When you live here, you feel no sense of urgency when it comes to making plans for carriage riding or lighthouse climbing or beach bathing or any number of activities labeled “touristy.” Inevitably, Labor Day sneaks up on you, and you’re caught shaking your head, lamenting the fact that you’ve missed out on so much of what makes Cape Island, Cape Island. So, last weekend, we made a point to have a bona fide tourist experience (full disclosure: Exit Zero was hosting friends from New York, and nothing gets us out-on-the-town like an opportunity to see our city through out-of-towner eyes.)
Despite a terrible (and inaccurate) weather forecast, we hit Congress Hall’s pool bar on Friday afternoon, where we sipped Palomas (delicious grapefruit soda, tres agave reposado, St Germain, and lime juice concoctions) under a beautiful sky (take that, weather.com) and met well-traveled guests who told us they prefer the laidback vibe of Cape May to the fancy-pants pretentions of the Hamptons (take that, Long Island). That evening, we had a four-course dinner on the porch of the Red Store – thank you Aaren Senico for the attentive service, and Hawk Haven Vineyard for making your wine available for purchase at this BYO (we ran out of our champagne long before entrees hit the table).
Saturday, we biked to the beach, where we wore too little sunscreen (typical tourist mistake), did crossword puzzles, dove through thigh-high waves, listened to little kids discovering kite-flying for the first time, and generally decompressed. We followed that up with a sunset airboat ride (read our review below), and reliably good fish tacos at Cabanas, where the playlist was delightfully 90s. Our thoughts: Ace of Base is highly underrated, and there is no kind of tired like that out-in-the-great-outdoors-all-day kind of tired.
Sunday, we worked up an appetite antiquing before brunch at the Blue Pig Tavern, where we met young server Patrick McGinn; you’ll recognize him by his made-for-doing-voiceovers baritone. Patrick, a Philly native, told us he’s a Marine who’s leaving in one month to once again resume active duty (his off-time has been cut short by trouble in Afghanistan) but we won’t be surprised if we see him (or, rather, hear him) on the big screen one day. (Don’t worry; he’s aware of his gift; he used to take advantage of it in order to play hooky from school as a young boy, when he could easily pretend to be his father (Ferris Bueller style) on the phone.) Stay safe, Patrick.
We topped off the meal with ice cream from Cape May Popcorn Factory, and while we waited for our scoops, an employee told us little kids have been coming into the shop and creating some mischief — rearranging all of the labels on the ice cream case, so that what customers think is banana is actually peanut butter swirl. Oh, the audacity.
From there, we shopped for a Cape May-printed muscle shirt on the Washington Street Mall, a souvenir one of our guests wanted to buy her father. All we can say is this: what is up with the newest trend in tank tops for men: giant cut-outs from armpit to waist. Is it a fashion statement, or air conditioning? And isn’t a sleeveless shirt on a man showing off enough skin already?
Just some questions for you to ponder the next time you take a total tourist weekend for yourself — something, we think, you should do sooner rather than later… trust us.
WE HAVE never walked on water… but we HAVE glided above it, thanks to one of the coolest attractions at Cape May Inlet Marina: Airboat Adventures. Last weekend, owner/captain Marc Zitter took us for a spin throughout (and on top of) the island’s marshes in his airboat, a flat-bottomed vessel propelled by a large fan — a model originally built by Alexander Graham Bell, and commonly seen in shallow southern waters. It was thrilling. At one point, Marc pointed out that we were mere feet from the parkway, at approximately mile marker 1.8, though you’d never know it… we were paused in an eerily secluded, tree-lined spot where a dozen osprey at a time dive-bomb for dinner. How many times have we driven past, we wondered, without ever knowing this place exists? Marc also took us past a sunken ship which looks between four and 350 years old, according to past airboat riders who’ve taken a stab at guessing its age. The correct answer? Eight. “It’s not the Mayflower!” Mark told us. But the real draw was, of course, ignoring all the typical safe-boating boundaries, like grassy areas where not even a kayaker dare go. It affords a perspective of the bay you really can’t find anywhere else and, no worries, it’s eco-friendly.
Marc will take his passengers — families, teens, grown men, bachelorette parties, whomever — on a customized trip that is heavy on the ecology lesson, or one that pit-stops at harborside bars… up to you. Call 609-602-2492.
“I DON’T think people realize, but it’s a big draw to Cape May,” says Jennifer Negro — owner, along with husband Paul — of Tisha’s Fine Dining restaurant on the Washington Street Mall. Jennifer is referring to the dog-friendly nature of our city… one to which she’s happy to contribute.
People may not readily associate the phrases “dog-friendly” with “fine dining,” but Tisha’s has an outside patio that’s perfect for you and your mutt. They’ll provide him water in his own signature Tisha’s dish, and the chef will be happy to accommodate his appetite
We apologize for leaving Tisha’s off the dog-friendly restaurant list which appeared in our August color issue — an ugly oversight, as this place sees “at least three to four tables a night” where at least one customer is four-legged. We recommend going ahead and making it five.