June 13, 2023 We both slept in and had a lazy morning. We finally got going around 11:00 and drove 5 minutes to Washington St. Mall in downtown Cape May.
It is an open air pedestrian mall that they created by closing off Washington St. for 3 blocks. We lucked out and found parking right away at the Cape May Rotary Park. There was lush vegetation throughout the park.
The park was located just behind the shops on Washington St. It had a beautiful fountain in the middle of the park.
There was also an ornate bandstand gazebo where they have concerts in the park over the summer.
Across from the park was this old 19th century church that now serves as the Cape May Stage were they have dinner shows.
I looked around while I waited for Bob to pay to park and then we walked 1/2 block to the Mall. The Mall is a nostalgic pedestrian thoroughfare lined with 75 specialty boutiques and restaurants. It is decorated by fountains, garden planters, benches, and brick pathways.
We decided to walk up one side of the Mall and then down the other side. An old fashioned clock stood in the center keeping time for all the shoppers.
The area was busy with shoppers and there was even a trolley tour group that was dropped off at the Mall, but it didn’t seem crowded. We popped in and out of the shops when something in the window peaked our interest. Whenever I travel, I like to buy a souvenir Christmas ornament from the places I visit, so I was on the lookout for that special one from Cape May. There were shops for jewelry, clothes, shoes, food items, housewares, and of course, t-shirts. There were also some very nice restaurants and multiple ice cream shops. The Ugly Mug had nachos on their menu and we were tempted, but we had dinner already planned for tonight.
I was in need of something sweet so I settled for my all-time favorite treat–a root beer float! We stopped at Della’s 5 & 10 which had an old-fashioned soda fountain in the back of the store. It brought back memories from my childhood.
I ordered my root beer float to-go and we were on the move again.
I was beginning to think that I wasn’t going to find my souvenir ornament, until we came to one of the last shops –The Wildwood Gift and Christmas Shoppe. It is inside the old 1895 First Jersey Trust Company Bank.
Voila! They had so many to choose from and they were all organized by subject matter–animals, pets, sports, military, ocean, Christmas, and of course, Cape May. I found what I was looking for within the first couple of minutes, but I had to continue to browse through the rest of the store while Bob waited patiently outside. When someone says “Cape May”, the first image that comes to mind is the Cape May Lighthouse, so this was the perfect choice. The sand dollar reminds me of all the beaches in the area.
Across the street at one end of the Mall was the Congress Hall. It is an 1816 historic hotel that occupies a city block. It was built as a wooden boarding house. Four presidents vacationed at the hotel and President Harrison made it his official summer White House. Today it is a fully functioning, high-end 4-star resort hotel.
On the other end of the Mall was Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church. It was beautiful with stained glass windows and architecture inside. Every year, the church raffles off a brand new car and this year it was a Mercedes.
We finished our walking tour of the Mall shops and made it back to the Jeep with parking time to spare. Bob needed to stop at Acme Market for some beef boullion and a green pepper which he needed for his shish kabob and rice pilaf dinner tonight.
The store was unusual because it had a parking attendant at the entrance. If you stayed less than 30 minutes there was no charge for parking. Any longer than that and it was $6/hour. Crazy! (We figured out that they must be trying to discourage anyone from parking in their lot that might be going shopping at the Mall.) Upon leaving the parking lot of Acme Market, we passed this beautiful old house which is now Elaine’s Boutique Hotel, Restaurant, and Bar. Each signature “nest” (room) has its own unique decor.
We passed by the Harriet Tubman Museum and the Fireman’s Hall History Museum. It houses the history of the City of Cape May Fire Department. Inside is a 1928 American La France antique fire engine.
We got back to the campground and began to put some things away to get ready for our departure tomorrow. We are going to Jersey City to see our Wisconsin boating friends of 25+ years who live on their yacht in the marina there. We also have reservations to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island leaving from the New Jersey side while we are there for 3 days. We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the sun and solitude at the campground. Bob made his shish kabobs with rice pilaf for dinner and Auggie and I took our evening walk. We had a very enjoyable time in Cape May which has the largest collection of late 19th century buildings in the U. S. There is still so much more to see, so we’ll have to come back another time.