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Published on March 10th, 2012 | by Charu Suri

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(PHOTOS) The Colorful Shops at Washington Street Mall, Historic Cape May, New Jersey

When we finally arrived at Historic Cape May after an uncomplicated and clutterless drive through Wildwoods, NJ and the straw-colored salt marshes on a particularly windy day…

Wildwoods, NJ beach

The salt marshes are giant nests; bird havens. On an ideal clear day, you can spot that elusive osprey, and see herons and several other species. Time permitting, visitors can take tours on boats to get really up close and personal.

Wildwoods, NJ beach and salt marshes

Historic Cape May is an area with the largest number of coastal Victorian homes in any part of the country, and it was really hard not to ignore the beautiful architecture everywhere (more about the homes specifically in another post).

We parked our car in the center of town and decided to stroll down the famous Washington Street Mall, which is a traffic-less section of town flanked by numerous shops painted in every shade, cajoling visitors to step inside during off-season. 

Washington Mall in Cape May, NJ

Being the nation's oldest seashore resort, you'd expect to that hallmark of Americana: Salt Water Taffy stores. Fralinger's Salt Water Taffy, part of the James Candy company, is particularly well known in seaside towns and resorts because Joseph Fralinger did so much to promote the candy in the country.

Salt Water Taffy in Washington Mall Cape May

Salt Water Taffy in Washington Mall Cape May

Salt Water Taffy in Washington Mall Cape May

You can also find some indulgent bath and body stores like Bath Time, which caught my attention because of the colorful entrance and rubber duckies studding the window display. Bath Time features a wall of essential oil blends and bath and body products, as well as hard to find brands like Tokyo Milk bath soaps.

Bath Time in Washington Mall Cape May

Bath Time in Washington Mall Cape May

Bath Time in Washington Mall Cape May and Tokyo Milk

The surprising thing about the stores in Historic Cape May were the vibrant, palpable, almost 3D colors. I felt as though I was in the Caribbean since the color palette was chock full of banana, emerald, jade and lobster shades.

Shops in Cape May, NJ

I could have spent hours staring at the bright banana paint on the walls and the green trim on the windows (being a sucker for anything eye popping), but continued to snap pictures on my "gadget free" vacation. There were plenty of beautiful Antique stores.

Shops in Cape May, NJ

Shops in Cape May, NJ

The Magic Brain was a coffee shop we were recommended to visit because of its soy lattes and hot chocolate, but unfortunately it was closed (side note: who closes a cafe on a Saturday?).

Shops in Cape May, NJ

Matt and I relaxed and enjoyed the strong breeze, salty air and the sensory overload of everything Victorian and edgy combined. It was hard not to stare and photograph everything.

Stay tuned for more in the Cape May, NJ series as well as posts on the eclectic, colorful and different styles of Victorian homes in the area.

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