BBOnline Member SINCE 2005

The Harrison Inn

613 Columbia Avenue, Cape May, New Jersey 08204
Innkeeper(s): Andrew & Kelly Bares
  • Introduction

    The Harrison Inn, marquee

    Welcome to The Harrison Inn Bed & Breakfast in Cape May, NJ.

    The Harrison Inn was commissioned to be built in 1867 by Samuel Harrison as a family summer vacation cottage in Cape May, New Jersey. It was designed and built in the Italianate style, complete with cupola, by the renowned architect Stephen Decatur Button.

  • Insider's Info

    Travelers are always looking for memorable and relaxing experiences. Let’s discover more through the words of our innkeepers. Many thanks to Donna Zlocki for sharing her own secrets with!
    Why do most travelers stay at your inn?

    It is located in the Historical District of Cape May and is convenient to the beach and restaurants.

    What are you best known for? What makes your inn unique? What do you love most about your inn?

    The clean and spacious rooms all have private baths. The front porch is where you can eat and have tea in the afternoon, wine and cheese on Friday and Saturday nights, and desserts later after dinner.

    If someone has never been to your city, what is the #1 reason to come visit?

    The city is comfortable and relaxing.
    What’s the best compliment you have ever received about the inn?

    The inn has great breakfasts and friendly service.

    What’s the best kept secret about the area?

    The best kept secret is the area's quaintness.
    If a traveler is staying at your inn for 4 nights, what should he/she do in the area?

    A traveler should visit the Lighthouse and the Winery, go golfing, shopping and sun bathing, and experience a horse drawn ride and trolley tour.

    Is there anything within walking distance of your inn?

    All restaurants and a shopping area are within in walking distance -- also the beach is 1 block away.

    What is your favorite restaurant/food in the area?

    Pilot House

    Any good area guides/websites that travelers could reference?

    How many rooms does your inn have?

    We have nine (9) rooms. 

    Do you accept pets?

    We do not accept pets.

  • Breakfast at the Summer Cottage Inn

    The Harrison Inn, breakfast After a simply dreamy sleep in your warm bed, you will gently wake to the aroma of fresh baked breads, scones, or muffins. The scent gently rouses you from your slumber, calling you to the dining area, where one of the best breakfasts in the cape is waiting. This feast is cooked to perfection by our innkeeper chef.

    To start off, enjoy a special steaming entrée of blueberry stuffed French toast, a delicious vegetable-egg strata, or perhaps a cheese breakfast pudding, all created from the "Secrets of the Summer Cottage Kitchen Cookbook."

    The Harrison Inn, ceiling

    Bite into the juicy, crisp bacon or fresh pork sausage grilled to a golden brown. Help yourself to the fluffy pancakes, waffles and scrambled eggs. To add a splash of color to this culinary masterpiece, enjoy the fresh, seasonal fruit assortment, prepared every day at the inn. Yogurt and homemade granola are also provided, adding a special charm to your breakfast. Enjoy this meal with a hot cup of coffee or tea, or a cool glass of fresh squeezed orange juice or fruit juice.

    Our tantalizing dishes fill the air with their sumptuous aromas every morning. Your unforgettable feast is designed to leave you satisfied and content... until our afternoon tea experience.

    Depending on the season, afternoon tea and the accompanying decadent sweets are served outside on the veranda or in front of a glowing fireplace. During this daily event, guests either use the time to relax or leisurely sort through the menus of elegant restaurants where they plan on completing their day.

  • Weddings

    The Harrison Inn, weddings

    The Harrison Inn is the perfect setting for your wedding, honeymoon, renewing your vows or a romantic getaway. Exchange wedding vows on the beautiful beach and enjoy a cocktail reception on our veranda or in the beautiful garden. Packages can be created for your needs.

    The Harrison Inn has been the perfect venue for countless Cape May weddings over the years. Cape May is the 3rd leading destination wedding location in the United States! This shouldn't surprise anybody familiar with our beautiful little seaside village. In 2008 Forbes magazine named Cape May one of the 10 prettiest cities in America. It is certainly one of the most romantic, picturesque cities in the country. Only Hawaii (which is a state, of course) and Las Vegas (which is at the FAR other end of the romance spectrum) eclipse Cape May as a wedding destination.

    Last year more than 400 couples came to Cape May to start their lives together. It is easy to understand why. You would be hard pressed to find a more romantic, charming and easy place to get to than The Harrison Inn for all Cape May weddings.

    If you're thinking of having a "Destination Wedding", Cape May could very well be the ideal destination for you. Here's why:

    The Harrison Inn, wedding

    Location, Location, Location

    Yes, location is everything, especially if your goal is to create some special, romantic and dramatic memories. Cape May, nestled at the nexus of the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, is an incredibly beautiful and romantic setting for your wedding, no matter if it is formal or casual. With hundreds of quaint, beautiful Victorian homes set on tree lined streets echoing the clip-clop sounds of horse drawn carriages, it is hard to imagine a more romantic setting for a wedding.

    Beyond the beauty and romance of Cape May, is its close proximity to most of the population of the East Coast. When you're bringing your friends and family with you to your destination wedding, it is nice to know that they can get to Cape May quickly from New York, Philadelphia (only 90 minutes away), Baltimore, Washington D.C. and everything in between. Convenience with no airfare, airport hassles, or rental cars involved!

  • History of Summer Cottage Inn

    The Harrison Inn, marquee

    In 1863 the Confederates were defeated at Gettysburg and in 1865 the Civil War ended. Philadelphians like Samuel Harrison were warm and had post war money. When the railroad tracks were laid from Philadelphia to the then Cape Island, new hotels opened and private residences boomed.

    The Harrison Inn was commissioned to be built in 1867 as a private summer residence for Samuel Harrison, a wealthy Philadelphian. Stephen Decatur Button, a renowned architect from Connecticut, designed and built the residence in the Italianate Style. Mr. Button played a significant role in designing plans for more than 30 buildings in Cape May. He embraced the picturesque, eclectic and flexible Italianate style.

    The distinct cupola on top of the building was a type of Victorian air conditioning. The windows would all be opened and the hot air would be pulled up the center staircase and out the cupola windows. In the parlor the four floor-to-ceiling windows opened allowing easy access to the veranda. The lace curtains were used as screens.

    The Harrison Inn, horse carriage

    The Harrisons used the small dining room for breakfast and lunch and made reservations for dinner at the fine hotel dining rooms in the city. To help with the children and the running of the cottage, Mrs. Harrison brought her four servants who lived on the third floor of the residence.

    At the turn of the century, the walls between the parlor and the sitting room were taken down and support pillars were added where the doorways to each of the rooms used to be. The fireplace in the sitting room was also added. Do you find the beautiful lead glass window above the fireplace unusual? Where is the chimney? The chimney is offset to the right, typical of New England style fireplace. At this time the cottage served as a restaurant and a guest house. The Harrison Inn has been a bed and breakfast in this quaint Victorian town for the last 30 years.

  • Area Attractions

    The Harrison Inn, historic building

    Activities, Attractions, and Things To Do in Beautiful Cape May, New Jersey

    There is so much to do and see in Cape May that even on a rainy day, you won't be bored or ask, "What to do?" Cape May isn't just a summertime destination.

    Year-round, you can find entertainment, art shows, go boating, visit the Cape May County Zoo, and enjoy our beautiful natural environment by the sea. Here are some of our recommendations to make your vacation to The Cape extra memorable!

    • Cape May Beaches - recognized by the Travel Channel year after year as one of America's top 10 beaches - Beach Chairs, Towels, & Beach Umbrellas are provided for your use
    • Golf at the Cape National Golf Club
    • Mini Golf
    • Cape May Stage Theatre - Dinner and a show - Enjoy an evening of theatre and a delicious meal.
    • Cape May Bird Observatory - located near Cape May Point world famous location of migrating birds especially in the fall. Cape May is arguably the best bird-watching region in the Northeastern United States.
    • Quaint Town Shopping - Cape May Outdoor Mall
    • Atlantic City Casino's - 45 Minute Drive
    • Cape May Ferry to Delaware attractions
    • Cape May County Park & Zoo
    • Horse Carriage Tour at Washington Street Mall
    • MAC Trolley and House Tours - Cape May has more than 500 structures built more that 100 years ago. There are daily tours and activities in this gentle seaside resort that draws visitors from all over the world. If not by foot then ride along the cobblestone streets on one of the trolleys, stopping off to visit the many points of interest.
    • Bike ride around Cape May by bicycle. Bikes provided by Summer Cottage Inn
    • Cape May Winery & Vineyards
    • Surf & Deep Sea Fishing - Bait shops available for rental equipment

    The Harrison Inn, harbor The Harrison Inn, Harbor

  • Enchanted Gardens

    The Harrison Inn, backyard The Harrison Inn, backyard






    The Harrison Inn, front yard The Harrison Inn, fountain













  • Additional Information

    The Harrison Inn, dining room

    The Harrisons needed the cottage to be cool in the summer since they only used the home for four weeks a year. The cupola, which can be seen on top of the building as you leave, was Victorian air conditioning. They would open all the windows and the hot air was pulled up the center staircase and out the cupola windows. In the parlor, there are four floor-to-ceiling pocket windows. These windows open in between the walls and allow easy access to the veranda. All of our rooms have at least three or four windows in each room.

    Savor a bountiful buffet breakfast by candlelight in our dining room while socializing with fellow guests and the friendly staff. You will feel as though you have come to stay with dear old friends. The dining room offers magnificent architecture while the ambiance is friendly. You can eat inside or outside on the side of the veranda, during the warmer months. Breakfast is served family style. The Inn's cookbook is available and is called Secrets from the Harrison Inn.

    The Harrison Inn, Parlor

    Our guest rooms are all decorated with Victorian antiques, nostalgia pieces, and many special touches. All of rooms have air conditioning in the summer, heat in the winter, private bathrooms, TVs, king and queen size beds.

    The Harrison Inn has been a Bed and Breakfast for over 20 years. We are open all year. Please come and visit us!

    The Harrison Inn, Veranda

    The Veranda is a very special place to relax and enjoy the cool sea breezes. The Veranda offers you rockers, a romantic wicker swing, and floral bouquets. Afternoon tea served at 3 p.m. daily. A favorite gathering place to enjoy your breakfast and relax all day under our great covered porch.

    Enter the enchanted garden through the arched trellis surrounded by roses. This is where you can sit and watch the sun rise, listen to the birds, and smell the floral aroma while listening to the tranquil sound of the water fountain.

    Formal Parlor

    The warmth of the romantic retreat welcomes you at the door. Inside the Formal Parlor and Sitting Room invites you in with the comfortable combination of Victorian furnishings, quaint lace curtains, and a unique fireplace while giving you that warm feeling. These rooms offer you a chance to put your feet up in comfort, read a book, play a board game, or play our piano. We are conveniently located in the Historic District on a quiet, tree lined street - one block from the beach and the Victorian Mall, close to many fine restaurants and shops in the midst of quaint Victorian architecture.

    Enjoy walking and biking to the antique shops, art galleries, the restored Physick Estate, take a trolley tour, a historical walking tour, or view the interiors of several Victorian homes open to the public. The staff offers a warm and friendly atmosphere where gracious hospitality awaits you.

    Cape May Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts offers tours of Inns, and we are one of the Inns that is part of the tours during Christmas, Halloween, Sherlock Holmes, and Discover Tours. Come join the fun of seeing all the Inns and staying with us.

  • How To Find Us

    The Harrison Inn, tourists

    From the North

    • Take the Garden State Parkway to the end
    • Follow signs over the canal bridge and continue straight on Lafayette Street to the first traffic light
    • Turn left on to Madison Street
    • Go 3 blocks and turn right on to Columbia Avenue at the Water Tower
    • Proceed 5 blocks until the War Memorial Monument
    • The Inn is on your right

    By Ferry

    • Take Ferry Road to Route 109 South
    • Follow signs to Cape May
    • Go over Canal bridge and proceed as above