If you’re in the mood for a festive day trip or weekend getaway, Cape May exudes holiday charm. Though this South Jersey seashore community was first considered a beloved summertime destination, Christmas spirit abounds in this town, revered for its rich history and architectural marvels, making it a must-see holiday haven.
If you enjoy house tours, trolley rides, and a respite from the usual hustle-and-bustle of the season, Cape May has all that and more. Take a look at some of the offerings that prove it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.
An Old-Fashioned Christmas Exhibit
The Carroll Gallery at the Physick Estate transforms into a Christmas delight each November and December. Model trains and a Dept. 56 Dickens Village are on full display beneath the well-appointed branches of an enormous tree. Children can drop Santa a line and place their letters in his special mail box ensuring they’ll go straight to the North Pole. Admission to the gallery is free. The exhibit runs through Jan. 1, 2018.
Christmas Candlelight House Tours
Enjoy a self-guided walking tour and visit homes, inns, hotels, and churches all decked out for Christmas. Carolers and strolling musicians add to the fun while hospitality centers offer hot cocoa and homemade treats. Admission includes a stop at 1879 Emlen Physick Estate. Decorated in true Victorian splendor, guests have a chance to step back in time and see how members of the Physick Family household of the 1890s lived.
Held Dec. 9 and 16 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., reservations are recommended.
Tickets: Adults: $35; Children (3-12): $20
Cheery Cherry House Tour
Boasting more than a dozen beautifully-adorned rooms, the Cheery Cherry House Christmas Tour takes guests throughout this 167-year-old, privately-owned home at 637 Hughes St. Frank and Beth Acker transport visitors back in time to the 1800s as they stroll past Santa and Mrs. Claus alongside the tinsel-covered tree; the dining room table readied for a Christmas feast; the parlor Christmas tree bearing family decorations from the 19th century; and the Dickens Village lighting windows and mantel.
Tours take place Monday-Thursday, Dec. 11-14: 1pm-3pm.
Tickets: $10; for children under age 10 admission is free. For more information, call 609-884-5404
Take in a Show
A Christmas Carol: The Radio Show by David Alberts is presented in Congress Hall’s Harrison Room and is sure to warm the hearts of audience members. The tale illustrates that old-fashioned “The show must go on!” mentality when a snowstorm prevents actors from performing the live radio broadcast of A Christmas Carol, leaving the sound effects person to soldier on alone and play all parts himself.
Partnering with Blue Pig Tavern, lunch and a Sunday matinee, as well as dinner and a show Thursday through Saturday, are offered. For reservations, call 609-884-6542.
East Lynne Theater Company presents “Louisa May Alcott’s Christmas,” featuring the opening chapters of Little Women and several short stories written by the beloved author. Adapted and performed by ELTC’s artistic director, Gayle Stahlhuth brings to life more than 30 characters in this creative and heartwarming adaptation.
Performances will be held Dec. 3, 7, 8, at 8 p.m. and Sat., Dec. 9 at 2 and 8 p.m.
Tickets: $27 General; $17 Full-time students and military (active or veterans)
Appealing to revelers of all ages, trolley rides offer a way to take in the sights comfortably. Here are a few available:
Ghosts of Christmas Past Trolley Rides
Enjoy a a Victorian holiday ghost story on this “spirited” journey as you ride through Cape May’s festively decorated Historic District.
Tickets: $12 adults; $8 children (ages 3-12). Advance reservations are strongly recommended.
Holiday Lights Trolley Rides
Cruise through Cape May’s Historic District and take in the festive sights of inns and homes arrayed in holiday splendor as guides discuss Victorian Christmas traditions and lead sing-alongs. Rides last approximately 30 minutes.
Tickets: $12 adults; $10 children (ages 3-12)
Santa’s Trolley Rides
Children enjoy a visit to the Physick Estate on weekends where they can take a ride around Cape May while hearing stories and songs led by Mrs. Claus. Santa will greet children with a treat in the Carriage House.
Tickets: Adults $10; Children (ages 3-12) $8. Advance reservations are strongly recommended.
Breakfast With Santa
Spend the morning with Mr. Claus while sampling a family-friendly breakfast buffet at the Inn of Cape May. Children visit with Santa, hear a Christmas story, and have an opportunity to share their wish lists with Jolly Old St. Nick.
Cost: Adults $17; children (ages 3-12) $12; $5 children under age 3
Tickets are still available for Dec. 9 & 10. For more information, call 609-884-5404.
For a complete list of offerings, visit