Far different from the usual mall, the Washington Street Mall in the middle of the pristine seashore town of Cape May, New Jersey is a conglomerate of mostly small shops that are privately- and family-owned. Consisting of charming old buildings, many of which are historically significant, the mall area is neat and clean and is a hit with those who prefer to avoid the crowds of a conventional mall. Especially popular at Christmastime when it is decorated in the manner of a Dickensian village, Washington Street Mall includes a wide variety of offerings.
Cape May's Washington Street Mall was established in 1971 when the local government decided to close the street to traffic for several blocks, plant new trees and flowers, and place park benches throughout the area. The future of the new mall area was secured when Cape May's downtown district was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976. Since that time, residents and visitors view Washington Street Mall as the perfect place to shop...sans cars and crowds of people.
About 50 stores, restaurants, and services line the 4 blocks of Washington Street which are open only to pedestrians, providing guests with a huge range of shopping options in a safe environment. Apparel stores peddle a variety of fare, including beachwear, leather goods, active wear, unique imported clothing, designer wear, lingerie and sleepwear, children's clothing, clothes by local designers, and souvenir apparel including tees and sweat shirts. Jewelry stores are abundant as well, mostly featuring pieces by Cape May area artisans that shoppers are unlikely to find elsewhere.
Book stores and art galleries are also a common sight, offering shoppers the opportunity to browse for a good read or a great piece of art including paintings, sculpture, and more. There are also toy stores, Christmas shops, gift shops, shoe and accessory stores and much more.
Washington Street Mall in Cape May is also a popular place for both residents and visitors to dine, with most establishments open all year long. For a quick bite, shoppers can grab a slice of pizza, a tub of popcorn, an ice cream cone, or a box of the New Jersey Shore's famed Salt Water Taffy, a local delicacy. Other restaurants include a pub, a caf, or two, and a few formal sit-down restaurants serving a variety of fare.
Also located along Washington Street is the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts, a non-profit organization that sponsors special events, tours, and festivals in and around Cape May, New Jersey. The Center for the Arts also operates two of the town's prime tourist attractions: the historic Cape May Lighthouse and Maritime History Museum, and the Emlen Physick Estate, the town's only Victorian house museum.
In addition, Washington Street Mall is home to a few real estate agencies as well as the Cape Publishing Company, Inc., publisher of Cape May Magazine, a comprehensive guide to the area, published six times per year.
Occasional streetside concerts and other events are held at the mall as well, especially during the December holidays.