Scary Cape May – the ultimate return guests


Scary Cape May, right here at Leith Hall

Last weekend, our wonderful returning guests, Jeromy and Vonessa, stayed at Leith Hall. Jeromy is a photographer and he posted a photo he took in our Iris Room on our facebook page. It shows themScary Cape May as ghosts, haunting Leith Hall – the ultimate in repeat guests. Check out our facebook page. Send us your photos, even the scary ones.

Did you know that Cape May also has lots of ghost related events all through the year. There are two different kinds of para-normal investigations that MAC sponsors. One group features Craig McManus, Cape May’s spirit medium. You can stay up through the night at the Physick Estate with him and hope for a visitation. Another group of investigators are Ghost One, who use lots of “high tech” instruments to record para-normal activity. (Think of it as Ghostbusters without the humor.) We also have ghost trolley rides (especially around the Haloween season.) and there’s Elaine’s Haunted Mansion – which is a dinner theater with a fun/scary interactive play. My guests have always had a good time there and praised the food.

Even better, make a reservation, come stay with us and check it out in person!


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Spring FestivalSpring festival is Cape May’s annual sigh of relief that Winter is over. This year we have a few new events that will get you in the spirit. First, if you’re a Downton Abbey fan, you can put your Easter bonnet on and have a Royal Tea at the Carriage House at the Physick Estate. There will be Royal Trivia to test your knowledge of all things regal. There’s a Spring Festivalnew tour called the Cape May Time Capsule, where characters from the nineteenth-century will guide you through there town.

And Chocolate too…

Spring FestivalSaturday, May 3rd will feature the Chocolate Championship tour, where you can benefit from the cuthroat competition among Bed and Breakfast owners for the honor and the trophy. You get to sample the goodies and vote for the best in show. April 26th, there’s a Murder Mystery Dinner at Alethea’s Restaurant, with a new mystery “Revenge is Sweet”  and  a delicious dinner. Earlier the same day (April 26) there is a Private Homes Tour, showing houses not ususally open to the public. Iboyd house love snooping in other people’s house and you will too.

Come stay with us at Leith Hall bed and breakfast and make it a festive Spring weekend.


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Cape May Singer Songwriter Weekend March 28 and 29


Cape May Singer Songwriter Weekend March 28 and 29

Cape May Singer Songwriter Weekend

John Alberici

NalaniampSarina_zpsfc68840f NickDeutsch_zpsc29f2b20The seventeenth annual Cape May Singer-Songwriter weekend is almost upon us. With performances at Congress Hall, at Carneys, and at Elaine’s, Alethea’s at the Colonial Hotel, Cabana’s, Lucky Bones, The Merion Inn, the Pilot House and the Mad Batter, the whole town will be alive with original song. You are sure to find a singer songwriter that is just your taste among the dozens of performers. March 28 and 29, there will be over 150 performances. I’ve listened to several of the performers (there are Youtube links at the Singer-Songwriter website) and the songs are melodic, charming and interesting.

Why not plan a spring getaway at Leith Hall and add music to the great dining and shopping that Cape May is known for?

Cape May Sionger Songwriter Weekend

Kaydi Johnson

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We’re expecting the President and Prince Charles next at Leith Hall


We just had this wonderful article about Leith Hall published in the travel section of the Washington Post. Becky Crystal stayed with us recently – so now we expect ambassadors, noblemen, and foreign princes to beat down our doors.

Leith Hall bed-and-breakfast in Cape May, a Victorian charmer by the ocean

By Becky Krystal, Published: January 2

A biweekly staff review of East Coast and regional lodgings.

At many bed-and-breakfasts, there’s a thin lace line between historical accuracy and over-the-top frills. I’m happy to report that Leith Hall in Cape May, N.J., stays on the former side.

Those with an aversion to doilies and potpourri sachets (if not communal dining — we’ll get to that later) need not fear this B&B, located an enviable half-block from the beach.

Innkeepers Susan and Elan Zingman-Leith bought the 1878 Victorian in 1989 and have turned it into a veritable museum. Their goal: Restore it to what the home might have looked like in the 1880s. I can’t say that I have firsthand experience of what the 1880s looked like, but from my perspective as an amateur fan of historic homes, I’d say that they did a pretty bang-up job.

Which is why I was a bit nervous as my husband and I, bulked up in winter garb and carrying our suitcases, squeezed through the front door, into the demure front parlor and, after a brief orientation from Elan, up the narrow staircase. Meticulously painted walls, a plethora of framed art, antique knickknacks placed seemingly everywhere — I felt like a disaster waiting to happen. Hello, bull. Welcome to the china shop.

Our room, the Empire Room, put me at ease. There was nothing too fragile-looking. I fell in love with the mahogany sleigh bed; a gauzy canopy hung from the ceiling. A bay window with two chairs and a table offered ocean views. The mini-fridge and flat-screen television weren’t exactly period-appropriate, but I appreciated them nonetheless.

We didn’t spend too long admiring the decor, because afternoon tea was upon us. We’d passed on a fast-food lunch in anticipation of this treat, the inn’s site having boasted of Elan’s baking prowess. His chocolate chip bars and pumpkin-apricot cake didn’t disappoint, and it was only the presence of the rest of the guests that kept us from going back for seconds and thirds.

Ah, the other guests. Not long after we’d sat down and engaged in a highly choreographed attempt to balance tea cups, plates and silverware — antiques, remember — the rest of the overnighters began to trickle into the parlor. Soon, all the chairs were filled, and a few small conversations had evolved into — gird yourselves, B&B skeptics — one group discussion. With a list of sights to see and minimal knowledge of the topic at hand (wine), my husband and I began exchanging stealthy looks, wondering how to escape. Sometimes, though, the best solution is the most straightforward one. We politely excused ourselves and went on our merry way.

We didn’t encounter anyone later that night when we sneaked downstairs for a glass of sherry. I sipped it daintily while reading more about our room and the house, thanks to the notebook provided by our hosts. It told me why our room looked slightly different from the rest. The Empire Room was named after the American Empire style, a design movement that spanned a good part of the early 19th century. The idea is that, like your basement filled with college furniture, even a wealthy 1880s family would have had older pieces that they might have assembled in one retro room. So, this one was a little more Jane Austen than Queen Victoria.

Speaking of Victoria, I came face to face with the long-reigning monarch the next morning at the breakfast buffet. A small bust of the queen sat at right about eye level, flanked by those of her beloved husband, Prince Albert, and son Edward VII. I think that Edward, a man with a not altogether flattering reputation as a food lover, would have envied my plate of challah French toast.

Only moderately panic-stricken at the idea of a communal breakfast after the previous day’s tea, my husband — before piling up his plate — dashed into the parlor to secure us a tiny two-top. Us, social? Not so much, especially first thing in the morning.

Still, I found myself regretting the brevity of our stay at Leith Hall. Dripping with a carefully curated array of artifacts, its walls seemed primed to talk. Maybe if I stayed longer, I’d get better at it, too.


Leith Hall

22 Ocean St.

Cape May, N.J.


Rooms from $125.

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Pumpkin Apricot Cake from Leith Hall


I served this pumpkin apricot cake this past weekend for afternoon tea. The simple syruppumpkin apricot cake makes it very moist and delicious. I like pumpkin and apricots together because they are so similar (orange color and gooey). You could use golden raisins, or dried cherries, or nuts. (Suzie doesn’t like nuts, so they seldom turn up in my recipes)You could use cream cheese frosting – either on a loaf or on traditional round layers.

Pumpkin Apricot Cake from Leith Hall

3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. each nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon
1 1/2 c. each granulated sugar and packed brown sugar
1 c. oil
2 c. canned pumpkin
4 eggs

2 cups dried apricots, cut up

Simple syrup= 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water, brought to a boil

Mix all of the dried ingredients together. Mix all of the wet ingredients together. Mix all ofpumpkin the ingredients (except apricots) together with a wire whisk. Mix in the apricots with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Pour into 2 parchment-lined and greased  9 1/2 x 5 1/4-inch loaf pans. Or bake in  plain or fancy bundt pans, or in layer cake pans

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 60 minutes (for a loaf or bundt, less for layers) or until cake is firm and springs back when prodded with a finger. Cool for 5 minutes. pour simple syrup on cakes when cool. Wait at least a couple of hours before unmolding and serving.

Come visit us at Leith Hall and sample Elan’s goodies at breakfast and afternoon tea !

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Old Fashioned Christmas Came to Live in Cape May


old fashioned ChristmasThis December, come to Cape May, where real old fashioned Christmas came to live. There are two major house tours offered by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts; the Christmas Candlelight Tour and the Lamplighter Tour. The Candlelight tour is the biggest of the year, with about a dozen houses each night. There’s still a date available – Saturday, December 28old fashioned Christmas. Homeowners and Inn owners will greet you and show you their Victorian parlors, all decked out for the holidays. The carriage house at the Physick Estate will have hot cider and the town will be sparkling with lights.

Lamplighter Tour

A smaller, more intimate, tour of five houses and inns will be offered Friday December 27th , Monday December 30th, and Tuesday December 31st. My preference is the Lamplighter Tour. Five Victorian houses per day is near my limit. You can chose by what is offered on the evenings that you’d like to be in Cape May. old fashioned ChristmasCome stay with us at Leith Hall and enjoy Elan’s breakfasts and afternoon teas as well as Cape May’s shopping, touring, and dining.

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Holidays in Cape May – Come Visit!


Who would spend the holidays in Cape May? A beach town in the winter? Yes,218_CHRISTMAS_5 indeed. Cape May is hopping with Christmas activities. The Physick Estate has a special tour – The Physick Family Christmas. Several interpreters play the roles of Dr. Physick, his mother and his aunt – and emphasize what a lecherous (that is, fun-loving) old fellow he was.What’s amazing is that they are convincing as the prissy mother, the man-about-town son, and the suffragette aunt, and they always get the history right too.


December 14 and 28, there will be two of the biggest house-tours of the year – The Christmas Candlelight Tours. Over a dozen houses are listed on each tour and they guarantee that your head will be swimming with wallpapers, antiques and decorations.

179_CHRISTMAS_EXHIBIT_4The Lamplighter Tour shows you about five inns at a time (a much easier to digest number)  and is available on December 13, 20, 27, 30 and 31. Come stay with us at the very decorated Leith Hall bed and breakfast and enjoy the holiday season the old-fashioned way.

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Christmas is Alive and Well in Cape May



A real Victorian Christmas in Victorian Cape May


Victorian Vice

Do you love to snoop in other people’s houses? Do you love a cup of Christmas cheer and the resulting holiday spirit? How about a little Victorian vice? Then Cape May is the place for you!

Many people think of Cape May this season for the biggest tours of the year. Saturdays, Dec. 7, 14, and 28, you can join everyone visiting over a dozen Victorian houses all decked out for Christmas. There’ll be hot cider and cookies, wandering carolers, and warm trolley to get you from place to place.


Mark Twain

Starting Monday December 8, (for three days) the Dickens Christmas Extravaganza will include talks on several of Dickens books, Mark Twain, and Robert Frost, as well as a wine tasting and a presentation on Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll in the 19th Century.

Come visit us at Leith Hall and enjoy the old-fashioned small-town charm that Cape May has to offer.


Elan and Santa

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This recipe is for Rob, who is one of our loyal-est guests – having visited us for well over browniestwenty years now. I serve these brownies at teatime last week and Rob has asked for the recipe. I’m amazed that I could tempt him away from ruggalach. I think that the secret to these brownies is the icing. It’s just butter and very strong chocolate, melted together.

Line a square baking pan with parchment and spray with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 325 F.

½ cup canola oil

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste (I use vanilla paste)

1 tablespoon coffee extract ( get mine at the health food store)

2 eggs

½ cup flour

1/3 cup cocoa (I use Van Houten or Droste’s)

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

browniesMix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix all of the wet ingredients in another bowl. Mix the ingredients of the two bowls together until smooth. Turn into baking pan and smooth top. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate icing

½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted butter

1 cup chocolate (I use part Ghirardelli 60% chips and part Trader Joe’s 70% “Pound Plus” bar)

Melt the ingredients together in a Pyrex cup, either on the stove while the brownies arebrownies baking, or for a minute in the microwave. Mix thoroughly and ice the brownies once they are cool and on your serving dish.

You can vary these brownies by adding a teaspoon of peppermint extract to the icing. Or you could spread the brownies with raspberry preserves and pipe the icing on top of that using a small plastic baggie with the corner snipped.



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Most Haunted City


Cape May is the most Haunted City in America

Some say the Cape May is the most haunted city in America. Some just run screamingmost haunted city from the room. You decide. This year there will be trolley rides with Craig McManus, a.k.a. “the ghostwriter” when he’ll tell you about all of the spirits he’s discovered in the Victorian houses of Cape May. If you have the nerves for it, you can spend “Midnight at the Physick Estate” and listen for the presence of Aunt Belle – shut up in the attic. The house will be decorated for the season for weeks and available on the Phantoms of the Physick Estate tour.

Another frightful alternative are the Monsters, Mystery and Mayhem available at Elaine’s Dinner Theater. This year’s offering features Dr. Frankenstein and a series of most haunted citybaffling murders at the castle. As each of the characters you suspect is murdered, you don’t know who to fear most. At least you can depend upon the food.

Consider visiting us at Leith Hall during this haunted season. Call or go on line to make a reservation (Incidentally, we’ve been certified as “ghost free” by Craig McManus himself!)

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