Washington Street, Cape May
The Washington Street Mall is a quaint place to shop and is fine for gifts and holiday souvenirs, but if you find yourself in need of more basic supplies head for Washington Commons just north of the Mall’s eastern end. Here you’ll find the Acme supermarket and a bank, as well as some more gift shops to browse. We found the ATM at the bank reliable and made good use of the supermarket on a couple of occasions – to buy a picnic lunch to take to the State Park one day, and to get in supplies for a rainy evening “at home” in our apartment at the Shore S Cape. Unlike British supermarkets though it didn’t have a license to sell alcohol, so when we wanted a few beers to enjoy on our evening in, we had to go to the separate and very well-stocked liquor store just north of the Mall’s western end.
At the centre of Cape May lie the three pedestrianised blocks of the Washington Street Mall. Any visitor to the town will surely find themselves here sooner or later. It is lined with pleasant shops, with the emphasis on souvenirs, gifts and clothing. Among our favourites were:
~ The Whale’s Tail, with its excellent selection of pretty jewellery, ornaments and local interest books
~ Love the Cook, a great kitchenware shop where we bought a number of nice gifts
~ The Fudge Kitchen for great fudge and salt water taffy (more on this in a separate tip below)
There are also a number of restaurants, two ice cream parlours (Ben & Jerry’s and the local chain Kohr Brothers, specialists in frozen custard), and a couple of cafés. Down the centre of the mall are beds planted with trees to provide some summer shade and benches for weary shoppers. Fountains add a cooling touch. At the eastern end of the mall is the very helpful information booth run by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts (MAC) – see my General tip. An extra feature on the Sunday when we were there was a very good exhibit of art by local painters and photographers. The standard was very high and we enjoyed meeting and talking with the artists.
The mall has been closed to traffic since the early 1970s but many of the buildings date back far earlier. One of the oldest is the New Jersey Trust and Safe Deposit bank building, which was built in 1895, while the Roman Catholic Church, the Star of the Sea dates from 1911. Others are replacements for buildings destroyed in a fire in 1976, but the whole is a harmonious and appealing street where it is a real pleasure to stroll and shop.
The Washington Mall is a pedestrian area where you can find shops selling clothing like Cape May t-shirts or sweatshirts, hats,casual clothing, toys, books, Christmas ornaments or stop by the Fudge Kitchen for the best candy in the world!! (I always mail a pound box of assorted fudge to my mother in Pennsylvania--she loves this fudge!) Visit the specialty shops with imported items or the jewelry stores featuring estate pieces. On a hot day you'll welcome a refreshing ice cream cone or lemonade. Benches line the walkway here and so do shade trees. Don't forget to buy a postcard to send back home!
What to buy: T-shirts, fudge, jewelry and post cards!
I can't begin to name all the wonderful shops on the Washington Street Mall, but there are plenty of them. The Washington Street Mall is for pedestrian traffic only and the trees, flowers and the "summer" atmosphere is ripe here. One of my favorite stores is "The Whales Tail," because I love the jewelry there. But all the shops on the mall are unique and carry terrific summer clothes, jewelry, art, souvenirs and Victoriana. Don't miss the candy and nut shop because the fudge is expensive but to die for. On the mall you'll find any number of regular souvenir shops carrying postcards, shells, and t-shirts, toys and crafts.
One of the great features of this pedestrian mall is that there is no traffic of course and there are lots of benches for the guys who don't like to shop, for the weary to sit on or for those who just love people watching. Take your time and soak up the special atmosphere. Take a break from shopping and try one of the coffee shops or one of the many cute cafes with outdoor seating. Don't forget for you ice cream lovers, there is a Ben & Jerry's on the mall too.
Just strolling the mall is one of the pleasant ways to spend your time while your visiting Cape May!