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To wrap up my series on our Cape May trip via Living Social, it’s time to talk about what to do in a shore town when half the town is still shut down and it’s way too cold to sunbathe.  Cape May is still full of activities in the off-season, so here are some highlights from our own trip.

Physick Estate
Jared loves touring old mansions.  In fact, whenever we travel, I think it’s safe to say we visit at least one.  We even made a special trip to Rhode Island to do the mansion tours one 4th of July weekend.  This trip was no exception, and with an abundance of Victorian-style homes, Cape May offered a lot of options when it came to tours.

The Emlen Physick Estate is the only Victorian house museum in Cape May.  It’s a neat story.  This house was in disrepair, and then the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts was formed in 1970 to bring it back to its historic state.  I won’t bore you with the historical details, but for $10, you get a 45 minute tour of the estate that concludes with a visit to the Carraige House, which typically has a separate historical display towards the back.  For $18, you can do a combination trolley tour of historic Cape May plus the mansion tour.  Our hotel gave us a voucher for the tours, however, we visited the mansion before we visited the hotel.  Darn.  Check with your hotel to see if they offer any deals for the tour.

Cape May Winery
I’m about to make a huge claim here and say that the Cape May Winery is one of the best wineries we’ve ever been to from an atmosphere perspective.  The tasting room is a gorgeous, expansive room with tables, couches, a bar and barrels lining the whole side wall.  Large enough to accommodate large groups without making other people feel like they are waiting around forever, the tasting room is really just a fantastic room.

Given how awesome the room was and how much it made us want to linger, we chose to do a tasting for $6 that included tasting 6 wines plus a souvenir glass.  Both Jared and I chose a mix of reds and whites to try, along with a dessert wine for me and a port for him, which I usually don’t find too much of at local wineries.  The wines we liked the most, like the Victorian White were very sweet.  That happens to be our preference, however, I also enjoyed some of the other more dry whites as well.

After our tasting, we decided to purchase a full glass of our favorites and sit in the tasting room for awhile, something I’ve never seen at other wineries.  Typically you go straight from tour (if there is one) to tasting, and then to the gift shop.  The Cape May Winery really encourages people to linger, with a balcony upstairs that looks over into the vineyard.  If it hadn’t been so windy and cold that day, this is something I definitely would have loved to do.  In fact, we saw one couple up there splitting a bottle and just hanging out.  Such a great, restful and fun activity, and we can’t wait to open the bottles we ended up buying.  Definitely worth a long afternoon stop on your trip to Cape May!

Cape May County Zoo
Another thing we’re huge fans of are gardens and zoos.  I’ll admit I was spoiled in DC, visiting the National Zoo sometimes every month without having to pay.  The Cape May County Zoo was a fabulous find.  With free admission year round, I was kind of expecting just a few animals set up in a dinky little park, but was pleasantly surprised to find it is so much more than that.

From lions and tigers and bears to simple geese, ducks and wandering peacocks, the zoo layout is one of the best I’ve seen in awhile.  I think we spent about 2 hours wandering around, enjoying the weather and all of the diverse animal populations.  Although the zoo was packed the day we were there, the expansive nature of the set-up allowed us to see everything we wanted to see without crowding around with other people.  Perfect for children and adults alike, the zoo is located a few miles outside of downtown Cape May in Cape May Courthouse.  Worth the drive, particularly since it’s free.  Just remember to support organizations like this with your donations to keep them up and running!

For all those that think of a certain show when they think of New Jersey, try visiting us first.  You’ll see there’s much more here than bumps and fist pumps.


Thanks to Hip2Save, I’m discovering all sorts of fun sites lately.  Yesterday, I saw a notice about House Party on the Facebook feed.  After some exploration of Hip2Save’s blog post and the House Party site, I thought it would be a fun site to share.

The concept is pretty cool:  House Party lists a number of different events sponsored by various brands that are looking to get the word out about their products.  As a member of the House Party site, you apply online to act as host for the various events.  If you are chosen, you get some free stuff and great products to use.  All you have to do is host the party!

So what’s the catch?  Parties do have to be hosted on a specific day, so if you’re booked for like months on end like we always seem to be, it might be hard to find something cool to host.  Also, there is no guarantee you’ll be chosen.  Basically, it seems as if you have to meet certain requirements, and there are only so many party packages to go around.  Also, you are expected to be an active part of the community, sharing photos and information from your party.  Fun for a blogger like me, but probably not a real incentive for most other people.

I’m super into this concept.  Number one, because I like free things, and number two, because it’s a great excuse to get people together.  My only concern is not getting enough people to attend!  While most of the upcoming parties are on dates that I wouldn’t be able to host, I’ll be on the look out for some fun ones.

Who’s in??  Would anyone come to something like this, or is it annoying?  Feedback, please!  Otherwise, I’ll update once I have my first party 🙂

Thanks to Living Social, Jared and I recently had the opportunity to check out Cape May, New Jersey for the first time (well, my first time-Jared was there as a kid).  As we walked around, I started thinking about all the great places we’ve been to in New Jersey that might get overlooked for those of us that live in-state.  Hence my new mission to tell you about them as we go along.  🙂

We covered a lot of ground while we were in Cape May, so I’ll start today by reviewing the lodging that we used.  The next set of installments will cover dining and area attractions.  We don’t want a super long post, after all!

The Carroll Villa Bed and Breakfast
The deal we purchased included a one night stay at the Carol Villa Bed and Breakfast, located less than a block from the beach.  Upon arrival, we received our complimentary bottle of champagne, as well as some coupons to area attractions (all part of our deal).  The check-in attendant was very friendly and made us feel welcome.

While the room we stayed in was certainly a bit small, it worked fine for us since we didn’t spend too much time in it anyway.  The shower had great pressure, and the bathroom was very clean and well kept.  Our room was right above The Mad Batter, the restaurant at The Carroll Villa, and during the live music, it was a bit noisy.  As in we could hear the specific songs the singer was performing.  However, we got back to our room around 9:45 p.m., and it all seemed to stop by 10.  If you’re sensitive to noise, though, as I know many are, this may not be the place for you!  I believe there are rooms on the other side of the hotel, so I would ask about those just to make sure.

Given that it was off-season, we were able to find parking about a block away.  In the summer, I can definitely imagine that parking is a challenge for guests at The Carroll Villa.  If you’re planning to stay in the summer, I would recommend calling ahead to find out what is recommended.

As mentioned, The Caroll Villa does have a restaurant, The Mad Batter, which is a great restaurant with a modest bar as well.  I’ll talk about this more in dining, but our deal did included a breakfast voucher, and we liked the convenience of having something right there.

Overall, The Caroll Villa was a beautiful place to stay, with an at-home feel that made even our short stay relaxing and comfortable.  If you’re thinking of vacationing somewhere this summer, I’d call early-I’m sure they book up pretty fast!  Thanks to Living Social and The Carroll Villa for helping us find out what Cape May has to offer!

*Writers Note:  Due to a handful of complaints that I have not written in awhile, I’ve decided to commit again to trying to post a few times a week. Yet again, I have no excuse for not writing, just been busy!

Jared and I love getting out for the weekend and creating new experiences.  There’s just something about a full weekend ahead of you to explore that really excites us.  Since I don’t really have long stretches of vacation to take, lately we’ve been looking for shorter trips we can take in and around the state to ensure we still get our fix without spending a lot or driving too much.

I wrote awhile ago about Groupon, the social buying site.  At the same time I signed up for Groupon, I signed up for Living Social, which is extremely similar, just with different deals.  I soon started getting emails about “Living Social Escapes“, which were vacation packages at a discounted rate.  The one that caught our eye was a Cape May Weekend.

I’ve always wanted to take a trip down to Cape May. New Jersey Monthly always writes about great restaurants and places to stay.  The deal that we found gave us one night (Friday or Saturday) at the Carroll Villa B&B Hotel that included a bottle of champagne, a gift basket of “goodies” and a complimentary breakfast at The Mad Batter.  All for $150.

The deal was that you had to book a night between now and May 7th.  Let me break down for you what a trip like this would cost normally for the weekend we chose:

1.)  Overnight accommodations at the Carroll Villa B&B typically cost anywhere from $99 per night to $239 per night.  The catch is that many rooms require a two night reservation.  For the room we are staying in, we would have had to pay about $238 for the weekend.  By the time we got there on a Friday night, it would have been so late we hardly would have had time to take advantage of our surroundings.  Major savings right there, allowing us through the site to only have to book one night.

2.)  Breakfast at The Mad Batter looks like it would cost about $15-$20 per person.

Couple this with the gift bag of goodies, and I’d say we’re looking at a low-cost weekend away just as Spring is about to arrive in NJ.

Booking the trip was easy.  All I had to do was buy the deal, and call the hotel to redeem.  The hotel has a specific person that handled the Living Social bookings, which I thought was fabulous.  I’ve worked with places before that have had no idea what you’re talking about when you try to redeem something you found online.  The process was seamless, easy, and stress-free.  And let’s face it, for two of us to go away for a weekend in Cape May for only $150, I’d stay it was totally worth it.

*Note:  Someone asked me recently if we had to “meet up” with the other people that purchased the deal.  Living Social is a social buying site, not a social meet up site.  The only social part is the buying element.  No other interaction required.  🙂

Looking forward to sharing our review of our Cape May Weekend come March.  Stay tuned!

Oh, and sign up for Living Social today.  Even though a lot of the deals may not be relevant to you, you never know when something great is going to come along.

This is for all you Jersey kids out there.  I feel like most people don’t spend enough time exploring the place they actually live, so I’ve spent a lot of time this past year reading up about local events, restaurants, festivals, etc. to make sure Jared and I are always on the go with no down time.  😉  NJ My Way is another great site to help me achieve that goal.

From a frequently updated blog to event listings, it’s super easy to find a round up of everything going on in the fabulous Garden State.  Also, if you’re looking for jobs, the site integrates with a local job finder tool, putting everything you need right in one place.


What a surprise, I’m talking about another discount site!

I first heard of Groupon from my friends in DC who were using it for things like discounted meals, show tickets, and other awesome wonders.  Assuming it was just something offered in big cities, I ignored it for awhile.  I recently discovered that there was a North Jersey section, so I signed up.

The way Groupon works is this:  users that sign up receive a great deal on things to buy, eat, see and do in their area.  The deals are activated only when a minimum number of people sign up to buy.  Once that minimum is reached, the coupon is active and can be taken to the local place of business.  Groupon states that typically users save between 50-90%.

Unfortunately for me, with NYC so close, the North Jersey deals are the closest option and aren’t really well targeted to what I consider North Jersey.  So far, nothing has been super relevant for me.  In fact, most of the target areas are closer to New York City than to what I would consider North Jersey.  Today’s deal is for discounted dance lessons at “Dance with Me” in Ridgefield or Glen Head.  The savings is apparently 53%, and so far 7 people have bought into the deal.  There is a 25 person minimum.  The great thing about Groupon is how up front they are about the deals.  They share limitations, expirations, etc. right on the page so there’s no “fine print” to read through.

I think Groupon is probably a fabulous site if you live in a major city.  However, for us rural dwellers, I’d be a bit surprised to see anything come through I’d want to take advantage of.   Not going to rule it out, though, because I’m sure as more people sign up, Groupon will be able to expand into the smaller areas with some more targeted deals.  For now, it’s a great idea, and I can’t wait to see how it grows.

My girlfriends and I recently spent a fabulous Friday evening at Martell’s Tiki Bar in Point Pleasant Beach. The band playing this past Friday night, Drop Dead Sexy, had to be one of my all time favorite cover bands I’ve ever seen. From the “Boy Band” medley to a number of awesome hip hop songs, Drop Dead Sexy really knows how to work a crowd.

There aren’t too many cover bands I would get so into that I’d visit their Web site first thing Monday morning and look into seeing them again, but Drop Dead Sexy was just that good!

Check them out! And check back for pictures from Friday night’s show. We were front and center, and hopefully you’ll see our smiling faces dancing the night away. 🙂

Last weekend, we had a free Saturday for once.  Shocking, I know.  Since we moved to Bedminster, I had seen signs last year and heard tons of ads this year for the 28th Annual Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning.  I’ve never really seen hot air balloons up close and personal, and thought it might be fun to see tons of them launch into the summer sky.  So, off we went.

If you plan to go next year, I’d recommend buying tickets online.  Our tickets online were $17 each plus a service charge of $3 each, as compared to the $25 at the door.  I’ll admit, I thought this ticket price was a bit steep to simply watch balloons.   I looked on the Web site for the festival and could tell they had vendors and concerts, but I wasn’t sure how robust this would be.

The Festival FAQs specifically say that traffic gets bad around 4:30 p.m.  We found out that the balloons can only go up at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., since this is when the wind is at its best for flying.  We decided to get to the festival around 3:45, and had no trouble getting in and parking.  The lines to have tickets scanned were not long at all.

The festival was pretty packed.  Not in a bad way,but there were definitely some lines to look at things in booths.  We were pretty pleased with all of the free samples (Dr. Pepper, Haagen Daaz, Turkey Hill, M&M/Mars to name a few) and were able to get those without a problem.  While a lot of the booths ran out of samples before we got there (pretty poor planning, I guess!) we still felt like we got a decent amount.

From a vendor perspective, I thought the festival was lacking variety.  There were a lot of home renovation type booths, such as windows, cabinets, etc., but not a lot of craft vendors.  The ones that were there did not really spark my interest, but maybe it was just me.  There were some cute balloon crafts if that’s your thing, but other than that, nothing too interesting.  For kids there were a lot of cute carnival type rides, and if we had kids, this is definitely a great place to take them.  The concert tents were also fun, along with the air conditioned Quick Chek tent that actually was like a little mini store!!

The launching of the balloons certainly lived up to my expectations.  It was really a very beautiful thing to watch.  I can’t say for sure how many balloons were there, but it must have been at least 40, if not more.  There was an announcer that kept us informed as to what would happen, and the “Master Balloonist” was on the air waves with her too, sharing information about how the balloons worked.  It was really very informative and just a cool thing to watch. 

Up, Up, and Away!

On our way home, we actually got to see some of the balloons landing, since they were near our house!  We did leave about 3/4 of the way through the launches to avoid the traffic build up. At first I was mad that Jared wanted to do this, but when I saw how cool it was to watch them land, I forgave him.  🙂

This is definitely a worthwhile event for the whole family.  While it’s not guarenteed you will see the balloons launch if the weather is poor, we got lucky and definitely got the full experience.  Another great local event to add to our list for next year!

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