Washington Street Mall: It’s Not Your Little Sister’s Mall

Cape May’s Washington Street mall is undergoing a rejuvenation right before your eyes. New, high quality boutique style shops and galleries are opening every year. The pedestrian mall, on Washington Street, has itself, become a destination in recent years.

The Washington Street Mall, constructed as a three-block pedestrian concourse in 1972, received a facelift in June of 2008.


You won’t find any chain brand stores on the Washington Street Mall. What you will find is proprietary run shops with quality merchandise, from owners who care about the products and the customers. Several have been in the same families for generations. Awnings are still cranked down to shelter merchandise from the morning (or evening) sun. Merchants can still be seen sweeping the sidewalks in front of their shops. Ice cream parlors, sidewalk cafe, and restaurants are everywhere offering oases of refreshment. This is what makes this shopping destination unique.

Galvanic, on the 500 block of the mall, energized the men’s clothing scene with well made clothing and accessories, filling a void that existed for years. Across the mall from Galvanic, the new Cotton Company location, featuring men’s and women’s clothing compliments the block. On the same block, Kaleidoscope carries unique women’s clothing scarves and accessories.

Love the Cook, run by the Craig family of the Washington Inn fame, features everything for the gastronomique, on vacation in Cape May. Gourmet coffee, spices and all manner of kitchen gadgets for both home and gifts or souvenirs can be found in this aromatic market.

Another new entry to the mall venue is Red Oak Trading (pictured above), the new companion store to Good Scents in Cape May. The store features clothing, handbags, books, jewelry and other accessories. Red Oak Trading is on the 300 block of the mall.

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Also on the 300 block of the Washington Street mall, you can’t miss the brightly occupied window of Bath Time. The window is occupied by a population of yellow ducks. Owner operator Bonnie Mullock, stocks a variety of soaps and lotions for any taste and complexion. Bath Time also features a mixing counter where mixologists create custom ordered scents and soaps using a variety of essential oils.

Almost next door to Bath Time, is the Whale’s Tale. A shop with everything for the Cape May visitor from cards, games, to fine Jewelry. Spend some time in the back room browsing the selection of greeting cards, and be sure to stock up for future holidays.

Aside from shopping and people watching the Mall has great restaurants. There is even a “barista” at Café Buongiorno but there is not a Starbucks. New this year, Delaney’s has taken over the Jackson Mountain Café location, promising Irish entertainment on a regular basis. The menu already boasts, Bangers and Mashed and Shepherd’s Pie. In other take over news, the team at Peter Shields Inn has purchased the Pilot House. A longstanding landmark on the Mall, the new owners promise a refreshing new menu and vibe. In an on-line discussion, Executive Chef Carl Messick, promised a solid product their patrons.

Don’t forget Carpenter Lane and the fine shops like Splash and Caroline’s boutique. Located behind the Mall this side street boasts many unique stores in its own right.

According to the Mall’s website: “Cape May rescued its downtown for posterity with a farsighted move: in 1970-71 (dedicated June 24, 1971) the city closed Washington Street to traffic between Ocean and Perry Streets, filled in the street, placed park benches everywhere, and planted the newly created walking mall with trees, shrubbery, and flowers. Then, in May 1976, the Secretary of the Interior designated the entire city of Cape May as a National Historic Landmark District, thus ensuring the continued protection of our quaint, historical shopping mall.”

Today, it is a delight…to enjoy, to stroll, to shop; an old downtown that has turned its back on the automobile and maybe even on time itself. Be sure to visit Cape May’s Washington Street Mall and Historic District on your next visit to the Jersey Shore.


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  1. June 18, 2014 / 5:20 pm

    I absolutely adore Cape May & the Washington St. shops!!!

  2. Ann keen
    June 18, 2014 / 5:34 pm

    I love it, but wish it had a name other than the “mall”. When I tell people what it is they are confused that it is a regular suburban mall.

  3. June 19, 2014 / 6:41 am

    Really nice article. I particularly like the fact this mall is filled with local merchants rather than the “same old same old” national chains we usually see. I hope locals appreciate what they have here.

    • June 19, 2014 / 7:05 am

      Thank you Randy.
      The locals no doubt do appreciate the mall as it becomes a gathering place. As someone else commented the frustration is when tourists arrive from larger areas and ask where the mall is located? Not expecting an open area pedestrian mall. Sigh….