The Biggs Museum of American Art showcases late founder Sewell C. Biggs's impressive collection that focuses on the evolution of American and especially Mid-Atlantic art from the 18th century up to the present. Steal some time inside the museum's 18 intimate galleries and peruse the permanent collection’s early American furniture, regional silver, and sculptures needled by the famously opposable-thumbed Hiram Powers. Although admission is free, the Biggs Museum fills a bustling calendar with programs such as art classes and kids’ activities that members can enjoy at a discount, along with events such as the annual member appreciation breakfast. With a rotating cast of exhibitions, current offerings include the Award Winners XI exhibition running through October 23, 2011, which displays works by the Individual Artist fellows of the Delaware Division of the Arts. The upcoming Delaware By Hand: Masters Competition exhibition, on display from November 4, 2011 to February 19, 2012, features contemporary work chosen by a panel of judges and presented in tandem with an array of public programs, art sales, and grassroots movements to line public spaces with paint-spewing fire hydrants.
The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, located above the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk and a hop away from a plethora of dining and nightlife options, pampers guests with a luxurious retreat. The hotel’s casino entertains with table games and slot machines, offering a gambling space in which visitors can win money for grad school or blinged-out marble busts of Flava Flav. The deluxe room’s king-sized bed—or two double beds—cushions horizontal forms with a pillow-top mattress as comfortable as a down-filled marshmallow (a $179 value on Friday nights). The upgraded beach view deluxe room features a king-size bed and an expansive ocean panorama (a $120 value/night). Both rooms include early check-in beginning at noon (a $50 value) and late checkout ending at 4 p.m. (a $50 value).
Gales of laughter compete with crashing ocean waves at Steel Pier's scenic location on the Atlantic City boardwalk. Traditional attractions such as a ferris wheel take parkgoers on a spin, while elsewhere, guests get behind the driver's wheel of bumper cars. To get their hearts racing, the most daring visitors climb aboard The Sling Shot, which sends them racing at 100 miles per hour and up to 5Gs, or The Mix, which places guest on spinning arms that reach speeds over 60 miles per hour . Guests can also go on a helicopter ride for a bird's-eye view of the shore and other birds.
While a modern amusement park today, Steel Pier has a historic past. Originally opened in 1898, the Pier hosted top entertainers such as Charlie Chaplin, The Three Stooges, and Frank Sinatra, and famed acts such as The Human Cannonball and the Miss American Pageant. But after years of neglect and a devastating fire, Steel Pier was in need of a makeover. So in 1993, the Catanoso brothers renovated the landmark spot to offer it's nostalgic charm and thrills to families for years to come.
Supplied with more than 30,000 gallons of seawater, Atlantic City Aquarium showcases more than 100 varieties of marine life. A plethora of abyssal exhibits take explorers into underwater lands, allowing them to peer into the natural habitats of endangered diamond-back terrapins and intimidating sharp-toothed piranhas, or have a glance at what a clown fish does when not constructing balloon plankton. A tank of the ocean's oddities offers a glimpse at unusual nautical fauna, such as the deadly stonefish, which exemplify nature's infinite variety and bizarre adaptations. On the aquarium's shores, the tropical rainforest and exotic animal show provide a genuine zoological experience completely free from high-heels and feather boas.
At Renault Winery Resort & Golf, a glimpse into history begins at a wine barrel. Fashioned from the top of an old oak cask, a gold-lettered sign marks the entrance to the state-registered historic site, where staff cultivates and harvests 12 local and international grape varietals across more than 31 acres of vineyards. This flourishing estate owes its existence to one man, whose journey began nearly 150 years ago.
In the mid-1800s, vintner Louis Nicholas Renault plied his trade in Rheims, France. When a parasitic aphid nearly crippled France’s winemaking industry, Renault fled to California, where the insect struck again. He followed rumors of an aphid-resistant American grape varietal to the fields of New Jersey where he found a climate similar to that of his native France—and his winemaking flourished.
Not even Prohibition could halt his operation, which continued under a special permit. After his death in 1948, the winery continued to expand for the next five decades, adding a chateau, 50-room inn, and restaurant by 2001. Since then, Renault Winery has offered lodging and entertainment in addition to the fruits of its vines.
Visitors to the Tuscany House won’t remember crossing the Atlantic Ocean, which is perfectly normal. The House’s decadent lobby, an inner courtyard with a garden, mimics the villas of Italy: its marble columns and curving staircase lead up to a mezzanine constantly patrolled by at least one member of the Swiss Guard. Off the lobby, hallways lead to private rooms and suites filled with king-size beds and heavy wood furnishings.
Joseph's Restaurant melds the estate’s Mediterranean charm with New Jersey influence. Executive Chef Joseph DeGennaro—whom food critic Bob Bickell described as “outstanding” in his Restaurant Report—fills plates with Tuscan burgers and pastas tossed with grilled chicken and lobster.
Arbor-covered corridors and rambling lawns dappled with statuettes lead to the winery. On tours, guides lead visitors past the mixing and fermentation tanks while revealing the steps of the winemaking process. After the tour, groups select samples from more than 32 varieties of wine. The on-site wineglass museum lets groups dive further into the world of wine, displaying glassware dating back to the 13th century.
Visitors don’t have to join in the harvest to experience the grounds firsthand. Vineyard Golf, an 18-hole championship-level course, winds through the rolling vineyards. Players drive down open fairways, avoid five water hazards, and putt onto greens nestled against the rows of plantings.
The blue waves foam, disturbed by something massive in the depths. Then, in a flurry of spray, a humpback whale breaks the surface, slapping the water with its gray and white fins. This exhilarating sight is frequently afforded to guests of Cape May Whale Watcher. Helmed by Captains Jeff Stewart Sr. and Jr. alongside Captains Miles, Jack, and Jim, the company’s fleet of two provides comfortable, fast-paced passage to some of the favorite haunts of marine mammals on the eastern seaboard. Knobble-jawed humpbacks and smooth-skinned finbacks are often found frolicking and playing in the teeming ecosystem of Delaware Bay and the surrounding ocean, and the Stewart family offers a guarantee that if no whales, dolphins, or porpoises are spotted, tourists receive a complimentary, never-expiring voucher for another venture. Besides their cetacean-spotting voyages, the vessels run historical lighthouse cruises and catered sunset tours.