- Cape May NJ Travel Guide and Vacation Planner Blog

A Beach Walk in September

“September Summer Days”, taken by Laura Thistle on September 15, 2018 at 7:52pm

September is a time of transition in Cape May and is widely considered the best month to spend down the shore (especially going by the 2018 Best of Cape May results). The temperatures get cool and comfortable and the ocean water is the warmest it will be all year. With most children back in school, the crowds become much more manageable after the busy peak summer season is over.

The last days of summer in the beginning of September are some of the most cherished days of the year in Cape May for all of these reasons. Once the peak summer visitors and vacationers have all headed back home after Labor Day, “local summer” begins.

The locals, home owners, and lucky few who vacation in September have the beaches, shops, and attractions of Cape May to themselves.

The summer season can be overwhelming down the shore.  Because it is so fleeting, there can be an unspoken pressure to make the most of it – beach days, BBQs, fireworks, farmers markets, gardening, outdoor concerts, movies on the beach, and summer festivals! Even though all of these fun events make the summer so special in Cape May, the frenetic energy of the season can be exhausting. September summer days are a time to slow down, recharge, and take a breath while still enjoying amazing weather.

I look forward to these days more than any others during the year because the weather and landscape are so unique and unpredictable.

The sun is setting lower so sunsets become more intense and colorful. Also, for the past few years, there has always been a weekend or two in September when Cape May experiences extreme high tides and big swells from hurricane season.

When this happens, I know I will have the opportunity to get great photos of local surfers down at the Cove and Poverty Beach.

The weather forecast and conditions heading into the weekend of September 15th and 16th were shaping up to be ideal for the last days of September summer.

Those residing in Cape May were lucky enough to miss the major effects of Hurricane Florence, and we were forecasted to have only experience some huge surf.

I wasn’t quite sure what the sunset would bring on Saturday, September 15 since there were clouds right at the horizon line. When this occurs, it’s always hard to judge what will happen with the afterglow – will it be a dud or will the sky burst into a million different colors?

After waiting for ten minutes or so, I started to walk off the beach and head back home thinking that the afterglow wasn’t going to be much of anything.

As I got to my car I took one peak back and promptly jumped out and ran back on the beach.  In that short amount of time the sky had started to explode into color. Cars and people started pulling up to the Cove to witness the afterglow.

When the summer is in full swing, it’s easy to miss out on sunset because you’re caught up in other activities by the time 8 or 9 pm comes around. With the start of earlier sunsets in September, nature starts to take center stage again and sundown becomes the main event of the day for the small island community.

The awe-inspiring sight of the last summer Saturday sunset felt like a good omen for the Fall and the Offseason. Summer was saying goodbye in epic fashion and was reminding us of the fiery brilliant skies that occur in the Fall and cooler months of the year.

I so look forward to seeing more of these sunsets and all of the other things that come with the Fall season as we march into October – a bite in the air, bike rides along the promenade, the smell of firepits drifting on a cool breeze, and a general sense of recharging and freshness throughout town.

See you on the beach in October!

Cape May County volunteers help NC town affected by Hurricane Florence

Photograph courtesy of Christopher Chin

Cape May is no stranger to hurricanes and the damage that comes from coastal storms. This morning, local volunteers departed for North Carolina on the 7am Cape May-Lewes Ferry to help a community affected by Hurricane Florence.

They’re headed for a town called Oriental. Like Cape May, it’s a small town that relies on the tourism industry. Two of the town’s three access routes are cut off due to flooding, and the last may be cut off if the river continues to rise. Besides being a fellow shore town, Oriental also has a Cape May connection: the town manager’s uncle was mayor of Cape May in the ’70s.

The volunteer group, Cape May for Florence, led by Middle Township resident Christopher Chin, collected donations like cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products, which are badly in need. United Uniforms, Cat Country 107.3, Nam Knights of America Motorcycle Club, Tomes Roofing, and Girl Scout Brownie Troop 46722 contributed donations. iStorage donated two storage units to collect donations, and the DRBA donated the ferry trip across the bay. Volunteers will bring donations directly to the town and are staying a day to assist with cleanup efforts. They assisted in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey.

Please visit Cape May for Florence on Facebook for more information about their efforts and updates. The group is still accepting donations on their GoFundMe page to cover the cost of the truck and fuel. 

9/24: The group has rebranded as Cape May Cares

Two new hotels coming to Cape May in 2019

Another summer season has come to a close and change is already upon us, but exciting things are in store for 2019.

The Cape Winds Motel on Lafayette closed its doors this month and will undergo a total renovation over the winter, reopening next summer as the surf-inspired Boarding House. Philadelphia firm DAS Architects is behind the new design, which looks like it will be well-appointed but comfortable and salt-worn. Definitely the kind of place to kick back for a weekend.

Illustration courtesy of Boarding House

Illustration courtesy of Boarding House

The Boarding House is owned and operated by the Hirsch family of the Montreal Beach Resort, who bought the property in 2015, so it will offer the same level of service — plus a wine and beer hour every evening that will let guests sample offerings from area wineries and breweries.

Good news: The hotel will be dog friendly.

And while we’re on the subject of new hotels, also coming to Cape May next year is Lokal Hotel. Cape May will be the fourth location for the brand, which began as an urban hotel in Philadelphia that has been recognized by dwell, dezeen, and design milk. When complete, their Cape May property (at 5 Stockton Place) will offer eight apartment-style suites, a saltwater pool, and a courtyard that can hold up to 120 guests for special events.

Rendering of Lokal Hotel’s location in Cape May

Owners Chad and Courtney Ludeman have relocated to the area so they can be onsite, but this won’t be a traditionally staffed hotel–it offers “invisible service.” Imagine an AirBNB married up to a guest house. But if Lokal’s plans for Cape May are anything like their other hotels, look forward to a rustic-modern place on the beachfront.

Five reasons to Visit Cape May in September

Cape May is known to be the oldest seashore resort town in the country. Visitors travel from far and wide to spend their summertime here, relaxing on the beaches and soaking up the sunshine. While we absolutely love the summertime and all the guests it brings, it is not the only season we thrive in. Cape May’s second season begins right after Labor Day Weekend, and we love it so very much. Why do we love it? Well, here are some of the main reasons.


No more beach tags

It can be a hassle, no doubt. Losing them, pinning them on the wrong bag, forgetting them at the house – we’ve all done it. The good news is that once Labor Day is through, you are officially off the hook! We do love how beautifully decorated they are, and how they can definitely jazz up a beach bag. We also recommend saving them as a quaint souvenir, to remind you of your beautiful vacation!

Nicer weather = no more humidity!

Let’s face it, this summer has been brutally hot. From the intense humidity we’ve endured that seemed never-ending, to the scorching sunlight that was hardly ever relieved by clouds – we need a break! The September weather truly is one of the main highlights about visiting Cape May in the fall. You will still have those nice and warm ocean temperatures, the sticky heat will be out of the air, and you will thoroughly enjoy the fall breezes; sounds like the perfect beach setting to us!

Fewer crowds, fewer people

Our Cape May beaches are loved by many, which naturally means that they fill up with a lot of people when the summer is in full swing. It can be difficult to secure your own space on the sand without feeling like you’re surrounded by others. Once September hits families start to make their way back home, the crowds slowly start to die down, and before you know it you will find it very easy to square away your beach space!

More parking spots – yay!

We all know the struggle. Whether you’re local to the area, or a visitor for just a few days, parking is always a tough feat to conquer. While the parking meters do remain active until October, with the fall season comes easier accessibility to those perfect spots. You know, the ones right outside of your favorite store that you just need to run into for that one tiny purchase. Now you don’t have to park three blocks away – how convenient!


Washington Street Mall Fall Sidewalk Sale – score!

Everyone loves a good sale. Every September, Cape May hosts its Fall Sidewalk Sale right along the Washington Street Mall. That means discounted prices on some of your favorite summer wear, jewelry, shoes, home decor – you name it! You can also enjoy your favorite sweet treats (like some delicious chocolate-walnut fudge) while you walk around and enjoy the door-buster sales.

Here are the winners of the 2018 Best of Cape May

Every August, we ask our followers to tell us what they consider to be the best in Cape May, from their favorite place to buy shoes to the one restaurant where they’re happy to splurge. This year, we had a record-breaking number of votes, just under 3,000. It took three days to tally the winners. There are a lot of familiar names on this list, but it was exciting to see some new businesses with a lot of fans. We expect some overthrows next year! And now, with no further delays, here are your winners for the 2018 Best of Cape May.

Outdoor Bars to Try Before the End of Summer

It’s hot. The sun has been oppressively strong, there’s no sign of clouds coming to your rescue any time soon, and the humidity is overpowering your time in the sand. Suddenly, it hits you–a craving for a frosty, refreshing beverage from one of the numerous bars in Cape May. But which one will be your lucky choice? Don’t fret, for we have some of the best and iciest refreshment suggestions that are sure to cool off even the hottest of summer days.

The Schooner American

Ever wonder what it would be like to enjoy a cocktail aboard the deck of an iconic 130-foot Grand Banks sailing vessel? Well, get ready to dive into some maritime relaxation aboard The Schooner American, located behind The Lobster House.  You can expect some great food, refreshing breezes off the harbor, and great conversation. We recommend their fresh-squeezed orange (or grapefruit) crush, but you can’t go wrong with any of their beverages.  Seating is limited and fills quickly, so plan accordingly.

Harry’s Bar & Grille

Rooftop view of the ocean? Check. Plenty of open space? Double check. Live music every night paired with some stellar food options? Triple check. If this sounds appealing to you, then you need to check out Harry’s Rooftop Ocean Bar & Grille, right above the Montreal Beach Resort on Beach Ave. They host a different local musician every night, so you are guaranteed to have a grand time. Pair the divine bacon wrapped scallops with a Montreal Mule and your taste buds will be going crazy!  

The Rusty Nail

There’s nothing better than relaxing fireside with your toes in the sand, and the sound of ocean waves crashing just feet away. At the Rusty Nail, adjacent to the Beach Shack Hotel, you can gather with friends and family among one of the many fire pits and enjoy a yummy Pineapple Jawn (served in a copper pineapple). Also, we’ve heard great things about their stuffed flounder dish. Big plus: this location is pet-friendly!

The front porch at the Ebbitt Room

A classic, elegant atmosphere is waiting for you at The Ebbitt Room at The Virginia. Does live piano paired with a Mint Julep sound like it’s up your alley? Well, they can do both. Enjoy a drink on the front porch or just inside, in the enclosed sunroom. Tie it together with some delectable food options (cheese platter or gourmet deviled eggs, anyone?) and this is sure to be a night for the books!

Barefoot Bar at the Marquis de Lafayette

This next choice has definitely ramped up their food menu for the 2018 season. The Barefoot Bar at the Marquis de Lafayette offers a wide variety of flavorful dishes along with a daily happy hour from 4-7pm. Does a Blueberry Lemonade sound refreshing to you? Or how about a Sunset Celebration? Enjoy either (or both) at this swingin’ venue. Pet-friendly as well!

The Veranda Bar at Congress Hall

Three words: The Veranda Bar. Juice bar by day, and cocktail bar by night, this is a spot you do not want to miss! Located right on the back porch of Congress Hall, you can sit and relax, or walk around and play corn-hole with the whole family. 

The Porch at Elaine’s

Alright, we don’t know about you, but nothing sounds better than a frozen Jack & Coke. Yes, you heard that right, frozen Jack & Coke! The only machine of its kind in New Jersey, in fact, making your next visit to The Porch at Elaine’s a must. You can also enjoy a variety of live music any night of the week, so come prepared for a truly enjoyable time. We won’t even go into their top-notch food items on the menu; you’ll just have to go find out yourselves. Can’t make it down for the summer? No worries, you’re more than welcome in the fall season, accompanied with some outdoor heaters and blankets: you can’t beat that.

Tiki Ten35 at SeaSalt and SeaSalt Bar

The Ocean Club Hotel has two options for you: Tiki Ten35 and the Sea Salt Bar. The Sea Salt Bar has more of a fine dining experience, where you will be tasked with ordering off an exquisite seafood menu paired with drinks such as The Perfect Storm; sounds enticing! Then you have the Tiki Ten35, which provides you with a more laid-back beach vibe, servicing martinis, margaritas, mojitos, and much more. What else could you possibly ask for?

The Bar at Aleathea’s

If you’re looking to combine patio dining with some Victorian flair, The Bar at Aleathea’s is the spot for you. You can have a romantic evening inside the dining room, or bring the whole family along for a casual night out. Daily food specials are a bonus, and their Grouper Aleathea is a must-order entree. The cocktail menu is extensive–from their wine list to their signature martinis and cocktails, you may have to spend quite some time selecting the perfect drink.

Fins & Ugly Mug

We have options for you on the Washington Street Mall as well. They aren’t outdoor bars per se, but they do have lovely outdoor seating for you to enjoy the setting sun along the mall. Option one: Fins Bar & Grille. Unwind with a Jersey Devil Mule and a delicious plate of stuffed shrimp – yum! Option two: The Ugly Mug, which will offer you a cheesy and rich crab melt with a nice craft beer on the side. Either way, you can’t go wrong with these Washington Street Mall hot spots.


On the Rocks at the Ferry Terminal

Whether you’re boarding from Cape May or Lewes, Delaware, you will find On The Rocks at the Ferry Terminal to be a warm welcome (or departure) for your travels. The menus differ slightly depending on which terminal you are at, but fear not, you will be pleasantly served with a signature cocktail and some happy hour food specials! Bon voyage!

A Beach Walk in August

“Summertime Evening”, taken by Laura Thistle on August 4, 2018

We’re headed into the last weekend before Labor Day and what is considered the unofficial end of the summer season.  Every summer in mid-July when the days are long, Cape May is filled to the brim with people, and the air is thick with summer heat, I have the same thought that the summer will never end.

Vote now in the 2018 Best of Cape May

Voting is now open in the 14th annual Best of Cape May, our annual survey that looks for the best restaurants, shops, activities, and places to stay in America’s first seaside resort.

The Best of Cape May takes about 10 minutes to complete. We’ll hand tally all of the votes at the end of the month and post the results here. Voting is open now through August 26. To vote, and for the complete list of rules, please use the link below.

Vote now in the 2018 Best of Cape May

Returning Home: On the set of the independent short “Monarch Butterfly”

Monarch Butterfly was filmed at a home in Cape May | Photo: Michelle Giorla

A few months ago, we spoke with the director of Exit 0, a thriller that was shot primarily in Cape May Court House in February. After we published that article, we were contacted by Carol Ann Bell, who was part of another film crew coming to the area to shoot the independent short Monarch Butterfly—this time in Cape May. Carol Ann invited us to visit the set and, along with screenwriter Deborah Kuhn, gave us some details on the project, including Cape May’s influence on the screenplay.

What’s the premise of the film?

Deb: The film is a psychological study of a couple whose marriage is failing, and what someone would do and how far she would go to keep a loved one. I’ve always been fascinated by these types of stories, and was excited to create one in my first short film screenplay.

What made you choose Cape May as a filming location?

CA: My parents would bring me and my five brothers to Atlantic City for a two-week vacation every summer when I was young. Eventually my parents were able to buy a smaller seasonal home in Cape May. My dad remembered first falling in love with Cape May as a young Navy signalman approaching the charming seaside town. It was the perfect vacation spot. When my daughters were born, I would whisk them to Cape May for the summer to visit my mom after my dad died and she built this larger home. I now have that seasonal home and my love for Cape May has deepened each year. When I resumed my acting career after being a full-time mom for so long, it seemed like a perfect match to bring my two passions together: acting and Cape May. I mentioned the location to Deb, who was writing the film, and it was instantly a great fit.

As an actress, I admire what Deb has accomplished: being a female filmmaker and creating such an impressive piece of work. I feel so inspired by Cape May, I hope to someday pen my own screenplay to be shot here in Cape May.

Deborah Kuhn, left, and Carol Ann Bell | Photo: Michelle Giorla

Does Cape May figure into the screenplay at all? Did the location influence the film at all once you were on site?

CA: When Deb wrote the screenplay, we discussed several titles for the film. We were fascinated by the story of the Monarch Butterfly and its returning home to Cape May every year on its flight to their final destination. When we were filming here, we felt strongly that the transformation of the main character that Deb had written, similar to a butterfly’s transformation, and the similarities in the film of “being home” made the title Monarch Butterfly the right choice for this film.

We know you used a house for filming. Did you film around Cape May at all?

CA: No, on this particular film we did not, but we are very hopeful to utilize Cape May as a character in future films.

What’s different about filming in Cape May versus other locations? Were there any challenges or benefits to being here?

Shooting in Cape May was inspiring as it always offers such peace and beauty and possesses an indescribable charm.

CA: We had such an incredible and special crew – the A Team we called them! Directed by Clyde Baldo, the film also featured actors Anthony Grasso and Rob Figueroa, who are all successful artists from New York City. Some of the crew had never been to Cape May before. This location was so incredibly magical for all of us. And Rob and Anthony who do vacation in Cape May were so excited to return and even brought their family on the shoot for a mini getaway. When the double rainbow appeared at the end of our shoot, it was definitely a fitting sign of this magical place, and rewarding to know we had created great work here. We all felt such joy to have been a part of this film and the surroundings of the location contributed to that. Shooting in Cape May was inspiring as it always offers such peace and beauty and possesses an indescribable charm.

Actor Anthony Grasso, center, on set with wife Diane Harrington Lo Grasso and daughter Jolie Lo Grasso | Photo: Michelle Giorla

You mentioned the cast and crew were all from New York. Were there any locals involved in the production as extras?

Deb: No locals were used in the film, but I’ve already got another idea for a short film which could be shot in Cape May, so am hopeful to have some locals in that project. While no locals are in Monarch Butterfly, I was excited that we were able to shoot the film inside one of Cape May’s beautiful homes, as it has so many of them!

Did the crew get to experience Cape May while you were in town? Was there anything that stood out?

CA: We had a very tight shooting schedule. But there were some definite highlights that we enjoyed as a team in Cape May. Break time and lunch time during long work days is vital to a film shoot. Gaiss Market hoagies did not disappoint! Everyone was so pleased with their lunch. The entire cast and crew spent our last night celebrating the film wrap with a wonderful dinner at Back Bay Bistro. Both establishments were so pleasant and accommodating to work with. I wish there had been more time to do some ghost tours and wander the Washington Street Mall; even a drink on the Congress Hall lawn was something I had hoped we would have had time for. Next time for sure! Patrick Logue and Cape May Resorts were very helpful in assisting us with lodging options. As it turned out, our logistics did not work out but we appreciated their going out of their way for us. The double rainbow at the end of our wrap was certainly something that stood out!

Toro Nishikudo | Photo: Michelle Giorla

Is there a target release date for Monarch Butterfly? How can people see it?

Deb: We are in post-production throughout July, and hope to have the film completed by August. We have a Facebook page called Monarch Butterfly, so you can follow that page and keep track of the film’s progress and release schedule. [We also have a campaign on] GoFundMe. Any donations would be really appreciated to help offset the costs of creating and distributing the film!

You can follow Monarch Butterfly on Facebook for more information

Backstage at “An Evening to Die For” Murder Mystery Dinner

From left: Steven Church, Ryan Hastings, Alyssa Fazio, Jacklyn Fazio, Jennifer Hickok | Photo: Michelle Giorla

I witnessed a murder at Aleathea’s Restaurant. A murder mystery dinner, that is.

It wasn’t a dark or stormy night. My colleague and I arrived at the Inn of Cape May in fading daylight, on an April evening so warm we didn’t need jackets. We’d come for the opening night of An Evening to Die For, a new murder mystery dinner written by Jacklyn Fazio and sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC). I grew up on Agatha Christie, fluent in Poirot and plot twists, and was excited to put my deduction skills to work.