Cape May Resorts

by Meg Jernigan

The population of Cape May, a National Historic Landmark City and one of America’s first resort destinations, swells from 4,700 to 40,000 during peak tourist season. There are no national chain stores in Cape May, so local shops and restaurants line downtown streets. Many of the resorts occupy Victorian buildings constructed after a devastating fire in 1878 that reduced the number of hotel rooms in the city from 2,200 to 200.

Avondale By The Sea

Avondale By The Sea Beachfront Motel Resort features large porches and decks with ocean views. The boardwalk is across the street, and restaurants and shops are within walking distance. The seasonal property is open from mid-April through mid-November and requires a three-night stay on holiday weekends and during peak times. Package deals during the shoulder seasons (April 13 through June 11 and September 13 through October 31) include deep discounts or a fifth night free.

Congress Hall

Congress Hall opened in 1816 as a boarding house, was destroyed in Cape May’s 1878 fire, and then rebuilt the year after. The resort’s spa offers full-body, Swedish and prenatal massages as well as Reiki and reflexology. During the off-season, the spa is usually only open on the weekend. The hotel is open year-round, and minimum stays are required on weekends and holidays. Congress Hall presents year-round live entertainment, a farm-to-table tasting menu prepared with local ingredients, and package deals that include jazz and spa getaways.

The Southern Mansion

The Southern Mansion, built around 1860, claims to have the largest rooms and suites in Cape May. The mansion, one of Cape May’s surviving Victorian buildings, is set among gardens in the historic district, a five minute-walk from the ocean. Rooms, furnished with original antiques, range up to 700 square feet in size. Forty-minute tours include a presentation on the history of the residence, tea or lunch. The Mansion is closed for the month of January.

The Chalfonte

Built in 1876, the Chalfonte is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Cape May. The ornate Victorian hotel, two blocks from the beach, has only had four owners during the course of its history. Rooms have large windows and louvered doors that open to let sea breezes in. Private bathrooms were added to many of the rooms during a 2009 renovation. Chalfonte offers both European and modified American meal plans, at an additional cost, and Southern-style cooking is served in the hotel’s restaurant.

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