CAPE MAY - Celebrate the beauty of spring during Cape May's 18th annual Spring Festival, co-sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) and the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May.
Experience this National Historic Landmark City's charm and discover its fresh flavors, fascinating history and lively culture during the 10-day springtime celebration from April 26 to May 5. Taste innkeepers' signature desserts during the Chocolate Championship Tour & Tasting, learn about the historic Chalfonte Hotel in a new exhibit at the Carriage House Gallery or enjoy lunch or afternoon tea at the newly reopened Carriage House Café & Tearoom. Step inside Cape May's private residences for special house tours, hear spooky stories on a ghost tour or discover local gardens. You can kick up your heels at a Vintage Ball, attend a murder mystery dinner, and much more.
Enjoy the 2013 season reopening of Cape May's Carriage House Café & Tearoom on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St. with a café menu that features signature salads, wraps and tea sandwiches, as well as homemade soups and quiche, plus the popular Classic Tea Luncheon and Elegant Afternoon Tea. If you have a busy schedule, everything is available for takeout. The Carriage House Café & Tearoom re-opens for the season on April 26. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and parking is free. For reservations call 609-884-5111.
Cape May's 18th Annual Spring Festival features a tempting selection of new food and wine events along with some returning favorites:
Making its festival return is the Chocolate Championship Tour & Tasting on May 4 from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. You are the judge as you taste some of the area's most irresistible chocolate concoctions. Visit participating historic inns and B&Bs, sample their signature desserts and vote for your favorites. You decide who will take home Cape May's Chocolate Champion title. Those who turn in completed evaluation cards will get recipes by email. Adult tickets are $20; children (ages 3-12) are $18. If you delight over a good whodunit, you'll enjoy Murder Mystery Dinners at the Carriage House Café & Tearoom, on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St. Join the Impromptu Players as they set the scene for the original mystery, "Foul Weather Fiend" and enjoy a four-course dinner as you contemplate the clues, interact with the cast and help solve the mystery as it unfolds on Saturdays, April 27 and May 4, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $45 per person. If you prefer to mull over your mystery during lunch, Murder Mystery Luncheons include a three-course meal at Aleathea's Restaurant at the lovely Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean St., andthe thrill of unearthing clues to the mystery as it unfolds around you. Lunch is $30 per person on Sundays, April 28 and May 5, at 1 p.m.
To drink or not to drink? That is the question on April 30 at 12:30 p.m. during the Luncheon and Temperance Debate at the Carriage House Café & Tearoom on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate, when a dispute erupts between saloonkeeper Patrick Collins, and Jennie Wales, a staunch advocate of the temperance movement. Join Dr. Emlen Physick over lunch as he attempts to maintain decorum during this spirited debate. $25 admission includes lunch.
Ready for an afternoon of good spirits? Try these events that introduce you to the flavors of the Cape May area's outstanding vineyards and brewery:
Relax over a glass of wine at the Cape May Winery, 711 Townbank Road as you take a Winery Cellar Tour & Tasting. See how the grapes are grown and learn about the winemaker's art as you enjoy a barrel-tasting accompanied by cheese and fruit on Saturdays, April 27 and May 4, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20; the event is limited and tickets must be purchased in advance at the Washington Street Mall Information Booth at Ocean Street. New additions in 2013! If you prefer, explore at your own pace during the Self-guided Wine Trail. Visit Natali Vineyards, Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery, along with this year's newest addition, Jessie Creek Winery, and taste the unique flavors at each. Offered daily from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 and includes a map with the wineries listed and a tasting glass. What's brewing in Cape May? Some great spirits, as you'll find out on the Self-guided Wine & Brewery Tour of three area wineries, Natali Vineyards, Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery, and this year's new addition, Jessie Creek Winery, plus the Cape May Brewing Company. Take a tour at each stop and sample some of their products. Admission is $15 and includes a map with directions. Tours are offered on Saturdays, April 27 and May 4 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Discover Cape May's "spirited" side during tours that focus on the paranormal; hear haunting tales about the nation's first seaside resort and maybe even experience an actual ghost or two:
Board a MAC trolley for the Ghosts of Cape May Trolley Tour, a 45-minute evening ride through the haunted streets of Cape May. The paranormal findings of Cape May's popular psychic medium and ghost writer Craig McManus come alive as your guide relates McManus' spooky stories. Ride past the flickering gas street lamps and the haunted properties of Cape May and experience the spine-tingling tales exposed by McManus. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for children (ages 3-12). Tours are offered on Fridays, April 26 and May 3 at 7:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. and April 27 at 8:15 p.m. and 9 p.m. and May 4 at 9:30 p.m.
Take the Historic Haunts Combo Tour and combine the Ghosts of Cape May trolley tour with a visit to the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate, Cape May's "original" haunted house. There you will visit a home séance room of the 1890s and learn of the Victorians' fascination with spiritualism along with today's methods of "ghost hunting." Admission is $20 for adults and $15 for children (ages 3-12). Tours are offered Saturdays, April 27 and May 4 at 7:15 p.m.
Take a trolley tour through parts of West Cape May to the Cape May Lighthouse and hear tales of ghostly activity along the way during the Ghosts of the Lighthouse Trolley Tour on Saturdays, April 27 and May 4 at 8 p.m. Meet the Lighthouse Keeper who will relate a ghostly tale inside the Cape May Light and climb the 199 steps to the top. Admission is $20 for adults and $15 for children (ages 3-12).
A National Historic Landmark City and one of "America's 20 Prettiest Towns," Cape May is the perfect place to stroll, step back into a gentler era and explore the city's magnificent Victorian architecture and seaside beauty:
Hunt for unique hand-made crafts and one-of-a-kind antiques at the Spring Festival Crafts & Antiques Shows on Saturdays, April 27 and May 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., becomes an outdoor marketplace as vendors from throughout the Northeast display their wares. New in 2013! Don't miss an outdoor Beer Garden on the grounds from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on April 27 with live music by Barry Tischler with other entertainers from Cape May's Open Mic nights. Free parking is available and admission to the grounds is free.
Take advantage of the rare opportunity to see inside some of Cape May's finest private residences on the Spring Festival Private Homes Tours, April 27 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and May 4 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Enjoy touring these interesting and stately homes from the Victorian era to the 21st century that are not normally open to the public, including: Aurorean Cottage, 726 Corgie St., The DeMario Residence, 26 Congress St., The Green House, 810 Columbia Ave., Inndependence, 625 Hughes St., The Cherry House, 637 Hughes St., The Hay Residence, 910 Lafayette St., The Jacob Leaming House, 712 Columbia Ave., and The Steiner/Wilson Cottage, 24 Congress St. Tickets are limited, so purchase early. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children (ages 3-12).
Learn about "Victorian Luxuries," the new theme for guided tours of Cape May's only Victorian house museum, the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., beginning April 26. Get an in-depth glimpse of the Victorian lifestyle as your tour guide leads you through each room in the Estate. You'll discover the differences between this house and a regular middle-class home and learn why our idea of luxury today is really a Victorian idea. The new theme will run through April 2014 (except during the holiday season). Tours are offered year-round and admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children (ages 3-12). Tours can also be combined with trolley tours of Cape May's Historic District. Meet with the good doctor, Dr. Physick himself, when "The Dr. is In" on Saturdays, April 27 and May 4, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the grounds of the Estate.
Waltz as they did in Cape May during the Civil War years and learn vintage dances of the era at the historic Chalfonte Hotel, 301 Howard St., during the Civil War Vintage Dance Weekend, April 27 and April 28. Vintage dance instructors will teach you the traditional dances of the 19th century at a Vintage Dance Workshop, April 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. On April 27 at 8 p.m., show off your newfound expertise at a costumed Vintage Ball with live music of the period. A Tea Dance, also with live music, is Sunday, April 28 at 1 p.m. Victorian dress is encouraged but not required. All events take place at the historic Chalfonte Hotel, 301 Howard St. An all-inclusive package is $95, the workshops are $45, the Vintage Ball is $35, and the Tea Dance is $25.
Board the Cape May Whale Watcher for a sightseeing cruise around the island of Cape May during the Around Cape Island Boat Cruise. View the majestic Victorian architecture and enjoy tales of local heroes, legends and history. Offered at 10 a.m. on Saturdays, April 27 and May 4 and Sundays, April 28 and May 5. Tickets are $25 for adults and $18 for children (ages 7-12). Purchase tickets in advance at the Washington Street Mall information Booth or at the Hill House office at the Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St.
Board the 110-foot Cape May Whale Watcher for the Cape May Whale & Dolphin Cruise, a three-hour cruise and the chance to see humpback whales, dozens of bottlenose dolphins, unusual sea birds or rare sea turtles, with guaranteed marine mammal sightings. Purchase tickets in advance at the Washington Street Mall Information Booth. Offered at 1 p.m. Saturdays, April 27 and May 4 and Sundays, April 28 and May 5. $35 for adults, $23 for children (ages 6-12).
Learn about Cape May's Civil War hero Henry Sawyer in theCarriage House Gallery exhibit, "Cape May's Chalfonte Hotel: A Living National Landmark," which opens April 26. Built by Civil War hero Henry Sawyer, taken prisoner 150 years ago in 1863, the Chalfonte Hotel has hosted guests continuously for over 137 years. Home to heroes, heroines, heartaches, legends, love affairs, unforgettable characters and nationally famous cooks, the hotel's intriguing history comes alive in this exhibit at the Carriage House Gallery at the Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St. Author Karen Fox adapts her book, "The Chalfonte," into an intriguing exhibit showcasing life and legends at the hotel from Henry Sawyer's handwritten battlefield diaries and prison letters to more than a century of vintage photos, watercolors, architectural drawings, kitchen diaries, first person narratives and memorabilia of guests who return to the hotel over five and six generations. A free exhibit opening is April 26 at 7 p.m. at the Carriage House Gallery, on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St. The exhibit is free and open daily, April 26 through Nov. 10.
An evening moonlight tour is a memorable way to enjoy the nation's first seaside resort during Cape May's 18th Annual Spring Festival.
On April 26, the Friends of the Cape May Lighthouse invite you to a Lighthouse Full Moon Climb from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Take advantage of the light of the full moon and let it guide you up the 199 stairs to the starry top of the Cape May Lighthouse. Admission to the Visitors' Orientation Center and the ground floor of the Lighthouse is free. Tower admission is free for Friends members. Non-members price is $7 for adults, $3 for children (ages 3-12). Non-members who join the group will get free admission to this event as well as future Friends events.
For the 34th year, the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May will transform Cape May's Rotary Park into an open-air marketplace for the Spring Flower Festival on April 27 (rain date April 28).This free outdoor event is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and features artisans and crafters displaying and selling accents and accessories for you, your home and your gardens as well as eco-friendly resources to help promote a Green Cape May. Rotary Park is located at the intersection of Lafayette Street and Lyle Lane between Jackson and Decatur streets.
Explore Cape May's seaside gardens during Cape May Garden Tours on April 27 (rain date April 28) at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May. Enjoy the sights and smells of a variety of Cape May gardens as your guide leads you on a scenic hour-long stroll. Allow your senses to carry you back into times gone by as you tour Cape May's hidden treasures. Tours cost $10 per person and tickets will be available at Rotary Park on the day of the tours, or you can reserve ahead by calling the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May at (609) 884-5508 ext. 102 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.