As America’s oldest seaside resort, Cape May is full of history. Rooted in the Victorian Era, Cape May celebrates its origin with a weekend-long return to this period. “This October, for the 47th year, MAC (The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities) welcomes visitors to engage in tours and events that celebrate the Victorian landscape of this National Historic Landmark City,” says Susan Krysiak, director of media relations for MAC.
Explore Cape May’s famed architecture and history with house tours, walking tours, living-history programs, food and wine events, ghost tours, a crafts and collectibles show, murder mystery dinners, trolley tours and more.
“Victorian Weekend is a special time to visit and enjoy Cape May. It’s one of the prettiest times of year, for one. (You can) stroll the gas-lit streets, take a trolley tour, try some parlor games. You will feel transported to a gentler century, and recharged, even with a cell phone in your pocket,” Krysiak says.
Nuts & Bolts Tour: See how things worked as you examine the Victorian mechanical systems that powered The 1879 Physick House Museum. This tour will be offered at 11:15 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 11. Admission is $15 for adults and $8 for children 3 to 12. Located at 1048 Washington St. in Cape May.
Underground Railroad Trolley Tour: Listen to stories of how Cape May was connected to the Underground Railroad and trace the steps of the heroic anti-slavery fighter Harriet Tubman and the former slave and business man that helped to free hundreds of slaves Stephen Smith. This event includes a guided tour of the Owen Coachman House. Offered at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12. Admission is $25 for adults and $20 for children 3 to 12. The tour leaves from the Information Booth at The Washington Street Mall, 401 Washington St. in Cape May.
Roots of the Cape May Trolley Tour: Take a 45-minute trolley tour through West Cape May followed by a half-hour tour of The Whalers Cottages at Batts Lane. Admission is $25 and the tour takes place at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13. The tour leaves from the Information Booth at The Washington Street Mall, 401 Washington St.
The 8th Annual Lessons of History Distinguished Lecture presented by Historian Lee Pollock: Learn about the alliance between Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt and why it mattered during “Roosevelt and Churchill: The Friendship that Saved the World.” Admission to the lecture is $40 for adults and $15 for students and teachers and includes a meet the speaker reception. The event is at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13. Cape May Convention Center at 714 Beach Ave.
Lighthouse Full Moon Climb: Let the light of the moon guide you as you walk up 199 steps to the top. Offered from 8 to 10 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13. Admission is $15 for adults and $8 for kids 3 to 12. Cape May Point State Park at Light House Avenue in Cape May Point.
Moonlight Trolley Ride: Listen to tales of Victorian courtship under the moonlit sky. Journey through the historic district for a romantic evening of Victorian sentimentality. This tour is offered at 8:45 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13. Tickets are $15. The tour leaves from the Information Booth at The Washington Street Mall
The Art of Dining: A talk on the formalities of dining during the Victorian era will be presented by MAC curator Gail Capehart. Learn how Victorians set and prepared the table with a live demonstration in the formal dining room of the 1879 Physick House Museum. After, guests will enjoy an afternoon tea at the Carriage House Café & Tearoom. Admission is $40. The event will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13.
Behind the Walls and Under the Crawls Trolley Tour: Learn about the technological advances made during the Victorian Age in this hour-long tour. As home to one of the nation’s largest concentrations of 19th century wood-frame structures, Cape May offers a unique exploration into the architecture of this beloved era. This tour is 1 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 14, and $20 for adults and $10 for children 3 to 12. The tour leaves from the Information Booth at The Washington Street Mall.
“The Iconic Cape May Lighthouse: From the Pages of ‘The First Resort’”: This exhibit will feature historic images of the Cape May Lighthouse from keepers and preservationists. The Carroll Gallery is located at The Carriage House Café & Tearoom at The Physick Estate. Admission to the gallery is free. For more information call 609-224-6064
Victorian Weekend Crafts & Collectibles Show: Crafters and vendors will offer their goods on the lawn of the Emlen Physick Estate. This event will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13. Admission is free.
“Arsenic and Old Lace”: Presented by the East Lynne Theater, enjoy an evening of murder, mayhem and madcap fun in this raucous comedy from the 1940s by Joseph Kesselring. It will have the whole family laughing. The show starts at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Oct. 9 to 12. Tickets are $35 for adults, $30 for seniors (65 and up), $20 for students and military, free for children 12 and under. Located at the First Presbyterian Church of Cape May, 500 Hughes St. in Cape May.
“The Taming”: Presented by Cape May Stage, this all-female, power play, based on Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” takes a hilarious poke at politics, beauty pageants and social media. This show is recommended for those 16 and older. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Oct. 9 to 12, and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12 and 13. Ticket prices range from $25 to $40. Located at the Robert Shackleton Playhouse at the corner of Bank and Lafayette streets. For more information go to CapeMayStage.org
Graveyard, Ghosts and Mansion Combo Tour: Board a trolley to historic Cold Springs Presbyterian Cemetery to visit the graves of Dr. Emlen Physick and his family. Listen to EVPs (electronic voice phenomena) recorded by the tour guides and staff of the 1879 Physick House Museum. Explore evidence of what some claim is paranormal activity while speaking to staff about their own experiences. This tour starts at the Physick Estate at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10. Admission is $40.
Historic Haunts Combo Tour: Enjoy a guided trolley tour of Cape May while listening to the ghost stories uncovered by psychic medium Craig McManus. Then head into the Physick Estate for a guided tour of this historic and possibly haunted house. This tour will be offered at 7:15 p.m. Oct. 11 through 13 and admission is $25 for adults and $15 for children 3 to 12. If you’re only interested in the house portion of the tour, guests can join that tour at 7:45 p.m. and it is $15 for adults and $10 for children.
Cape Mayhem & Victorian Oddities Trolley Tour: Wind through the gas-lit streets of Cape May while exploring the superstitions, strange beliefs and oddities of the late 19th century. Tours leave from the Washington Street Mall Information Booth. Admission is $15 for adults and $8 for children 3 to 12. Tours are 7:30 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 10, 7:45 to 8:15 on Oct. 11, 7 to 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 12 and 7:30 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 13.
FEASTS FOR THE SENSES
The Carriage House Café & Tearoom at The Physick Estate: Enjoy lunch, a classic tea luncheon, or afternoon tea with selections like tea or signature sandwiches, homemade soups, quiche, a loose tea service and specialty teas from Philadelphia’s House of Tea. Open daily from noon to 4 p.m. during the Victorian Weekend.
The Roofs of Cape May Lecture & Lunch: Enjoy a light lunch while listening to a historical discussion of the types and styles of roofing found in Cape May. This presentation will be led by Eric Bennung, product development engineer and vice president of Acrymax Technologies, Inc. This event will take place at noon on Friday, Oct. 11 at The Carriage House Café & Tearoom at the Emlen Physick Estate.
An Afternoon of Victorian Parlor Games: Come dressed in your Victorian finest and partake in period games such as “Charades” and “Pass the Slipper.” Enjoy dessert, coffee and tea. Wine from Cape May Winery will be available for purchase. This event will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11. Admission is $15 for adults or $12 for MAC members.
Taste of Cape May Kitchen Tour: Tour the private kitchens of four of Cape May’s most beautiful homes. Enjoy a tasting at each location provided by the area’s favorite commercial kitchens including: Cape Island Foods, Exit Zero Filling Station, The Ebbitt Room and Iron Pier Craft House. This tour is offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12. For more information and specific locations call 609-884-5404.
Chocolate Lovers Feast: Who needs lunch when there’s chocolate? Enjoy an incredible chocolate dessert buffet at the renown Washington Inn. This special feast will be offered at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12. Admission is $40. Located at 801 Washington St. For more information call 609-884-5697.
Dinner & Full Moon Climb: Board your trolley at the Emlen Physick Estate and head to The Red Store in Cape May Point for a tasting menu prepared by Chef Lucas Manteca. Following dinner, guests will head to the Cape May Lighthouse to climb the 217 steps to the top viewing area to gaze at the full moon. Reservations are required. The tour is limited to 22 people. This event will be offered at 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12. Admission is $85.
“Bumped Off & Bottoms Up” Murder Mystery Dinner: Guests will gather at the “Walter O’Leary Club” for some refreshments during the Prohibition Era. When an evening of fun takes a wrong turn, you might solve the crime. Enjoy a four-course dinner as you interact with the cast of suspects. This show will be offered at 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12 and 13. Tickets are $60 for adults and $30 for children 3 to 12. Reservations are required. Located at Aleathea’s Restaurant at The Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean St. For more information call 609-884-5555
Brunch Walk: Wake up your appetite with an hour-long walking tour of the historic district of Cape May followed by a delicious breakfast buffet at Aleathea’s Restaurant at The Inn of Cape May. This event is offered at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13. It’s $25 for adults and $15 for children 3 to 12. The historic walk tour portion is available alone for $15 for adults and $10 for children 3 to 12.
The Cape May Wine School: Guests will learn how to tune their palate to the subtle notes that distinguish wines. This event will take place at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct 13, at The Washington Inn. The class and tasting is $40 per person.