Cape May NJ - More Than Just a Great Beach Destination
In addition to the salt air and Victorian charm, Cape May has so much more to offer. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to fill every minute of your day with activity or you just want to take it easy and relax, Cape May has something for everyone.
As America’s oldest seaside resort, Cape May has a variety of attractions rich in history.
Cape May Lighthouse
The current tower is the third of three known lighthouses to grace Cape May Point. The first was constructed in 1823 and was 68 feet tall. It currently resides underwater due to erosion. The second lighthouse was built in 1847 and stood 78 feet tall. Replaced due to poor construction, it was located directly in front of the present lighthouse, just beyond the shoreline.
The lighthouse that stands 157 feet tall on Cape May Point today was constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Construction began in 1857 and the lighthouse was first lit in 1859. The lighthouse has gone through numerous alterations throughout its long history. In 2017, the Coast Guard installed a VRB-25 (Variable Rotating Beacon) that can be seen 22 miles out to sea.
Whether you climb to the top and enjoy the breathtaking views or admire it from below, the Cape May Lighthouse is definitely worth the visit.
Emlen Physick Estate
This 18-room Victorian mansion, attributed to acclaimed American architect Frank Furness, was built in 1879 for Dr. Emlen Physick Jr., a descendant of a well-known Philadelphia family, his widowed mother, Mrs. Ralston, and maiden Aunt Emilie.
Maintained and operated Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities, the Emlen Physick Estate now serves as a museum, offering guided tours year round. The four-acre estate features the Carroll Gallery and year-round exhibits, the Carriage House Museum Shop and the Carriage House Cafe & Tearoom, open for lunch from April through October.
There are other attractions of historical interest in the area such as the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum located at the Cape May Airport inside historic Hangar #1. There is also the Historic Cold Spring Village, where you can experience New Jersey's past in a re-created rural Southern New Jersey town set on thirty acres. Or you can simply stroll the tree lined streets and take in the charming Victorian architecture Cape May is famous for.
Nature & Wildlife
In addition to watching dolphins while lounging on the beach, the are many other opportunities in Cape May NJ to enjoy nature.
Nature Conservatory/South Cape May Meadows
Situated at the southwest tip of the Cape May peninsula, the South Cape May Meadows Nature Preserve includes more than 200 acres of critical habitat in a globally renowned birding hot-spot.
The nature preserve is replete with dunes, freshwater wetlands, meadows, ponds and a full mile of protected beach. The trail system provides visitors with wildlife viewing opportunities in both a freshwater wetland and on an undeveloped beach.
Garrett Family Preserve at Cape Island Creek
In 2013, the generosity of the Garrett family enabled The Nature Conservancy to further protect Cape Island Creek for future generations by acquiring crucial land, improving and stewarding habitats, performing coastal research and installing enhanced visitor amenities.
The Preserve is a haven for native wildflowers, migrating songbirds, raptors, and pollinators like bumble bees and monarch butterflies. The Nature Conservancy has added many people-friendly amenities including a picnic pavilion, bird blind, and artists’ easels, to make the visitor experience enjoyable.
Cape May County Park & Zoo
Slightly further afield in Cape May Court House, you will find the gem that is the Cape May County Park & Zoo. Home to so many different types of wildlife, it is well worth the 10 mile trip up the parkway. The zoo is surrounded by a beautiful park with nature trails and picnic areas. Parking and admission to the park is free, donations are greatly appreciated.
For nature lovers, there is also the Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center as well as multiple whale and dolphin watching tours.
Just for Adults
Cape May features many attractions that are fun for the whole family, but there are some that are geared more toward the grown-ups.
Nauti Spirits Distillery
This unique distillery is a great stop for the spirit connoisseur or to just kick back and relax in the casual and comfortable warehouse atmosphere. Vodka, gin, and rum are distilled, served and sold on the premises. Nauti Spirits Distillery spirits are farm to table. There is a tasting room, distillery tours, an indoor cocktail bar and outdoor seating areas.
Hawk Haven Winery
This local vineyard sits on a 100-acre farm that has been in the Wuerker family for three generations. The first grape vines for Hawk Haven were planted in 1997 by the proprietor, Todd Wuerker before he was even old enough to drink. The first vintage was in 2007 and consisted of the American Kestrel White, Red Table Wine, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The tasting room opened in 2009 and today are fourteen acres of vines with sixteen different varietals. All of the grapes are harvested, pressed, fermented, aged, blended, and bottled on site.
Cape May Brewing Company
If you’re up for tasting more of the local libations, stop by the Cape May Brewing Company. Housed at the Cape May County airport, the brewery crafts balanced and flavorful ales. While many of these are only available on tap, several of their flagship brews are bottled. The brewery offers interactive, self-guided tours and has the largest tasting room in New Jersey.
The Perfect Place to Stay in Cape May NJ
This is just a sampling of everything there is to do in Cape May. Whether you're looking for an action packed vacation or just a relaxing getaway, you will quickly discover this quaint Jersey Shore destination has something for everyone. Of course, you’ll want book a great place to stay during your visit that’s right in the middle of everything.
Just footsteps from the beach, The Grand Hotel is close to everything you’ll want to do while visiting Cape May, in many cases within walking distance. In addition to luxurious rooms and suites, the hotel offers many amenities including an onsite professional fitness center, indoor and outdoor heated pools and a wide variety of activities for the kids.
The hotel also boasts its own award winning restaurant, Hemingway’s, featuring prime steaks and seafood. The restaurant offers a seasonal breakfast buffet and serves lunch and dinner daily. On Friday and Saturday evening from 9 pm to 12 pm, Hemingway’s transforms into a nightclub with music and a live DJ.
Ready to get started on your Cape May NJ vacation? Book your stay today. We can’t wait to see you!