The first time I visited Southern New Jersey was a few years ago and just a few months after Paul and I first met. Paul asked me to spend a weekend away in the beautiful town that is Cape May, which instantly reminded me of Cape Cod and was definitely love at first sight. After a lovely dinner at the Washington Inn, Paul and I decided to take a moonlight stroll to the beach. During our walk we stumbled upon Congress Hall, although now that I read that back, I guess stumbled isn’t the right word considering the grandeur of this building – you simply cannot miss it.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, Congress Hall was established in 1816 and is the oldest seaside resort in the US. Much like a library for those studying at university, “The Big House”, as it was once called, quickly became a presidential watering hole – one president, Benjamin Harrison, even made it his official Summer White House.
So, as we walked up to this gorgeous building with such history, we immediately felt its perfect mix of seaside extravagance and true Americana. It was just lovely! I added it to my mental bucket list of places we had to visit, and for whatever reason it took us three years to get back to the area.
Once back in town, however, we took full advantage. First we decided to walk around downtown Cape May and meet up with friends for a pool side drink. Then we walked around the block and I remembered my old friend. It was a warm, but breezy day and sunset cocktails were in order. Despite it being peak season in Cape May, the hotel wasn’t too crowded and there was plenty of room in their back patio area.
Paul and I ordered a round and then walked across the back lawn to find two waterfront chairs with our name on them. I ordered the Congress Royal (champagne with a homemade beach plum liquor) and Paul got the Campari Cucumber Cocktail. Beach Plum happens to be a local treasure so obviously I will add it to my champy – thank you Congress!
Overall, we had a lovely time and I highly recommend visiting if you are in the area. Also, the outdoor bar serves fresh-pressed juices during the day, and features a cute coffee shop, Tommy Folly, off the lobby. Downstairs you’ll find a speakeasy-styled bar called the Boiler Room for after hours fun.
More to come on my other favorite Cape May spots!
A very American Entranceway!
Paul in the back lawn
Rocking chairs line the back patio
Strolling selfie / A very Cape May house