Cape May is considered the first seashore resort in the United States. The historic district of Cape May is a registered National Historic Landmark with hundreds of Victorian-era houses. These homes offer visitors a chance to see what life was like in the Victorian era. The architecture features beautiful fretwork and stunning colors.
A tour of the The Emlen Physick Estate offers 15 beautifully restored rooms gives you a glimpse into the lifestyle of this Victorian-era Cape May family. Tours take approximately 45 minutes and end with a visit to the 1876 Carriage House where you can see the current exhibit in the Carroll Gallery. At the heart of the Historic District, the Washington Street Mall (between Ocean Street and Perry Street) includes three blocks of shopping and restaurants, boutiques, candy stores, ice-cream shops, and restaurants.
A great way to explore the Historic District is by foot or bike or trolley tour. Visitors can admire the gorgeous “painted ladies” homes. The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities offers guided walking tours along Washington Street, where many of the town’s prettiest old houses are found. Other especially lovely Victorians grace Lafayette Street, Hughes Street, and Columbia Avenue. The “Stockton Row Cottages” on Gurney Street are also famous.
There are several landmark hotels that still operate on Beach Avenue overlooking the ocean: Congress Hall built in 1816, and the Victorian-era Inn of Cape May. In October, during Victorian Weekend, tourists enjoy special house tours and entertaining activities such as playing Victorian parlor games.