In the southernmost tip of the Cape May peninsula, on the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic ocean, you’ll find beautiful and sunny Cape May, New Jersey. It is one of the country’s oldest and most popular tourist destinations. This small town is home to just around 3,500 residents year round, but it explodes in the high season; seeing that population grow to upwards of 50,000 during the summer. Cape May began hosting vacationing visitors from Philadelphia and surrounding areas as early as the mid 18th century, making it one of our nation’s oldest beach resorts.
The entire city of Cape May is recognized as a national historic landmark. It boasts numerous Victorian era buildings to marvel at and museums to visit. You will truly feel yourself stepping back in time in this classic city of living americana.
Besides the rich and exciting history of the city of Cape May, what does it offer visitors in the way of entertainment? What are some must-see sights and popular things to do in Cape May for vacationers? Cape May has quite a lot to see, do, and experience. Here are just a few of the things we consider to be the best things to do in Cape May.
Cape May Trolley Tour
The Cape May Trolley Tours are perhaps the most popular activity for visitors to the city, and it’s easy to see why. The trolleys can be spotted weaving throughout town in their bright red and green old style aesthetic. They offer visitors the chance to see all of the historic and exotic landmarks and beaches of Cape May in a new and exciting way.
Seeing all of the sights, sounds, and wonders of Cape May has never been more easy. Simply hop on one of the iconic red trolleys and take a trip back in time. The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities offers over ten unique and engaging tours of the city. Ranging from the ‘Moonlight Tour’, a romantic evening trolley ride through Victorian Cape May, to the ‘Cape Mayhem’ tour which explores all of the strangeness of the Victorian era. Guided tours have never been more fun! You’ll surely be able to find a tour perfect for any situation, whether it be family fun, or the spooky ‘Ghost Tour’. The trolley tours are a must for every visitor.
Photo Credit – Cape May MAC
Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center
Often times, the ones who do it first are the ones who do it best. The Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center was the first marine life tour in town. They provide visitors a once in a lifetime chance to explore the vibrant marine wildlife that surrounds Cape May.
Hop aboard the American Star and take a 3 hour tour of the surrounding waters in search of whales, dolphins, and exotic birds. You’ll be educated on marine wildlife and how we can conserve their natural habitat. Their friendly and knowledgeable staff and captains will make sure you walk away feeling awed and educated. You don’t want to miss the chance to see one of these gentle giants in person. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to catch a glimpse of other marine wildlife like sea turtles, stingrays, and sharks. The American Star even has an on-board ‘touch tank’ where you can get a more hands on learning experience.
The Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center is dedicated to preserving marine wildlife and educating others on how we can all help save our oceans. You’ll learn a lot, become inspired, and have a lot of fun while you’re at it!
Photo Credit – Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center
Cape May National Golf Club
This fifty acre golf course has been nicknamed ‘The Natural’ by enthusiasts and visitors; and for good reason. It boasts some of the most stunning and well preserved natural landscapes for a golf course in the world. It is even its own private bird sanctuary.
This serene atmosphere is a perfect place to practice your drive and get a round of golf in. You won’t have to worry about the hustle and bustle of the city. All that you will be surrounded with is the chirping of birds, the ripple of water, and the wind blowing through the trees. Professionals and amateurs alike travel from all over the country to experience this natural golf course. They even offer clinics and lessons for the aspiring amateur golfer. You can also book the entire place for a corporate or family event and get the full experience of one of the top golf resorts in North America. Cape May National Golf Club is truly a golfer’s paradise.
Photo Credit – Cape May National Golf Club
Cape May Museums
Cape May has no shortage of options for the knowledge seekers out there. If learning about the fascinating history of Cape May is what draws you in, these museums have that in spades.
The Museum of Cape May County is a historian’s heaven. This museum has dedicated their efforts to recording and preserving the cultural history and genealogy records of Cape May since the 1920’s. You are sure to learn everything you could ever want to know about the local history of Cape May here.
The Colonial House is a museum made from the original home of Revolutionary War hero Memucan Hughes. This classic home is sure to make you feel like you’ve been teleported back in time.
The Emlen Physick Estate museum offers you something a little more exotic. You will get to peer into the life of the eccentric Physick family and learn about their life and what it was truly like in Victorian era USA. Their vibrant and colorful decor and extravagant lifestyle is sure to intrigue any visitor.
The NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum is a World War II air hangar that served as an active bomber facility during the war. This non-profit museum offers visitors a look into World War II aviation and the history of the pilots who served there. They offer a fun, hands-on educational environment that is fun for everyone. You can even bring your pets!
Photo Credit – The Museum of Cape May County
Cape May Lighthouse
The Cape May Lighthouse is a 160 year old, fully functioning lighthouse. This towering structure has drawn in navigating ships and traveling explorers since 1859. For those who choose to make the 200 step climb to the top, you will be rewarded with one of the most stunning views of Cape May available. Join the more than 2.5 million people who have made the trip, and take in the breathtaking view of the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. This truly is a perfect spot for long lasting memories. And trust us, you’ll want to bring a camera.
For those who aren’t interested in heights, you can find the Oil House on the ground floor. There you’ll find souvenirs, interesting educational materials, and a vast selection of items to check out and purchase.
Photo Credit – Cape May MAC
Cape May Beach
Of course, no trip to Cape May would be complete without a few days soaking up the sun on the Cape May Beach. The Beaches of Cape May are some of the most beautiful and well kept you will find on the east coast. They offer a clean, safe, and fun environment for everyone.
No matter what beach activities draw you in, Cape May has it for you. Surfers, volleyball players, deep sea fishermen, kayakers, and sunbathers all have it made here. Located on the southern tip of Cape May, Cape May Beach offers visitors a seemingly endless shore of sights, sounds, and tastes. You will be able to walk for miles along the white sandy shore, and you’ll find endless options for shopping, drinks, world class food, and more. You could truly spend your whole week at the Cape May Beach and not feel like you wasted a single moment.
But Cape May isn’t just host to one beach option. You’ll find plenty of other beaches in Cape May that are certainly worth checking out as well.
Higbee Beach is a popular tourist destination on the western side of Cape May. The Higbee Beach is a wildlife preserve managed by the state of New jersey. This is a perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist crowd in the city. You can take the dog for a walk, immerse yourself in the peaceful sounds of the ocean waves, and enjoy the sunset.
Washington Street Mall
There’s certainly no shortage of places to shop in Cape May, and Washington Street Mall is one of the best options in town. This outdoor mall is located just a few blocks from Cape May Beach and can easily provide an entire afternoon or evening of shopping, dining, and relaxation.
You’ll find a wide array of shops and boutiques as you make your way down Washington Street through the open air mall. Home goods, jewelry, children’s toys, books, wall art, men’s and women’s apparel, and unique Cape May souvenirs are just a few of the items you’ll find available in the shops at Washington Street Mall.
In addition to its many shops, the mall boasts quite a few places to enjoy for lunch or dinner or to pick up something to satisfy your sweet tooth while you shop. Regardless of whether you’re in the mood for seafood, italian, pizza, a burger, or a steak, the Washington Street Mall has a dining option for you. After your meal, you can head over to one of the mall’s ice cream, doughnut, or fudge shops for dessert. The Washington Street Mall can also be a good place to return at night with your friends as some of its restaurants are popular nightlife spots and live music can be enjoyed on the weekends.
Photo Credit – Washington Street Mall
Cape May Food Tours
Speaking of dining options, Cape May Food Tours might just be the most “can’t miss” dining option of them all in Cape May.
Cape May Food Tours takes you on a three-hour guided walking tour exploring some of the town’s most popular restaurants and eateries. Along with different tastings at some of Cape May’s award-winning restaurants, you’ll learn about the town’s history and hear fascinating fun facts about Cape May from the knowledgeable tour guides. If you truly want to get a sense of the culture of Cape May, this is the best way to do it.
There are two tours available to book; one that ventures into the heart of downtown Cape May and another that travels through the west side of town. Tickets for these can be booked on the Cape May Food Tours website and will likely need to be booked in advance of your trip as they are popular among visitors and spaces are limited. You can also book a personal tour for your group if you want to tour the local eateries in a smaller and more intimate setting. All tours include six tastings so be sure to bring an empty stomach!
Photo Credit – Cape May Food Tours
We know this is just scratching the surface when it comes to all of the attractions here in town, but we hope this list we put together of what we consider to be the best things to do in Cape May helps you as you plan your vacation.
If you’re looking to make a trip to the area soon and still need a place to stay, feel free to check out our selection of Cape May vacation rentals. With over 200 rentals available including oceanfront properties, pet-friendly rentals, beach homes, condos, and more, Homestead is your one-stop shop for your vacation rental needs.