Here in Cape May, it’s the season of beach days, barbecues, bike rides and the boardwalk. We’ve reached peak summer…and there are so many ways to enjoy the season. It’s simply a given that most Cape May vacations include the beach, dining, shopping, and sightseeing. But have you explored Cape May’s natural world? It’s so much more than just the beach…and you won’t want to leave here without taking it all in. While the barrier island resort communities are naturally more barren, Cape May is instead rich with vegetation and wildlife. Our heat and humidity can be a bit oppressive at times…but it does wonders for the growth of many perennials, annuals, trees, and grasses. Even Magnolia trees are in bloom here…like the ones that grace the gardens of our very own office! So if you’re in the mood to explore nature at its finest, here’s a look at some of the locales you won’t want to miss…
Cape May Point:
Even if you are staying in Cape May Proper or West Cape May….a visit to The Point is absolutely essential. Home to only two businesses (The Red Store restaurant and the U.S. Post Office), Cape May Point is about as natural as it gets. No two homes are the same, and many of them are flanked by colorful gardens and beautiful beach grasses. In the center of the point is scenic Lake Lily. Have a seat by the lake shore or take a stroll around and watch the swans, ducks, dragonflies and butterflies as they drift gracefully around the lake. Head over to Cape May Point State Park (just near the lighthouse) and enjoy various nature trails, birding platforms, and of course, the Cape May Point Lighthouse. If birding is on your agenda, you likely know that The Point is a prime destination…especially in the spring and fall seasons. So it’s a great excuse to book an off season weekend jaunt!
Cape May’s Nature Center:
Located on the east end of town just near the Cape May Harbor, The Nature Center of Cape May is a wonderful experience for the whole family. The center includes numerous children’s activities, an observation deck perfect for birding (or just taking in the panoramic harbor views), themed gardens, a picnic area, and much more. Don’t let your vacation escape you without a trip to the nature center….and be sure to inquire about the family birding cruise! It takes place daily through the end of September.
Cox Hall Creek Wildlife Management Area:
Just a quick ride over the bridge into Lower Township…this is one of Cape May County’s natural hidden gems. Formerly operated as a golf course, the area has long since been fully returned to nature and contains over 200 acres of land. Miles of walking trails (formerly golf cart paths), a fishing lake, and bike paths make this an ideal area for relaxing, exercising, or both. And if your pet has come along with you for vacation, they will love walking the paths here too! Cox Hall Creek is the perfect place to spend some time on a not so great beach day, or to unwind if you find yourself needing a respite from the bustle of a summer vacation at the shore.
Cape May County Zoo (and Park):
If you’ve vacationed in Cape May before, there’s a good chance you’ve been to our local zoo. Located just off of the Garden State Parkway (at Mile 11), the zoo is a perennial favorite for locals and visitors alike. It’s an ever changing experience with the constant addition of new habitats and exhibits. In fact, in the past week the zoo has welcomed two adorable snow leopard cubs-which in itself is reason enough to visit. Adjacent to the zoo is the Cape May County Park, complete with a fitness course and maintained hiking trails. It’s another wonderful area to take in a leisurely walk…or challenge yourself to complete new fitness goals.
Cape May county features a bike path that winds its way from the Cold Spring area of Lower Township all the way north to the County Park and Zoo. Some parts of the path are still under construction….but most of it is complete and ready for use. The path is a perfect place for walking, biking, and exploring nature at its finest.
Last but not least, New Jersey (and Cape May County) is home to some of the best produce in the country. After all, they don’t call it the garden state for nothing. Be sure and stop off at any of the numerous produce stands in the area for tomatoes, blueberries, corn…and just about any summer staple that you could imagine. Your summer barbecue at the shore is simply not complete without a taste of Jersey’s finest fruits and vegetables. We recommend visits to Beach Plum Farm and the West Cape May farmers market (where you can visit our weekly information booth too!) just to name a few.
Whether you’re already looking ahead to your 2018 Cape May vacation, planning an off season visit, or anticipating an arrival in Cape May during the remaining 2017 season…schedule some time to explore our natural world. Combined with the beach, it’s the ultimate experience of summer tranquility.