CAPE MAY, NJ — Nestled at the tip of New Jersey's peninsula, Cape May offers a little something for every vacationer — from history buffs and beach lovers to foodies and outdoor enthusiasts.
Cape May has a long history dating back to its original inhabitants, the Kechemeche tribe. As early as the 18th century, Cape May began its reputation as a top seashore resort. Today, it welcomes visitors from around the globe, and a large number of tourists from the Garden State, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
If you plan on heading to Cape May for an extended stay, the lodging choices vary from pricey to budget-friendly. The stately Victorian bed-and-breakfasts are popular, as are the hotels and motels along Beach Avenue. Rentals are available as well with Airbnb and VBRO having multiple options with varying price ranges. Several rentals, hotels and B&Bs welcome pets.
When heading down the shore for a summertime getaway, be sure to make time to enjoy these Cape May favorites.
- Cape May's Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities offers a range of trolley rides exploring the historic town of Cape May in addition to neighboring West Cape May and Cape May Point. From the Mansions by the Sea Trolley Tour to the popular Children's Trolley to the Ghosts of the Lighthouse Trolley, the red and green trolley is a fun way to see Cape May from different perspectives.
- The Cape May Lighthouse, located in Cape May Point State Park, is one of 11 lighthouses in New Jersey open to the public. It is worth the 199-step climb to the top. During the summer, night climbs are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Stick around to take a peak at the nearby free nature and visitors center, as well as the World War II bunker, which was built as part of the Harbor Defense Project of 1942.
- Kayaking is a fun way to see Cape May from the water and are available from Cape May Nature Center on Delaware Avenue and the Utsch's Marina. Guided kayak tours are available or explore on your own.
- Get on board one of Cape May's whale and dolphin tours to get close to the marine life that enjoys the waters off of Cape May.
- Salt Marsh Safari offers skimmer boat tours that leave from the South Jersey Marina. Trip Advisor ranks this as the number one thing to do in Cape May with good reason. Participants get a close up look at the inhabitants of the surrounding salt marshes. Kids in particular will have a great deal of fun with this hands on excursion.
- Sunset Beach is located in Cape May Point and is known for Cape May diamonds, which are actually quartz crystals that wash ashore as smooth rocks. While swimming isn't allowed on this rocky beach, it is a must-see spot. Stay for a while to dig for Cape May diamonds, play a round of mini-golf or just enjoy the view of the sunken concrete ship the SS Atlantus before it disappears forever. It is the most famous of the 12 concrete ships built by the Liberty Ship Building Co. in Brunswick, Ga., during and after World War I. A short walk up Sunset Boulevard is the World War II Lookout Tower.
- The Washington Street Mall is a hub of quaint shops and eateries. Sit for a bit and enjoy a free sample of fudge or an ice cream cone. On summer evenings,the mall is buzzing with visitors.
Parking is at a premium in Cape May as it is in most Jersey Shore towns, but once you park many things are a walk or a bike ride away. Bikes are a great way to explore the picturesque streets of historic Cape May, as well as West Cape May and Cape May Point. Bike lanes make it safe for a fun ride out to the lighthouse and back. Make time for a morning bike ride along the promenade. The concrete promenade replaced the wooden boardwalk that was destroyed in the 1960s. It stretches along Beach Avenue and is a popular spot for a run or stroll.
Cape May is a popular destination over the Christmas holidays. In December, the entire town is dressed up in its holiday best. Fall and spring are also great times to visit Cape May. While some hot spots may not be open, most are and the crowds will certainly be lighter.