Wednesday, July 29, 2009

On the way to Cape May - Congress Hall

Cape May Beach
Classic beach cabanas near Congress Hall
While vacationing in Ocean City, NJ this summer, I planned a nice day trip with my son to Cape May. Since I am always looking for ways to combine business with pleasure, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to take an unguided tour of this charming Jersey shore Victorian town and then pay a visit to the historical and much talked about Congress Hall. With my three year old tot-in-tow, we headed off for a great day of adventure (photo above is courtesy of

Although I have a GPS in my van, I opted not to use it. Instead I decided to enjoy a slow joyride through Cape May and soak up the sights and sounds of this visually stimulating town. Being a resident of New Jersey for nearly all my life and having an architectural background, I am not sure how I managed to NEVER visit Cape May! I have always admired the appeal and charm of Victorian period architecture with all the lacy gingerbread details, steeply pitched roofs, bay windows, wrap around porches, balconies and rainbow colored exteriors. When I decided to pull over and figure out where I was, I just happened to stop right in front of Congress Hall! Perfect!

The "pleasure" part of my trip consisted of my son and I leisurely strolling around and shopping on Washington Street and Beach Avenue. There were plenty of clothing, lingerie and gift boutiques, jewelry and toy shops, ice cream parlors, restaurants, etc. I even took a few moments to go into the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea to light a couple candles, and to admire the beauty within. The next few photographs are buildings that I saw in the surrounding area of Congress Hall. I think they capture the true feeling of Cape May quite beautifully. If you want to see more great photos, log onto this website, and take a look. It gives an excellent representation of the eclectic architectural styles of the Victorian period in Cape May and and overall feeling of the romantic charm of this elegant little seashore resort.

The Inn at Cape May
The surrounding businesses on Perry Street
Love the pink paint and the lacy gingerbread trim!
Businesses on Washington Street
Plenty of shopping!

Hotels on Perry Street
I think that little piece of blue awning is Uncle Bill's Pancake House?!!!

Congress Hall

Ok, on to the "business" part of the trip:-)! When all the shopping and ice cream eating was complete, we took a tour of Congress Hall. I have only read about this exclusive seaside resort in elegant Wedding publications and have seen many gorgeous photographs. It has a relaxed but luxurious feel. It occupies an entire beachfront block that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. It is a perfect choice for couples looking for an elegant and romantic beach location to tie the knot.

Upon entry, what I found to be the most striking, and aesthetically appealing, was the mix of colors chosen for the interior walls. It changed from room to room from canary yellow to Tiffany blue to varying shades of brown, etc. The painted black and white checker board floor in the Grand Ballroom was another amazing decor standout. Just speaking from a color palette perspective, this historical building has PERSONALITY!

The next few pictures depict the color palette of the interior.
(photos courtesy of

The Brown Room
The "Gatsbyesque" cocktail lounge

The Grand Ballroom
Love the black and white checkerboard floor and Tiffany blue walls!
(The next two photographs of the Grand Ballroom
are courtesy of Faith West Photography).

The linens selected for this Wedding are fabulous!!!!!

Other standout features include the classic grand lawn in which many couples are married. The sweeping veranda, with wooden rocking chairs, is another location where Weddings and cocktail hour celebrations are held. Couples can also wed on Congress Beach if they so desire. The eclectic feel of Congress Hall is further exemplified by the nightclub in the basement. When I entered The Boiler Room, I got the feeling I was back in Manhattan in a trendy club in Soho. It definitely has a cool NYC vibe going on; original exposed brick walls, a stainless steel bar and adjoining tables, dark red lamps, cozy couches and low tables. I can only imagine the atmosphere when the lights are dimmed, and the music is jamming. Certainly a great place to continue the party and gather for after Wedding cocktails. The Boiler Room takes a very unexpected departure from the elegant surroundings on the upper floors but is really quite intriguing!

Congress Hall
Picture of the grand lawn, pool and veranda

(photo courtesy of

The Boiler Room
Manhattan style nightclub located in the basement
(photo courtesy of

If you are newly engaged and considering a Wedding at Congress Hall, packages start at $126. per person. If you would like more information you can log onto their website at Or you may call them at 609-884-6553. It's a "shore" thing in Cape May!

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