Things To Do in Cape May, NJ – Besides the Beach
As someone that frequented the Jersey Shore as a child, the destination (such as Ocean City or Wildwood) included lounging on the beach – myself plugged into music or a book – and spending the evening walking up and down the boardwalk. Cape May always held a more esteemed position on the coastline – reserved for special occasions – and despite being only a few minutes further on the Garden State Parkway from Wildwood, was often overlooked.
Kevin and I have found those extra miles well worth the drive – there is so much to do in Cape May that the other shoreline towns lack, offering much more than the beach. Though I will say, the beaches here are very nice and often quieter than other beaches.
Wildlife and Nature Trails
- Cape May Point State Park and South Cape May Meadows have boardwalk and trails through marshes that takes visitors through trees and ponds with the opportunity to spot birds, swans, turtles, and more (we even spotted snakes).
- Cape May Lighthouse is located in Cape May Point State Park with 199 stairs to the top.
- NJ Audubon Society has a headquarters in Cape May due to the migratory patterns that occur in this area – it makes Cape May a perfect location for bird watching. There are many events offered to help bird watchers both new and advanced, including specialized educations on specific birds.
- Garrett Family Preserve is a part of The Nature Conservancy and offers four miles of trails to view native wildflower meadows, fields, and trees that attract wildlife such as birds and butterflies. One detail I enjoyed was the placement of artist’s easels for anyone to use.
- Though I have not been, I hear the Cape May County Zoo is quite popular and a great activity for families.
- Want to explore by boat? There are tons of options from dolphin and whale watching, to fishing excursions, to bird watching along the shore line. We had an incredible experience abroad The Osprey and our guide was very knowledgeable in showing our group so many birds.
- You have the chance of seeing both sunrise and sunset at Cape May because it is a south facing peninsula! Stop by the popular Sunset Beach for a picturesque sunset. Most beach spots along Cape May Point are ideal for viewing.
- Due to low light pollution (no boardwalk with bright neon lights) it makes for a great opportunity to view the night sky. One year, we even had the luck of being there for a rocket launch at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia and we were able to view in from Cape May Point!
- Closed to cars, the Washington Street Mall is full of stores – from general stores, apparel, and art to specialty stores, jewelry, and gaming – and dining options – from sit down, to pub fare, to ice cream.
- Besides the inside of the stores themselves, the decor of Washing Street Mall is very attractive. There is a Victorian style to the area that feels transportive to another time.
- Take advantage of one of the bed and breakfast accommodations!
Variety of Dining Options
- There is so much dining here! From fine dining to causal fare, there is something for everyone.
- Cape May holds its own restaurant week each June giving the opportunity to try something new.
- Our favorites: Panico’s Bistro and The Red Store (for breakfast!) – we have lots more homework to do, a challenge we always enjoy!
Beer and Wine
- Did you know Cape May has it’s own collection of breweries and wineries?
- Now, this is New Jersey wine so do not expect anything exceptional but going in knowing what it is, you can still have a fun time. Cape May Winery, Hawk Haven Winery, Jessie Creek Winery and Willow Creek Winery are all options for a wine tasting. We visited Willow Creek Winery and after trying a few wines, opted for a growler of Wilde Cock Sangria and a cheese plate – a perfect afternoon!
- Hard to hide from the craft beer scene and Cape May is no exception as it is home to several breweries. 7 Mile Brewery, Cape May Brewing Company, Cold Spring Brewery, and Slack Tide Brewing are available for your brew tour. We have not visited these yet so will report back.
Events Year Round
- April holds several music festivals, including Exit 0 Jazz Festival.
- June has restaurant week with participating locations offering discounted pre-fix meals.
- October brings Halloween and there are specific events such as haunted tours, murder mystery diners, and trolley tours for the spooky time of year.
- Christmas time is magical in Cape May, showcasing the Victorian flare. The Annual Christmas Candlelight House Tours is a self guided walking tour through decorated homes of Cape May. It was stunning to see how much effort goes into this event and with the participation of private residences allowing for people to stroll through their home! We really enjoyed this event and is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.
Cape May is certainly more than just a beach destination and makes for a great trip any time of year. For us, it is an easy day trip or weekend getaway to make it feel like we escaped for a bit. If you have been to Cape May, what are some of your favorite things to do?