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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.

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*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.

I had one goal for our honeymoon:  to not schedule ourselves to death each day to the point of forgetting we’re actually on vacation.  Both Jared and I had talked about taking a cruise as our next big trip, so after we got engaged, that was an easy item to check off the list.  Jared had cruised with Celebrity before, and the ship left from NJ the day after our wedding.  Super easy choice.

There are a lot of elements to review about our trip on the Celebrity Summit, so  I’m going to break this into sections.  First, let’s start with the most important element of all:  service.

Celebrity Summit Docked in Bermuda

Jared handled the booking through a travel agent, so we can’t really speak too much about the service of the reservations department.  We didn’t have any trouble, so I’m guessing they were great.

Overall, we had an outstanding experience with the crew of the Celebrity.  From our statehouse attendant to the sommeliers to the activities personnel, everyone made us feel as if we were the most important couple on the ship.

Our statehouse attendant was a fabulous man.  He remembered us and ensured that we received two gift packages that had been purchased to help us celebrate our honeymoon.  He was easy to find when we needed something and super accommodating.  When we couldn’t finish our first bottle of champagne, he made room in the fridge to ensure it wouldn’t go to waste.  The room was always immaculate, and it was very easy to have our questions answered.

Our favorite part of the trip was probably the Celebrity Life wine tasting events.  The sommeliers on board were knowledgeable without being stuck up and so personable, we felt like they had been our friends forever.  Whenever we would be at dinner, they’d remember us, and even remembered our room number to retrieve our bottles of wine.  The atmosphere they created was just fantastic for those of us that love wine, but may not know all there is to know about it.  Can’t say enough great things about them!

Although we did not interact much with the cruise ship activities director, we always felt very welcome at any events we went to, including a special party for honeymooners.  The activities crew was engaging without being over the top annoying, which made us feel very comfortable wherever we were.

While Celebrity may not be the best choice for people our age, I can probably guarantee that you’re not going to find service like this on any other cruise ship!  I’ve got more reviews to come, so stay tuned!

Just ask my sister:  I’m a stickler when it comes to safe sun practices.  Don’t get me wrong:  I know that being tan makes people feel beaufiul, and I myself still get burned every now and then if I’m not careful (case in point:  falling asleep on the beach in Bermuda).  But, with all the research out there these days about skin cancer and how tanning can contribute to that, you’re being foolish NOT to put sunscreen on just because you’re afraid of being pale.

Pretty on the outside, but can wreak havoc on your insides!

About 90% of nonmelanoma cancers and 65% of melanoma cancers stem from the sun.  The sun’s UV rays wreak havoc on your DNA, even through getting a tan.  Those are staggering statistics to me, and scare me much more than not having a tan.

But how do you protect yourself?  Sometimes even when I slather on sunscreen, I still get burned.  WebMD has a helpful video regarding some simple sunscreen tips.  Some additional tips:

1.)  Pick the right SPF. Here’s a no-brainer:  the higher the SPF, the more protection against UVB rays.  However, just as dangerous, if not more dangerous are UVA rays, which do not cause reddening or pain like UVB rays cause.  A sunblock with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide can provide the most effective coverage.  Look for a solution that indicates it is for broad-spectrum coverage, which will protect against both harmful rays.

2.)  Reapply! Don’t be fooled-just because you put suncscreen on in the morning doesn’t mean you’re safe for the rest of the day.  I’ve read differing things about this, but I typically try to put sunscreen on 15-30 minutes before exposure and then again every 1-2 hours in the sun.  I feel paranoid doing it so often, but it’s been those times that I’ve diligently reapplied that I have not gotten burned.

3.)  Plan accordingly. The suns rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Yes, I know, that’s half your beach day.  If you’re planning on being outside for the whole day, try to seek shade when you notice your shadow is shorter than you are.

4.)  Visit your Dermatologist regularly. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.  Examine yourself regularly for any unusual spots. Regardless, make sure you book a yearly appointment with your dermatologist so he/she can check you thoroughly for any skin issues.

You can still have fun in the summer months, just make sure you’re careful!  Enjoy!

I ate a lot in Dublin.  I shouldn’t admit that, but it’s true.  Between a crossaint or bagel for breakfast and a piece of cake or other dessert at lunch or dinner, I ate WAY MORE than I do when I’m at the office or at home.  Because calories consumed on vacation don’t count, right?  😉  I really expected to come home and find out that I had gained at least 5 pounds.  So, when it was time for me to face the scale like I always do on Monday morning, I squinted between half closed eyes and saw:

That I hadn’t gained a single pound.

How is that possible?  I was over there for 7 days and I didn’t work out a single day.  I ate foods that probably contained my calorie allotment of the day for breakfast.  Not to mention my good friends Stella and Bulmers…

The only thing I can attribute to not gaining any weight at all:  walking.  I walked every day, whether it was the 10 minutes to the LUAS, or the 20 to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, I was on my feet for at least 6 hours a day, every day.

It’s not a secret to anyone that walking is one of the best ways to manage your weight.  In fact, my mom has always instilled that in us that brisk walking is a great way to lose weight-it certainly works for her!  I guess it never occurred to me that living in a city without a car can really help you keep your weight in check if you’re constantly using your own two feet to get where you need to go.

Seems like a great reason to move back to Washington, huh?  😉  Have other people noticed this as well?

J and I will be heading down to Florida until next week!  Althuogh it saddens me to take a break from blogging so soon after we started, we’ll be back with updates and tips on Wednesday, May 6th.

Have a great week!!!

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