If you close your eyes and picture a quaint seaside town, it might look like Cape May, N.J. One of the country’s first seaside resorts, it retains much of its 19th century charm. Victorian bed and breakfasts, a bustling promenade, expansive beaches and a picturesque lighthouse set it apart from the Jersey Shore. Although it’s popular for summer stays, fall has its allure, too.
Stay: The Victorian Motel combines affordability with friendly staff and a great location – near the beach and shopping. Other perks are an outdoor pool and an in-town parking pass.
Do: The beaches are inexpensive if you can avoid parking. Bicycle rentals are an affordable and pleasant way to see the city. Promenade strolls are free, save for a hot dog or ice cream.
Dine: Few affordable eateries stay open year-round. One good bet is Bella Vida Garden Cafe. Best known for its breakfast, it also offers lunch and dinner with an emphasis on seafood.
Stay: The Hotel Macomber is filled with charms including rocking chairs on the veranda overlooking the ocean. Retail shops, a coffee shop and a restaurant are all on-site.
Stay: Congress Hall is among the best luxury hotels in the U.S., so book early. Its many amenities include private beach tents, exercise classes, a pool and a tour of its 62-acre farm.
Dine: For intimate fine dining try Blue Rose Inn & Restaurant, where every dish is made from scratch. The ravioli with duck confit and the gnocchi dishes are handmade with care.
By Craig Idlebrook
For more Cape May hotels and destinations, visit AAA.com/CapeMay.