Summer Vacation in Cape May #FamilyTravelDiary

It’s been a few weeks since we went to Cape May, and we’re already onto our next family vacation, but I don’t want to forget to tell you about it! We had a great time and truly got to relax. This trip was 100% unsponsored family time, and we had a blast. In fact, I couldn’t even get online half the time so that made it easy to unplug.

It was a spontaneous trip. We often visit Ocean City, where my husband grew up going every year with his family. But I have a special spot in my heart for the quaint beach town on the cape — Cape May.

Cape May doesn’t have a boardwalk to speak of, and I don’t think there are any rides. But what Cape May DOES have is a beautiful beach, lovely Victorian homes dating back several hundred years, and a sweet downtown area with a plethora of shops and restaurants.

homes-in-cape-may

Where we stayed in Cape May

When I decided to see if we could find a room at the shore for a few days, I immediately thought of The Beach Shack. I went on a press trip with Cape Resorts Group a few years ago and stayed at the historic Congress Hall. The Beach Shack is owned by Cape Resorts Group and caters to families. Probably the most notable amenity at The Beach Shack is the restaurant next door (also owned by Cape Resorts Group), The Rusty Nail. The Rusty Nail and The Beach Shack share a courtyard area with a fire pit and live music in the evenings.

The bar at The Rusty Nail is quite the popular spot, but the clientele is comprised almost entirely by parents and young kids. This is because you can spill out onto the courtyard and enjoy live music while dancing in the sand or lounging on a comfortable chair while you wait for your table to be ready. Or you can just place an order and eat sitting around the courtyard. Everyone was happy, nobody was fighting or whining, it was really like a scene out of a movie. I would hang out there every night in the summer if I had a place in Cape May.

The-Rusty-Nail

playing-in-the-sand-at-the-rusty-nail

Live music plays every night from 4:30 to 9:00pm, and everyone hangs out around the bonfire after dinner.

the-beach-shack

The-Rusty-Nail

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the hotel was not noisy at all after 9pm. It was like once the music stopped, everyone hunkered down in their rooms for the night, which was a relief since our room was right over the courtyard.

I will say that the accommodations are adequate but nothing fancy. The bathroom was tight, but at least there was an extra sink outside the bathroom so I could do my hair and makeup while other family members were taking showers.

The rooms are snug and the decor is getting tired, but I loved that we had a third floor room that afforded a view of the ocean and I enjoyed overlooking the fire pit. There are no private balconies, however, so if you want to sit outside your room and read or have your morning coffee, you have no privacy. Still, everyone was doing just that in the plastic chairs outside the rooms so I joined them and found that I didn’t really mind.

The nice thing about the rooms at The Beach Shack is that many sleep six. Anyone with a family of more than four knows how complicated travel can be. Hotel rooms are generally designed for a family of four, and we often end up paying more to get a suite so we can sleep all five of us.

At The Beach Shack, they have tons of rooms with a pull-out sofa in addition to 2 queen beds, so we were all set. It was tight, but then again, we didn’t go to the beach to spend time in our room.

What we did in Cape May

We enjoyed a couple glorious days on the beach. It was rather cloudy for part of the time and even rained a bit one day, but that didn’t deter us one bit.

Cape-May-beach

cape-may-beach

The most notable feature of staying at The Beach Shack is most certainly their beach service. You don’t even need to bring beach towels. They provide you with beach towels, umbrellas and even lounge chairs and take them right down to the beach for you and set them all up. It is FABULOUS. Worth the price of admission right there.

Our last day in Cape May, we toured the town a bit. We discovered this hidden gem, Cape May Bakers. I was thrilled to discover they even had a few gluten-free options.

cape-may-bakers

We also shopped in their quaint downtown area and then stopped for lunch before heading home.

cape-may

Where we ate in Cape May

The first night in Cape May, we ate at The Rusty Nail. We waited over an hour for our table, but we didn’t mind a bit because we were hanging out in the courtyard enjoying the live music and some extra time to play in the sand.

becca playing in the sand

We ate outside on picnic benches, although there is seating inside as well as outdoor-ish seating under a roof in the bar area that you can see behind my clan here.

eating-at-rusty-nail

The food was fantastic, but the service was a bit spotty. They were verrrrry busy and seemed to be understaffed. Despite that, I would certainly eat there again because the food and the atmosphere are both lovely.

The next night we decided to venture out into town and we ended up eating at Carney’s. The food was okay, but the service was good and the atmosphere was decent. It’s definitely a family-friendly restaurant, and I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat there again.

For breakfast one morning, we stopped into The Y.B. on a whim. This place was fantastic. My breakfast was just an omelet, but it was amazing.

breakfast-at-the-y.b

Paul had blueberry pancakes, Becca had Eggs Benedict, and David had oatmeal. Caroline? She simply had bacon and fried potatoes. She’s not much of a breakfast girl. But everyone gave their meal rave reviews, and we’re a particular lot. In other words, I highly recommend The Y.B. for any meal if you’re in Cape May. From their Facebook page, it looks like it’s a pretty amazing place to go for dinner.

Our final meal was lunch at the Fish Market in the little shopping district in Cape May, and the food was amazing and so very fresh. I would love to go back and have dinner there.

When it was time to leave, the kids were begging to stay longer. I would definitely recommend planning more than two nights for a summertime Cape May vacation. Maybe in the fall when it’s too chilly for the beach, two nights would have been plenty, but we were not ready to leave.

In addition to the beach and the town, there is the Cape May County Zoo which is free and is supposed to be wonderful. You can also go up inside the Cape May Lighthouse. We did this once many years ago, and the view is spectacular.

If you’ve never experienced the Jersey shore, don’t believe what you see on T.V. Cape May is just one of many gorgeous, family-friendly beaches along the New Jersey coastline.

Comments

  1. Susan says

    That sounds wonderful! I don’t like beach areas that are full of high rise condos and junk shops. Give me an older but smaller hotel right on the beach with a small town of cute shops and non-chain restaurants and I’m a happy camper. We just had a fantastic trip to Cape Cod and had all of that. SIGH.

  2. KellyinPA says

    We’ve been to Cape May several times just to walk through the town and the shopping area. Cape May County Zoo is wonderful! There is no admission fee, you just give a “donation” and it’s a great zoo. Highly recommended!
    Thanks for the review on the places to stay and eat. I’ll have to bookmark this for the next time we visit.

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