Friday, November 24, 2023 / by Teresa DiPeso
Travel & Leisure recently ranked Cape May as the nation's 21st Best Christmas Town, and now they are featuring the historic town in a full article!
Here is what they had to say in their article titled: This Unexpected Winter Destination in the Jersey Shore Has a Holiday Village, Festive Trolley Rides, and a Seasonal Dinner Series
Situated at the southern tip of the Garden State, Cape May is a quintessential Jersey Shore town that’s beloved for its beautiful beaches, Victorian architecture, and nostalgic amusements. In the summer, it buzzes with families looking to make salty memories, build sand castles, and frolic in the waves. It’s also when the wholesome fun of the boardwalk and ice cream shops peak.
It might come as a surprise that Cape May actually provides heaps to do outside of the warmer months. Fall brings colorful foliage and the Exit Zero Jazz Festival in mid-November. While the spring offers lovely weather and fewer crowds.
Over the past decade, more travelers have started to discover the charms of the frosty months. Come December, the entire town turns into a veritable winter wonderland (though, typically sans much snow.)
Twinkling lights illuminate the historic houses and quaint inns, wreaths adorn the storefronts, carolers spread cheer with songs, and garlands wrap around the lamp posts. A festive way to admire the sights and soak in the merry spirit? Hop aboard one of the signature red trolleys for a special spin around the historic streets see all the decorations, listen to Christmas music, and hear yuletide tales of yesteryear. The self-guided Christmas candlelight house tours and One Christmas Carol at Cape May Stage are a hit, too.
The epicenter of holiday magic, Congress Hall — a stately seaside resort that’s welcomed guests since 1816 and even served as the summer White House during Benjamin Harrison’s presidency — pulls out all the festive stops. There’s an enchanting outdoor shopping village with vendors selling candles, socks, and other giftable items out of candy cane-striped tents. Kids can even ride the Congress Hall Express and carousel, decorate cookies, do storytime with Mrs. Claus, and have breakfast with Santa.
“The history and authenticity of Cape May was the biggest inspiration for our festive programming. It’s really about creating rich traditions for people to enjoy for generations to come,” Curtis Bashaw, founder of Cape Resorts, told Travel + Leisure. “We’re really proud that it’s been so successful at driving tourism and economic development to this small community past the peak period, which brings joy to both locals as well as new and returning guests.”
And, of course, the wonder of December isn’t just limited to downtown. Tucked away in a quiet and often overlooked corner of West Cape May, Beach Plum Farm. The 62-acre working farm, agritourism, and gourmet hidden gem hosts both holiday and New Year's farm-to-table dinners that spotlight seasonal produce and meat raised on site. For something a bit more casual, head to the Amish barn for hearty breakfast and lunch fare. Be sure to browse the selection of housemade goods like jams, honey, and soaps that make the perfect presents for friends and family.
The slower months of January and February have a certain quiet charm. It’s a peaceful time to walk along the empty beaches, explore the nature trails near the lighthouse at Cape May Point State Park, and hike the secluded paths by Davey’s Lake. “The outdoor activities are worthy and rewarding ventures, even in the cold,” added Bashaw.” Shows at the East Lynne Theatre Company always entertain. You’ll find many sweet treats and souvenirs at the Washington Street Mall.”
Many restaurants — including favorites like Iccara Italian Bistro and The Lobster House — and bars continue to welcome patrons. Fireside tables await at the Blue Pig Tavern as do cozy booths, cocktails, and brick-oven pizza at the underground Boiler Room. A staple for date night, The Ebbitt Room operates through Valentine’s Day and then takes a short break until the early spring. And the warm, inviting atmosphere at the wineries, breweries, and distilleries encourages lingering a little longer over a tipple.
Some hotels use the off-peak period to roll out restorative programming. “The January Intention Wellness escapes at The Virginia Hotel are popular all-inclusive options for those looking to rest after the rush of the holidays,” said Bashaw. A few properties even remain open the entire year without a break. Since demand dwindles in January and February, it’s possible for budget-conscious travelers to save money on a room while relishing the serenity of the off-season.