Stay in and snuggle or explore the sights of southern New Jersey from your home base: a Scandinavian A-frame cabin or a micro-resort in Cape May.
Situated on the Maurice River a half hour from Jersey’s shore towns, the revamped 1960s-era California Redwood A-frame Cabin operated by The Lokal Hotel definitely qualifies as glam camping. Its three bedrooms and two baths comfortably sleep eight and it touts a commercial kitchen, two fire pits, a huge rear deck with a wood-fired hot tub, a Green Egg for grilling, Sonos surround sound and a makeshift private beach. If it happens to be booked, reserve one of eight well-appointed apartments at the property’s year-round Cape May Micro-Resort, which has a heated saltwater pool, outdoor cooking options and outdoor areas for each room. // from $300 per night
Reserve a spot in advance on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, a vehicle ferry that makes an 85-minute, 17-mile scenic trip across the Delaware Bay from Lewes, Delaware to Cape May, New Jersey, shaving time and hassle off the trip and affording views of three lighthouses.
Once you arrive, spend a few hours in this charming town dotted with Victorian buildings, the southernmost point in New Jersey and one of the country’s oldest vacation destinations. The pathway-lined Washington Street Mall spans three blocks and has shops selling saltwater taffy and fudge, apparel, garden and patio accessories, wine and cigars, and you can sample local cuisine while hearing the town’s lore and legends during a Cape May Food Tour, which also counts as lunch. After settling into your accommodation and unpacking, tote a pair of binoculars for your stroll down to the river, a great place for spotting eagles and other birds.
Head to Joe Canal’s Liquor Store to pick up some bubbly, brews or bourbon to elevate your glamping stay. Main’s Meat Market (690-856-8686), a butcher in Vineland, offers thick rib-eyes to throw on the grill and head to Muzzarelli Farms, a family-owned farm and farmers market dating back to 1937, to procure the makings for a garden salad and grilled “packet potatoes.” After dinner, break out that bourbon and throw a few logs on the fire pit or take a soak in the hot tub.
Diners and New Jersey are intrinsically linked, so a Greek omelette or Taylor pork roll and cheese sandwich along with bottomless coffee at nearby Maurice River Diner is de rigueur when you find yourself in these parts. Afterward, take a lighthouse tour of the region starting with East Point Lighthouse, built in 1849 to mark the mouth of the Maurice River on the Delaware Bay. Tour the fully furnished first-floor house where staff used to live then climb to the top to flip the switch that turns the light on and off. At 171 feet and 228 steps, the Absecon Lighthouse is the state’s tallest and the third-tallest in the country— and the views and history are well worth the quick trip into Atlantic City.
Buy the fixings for a picnic at Lillians’ Market, pack it all up back at the cabin and hike through the marsh to have a leisurely lunch on Thompson Beach, a relatively secluded spot that’s under the radar.
Sea Isle City is a popular Jersey Shore town, and though it gets a little sleepier in the off season, it makes for a nice evening for dinner by the water on mild nights (or inside with a view on chillier ones). Head a few blocks inland from the water to Cafe Loren, which, for four decades, has been serving French-inspired American cuisine using regional ingredients. Start with pan-seared scallops over cauliflower puree topped with fingerling and green apple hash and smoked bacon, followed by halibut served with pancetta and sweet pea risotto and ginger carrot emulsion.
That evening, screen a movie on your backyard projector and pop open a bottle of Champagne before retiring to your tranquil temporary home under the stars.
What would a glamping trip be without a spa day? After leisurely coffee and breakfast on the sun-filled deck, book a treatment at Cape May Day Spa. The Cape Island Body Wrap starts with an exfoliation followed by an algae body mask, heated blanket, foot and scalp massage, rejuvenating shower and hydrating balm. During a Deep Soak Algae Bath, lyophilized algae accelerates your body’s natural process of removing impurities and toxins, leading to a feeling of well-being. At the Sea Spa at the Congress Hall Hotel, the full-body exfoliation uses sea salt and a choice of aromatherapy oil to leave skin soft and silky.
Once you are blissed out, lunch at Beach Plum Farm Bakery and Cafe, a 62-acre farm, market, kitchen and cottage accommodation. The restaurant is situated in its main Amish barn and has an ever-changing menu based on what’s freshest that day. Meats are sustainably raised, poultry is pasture-raised and fresh vegetables are harvested by hand from fields. Check out SOMA NewArt Gallery, which highlights new regional and emerging artists through four exhibition galleries, open April through October, showcasing paintings, video installations, sculptures and paper. Finally, before heading back to the ferry terminal, take a private, 30-minute horse and buggy ride around town with Cape May Carriage Company, during which you’ll hear stories and history about this beguiling beach town.
If glamping is your jam, indulge in these luxuries for your sojourn:
• A basket outfitted with a soft blanket, linen napkins, wine glasses, a cheese board and knives is perfect for a beach picnic.
• Your favorite scent blend delivered via linen spray, aromatic air diffuser or candles adds to the ambiance.
• A portable bar kit with a shaker, strainer, bitters, garnishes and your favorite spirits and mixers elevates cocktail hour.
• A croquet or bocce ball set is cooler than cornhole.
• After a day of not roughing it, don a pair of silk pajamas and a plush velvet robe.