Antebellum Mansion in the Heart of Cape May's Historic District
In the mid-1800s, the city of Cape May, New Jersey, was a vacation spot for privileged Southern gentry, lined with stylish antebellum houses. But a massive fire ravaged the area in 1879, leaving many of these estates in ashes; The Southern Mansion was one of few survivors. Built in 1860 and fully restored in 1997, the elegant building is set on 1.5 acres of prize-winning gardens, and it’s within walking distance of Cape May's intriguing historic district.
The New York Times has called The Southern Mansion "the only place to stay in Cape May," and the hotel retains AAA Four Diamond certification for its excellence. Befitting the opulent atmosphere, each of the deluxe king and premier king rooms are painted in the color of a jewel: ruby, violet, or cerulean. Each tone fits the color scheme of the paintings that hang on gilded frames. Honey-colored wooden floors have a polished shine, and the bed frames feature ornate carvings.
Some premier rooms are bi-level and feature an in-room, private staircase. Others have private access to a 100-foot-long deck that wraps around the house, where you can gently sway Colonel Sanders lookalikes to sleep on rocking chairs.
The hotel raises its own eggs, too, which cooks poach as part of each morning’s full hot breakfast served in the sunny dining room. Also among the spread: blueberry hotcakes, bacon, and coffee, which are delivered to a private table.
Cape May, New Jersey: Historic Resort Town and Local Vineyards
The Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean right at the city of Cape May, a tiny 2.8-mile stretch on the southern tip of Cape May Peninsula in New Jersey. Known for its cool summer temperatures and clean, pretty beaches, Cape May has hosted travelers since the mid-18th century and is said to be one of the oldest seaside resort destinations in the United States. Gingerbread-like Victorian homes line the streets of the historic district, which is just steps from The Southern Mansion; quaint shops and restaurants are also just a quick walk away.
Several award-winning wineries make their home around Cape May, and many are open for tastings and tours. Another spot worth touring is the iconic Cape May lighthouse, where you can climb up to the top to get a sweeping view of the Delaware Bay.
Aside from attracting wealthy Southerners, Cape May has famously been a stopover for more than 400 migrating-bird species. That makes it a top destination in the Northeast for bird watchers and marketing strategists trying to test hip new birdseed brands.