Cape May, New Jersey is one the nicest beach destinations in New Jersey! We visited here in the spring and loved all of the cool things to do here! If you’re looking for a fun weekend trip to the beach with things to do that are not just laying in the sand, then Cape May, New Jersey is definitely a great choice!
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How to Get to Cape May
Cape May is located in the very southernmost part of New Jersey. It is 1.5 hours from Philadelphia and around 3 hours from NYC.
While there are several ways to reach Cape May, the best way in order to be able to see all of the things to do in Cape May is to visit by car. If you are coming from anywhere north of Cape May, you will likely arrive to Cape May via Garden State Parkway. There can be a lot of traffic heading down the shore, especially in the summer months, so be sure to use your GPS to find the fastest way to get there at your time of arrival.
If you are coming from the south, you have the option of driving OR taking a ferry from Lewes, Delaware. The ferry can accommodate cars and passengers. While the ferry arrives to Cape May, it arrives on the western portion that is farther from all of the things to do. If you plan on taking the ferry as a passenger only, you may need to arrange transportation or rent a bike for your stay on Cape May. For more information on getting to Cape May via ferry, check out the Cape May-Lewes Ferry website.
Things to Do at Cape May
Cape May Lighthouse
Cape May Lighthouse is in the very southern part of Cape May. The tower that is currently standing was built in 1859. You can walk to the top of lighthouse for views of the surrounding area. The tickets were a little pricey for us, so we decided to not go to the top, but it is an option if you choose. Park at Cape May Point State Park and you will see the lighthouse while driving in. In the summer, on weekends, and some other dates, the lighthouse is open for viewing.
Battery 223 and Cape May Point
Battery 223 is located on the beach close to the Cape May Lighthouse. The battery is part of the Cape May Point State Park. The battery was constructed during World War 2 as coastal defense if needed. Luckily it was never needed and was decommissioned after the war. It is made of complete concrete and has some informational panels around it. It is closed to entry due to being unstable from erosion.
Southernmost Point of New Jersey
If you walk along the beach from Cape May Point State Park or from Cape May Beach, you can reach the southernmost point of New Jersey. There aren’t any signs or anything denoting it as the southernmost point, so there isn’t much to see, but is still cool to say you’ve been to the southernmost point of New Jersey! The only sign that is there is a sign warning of climbing on the rocks. Here’s a link to the google pin so that you can also find the southernmost point of New Jersey: Southernmost Point of New Jersey
Watch for Dolphins
Dolphins and whales are often seen around Cape May due to the abundance of both salt water and fresh water. We were planning on going to Dollys Dolphin Cove as it’s known for dolphin sightings, but when we were walking along the beach in Cape May Point State Park, close to Battery 223, we saw a ton of dolphins right off the coast. There was a very large pod of dolphins that kept popping up along the shore. We even saw some little baby dolphin fins with the bigger dolphin fins. It was a super cool experience. When walking along the shore around here, be sure to keep on a lookout for dolphins.
If you’re more interested in seeing whales, there are several companies that run whale watching charters from Cape May in the summer months.
Cape May Wetlands State Natural Area
Right beside the Cape May Point State Park is the Cape May Wetlands State Natural Area. We stumbled into this area after we saw some large swans close to the walking path, but we are so glad we ended up seeing this area. There are several nice walking paths that weave through the wetlands. There are also various viewing platforms where you can watch swans, other birds, and turtles in the ponds. According to the lady at the nature center we talked to, most of the swans that we saw while walking around the paths are actually not native to this area and are considered pests! Regardless, it was cool to see these giant birds.
Sunset Beach is only a short distance from Cape May Point. You can theoretically walk along the beach there, but we drove there. There is a parking lot and roadside parking at Sunset Beach. One super unique thing about Sunset Beach is the presence of Cape May diamonds! We had no clue what Cape May diamonds were prior to visiting, but were informed by a local. Cape May diamonds are pieces of quartz that wash up onto the shore at Sunset Beach after they are deposited in the ocean by the Delaware River. The Cape May diamonds look like little pieces of sea glass and are clear and pinkish. When they are polished and cut, they look like diamonds and are fitted into various pieces of jewelry. You can purchase Cape May diamond jewelry at the little gift shops at the Sunset Beach parking lot. It felt like a fun little treasure hunt searching for these Cape May diamonds!
Wreck of SS Atlantus
The SS Atlantus was a ship built during World War 1 and was used to transport troops back to the United States after the first World War. There is a long story about how the ship ran aground at Sunset Beach, which you can read more about here. You can see part of the ship still sticking out of the water where it ran aground. Seagulls apparently seem to love the remains of the ship and have taken over as their own little island.
Higbee Beach and Sunset Beach connect, so you can choose to walk or drive. We drove up to the northernmost part of Higbee Beach, which is close to the Cape May Port. The beach here is a little more “wild” as the dunes behind the beach are part of the Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area. This was definitely the beach where we saw the least amount of people. This beach was peaceful and had cool rocks to pick up and pieces of driftwood to sit on. If you’re looking for a less crowded beach, Higbee Beach is a good choice.
Cape May National Wildlife Refuge
Cape May National Wildlife Refuge is a little north of the town of Cape May and actually closer to Wildwood, New Jersey. The wildlife refuge has a few different hiking trails, both through dunes and marshes. There is a free informational guide at the beginning of the trails that made our walk really enjoyable. Did you know there are prickly pear cacti in New Jersey? Well I didn’t, and there are many at this wildlife refuge! Prickly pear cacti are New Jersey’s only native cacti! At the end of the trails, there are viewing platforms to view various birds that live in the wildlife refuge. In the summer, there is a nature center that can be visited. The Cape May National Wildlife Refuge has 2 Mile Beach, but do note that in the summer months, 2 Mile Beach is closed for wildlife protection, so the beach here can only be accessed in the colder months of the year.
Beach Plum Farm
Beach Plum Farm is located on the western side of Cape May. It is a farm that grows fruits, vegetables, and flowers, but it is also so much more! They have a market, a restaurant, and also live animals. It is super cute and has lots of outdoor seating among the gardens. Our favorite part was watching the chickens and walking on the path that leads to their pigs and flower fields. I recommend stopping by here for a treat or even just to check out their market with homemade products.
Weekend Itinerary at Cape May
-Grab a cup of coffee or a pastry at Beach Plum Farm Bakery and Cafe
-Head to the Cape May Lighthouse and Cape May Point
-Walk along the shore and pass Battery 223 and reach the southernmost point in New Jersey
-Look for dolphins swimming together along the shore
-Be on the lookout for swans at the Cape May Wetlands State Natural Area
-Drive over to Sunset Beach and search for some Cape May Diamonds
-See the Wreck of SS Atlantus off the coast from Sunset Beach
-Enjoy the flowers and feed the chickens and pigs at Beach Plum Farm
-Drive up to Higbee Beach
-Grab some seafood at Two Mile Crab House
-Take a walk at Cape May National Wildlife Refuge and 2 Mile Beach
Tips for Visiting Cape May
-Visit in the spring or the fall
While most people visit Cape May in the summer, it can get SUPERRR crowded. To beat the crowds and still have decent weather, I recommend visiting in the spring or fall. By visiting in the less popular times of year, you will have a much more relaxing time as you won’t have to worry about busy beaches or finding parking in the small beach parking lots.
Even if it is not really hot if you visit in the off-season, you can still get easily burnt on the beach since it is without shade. I recently started using a new sunscreen that I absolutely love. I can apply sunscreen to my face without my hands getting all icky. Find it here on Amazon.
-Bring binoculars for wildlife viewing
We had a tiny pair of binoculars in our car with us which proved be super useful for looking for wildlife at all the places we visited. I loved using the binoculars get a super quick look at the dolphins as they swam past us on the shore. While there are alot of fancy binoculars out there, even a basic pair like this one can be really useful.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to visiting Cape May!
Any questions about Cape May that weren’t answered here? Feel free to comment below or reach out!
Have you visited Cape May and think I missed something? Let me know!
Thanks for Reading!