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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.

Given the title of this blog and my previous posts, I think all of you know that Jared and I appreciate a nice, quality craft beer.  As I’ve mentioned, one of the hardest things about Weight Watchers for me initially was cutting out having a nice pint once or twice a week.  For the beers that Jared and I enjoy, Weight Watchers assigns 5 points to a 12 oz. glass, whereas wine is only 4 points for 5 ounces.  If I choose to drink during the week, I almost always choose the lower points value and go with wine, which eliminates beer almost entirely from my rotation.

Weight Watchers does assign only 3 points to light beer.  However, I have never really found a light beer that is worth drinking.  The Bud Lights and Miller Lights of the world are not worth the points to me, so I thought I was doomed to cutting out beer altogether, unless we were celebrating a special occassion.

Fitness Magazine had a list recently listing the best light beers, which obviously caught my attention.  However, when I saw that the “winner” was Bud Light, I seriously had to question if the people that made this list even LIKED or understood real beer at all.  I almost chose not to look through the list at all, given their top choice, but I browsed through and found that Sam Adams Light was their First Runner Up.  Now, Sam Adams is a real beer.  Could this be possible?  I was intrigued to try the light version, and I’m happy to say that it is a fine substitute to my usual Stella, Yuengling or Magic Hat.

Sam Adams Light could certainly never replace the insanely hoppy, flavorful taste of a real craft brew, but for people that enjoy the taste of beer, it is most definitely a great alternative, providing enough complex flavor to make you feel like you’re indulging without the guilt and points.

Anyone else have any suggestions for a decent light beer?  Miller, Coors, and Bud need not apply……

I came across Eatocracy the other day as a result of a post called Dining and Dating:  The Food of Love.  Taste of Home posted this on their Facebook wall with a catchy call out quote that tempted me to click through.  The call out quote that caught my eye was:  “Could you stay seriously involved with someone who didn’t care about food the way you do?”  Obviously, I had to find out what wonderful site was posing such important questions.

I had no idea that CNN had a portion of its site with this nomenclature.  At first I just thought maybe CNN covered a blog called Eatocracy. Imagine my surprise to find this was part of CNN.  And now I have to say I’m pretty obsessed.

From fun articles like the above and yesterdays about “Picky Dinner Pals” there is so much to relate to on this blog.  I find myself nodding along and laughing at the writers’ descriptions of people and personal feelings.  AND I absolutely love the polls they put at the end of every article.  There is seriously nothing better to get people engaged with your posts than polls.  Not that Eatocracy has a problem with that.  As of last count, the Picky Dinner Pals post generated 90 some comments.  Pretty impressive for a blog all about food!

The site is broken up into several different tabs:  The Home Page, News, Bite, Sip, Make, Think, and Buzz. If you don’t have a lot of time, these categories make it easy to find the stories that would be most interesting for you to read, oh, I don’t know, during your lunch break maybe?  🙂

Eatocracy is intelligent and fun at the same time, making it a site I want to visit every day.  Eat up!

Last weekend, Jared and I decided to head out to our Alma Mater to attend the Hops, Vines and Wines Festival in Selinsgrove.  We were really excited to see that Selinsgrove had an event like this.  There are so many great wineries and craft breweries in PA that we were sure the line-up would be fantastic.  And for $40 a person plus a 3 hour+ drive, we were hoping the trip would be worth it!

We bought the tickets the first day they went on sale.  They sold out pretty much the next day, meaning my friends who were thinking about attending would not be going this year!  This worried me a bit. We’ve been to a lot of festivals like this where you end up waiting in a huge entrance line only to elbow people  just to get a few ounces of beer/wine.

I can say with great pleasure that this was the best beer and wine festival we’ve ever been to.  Due to some unexpected road closures early in our trip Saturday morning, we didn’t arrive until after 2.  We were worried the line would be halfway down the state by that point.  But it wasn’t. We walked right in!  The volunteers were very friendly, handing us our complimentary tasting glass and letting us know that all the food was free, and that water bottles were free as well.

The best part of the festival was that we walked right up to all of the vendors.  The layout was perfect, allowing people to move around while still getting to hang out around their favorite booths.  And, as expected, the breweries/wineries in attendance were fantastic. The beer vendors were also very generous with their samples, which is always a plus.

I think the best part of the festival (besides seeing a lot of great people I haven’t seen in awhile!) was the fact that all of the food was free.  They had sausage sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, pizza, veggie wraps, chips, etc.  While I think they started running out toward the end, it was nice to not have to worry about paying for food-and the lines for that weren’t long either!

Susquehanna University should definitely consider doing something in conjunction with this event.  For the younger crowd, it’s certainly a reason to make the trek back for those of us that are further, and it would have been nice to be able to interact with more people while we were already out there.

Overall, the Selinsgrove Beer and Wine Festival gets major points for understanding their limits as far as the crowd is concerned.  Even though I’m sure they could have sold more tickets and made more money, the main attraction of this event was that it wasn’t overcrowded, which made us feel like we got the full experience for what we paid.  We’re definitely marking our calendars to buy tickets early again next year-we would hate to miss out on such an awesome day or beer and wine!