Cape May is the first American beachside vacation destination. The charming beach town is filled with nostalgic charm, thanks to its tree-lined streets. The Historic District of Cape May is a unique gem on the Jersey Shore.
Cape May is known for its stunning 19th-century architecture and breathtaking natural scenery. The Cape May coast is miles long, with miles of sandy beaches running along its length. It lies at the southernmost tip New Jersey, where the Atlantic Ocean meets Delaware Bay. Summertime is a colorful time on the beaches with bright parasols and children playing in the shallow waters. The milder weather and cool Atlantic breezes in spring and autumn invite you to take a leisurely stroll along the promenade.
Cape May Historic District
Cape May, the country’s most well-preserved 19th century seashore resort is a registered National Historic Landmark with over 600 Victorian-era homes in its 30-block downtown. These charming cottages are characterized by covered porches that allow you to enjoy the ocean breezes and decorative elements like “gingerbread” trim and “wedding cake” details.
Many of the historic buildings in the town have been transformed into luxury bed-and breakfast hotels. Many B&Bs offer guests the opportunity to relax on their verandas or front porches and enjoy the old-fashioned atmosphere of a vacation.
The Emlen Physick Estate, one of Cape May’s most unique historic homes, is now open to the public as a Museum. This Victorian “Stick Style” Victorian home is a departure from Victorian facades that are too whimsical. The Cape May Museum + Arts + Culture Association offers guided tours. The estate also offers a gift shop and a beautiful garden.
The Washington Street Mall is located in the Historic District. It is situated between Perry Street and Ocean Street. It contains three blocks of charmingly owned candy shops, clothing stores and bookstores. Washington Street Mall is a great place to stroll and browse the shops. Tourists may also feel tempted to stop by the shops for sweet treats and a delicious meal. Ornate facade on a Victorian home in Cape May
Walking or biking is a wonderful way to explore the Historic District. Stopping to admire the beautiful ” Painted Ladies“, Victorian houses with elaborate facades, is a great option. The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities offers guided walking tours down Washington Street where you will find many of the most beautiful old houses in the town.
Lafayette Street, Hughes Street and Columbia Avenue are home to some of the most beautiful Victorians in town. Famous are the ” Stockton Row Cottages“, located on Gurney Street.
There are many magnificent beachfront accommodations along Beach Avenue that overlook the ocean. Also, there are a few iconic hotels like America’s first resort, Congress Hall, which was established in 1816. The Victorian-era Inn of Cape May, which dates back to 1894, is an intricate structure with a veranda and sea views.
Cape May lies between the Atlantic Ocean, Delaware Bay and the southern tip of New Jersey. The coastline includes 2.5 miles of sandy beaches, which run along Beach Avenue. These beaches are among the most beautiful along the Eastern coast.
Cape May’s beaches are family-friendly. They have sun umbrella and lounge chairs available for rent. So that tourists can enjoy the beautiful white-sand beaches, the city makes sure they are clean and well-maintained. The majority of beaches are close to public toilets, shops, snack bars and cafes as well as restaurants.
There are many accommodations that can be found within walking distance of the beaches for those who want to enjoy a relaxing holiday at seaside. Many hotels offer stunning ocean views.
High season: Entry tickets are required for Cape May beaches between 10am and 5pm during Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. You can purchase beach tags for the entire season, a three-day period or a week.
The Cape May beaches are a great place to sunbathe and swim from June through September. Bird-watching and nature walks can be enjoyed in the off-season. Sunset at Sunset Beach, Cape May
The Congress Hall is located in front of the Congress Street Beach. This location (at Beach Avenue & Congress Street) offers an elegant atmosphere and hosts the annual Fourth of July fireworks.
Volleyball players have access to the beach volleyball courts at Steger Beach, (at Beach Avenue & Jackson Street), and 2nd Avenue Beach (at Beach Avenue & 2nd Avenue).
Fishing is allowed in the section of beach located a quarter mile east of the Brooklyn Avenue Beach stormpipe. Fishing is permitted at all other beaches except Brooklyn Avenue Beach.
The Cove is a favorite beach for sunbathing, as well as kayaking and surfing. It has a wide, gently sloped shore. The Cove can be found at the end on the two-mile long promenade along Beach Avenue.
Sunset Beach is a great place for a late afternoon walk in West Cape May. Visitors arrive at Sunset Beach just before sunset to enjoy the last golden rays. Every evening, Sunset Beach hosts a flag ceremony from Memorial Day to August.
Cape May is North America’s most popular birding destination. This is due to its position on migratory routes and diversity habitat, including marshes and swamps, grasslands and forests.
Bird-watchers including John Audubon have been showcasing the Cape May environment for more than two centuries. There are approximately 450 bird species that have been seen at Cape May, including warblers and sandpipers as well as oystercatchers, oystercatchers (plovers), orioles, summer tanagers, and oystercatchers.
The West Cape May area is the best for birding. This includes the South Cape May Meadows, Cape May Hawkwatch and Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area. Peak migration times occur in May for shorebirds and September for songbirds.
Cape May Point State Park
Cape May Point State Park protects sand dunes and coastal marshland. It also includes ponds and forest habitat. There is an environmental center and museum. The Cape May Lighthouse is the park’s most popular attraction. It was built in 1859. To enjoy breathtaking views of the Atlantic coast and Delaware Bay, visitors can climb the 199-step ladder to the top.
Many trails run through the park and offer a chance for wildlife and migrating birds to be spotted. The Monarch Trail was named for the monarch butterflies that flock to the wildflowers in fall. While the Plover Trail is a beautiful path to view plovers, oystercatchers and other shorebirds.
The Duck Pond Trail is home to a variety of wildlife, including ducks, turtles and river otters.
Visitors can view the World War II Gun Batterie (bunker), from both the Monarch Trail or Plover Trail.
The World War II lookout tower is located near Cape May Point, just five minutes from the Cape May Lighthouse. It played an important part in the defense of the country against invasion during World War II. Built in 1942, the tower is one of 15 New Jersey coastal defense towers.
The tourist site also includes a Visitors’ Orientation Centre and a museum that features military history-themed exhibits and interpretive panels along a boardwalk offering historical insight. It also has a memorial to veterans of war. The Museum Shop sells maritime-themed souvenirs.
The Fisherman’s Wharf at Cape May, Schellenger’s Landing offers a glimpse into the town’s maritime past. There are three marinas in Schellenger’s Landing: Utsch’s Marina, South Jersey Marina and Miss Chris Marina.
The marinas at Schellenger’s Landing are a great place to go on boating and recreational fishing trips. There are many shops that rent kayaks and paddleboards, and they also sell fishing gear. Anglers can take part in sportfishing charters or deep-sea fishing trips at Utsch’s Marina or Miss Chris Marina. Miss Chris Marina is the starting point for bird-watching boat cruises.
Schellenger’s Landing, Cape May’s best place to enjoy a seafood dinner is one of its most popular spots. Fresh-caught fish is a specialty of waterfront restaurants.
Cruises for Whale and Dolphin Watching
You can spot dolphins and whales in the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay within 10 miles of the Cape May coastline. This is a great way to experience these incredible sea mammals close up while sailing through deep blue waters.
Many local companies offer whale-watching cruises. You can see finback whales and humpbacks as well as minke whales and pods of bottlenose dolphins from the cruise.
It’s sure to be an unforgettable experience for a guided whale- and dolphin-watching cruise. A certified naturalist guide will provide commentary on the marine animals as the captain guides the boat to the best spots for them.
The Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center is located at the South Jersey Marina. They also offer whale-, dolphin-, and bird watching cruises. Sunset Dolphin Cruise, a boat trip that takes you past Cape May’s beaches and lighthouse, is offered by the center.
Cape May Harbor
The sheltered harbor is a picturesque spot for yachts and sailboats, gliding in the gentle, turquoise waters. A small beach is located in quiet cove and has a few picnic tables.
The New Jersey Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May overlooks the harbor and offers educational exhibits as well as hands-on activities to encourage children’s interest in the natural world. There is also an observation tower, gift shop and picnic area. The center also features a lush flowering garden designed to attract butterflies.
A Harbor Safari is an educational outing that the New Jersey Audubon Society organizes for families with young children. The coastal ecology and the local sea creatures are taught to children.
Historic Cold Spring Village
The Historic Cold Spring Village is small, rural community that has been preserved in time. The Historic Cold Spring Village is an open-air museum that focuses on Early American history. It includes 25 buildings that are well preserved, most of which date from the early to mid 1800s. These include a barn and woodworking shop as well as a blacksmith shop, pottery workshop, pottery shop, schoolhouse, and inn that served as a stop for stagecoach passengers.
Visitors can feel the cultural heritage of the 19th century as they walk around the village on a 30-acre area. Many shops and restaurants still operate, giving visitors the feeling of being transported back in time.
Tourists can buy handcrafted artisan products, candy, jams and books at the Country Store. They can also enjoy pastries at the Village Bakery and frozen treats at the Ice cream Parlor. You can also have brunch, lunch or dinner at the Cold Spring Grange Restaurant, which serves classic American cuisine.
The village hosts demonstrations on Early American trades such as blacksmithing, woodworking and weaving. It also offers “Hands on History” presentations that include churning butter or writing with an old-fashioned quill pen. A historic 8-acre farm is also available for cows, sheep and pigs.
Official site: https://hcsv.org
West Cape May
There is quiet rural community beyond Cape May’s Historic District, home to many small farms. This area was first cultivated by European colonists in the 1600s for agricultural purposes. The land was also used as a Cape May dairy and for soy bean and lima bean farming.
Every October, Wilbraham Park in West Cape May hosts a Lima Bean Festival to honor its heritage.
Tourists will enjoy cycling in West Cape May. It’s a scenic and easy bike ride from Cape May center. The South Cape May Meadows has 200 acres of wildlife-protected habitat. Bird-watchers will love the observation decks and walking paths.
Beach Plum Farm was built on an historic property. It is a 62-acre farm which supplies produce to local restaurants. Beach Plum Farm produces over 100 varieties fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, and other edibles.
The Country Market on the property sells hand-picked produce from the farm’s gardens. The Farm Kitchen offers breakfast and lunch with farm-sourced ingredients.
Beach Plum Farm also offers shaded picnic areas, which are great for sunny days, and farm-totable dinners. You can also find charming cottages that offer overnight accommodation.
Underground Railroad Trolley Tour
Cape May was an important part of the anti-slavery movement prior to the Civil War. The town was home to leading Philadelphia Underground Railroad organizers and abolitionists in the 1840s and 1850s.
Underground Railroad Trolley Tour shows the horrifying stories of the Underground Railroad. This tour focuses on landmarks that helped emancipate slaves. These include the historic home of Stephen Smith who founded the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society and the Cape May Lighthouse which helped freedom seekers navigate the Delaware Bay.