Some towns in Southern New Jersey – in this case Haddonfield, Somers Point and Cape May – are community-minded, friendly, sophisticated, foodie-approved oases in what many outsiders believe to be tackyville USA.
Indeed, if all of your information about New Jersey comes from TV – Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Jersey Shore and the like – or from the 70 MPH view of oil refineries out of your windshield as you whiz by on the Jersey Turnpike, you might imagine the state as a crime-ridden, cheesy, polluted place. Plan a visit here, though, and you’ll see that just isn’t so. What you will find are “walking school buses,” Historic Preservation pioneers, crabbing tournaments, great chefs, beachfront hotels built by Holocaust survivors and so much more.
The following 20 reasons to visit South Jersey are just a start. For more information on each of these towns and other Offbeat Escapes in the Northeast, consult GetawayMavens.com.
- Haddy the Dinosaur Commemorative Statue
- Haddonfield was named for 21-year-old Elizabeth Haddon
- Downtown Haddonfield streets are so precious and picturesque, they’ve been compared to a Dickens scene
- Cooking along with Chef Kathy Gold at In the Kitchen Cooking School (Haddonfield) is a blast
- The independently owned stores in downtown Haddonfield make for a great shopping day trip from Philadelphia
- Lunch portions at Zaffron, a sweetheart of a family-owned Mediterranean-fusion eatery (Israeli, Greek, Turkish, Southern France and Sicilian cuisine) are perfectly sized
- The Chicken Parm at Tre Famiglia, Haddonfield
- Town namesake, Col. Richard Somers, was buried in Tripoli, Libya in 1804 after dying a hero in the Barbary Wars protecting trade routes off of North Africa
- The story of Somer’s life is rendered in an outsize mural that wraps around the Somers Point Library
- After WWII, Somers Point, which had always been a drinking town, became a rock and roll hub
- The Somers Point Historical Society houses stacks of loose-leaf binders, categorized by theme and crammed with thousands of historic pictures
- Somers Point became a mecca for recreational fishermen
- Join the “Key West” like crowds at sunset on the new 2 ½ mile Route 52 causeway that links Somers Point to Ocean City NJ
- Taco Tuesday was invented at Gregory’s in Somers Point, a third and forth generation run restaurant famous for its locally sourced, never frozen foodie-approved cuisine
- Anchorage Tavern in Somers Point has been feeding hungry fishermen since it was built (as a hotel) in 1874
- A couple of nice, upscale and updated hotels
- A vacation spot since the late 1700’s, Cape May NJ attracted city dwellers who would travel by packet steamers down to the shore
- The best way to see these charming Gingerbread homes, and to tour the interior of one of Cape May’s mansions is through a MAC (Mid-Atlantic Center for Arts and Humanities) Trolley Tour
- Cape May Brewing Company – owned by Ryan Krill (the finance guy) and Chris Hanke (engineer), friends from Villanova U
- The back-story of the beautiful full-service beachfront Montreal Beach Resort, (nowhere near Canada)