I remember reading last year’s New Jersey post by the very talented Rabbi Ilene Schneider and thinking, “Yes! Finally, someone who remembers that New Jersey is more than just an extension of New York City!”
I live even farther south than Rabbi Schneider, and my neck of the woods is really more beach than woods. I live in Cape May County, the southernmost county in New Jersey, and this area of the state is known for its beaches and charming barrier islands.
Southern New Jersey relies heavily on the hospitality and tourism business, as many places are only fully open during the high season-Memorial Day to Labor Day. Shops, hotels, bed and breakfast inns, restaurants, many of Cape May County’s famous antique stores, even some churches, are not open during the winter months, and the population shrinks to a fraction of its summertime numbers.
And though the area is tourist-dependent, I must say my favorite time of year is in late September, when the tourists have gone home, the water is still warm, and the weather is beautiful. There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting on the sand and seeing the entire beach spread out in front of you, with no other human being to block the view or distract from the sound of the waves as they whoosh in and out at the shoreline. The photo of the beach was actually taken during the winter months, but you get the idea.
One of the nice things about the barrier islands, too, is the way they promote small businesses. On the island closest to my home, Ocean City, you won’t find any chain motels or hotels. The same is true, as far as I know, all the way down to Cape May. There is an abundance of locally-owned and operated places to stay, eat, shop, relax, and have fun. I especially love shopping in Cape May County during the holidays- this is a great place to find gifts for friends and family that you can’t get anywhere else. (The photo shows one of the hotels in Cape May, all decked out for Christmas)
The towns in Cape May County have something to offer everyone. Ocean City, “America’s Greatest Family Resort,” is a dry town, complete with a 2 ½ mile wooden boardwalk, rides, mini golf, funnel cakes, and a music pier that hosts everything from train shows to the “Mature Mr. Ocean City” pageant to magicians to the Ocean City Pops. Wildwood, down the road about a half hour, is more of a party town, with bars and a busy nighttime scene right on or near its bustling boardwalk.
Cape May, located where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, is a delightful town with beautifully-maintained Victorian homes, quaint streets, a rich history, a local theater, horse-and-buggy rides, a pedestrian mall with shopping and restaurants, and a huge stretch of sandy beach where you can relax after you’ve seen everything else.
Now that spring is in the air, gardens will start blooming and that world-famous Jersey Fresh produce will start to germinate and grow. We just came out of a winter that wasn’t too bad- we saw a bit of snowbut for the most part it was pretty tolerable. But spring is when everything starts
to wake up again and the whole area will be busy again before we know it.
I enjoyed writing this post because it gave me an excuse to take part of a day to wander around my county a bit and take some pictures for all of you. It also reminded me of how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place.
Amy M. Reade is a cook, chauffeur, household CEO, doctor, laundress, maid, psychiatrist, warden, seer, teacher, pet whisperer, and recovering attorney. In other words, a full-time wife, mother, and writer. She is the author of Secrets of Hallstead House and The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor and, most recently, House of Hanging Jade. She is currently working on the first book in a new series set in the United Kingdom (expected release date in early 2017). She loves cooking, reading, and traveling.
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