Cheerful, chatty husband-and-wife innkeepers Dennis and Lucille Doherty have an arrangement—she does all the baking for the holidays and afternoon teas, and he makes breakfasts each morning. Their work enlivens a typical day inside The Dormer House, an 1899 Colonial Revival–style mansion in Cape May, New Jersey, that was once a summer residence for marble magnate Commodore Jacoby. Rocking chairs, antique furniture, and a grand marble fireplace lend to the feel that you’re staying in an elegant guesthouse, and year-round seasonal decorations brighten both the interior and exterior.
Each of the inn’s guest rooms and suites features a private bath, pastel walls, and floral decorations. However, each room offers its own unique experience as well—some have a sitting area, some have a whirlpool bath, and others have a life-size Bob Newhart. The Antique Rose suite on the third floor is tucked under the sloping dormer ceilings that inspired the inn’s name. A wrought-iron bed anchors the room, and the windows look out on the horses and carriages clopping along Columbia Avenue.
Every morning, Dennis cooks a full breakfast that’s served on the enclosed sun porch between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., and Lucille bakes sweets and snacks to accompany a lazy afternoon tea. The main sitting room houses a display of antique photographs and a collection of Victorian-era costumes. Head out to the inn’s wraparound porch and enjoy the scene on charming Columbia Avenue with a glass of lemonade.
Cape May, New Jersey: Seaside Resort Town with Victorian Architecture
Long billed as America's oldest seaside resort, the little island of Cape May lies at New Jersey's southernmost tip. When a fire ravaged most of the town in 1878, its residents rebuilt in the contemporary style of the time, and dozens of their Victorian homes remain standing today. Consequently, the Cape May Historic District has been designated a National Historic Landmark. To complete the image, horses and carriages tour Cape May’s colorful, cottage-lined streets, which have been deemed off-limits to chain stores to preserve the classic small-town feel.
Along Delaware Bay stands the 1859-built Cape May Lighthouse. Those who climb its seemingly endless flight of stairs are rewarded with an unbeatable view of the Atlantic Ocean.