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a mini getaway to cape may, nj

Wait, let me think a second...

Yep, still relaxed.

Not sure how much longer this will last, but I'm still clinging to the last bits of a very relaxing couple of days in Cape May, New Jersey. I was invited to experience the beach enclave, billed as "America's 1st seaside town," by Cape Resorts Group and The Motherhood. Needless to say, there was not much arm twisting necessary when the invitation arrived in my mailbox.

I have lived in New York City for almost eleven years, and though I have heard about Cape May every now and again over the years, I've never had a chance to visit. Now that I've made the 3 hour drive to the historic New Jersey town, my only question is... when are we going back?!  For those reading from outside the Northeast, let me point out that this stretch of the Jersey Shore is not Snookie territory. It's a shame, really, that she and her bronzed posse have tainted what is really a beautiful part of the state.

Upon reaching Cape May on Thursday afternoon, my blogging compadres and I checked in at the gorgeous Congress Hall. The hotel, originally built as a boarding house in 1816, has managed to remain strong over the years, despite weathering a fire in 1878 and owner disputes in the 1920s. It has housed Presidents (from Ulysses S. Grant to James Buchanan) and composers, and was the site of Cape May's first post-Prohibition cocktail bar. An impressive history literally seeps from the walls, and it's impossible not to feel like you're a small part of the story here, simply by being a guest.

Congress Hall
Photo courtesy of The Culture Mom
We gathered for dinner the first evening at another of the Cape's dining spots, The Rusty Nail, a semi-outdoor bar which is part of The Beach Shack, a more low-key accomodation. By coincidence, we discovered while enjoying dinner that The Rusty Nail was just named one of the best beach bars in the country (see article here) by Travel and Leisure. I can see why. The restaurant has such a relaxing vibe, and feels like the perfect place in which to stop on your way home from the beach.  Live music plays throughout the summer, and chairs circle a bonfire, just waiting for someone to come grab a seat. My salmon entree was yummy and let me say I was close to drooling after surveying their frozen drink menu. One cute thing for kids: children's entrees are served on a frisbee, which is theirs to keep and play with after they finish dinner... such a great idea!

Dinner at the Rusty Nail
Photo courtesy of Musings of a Housewife
We spent Friday morning listening to Curtis Bashaw, whose family has owned and operated Congress Hall since he was a toddler. I found him to be warm and generous, and it is abundantly clear that the ground underneath Cape May is as dear to him as anything else in this world. As the result of his talk, I learned more about Congress Hall and its beginnings, and where it sees itself now in the current hospitality marketplace -- namely a great place to spend with your family on vacation.  Activities for children (of all ages) run the gamut, from movies on the lawn, arts and crafts classes and karaoke to Dance Dance Revolution (no parents allowed!). Congress Hall celebrates every holiday on the calendar -- from an old-fashioned July 4th picnic and fireworks to Easter Egg hunts and Christmas concerts. As mentioned during my stay, Congress Hall is a place to "make memories" with your family.

Beach Plum Farm
Speaking of which, the rest of my day in Cape May is starting to feel like a hazy memory. We took a short drive out to Beach Plum Farm, the certified organic farmland which supplies the Cape Resorts Group's restaurants with nearly 50% of their seasonal produce. I witnessed the "farm to table" philosophy firsthand when we were served lunch underneath sweeping oaks (okay, I'm actually guessing it was an oak tree- remember this is city yuppie writing here) after walking the grounds of the property.  Honestly, Martha Stewart could not have topped this lunch, brought to us by the Blue Pig, Congress Hall's in house restaurant. The attention to detail was just perfect, from the fresh flowers and strawberry lemonade served in mason jars, to the beautiful quote which was wrapped with a ribbon on each of our plates. I can't even tell you how many courses there were because I lost count (perhaps distracted by rather good looking Argentine head chef Lucas Manteca... I can't be sure).

Strawberry rhubarb pie was served for dessert at the sleek and gorgeous Virginia Hotel in town, and my afternoon was spent lounging by the pool with the one and only Glamamom and Philly Burb Mom. Dinner was served at The Blue Pig, which was followed by a food coma and a hot bath for this Prego. I am honestly so thankful to The Motherhood and Cape Resports Group for this 2 day break from reality... mind you, I'm incredibly blessed with an awesome reality, but let's face it, as moms, we all need a break sometimes. So on that note, I'd say that not only is Congress Hall and Cape May in general a perfect place for families, I can vouch it's a great place for a girls or couple's weekend, too (Husband, are you reading this?)

Relaxed Mama

Joining me on this beach adventure were fellow bloggers pictured above (check them out when you have a chance!):

Amy Oztan - Selfish Mom
Carol Cain - NYCity Mama
Ellen Seidman - Love That Max
Gayle Weiswasser - Discovery Communications
Holly Rosen Fink - The Culture Mom
Jill Seiman - Glamamom
Joey Fortman - Real Mom in the Media
Jo-Lynne Shane - Musings of a Housewife
Judy Antell - Veggie Mom
Kimberly Coleman - Mom in the City
Liz Thompson - This Full House
Monica Storch - Macaroni Kid
Melissa Anger - Girlymama
Shannon Ott - Philly Burb Moms

Thanks once again to Cooper Munroe and Emily McKhann of TheMotherhood for helping make this weekend possible!

Follow Congress Hall on Facebook to get the latest on all news and events happening at the resort. A $100 resort credit can be generously applied to your online booking by using the code MOMBLOG at checkout. The reservation must be booked by July 31st, 2011 and is valid for the rest of the year (please note: this offer cannot be combined with any other offers). 

Disclosure: My trip was sponsored by Cape Resorts Group and The Motherhood. I was provided with meals and accomodation to achieve the full Congress Hall experience. All opinions expressed herein are my own.


Sonja said...

You look so cute with your little big belly! Sounds like a marvelous weekend and fun for the girls!

Anonymous said...

You look so happy and adorable! What a great place I had no idea existed so close to the city. Thank you for sharing! :)

Carol said...

Great hanging with you! Love that picture of you, you DO look so relaxed : ))) Hope we get to hang out soon again! Great post!

Emily McKhann said...

I love the photo of you and your beautiful belly! What a great post - and great time together!!!!!!

Liz@thisfullhouse said...

So awesome to have experienced this trip, with you!!! HUGS!!!

Yakini said...

What a fun and relaxing trip!!! You look sooo gorgeous and glowing, lady!

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