A Trip to A Victorian Town
Ever had one of those trips that you had pre-planned way ahead - your work leave was approved, Airbnb booked, and most importantly, you already have the perfect outfit for your OOTD’s only to know that the weather’s going to be terrible on the days of your vacation? This trip was one of them, but since we have limited availability to reschedule, we decided we might as well go on with it.
Lo and behold a gloomy trip ahead:
But the melancholic atmosphere was made up for by the vibrance of our destination.
This trip was to the historic town of Cape May, New Jersey. Located just at the tip of southern New Jersey’s Cape May peninsula, it is a city and a seaside resort known for its grand Victorian houses. Due to said Victorian buildings, Cape May is considered a National Historic Landmark.
If you are an architecture enthusiast, or just want to feel like you went back in time to the Victorian age, I recommend that you include Cape May in your bucketlist. Some says that Cape May embodies the perfect quaint New England beach town. At almost every corner, this place is picturesque and rich in history. For a while, you'll feel somewhat disconnected to the present and day dreaming of all the things that happened in this town in the past. It will give you a distinct feeling that you know you'll never get in a city.
To make the most of our day trip and of course, reduce the time walking in the rain, we booked a Historic Trolley Tour. I learned from the enigmatic Tour guide that since Cape May is a National Historic district city, it means that when you build something here, it has to be made out of wood, brick, or stone.
One of the cited reasons is that it should be something recognizable by the Victorians, in case they would reincarnate themselves. Don't ask how or why. All throughout the tour, the guide kept on mentioning gingerbread, and I kept thinking about food, but I later learned was an architectural style significant for Victorian-style buildings.
Check out below the doll house-like styles of these mansions and homes.
My favorite amongst all houses is the Merry Widow. With its turquoise blue and pink exterior, this is what my childhood doll house dreams are made of.
One of the most photographed houses in town is the Pink House, which I think is named for obvious reasons. It's pink in all sides and angles. It now houses a fashion boutique called Victorious.
Even the Inns and Hotels here are Victorian-style houses.
Physick Estate Tour
We also went on a Victorian house museum tour, the Emlen Physick Estate which has a preserved interior from the Victorian era. This tour offers a look and information on the architecture, customs, decorative arts, and lives of the Physick family in Cape May. Located at 1048 Washington Street, this 18-room mansion was built in 1879 for Dr. Emlen Physick, Jr. Despite being a medical doctor, Dr. Physick never really practiced Medicine. In Cape May, he led the life of a gentleman farmer, owning two tenant farms and keeping livestock on his estate on Washington Street. He lived on this house with his widowed mother, Frances Ralston, and his maiden aunt Emilie Parmentier moved into their home when it was completed in 1879.
The four-acre estate also includes the Carriage House, where you could buy tour tickets, galleries and museum shops. Also the property's cow shed has now been turned into a public restroom.
We also learned that they hold ghost tours! In fact, the house was used as a location in the 1981 slasher film The Prowler, The mansion was also featured on the season 1, episode 6 of Haunted Towns on Destination America and was investigated by series paranormal team, Tennessee Wraith Chasers (TWC). The home is believed to be haunted by Dr. Emlen Physick and his family; his aunts Emilie and Isabella, as well as his mother, Frances Ralston.
After a day of traveling back in time through the guided tours, it’s now time for some window shopping at least! Washington Street Mall is three blocks long brimming of stores and restaurants which of course also looks very Victorian Era-like.
Cape May Lighthouse
To cap off our day, we also grabbed the chance to see and climb another popular attraction in Cape May, the Cape May Lighthouse. I’ve never been in a lighthouse up close before so this was a pleasure.
Built in 1859, this tower is 157 ft and 6 inches and is illuminated by six pieces of 110 watt lightbulbs. There are 217 steps from the ground to the top and 199 steps in the tower’s cast iron spiral staircase.
There are only specific periods of time that the lighthouse is open to the public so make sure you check it before going here. On the night that we climbed, there is a new moon, but unfortunately it was cloudy so we didn’t get a full unobstructed view. I really enjoyed this experience even though being terrified of heights and enclosed spaces.
Even though this trip is to Cape May, we rented our Airbnb in a town 15 minutes away called Wildwoods. It is home to amusement parks and shops and restaurants along their wooden boardwalk. We went there the following day and luckily the sun was already up.
We asked our Airbnb host for a good place to eat and he recommended The Surfing Pig restaurant. It has great ambiance, great food, and very friendly staff, so if ever you’ll be in the area, make sure to check it out as well.
Now I can’t wait for my next vacation adventure and hopefully the weather would be a lot friendlier.