Last week, I went on a little Jersey shore road trip for 4 days down to Cape May and Wildwood. It was hands down one of the best adventures of my life. Growing up, my family often took day trips down to the beach - but we never once stayed overnight. I've only had the opportunity to actually wake up the next morning to a beach once or twice (ever)... so you can probably imagine my excitement lol. I've lived in NJ my whole life (with the exception of 4 years spent in NY for school), but I have never been that far south in the state. As I've mentioned in previous blog posts, my family isn't big on travel - so any opportunity I get to experience something new (even if it's not in a new state or country) - is one that I embrace with arms open wide. I treat even small, local, day to day things like grand adventures.
I ran myself so ragged the entire time - wanting to experience and explore as much as possible before we had to head home (because even 4 days was not enough). I chased some seeeeerious sunsets and color hunted up a STORM! We did basically all of our exploring on foot, which was probably a good thing because I totally ate like.. 2 or 3 times my weight in all the amazing food the area had to offer.. ha. There wasn't really any "down time" and I didn't even actually sit on the beach or swim in either of the hotel pools for the entire time we were there.. lol.
I also made a conscious effort to Snapchat the entire trip. For whatever reason, Snapchat seems to be all the rage right now - and despite having an account for awhile, I never really used it on a regular basis.. so I used this trip as an excuse to try it out again and see what all the hype was about. I never understood the value of creating content that disappeared in 24 hours, but grew a new appreciation for the wonky app after those 4 days. It's a million times more spontaneous and personal than Instagram (which is my current go-to social media platform). It's a nice change of pace to not feel the need to painstakingly edit / curate, and at the end of the day you've basically created a raw (and very janky) video blog documenting the entire day. There's also an option to download your entire "story" which is kinda nice especially for trips like this.
In addition to my Snapchat experiment, I was also hosting a week-long takeover for Jersey Collective on Instagram that week. It was a lot of fun to contribute all of my new-found NJ inspiration to that project. I'm not gonna lie though, I felt pretty overwhelmed trying to keep up with social media for those 4 days .. between my personal Instagram account, Snapchat, and the Jersey Collective Instagram takeover. My phone battery was so fried, the wifi connection almost every where was pretty weak (even at the hotels), and in general I hate stopping to post on social media while out and exploring (especially if it's a place I've never been to before). I often found myself posting at the weirdest times (usually super super early or really really late).
DAY 1 - It took us over 3 hours to drive down, which is why there was no way this could be the typical day trip down to the beach. We were coming from exit 140 something and Cape May is literally at the very bottom (exit 0) of the Garden State Parkway. We arrived around 3 PM and checked into the last available room at the Sea Crest Inn. We unloaded our bags, headed out to the beach, and walked along the water to the lighthouse. We climbed all 199 steps, and the view at the top was (as expected) absolutely beautiful!
After the lighthouse, we made the even longer trek to Sunset Beach (walking along the water again). I picked up a few seashells / beach glass / rocks along the way.
We got dinner at "The Grille" - which is basically the only food option at Sunset Beach (unless you go a bit further up the road). The food was typical burgers / sandwiches / fries - but I wasn't complaining. I got the crab cake sandwich and old bay fries with a lemonade, and I was a happy girl. There is nothing more rewarding than delicious food and a cold drink at the end of a hot and sweaty trek. Also, the view wasn't too bad either. ;)
The sun set completely, and it was time to make the 3 mile walk back to the inn. There were no sidewalks, and it wasn't really a well lit area, but it wasn't too bad. We stumbled across an ice cream place called Scoops on Sunset that had a neon ice cream sign and a pink interior.. so it was literally glowing pink in the darkness. We had to go inside, obviously, haha! I got a waffle cone with a scoop of peppermint and a scoop of coconut - topped with rainbow sprinkles of course. It was melting faster than I could eat it, and was quite the messy catastrophe, but #NOREGRETS.
DAY 2 - I woke up the following day at 5:45 AM (clearly still under the influence of THEEEE biggest adrenaline rush ever) and bolted out of bed in my PJs to catch the sunrise. I am typically never awake before the sun comes up.. lol, but I had no problem getting up for this - and it felt amazing to be awake that early. There were a few people running on the boardwalk, but other than that it was so quiet and peaceful.
Around 7:30, we headed out for breakfast at The Rusty Nail. I got the most amazing omelette ever which came with toast and home fries. We were their first customers because we got there right when they opened, and we grabbed a table that had a great view of the boardwalk. The large windows folded up like garage doors, so it felt like we were sitting outside even though we weren't. I could have people-watched there for hours!
After breakfast, we walked the town and I drooled over all of the colorful houses / buildings and Victorian mansions. My brain experienced serious visual stimuli overload (lol) and I was stopping every 2 seconds to take photos (not exaggerating).
No whales made an appearance on the tour, but we saw a TON of dolphins. I sat up front towards the beginning, thinking that would be the best view for everything - but about an hour in I started feeling nauseous. I get motion sickness sometimes in vehicles so this wasn't surprising to me.. but it still sucked. It was so hard to catch photos of the dolphins as it was (because they popped up and disappeared so quickly) - and feeling like I was gonna vom didn't help LOL. At one point, the water was splashing up through the front of the boat - and I tried to make my way back to my seat (because I was standing way up front) - but ended up getting completely sloshed right in the face. Everything was soaked... including my DSLR camera which I was not happy about.. lol. So after that, we moved towards the back of the boat, where it was calmer and less bumpy. Overall though, I did enjoy being out on a boat because I don't get to do that regularly!
After the tour, we walked around the town a bit more - rushing back to the West End Garage on the other side of town and barely making it before they closed (15 minutes to spare). The neat thing about them is that they used to be an old car repair garage and are now converted into an antiques / artist store. We also walked the grounds of the Congress Hall Hotel which was beyond gorgeous. Maybe some day I'll be rich enough to stay there... lol.
Around 7 PM, we left Cape May and made the short 10 minute drive into Wildwood for part 2 of our trip - passing the longest and loveliest stretch of wetlands on the way:
We checked in to a room at the Aqua Beach Hotel, set down our things, and got dinner at a Mexican place called Bandana's. I got the fish tacos because #TACOTUESDAY and for dessert, shared a small hot fudge strawberry vanilla sundae with my dad.
After that, we walked the Wildwood boardwalk for a little bit. It was mostly deserted because a lot of things were about to close or were already closed, but it was kinda awesome not having to deal with people haha. I got some great neon sign shots. We got back to the hotel pretty late, I showered because I was grooooooooss, and didn't go to bed until around 3:30 AM or so.
This day was the longest day EVER (but I wouldn't change any part of it). I was literally awake for 21 hours straight, and I have no idea how I was still standing by the end of the night at alllll, but it was so worth it. There's a quote that goes:
At the end of the day,
your feet should be dirty,
your hair messy,
and your eyes sparkling.
This day was that day.
DAY 3 - I definitely felt the effects of the previous day when I woke up, lol. I couldn't get out of bed until 8 or 9, and felt soooooo sore and groggy. We got breakfast at Uncle Bill's Pancake House and I got the cinnamon apple pancakes with a side of bacon and 1 scrambled egg. They were the fluffiest and lightest most delicious pancakes ever.
After we ate breakfast, we walked the entire 2 mile stretch of boardwalk.
There was so much to look at, and it was so overwhelming to say the least. Carnival games everywhere, and EVERYTHING was fried - except the Polish water ice, lol.
It seemed like it was more than 2 miles long, though ... but I had blisters on my feet from the previous day so that's probably why haha.
When we got to the other end of the boardwalk, we took the tram car (#watchthetramcarplease) back to the side our hotel was on. It would have taken us way too long to walk it all the way back.
We got dinner at this place called The Wharf, which has a beautiful outdoor dining situation on the bay. I got the flounder po boy, and we also tried the crab bruschetta for an appetizer. After I finished eating, I made my way down to the dock and took some amazing photos of sunset. I pretty much had the whole dock to myself, which was great. I watched some of the docked boats take off into the sunset, and saw little fish pop up through the water to feed. It was probably the most peaceful and relaxing part of the trip for me.
After dinner, we walked back to the boardwalk because I wanted to get some photos of the epic ferris wheel (which changed colors and patterns). The previous night, it had already been shut off because it was so late when we walked the boardwalk. I got my photos and then I was pretty much over it, LOL. It was so crowded that it was hard to walk (unlike the previous night), and a lot of people were smoking which bothered me... plus I was dead tired. We went back to the hotel pretty early (10 PM) and I was definitely asleep by midnight.
DAY 4 - Sadly our last day in Jersey paradise had to come eventually. We grabbed a quick breakfast at a place called Key West Cafe. I got an omelette with home fries (similar to what I got back at the Rusty Nail).. I love me a good omelette! ;) I took a few more pictures of some of the colorful motels and buildings on the walk to and from breakfast, and then we checked out of our hotel.
We made one final stop at the Cape May County Zoo because we heard it was one of the best in the country - aaaaand, admission was also free!
I got some really great photos of the flamingos and giraffes (and many of the other animals too.. but those two were my favorites).
I felt like because the zoo wasn't overwhelmingly large, I was really able to take my time and not hurry through it all. Also, I was clearly in no rush to go back home, lol.
We got back on the road around 5/5:30 - and got back home around 9 PM (we stopped for dinner along the way).
All in all, it was one of the best trips I've ever taken. Cape May is so different from Wildwood, but I love them both for their own separate reasons. I'm already dying to go back!