is a trolley tour involving tales of hauntings unearthed in Cape May by renowned psychic medium and author Craig McManus. Both tours ($20 for adults and $15 children 3-12) begin and end at the Ocean Street trolley stop in the resort Fridays through Mondays at various times.

Nearby, at Historic Cold Spring Village in Lower Township, Saturdays at 8 p.m. will feature Ghost Walks throughout the village. Spiritualist medium Bob Bitting leads participants on a 45-minute lantern-lit ghost walk around the village. He will relate tales of mysterious happenings reported by village staff and revealed by paranormal investigation teams. Bug spray is recommended. As space is limited, tickets must be purchased in advance. On Oct. 20 and 21, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., is the sixth annual Ghoul Spring Village, featuring crafts, games, and a haunted walk. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 children.

Although it is the premier haunted location in the Southern Shore Region, Cape May doesn’t have a monopoly on Halloween events. Most municipalities have Halloween parades or pumpkin festivals. Check local listings for those events.

In keeping with the creepy Halloween theme, the Cape May County Library, Cape May Court House, will present “Creatures of the Night; Bats of New Jersey” on Friday, Oct. 6.

On Friday, Oct. 13, the Levoy Theater in Millville will host a Friday the 13th Halloween Party. This, of course, is a costume party that begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. On Oct. 28 the Levoy will stage the Rocky Horror Picture Show at 9 p.m. Visit www.levoy.net for more information.

Misty Meadows Sheep Farm in Woodbine will hold an Oktoberfest from 5 to 9 p.m. featuring hayrides, firepits, games and other activities.

The Ferry Park Fall Weekend will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 15 and 16 at the Cape May Lewes Ferry in Lower Township.

For a more lighthearted event, on Oct. 21 the Wildwoods Convention Center will host “Drinks and Drag Queen Halloween Show,” a full-scale variety drag show that is sure to be a wicked good time. Hosted by Astala Vista, attendees are encouraged to dress in costume. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door.

Sunday, Oct. 22, is a busy day in Cape May Court House. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. is the annual Olde Tyme Harvest Festival, which is always a great family experience, and not far away, at the Cape May County Zoo, is Creepy Jeepy, a decorating contest for Jeep owners and trunk & treat event.

The Cape May County Library will host a Lunch and Learn event on Thursday, Oct. 27, featuring a presentation by Historic Cold Spring Village to inform attendees about Cape May’s haunted history.

Saturday, Oct. 28 is” Boo at the Zoo” at Cape May County Zoo, featuring games, costumes, food, a pirate ship, and obstacle course. This event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Also on Oct. 28, the Lower Township Recreation Center will hold a spooky haunted trail event behind the recreation center from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

The Greater Wildwood Elks will hold a haunted house at their clubhouse on First Avenue in North Wildwood from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Whether you like being scared or simply enjoy the crispness in the air and the taste of pumpkin spice, if you are looking for a ghoulish October getaway, look no further than New Jersey’s Southern Shore.

BIRDING AND BUTTERFLIES

blogFallBirdingjpg

Whether you’re among the 45 million Americans who are birders or simply have a passing interest in observing the graceful winged creatures, the Southern Shore Region of New Jersey – encompassing Cape May and Cumberland counties – is a hotbed of activity in the autumn months.

With myriad protected areas and a variety of habitats, the whole Delaware Bay coastal area is the perfect spot for birding throughout the year, but come fall, the Southern Shore Region is THE place to spot millions of migrating raptors, shorebirds, butterflies and dragonflies. The Delaware Bay, which Cumberland and Cape May counties abut, is smack in the middle of the migration path of many species of birds and Monarch butterflies fly over the region during their 3,000-mile trip to Mexico.

The Cape May Bird Observatory, which is operated by the NJ Audubon Society, started its Monarch Monitoring Project in 1990. The project focuses on the fall migration of the Monarch, which is the only species to make the two-way trip to Mexico and back. Each year, thousands and thousands of these soaring beauties funnel through Cumberland and Cape May counties, delighting casual observers and lepidopterists as they stopover in the region for rest and nourishment.

Likewise, the waterfowl and shorebirds traverse the region in search of warmer climes. Following a similar route through the Southern Shore funnel to the Delaware, the many bird species to pass over the area enchant those with a basic appreciation of birds to the most serious ornithologists.

In addition to the Delaware Bay, the Maurice River is an important part of the Atlantic Flyway for raptors, shorebirds, songbirds, and waterfowl. Flowing into the Delaware Bay, the Maurice River is home to more than 29 species of wintering waterfowl.

Places like Bridgeton City Park, Union Lake, East Point Lighthouse, West Side Park, Maurice River Nature Area, Willow Oak Nature Area and more than nine Fish and Wildlife Management Areas are all spots to enjoy birding during the autumn months.

Cape May County has several nature organizations that focus on birding and butterflies from September through December. The Nature Conservancy operates the South Cape May Meadows center, as well as the Garrett Family Preserve. The Cape May Bird Observatory operates the Northwood Center of Cape May Point, and the Nature Center of Cape May. Furthermore, the Cape May Bird Observatory, which conducts the Cape May Hawkwatch from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, also runs the Avalon Seawatch from Sept. 22 to Dec. 22. Interestingly, Avalon (“Cooler By a Mile”) extends one mile into the Atlantic than its neighbors to the north. Observers have logged more than 700,000 waterbirds in typical years, with that number soaring past one million in some years.

Wildlife Management areas in Cape May County include Beaver Swamp, Cape Island, Cape May Coastal Wetlands, Cox Hall Creek, Dennis Creek, Higbee Beach, Spicers Creek, and Lizard Tail Swamp Preserve.

Most parks and wildlife management areas are free and open to the public, but some of the local organizations host birding events or walks for a nominal fee. Higbee Beach Birding, a two-hour walk, is held Fridays. Above Par Birding, at Cox Hall Creek WMA in Villas, is held Sunday mornings from 7:30 to 9:30. A Meadows Afternoon is held Fridays from 3 to 5 p.m. at South Cape May Meadows, E-Z Birding is held at Cape May Point State Park from noon to 2 p.m. Thursdays, and Migration at the Point is held Wednesdays from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. in Cape May Point State Park.

On Sept. 16, the Wetlands Institute, Stone Harbor Boulevard, will host a Fall Migration Festival with nature activities, crafts, and guided tours. Although it is several months away, Cumberland County, which has the largest number of nesting bald eagles in the state, hosts a Winter Eagle Festival, usually in February.

New Jersey’s Southern Shore Region, with its lush coastal setting, is a safe haven for our winged friends, and a visual feast for those who appreciate them.