Hailed as America’s oldest seaside resort, Cape May has been attracting tourists since the first whalers and fishermen went there in the 1600s.
It’s a lovely and lively town filled with beautiful beaches, historic homes, bustling shopping malls and all of the seafood that you can eat.
Its attractions aren’t the only things to enjoy about Cape May, however.
Its natural beauty includes everything from sandy dunes on the beach to grassy hills overlooking lakes and woodlands.
Birdwatchers, whale watchers and butterfly migration enthusiasts all flock to the city each year.
Another notable aspect of Cape May is its history.
It still has carefully preserved Victorian mansions as well as WWII-era plane hangers and naval lighthouses.
It’s a great place to learn more about the past while also enjoying all of the modern conveniences of the present.
Are you looking for an amazing vacation spot?
Are you headed to New Jersey and wondering which towns are worth a stop?
Here are just a few things to do in Cape May that will make your trip worthwhile.
1. Cape May Lighthouse
Built in 1859, Cape May Lighthouse is one of the major points of interest in the area.
It juts up from the beach with an old, dignified kind of grandeur, and it’s been helping sailors and seafarers find their way home for decades.
Visitors can climb to the very top of its 199 steps to gaze down at the world below.
Museum-like galleries and exhibits will offer history lessons on the way up, and if you’re lucky, you might even run into one of the workers still manning the lighthouse controls today.
Another nice thing about the lighthouse is that it’s located within the greater Cape May Point State Park.
The park is home to several other tourist attractions, including a ranger office and an art gallery, as well as being a prime spot for nature walks.
The Cape May Lighthouse is one of the crowning jewels of Cape May.
It’ll be an ever-present feature on the horizon as you go sightseeing around the city, and once you take the time to visit, it’ll be an interesting, informative attraction as well.
It can definitely get your trip started on the right foot!
Address: 215 Light House Ave, Cape May, NJ 08204, United States
2. Cape May Carriage Company
If you’re thinking about things to do in Cape May, how about a horse-drawn carriage ride?
Winding for several blocks through downtown, the Cape May Carriage Company offers this delightful experience for locals and tourists alike.
It dates back to the Victorian era when high society folks wanted a classy way to get around the city.
Today, it’s used more for things like holiday light shows or tours of the historic district, but it still retains its old-fashioned charm.
Maybe you have “take a carriage ride” on your bucket list.
Maybe you just want to go sightseeing in New Jersey in a fun and utterly unique way.
Whatever your reasons for hopping behind the horses, put a sugar cube in your pocket and get going!
Address: 315 Ocean St, Cape May, NJ 08204, United States
3. Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum
The Naval Air Station Wildwood (NASW) Aviation Museum is one of the most impressive things to see in Cape May.
For starters, it was fashioned out of a real dive bomber squadron facility that was used for training Air Force pilots during WWII.
After the war, it was repurposed into a museum and tourist attraction, but you can still see the vestiges of its former life in its industrial architecture and cavernous steel-and-glass spaces.
It’s also home to many cool artifacts and activities.
You can walk among planes and helicopters; you can sit in a cockpit or climb to the top of an air traffic control tower; you can even try your hand at a flight simulator game!
If you’ll be near the Cape May region of New Jersey, it’s worth checking out the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum.
If nothing else, how many times in your life will you have the opportunity to check out a real WWII dive bomber facility?
Address: Cape May Airport, 500 Forrestal Rd, Cape May, NJ 08204, United States
4. Sunset Beach
There’s nothing like a golden sky stretching across a wide-open horizon of land and sea, and at Sunset Beach, you can witness this sight every single evening.
An unbroken view of the water has been carefully protected from local development.
Birds are often seen soaring and skimming over the waves.
Along the furthest reaches of the coast, you might even see some “Cape May diamonds” washing ashore; these are smooth quartz crystals that have been polished by the water until they resemble something from a gemstone necklace.
If you want to actually buy those necklaces, that’s an option, too.
The tourist strip along Sunset Beach offers everything from ice cream shops to mini-golf courses, so once you’re done marveling at the water, you can enjoy a fun afternoon with your family on the land.
All things considered, Sunset Beach is definitely an attraction that lives up to its name.
If you’re looking for beautiful places to visit while traveling through New Jersey, try walking the sand under a brilliantly golden sky.
Address: 502 Sunset Blvd, Cape May, NJ 08204, United States
5. Washington Street Mall
One of the premiere weekend destinations of Cape May, the Washington Street Mall is a shopper’s paradise for a number of reasons.
First of all, it’s meant only for pedestrians.
You can’t even bike or skate around the square, much less drive a car.
This gives it a fun, old-fashioned feeling with bustling crowds holding shopping bags and socializing outside of shopfronts.
Another nice thing about the mall is its variety.
It offers bookstores, art galleries, jewelry stands, candy stores, fashion boutiques and much, much more, so this place is a must do for anyone with money to burn.
Last but not least, the Washington Street Mall is one of the most famous of Cape May attractions.
It’s something to write home about.
Whether you’re headed to New Jersey this weekend or a weekend far into the future, you’ll definitely want to stop by and experience it for yourself!
Address: 401 Washington St, Cape May, NJ 08204, United States
6. Beach Plum Farm
Good vacation spots aren’t always fancy resorts.
Sometimes, they’re quiet and tranquil places where you can relax your body and rejuvenate your spirit.
This is exactly what Beach Plum Farm has to offer.
Growing more than 100 different types of fruits, vegetables and herbs, Beach Plum Farm is an oasis for the world-weary traveler.
Not only does it boast beautiful scenery across its 62-acre landscape, but it also comes with every amenity that you could want during a time of rest.
Cozy, old-fashioned cabins are available for rental.
A kitchen will feed you homecooked meals.
A market has overflowing tables of everything from fresh produce to cute souvenirs.
If you’ll be near New Jersey anytime soon, it’s worth taking a trip to Beach Plum Farm.
It’s the kind of place that you’ll remember and daydream about whenever the grind starts to get to you.
You’ll want to go right back to the world where alarm clocks don’t exist and all dinners are delicious and farm fresh!
Address: 140 Stevens St, West Cape May, NJ 08204, United States
7. Cape May Stage
Get a little culture when you catch a show at the Cape May Stage.
Housed in a modest, 19th century church, it puts on smaller and more intimate productions than Broadway, but this is all part of its small-town charm.
The venue seats less than 100, so you’ll never be crowded.
Every seat offers a good view of the stage, so no matter where you’re situated, you can kick back and enjoy the local actors doing their thing.
It isn’t just theater productions, either.
The stage also welcomes musicians, comedians and more, so it’s worth checking the season schedule and seeing who will perform next.
A local restaurant often partners with the venue as well, so “dinner and a show” events can offer a fun date night.
Catching a show is one of the best things to do in Cape May, so if you’re ready to experience a seaside resort version of Sidekicks or Murder for Two, buy a ticket for the Cape May Stage.
Address: 405 Lafayette St, Cape May, NJ 08204, United States
8. Spring Shorebird and Horseshoe Crab Festival
Held every year, the Spring Shorebird and Horseshoe Crab Festival is a tradition in Cape May.
It offers amazing, one-of-a-kind sights that can only be enjoyed thanks to the unique territory and biodiversity of the New Jersey peninsula.
It starts with the shorebirds beginning their epic, 10,000-mile migration across the globe.
Before they go, they feast on the millions of crab eggs that start being laid in the sand as the crabs emerge.
These things happen at the same time, so it’s a convergence of natural processes that’s both stunning to behold and fascinating to think about from a life cycle perspective.
As for the festival, it celebrates this unique confluence of events with all kinds of nature-themed activities, including animal viewings, science demonstrations, educational workshops and aquarium teaching tanks.
The whole family can enjoy a festival-like atmosphere while also learning new and important things about environmentalism.
If you’re wondering what to do when it’s springtime in New Jersey, stop by Cape May for the Spring Shorebird and Horseshoe Crab Festival.
It’s a rare and time-sensitive event, and it’ll make for a great story when you get home.
Address: Cape May, NJ, United States
9. Nauti Spirits Distillery
If you need a beer while passing through New Jersey, don’t hit up a 7-11.
Instead, stop by the Nauti Spirits Distillery.
Located on a 60-acre farm, the distillery is unique in everything from location to preparation.
It’s centered around the concept of creative spirits made from farm-fresh ingredients, including ingredients bought and traded from other farms, so you’ve probably never tasted brews like the ones found here.
When you visit, you’re also free to sample a variety of these strange and delightful spirits.
There’s a tasting room and a bottle shop in addition to a bar.
You can also tour the factory on certain days to see how everything is distilled behind the scenes.
With its grinning pirate logo, the Nauti Spirits Distillery is one of the most interesting things to see from both a literal and figurative perspective.
Go for the brewery located on a farm; stay for the tasty beers made from fun and creative flavors.
Address: 916 Shunpike Rd, Cape May, NJ 08204, United States
10. Emlen Physick Estate
Towering over the land with its grand, mansion-like architecture, the Emlen Physick Estate is one of the most notorious of Cape May’s attractions, especially during Halloween.
Rumor has it that the proud old building is haunted!
Even if you aren’t interested in ghosts, however, the estate can be a fun place to visit with lots of activities to pursue.
It dates back to the Victorian era, and since it’s been carefully preserved throughout the years, you can see that old-fashioned influence in everything from its lanterns to its fireplaces.
It’s also quite massive: There are 18 rooms in total, and each one offers a glimpse into how people actually lived and worked in the 1800s.
Another nice thing about the estate is that it hosts special events on the regular, so if you’re into brunches, tea parties, haunted house tours or murder mystery dinner theater, you can experience them here.
Just check the schedule to see what’s happening next.
The Emlen Physick Estate will provide a fascinating look into turn-of-the-century living while also serving as a fun and unique destination for your trip to New Jersey.
If you’re wondering where to go within the state, put this spot on your itinerary for sure!
Address: 1048 Washington St, Cape May, NJ 08204, United States
11. Cape May County Park and Zoo
With more than 550 animals, the Cape May County Park and Zoo is one of the most fun places to visit in southern New Jersey.
Since it offers free admission, it’s also one of the cheapest!
Species include lions, cheetahs, monkeys, bears, giraffes, alligators, snow leopards and many, many more.
They range from common birds to exciting and exotic lizards.
For a fee, you can even get close to certain critters with “animal encounters” that involve feeding and playing with them.
Other attractions at the zoo include a cafe, a trackless train, an old-fashioned carousel and a gift shop.
Buy a stuffed lemur to commemorate your time with the real ones!
You don’t have to spend big bucks to have a good time in the city.
At the County Park and Zoo, you can save your money for food, souvenirs, train rides and other goodies that will turn your visit into an unforgettable memory for you and your family.
Address: 707 U.S. 9 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210, United States
12. Nature Center of Cape May
Many things to do in Cape May revolve around the ocean, and as a coastal town, that makes plenty of sense.
But what if you also enjoy other types of nature?
What if you’re itching to plunge your hands into the rich depth of soil, or what if your eyes are hungry for the brilliant colors of flowers, trees and shrubs?
The Nature Center of Cape May is a place where you can appreciate all kinds of nature.
There are gardens; there are wetlands; there’s even a small aquaria.
A three-storied observation deck oversees it all, and you can climb to the top after walking the grounds, enjoying the trails, and touring the various gardens and greenhouses.
There’s a lot more to New Jersey than the beaches and boardwalks.
If you want to enjoy tourist attractions that are a bit more inland, hit up the Nature Center of Cape May.
Address: 1600 Delaware Ave, Cape May, NJ 08204, United States
13. Harriet Tubman Museum
The Harriet Tubman Museum has become one of the biggest points of interest in Cape May.
Though it’s relatively new, it’s gaining the status of a tourist destination to watch.
A little-known fact about Harriet Tubman is that she lived in Cape May for awhile and also had stops in New Jersey for the Underground Railroad.
The museums talks about these historical facts while also offering photos, maps, objects and artifacts related to the legendary lady and her travels.
Many places to visit in the museum also educate visitors on African-American history in general.
The Harriet Tubman Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in the famous people and events of Cape May.
It can teach you more about a critical period of time while also serving as an entertaining and educational destination as a traveler.
Address: 632 Lafayette St, Cape May, NJ 08204, United States
14. Higbee Beach
Higbee Beach is such a gorgeous destination that it’s more than just a beautiful spot in New Jersey.
It’s one of the most beautiful places in the United States, period.
A touch of wildness is in everything.
The beaches have windswept sand dunes; the shores have reeds and tumbled-over tree trunks.
Much of the area is secluded from view, and for years, locals took advantage of the privacy and used it as a nude beach.
Today, people tend to keep their swimsuits on, but it’s still a lovely beach where you can go swimming, sunbathing, birdwatching and more.
It’s also unbeatable in terms of rugged and natural beauty.
If you’re looking for the prettiest places to fill your vacation scrapbook, you’ll definitely want to wander through Higbee Beach for awhile.
Address: 1 Higbees Beach Rd, Cape May, NJ, United States
15. Curious Cape May
There are many wonderful things to see in Cape May, but what happens when you’ve hit everything in the travel brochures?
Or what if you’re looking for obscure, little-known destinations instead of the usual tourist traps?
In these cases, it’s time to call Curious Cape May.
Offering both biking and walking tours, their locally-born guides can take you on a journey to the coolest, most memorable destinations of the region, including ones that aren’t usually recognized by tourists.
The guides can also offer real, personalized suggestions based on your own unique interests, so they can answer questions like “where’s the best seafood in town?” or “what’s the local music scene like?”
If you’re wondering what to do in Cape May that’s a little off the beaten path, consider a cycling tour with Curious Cape May.
You’ll get to explore the shops, restaurants and boardwalks in a way that most tourists don’t, so it’s the perfect chance to find hidden gems and other treasures in this shining seaside town.
Address: 122 Sunset Blvd, West Cape May, NJ 08204, United States
16. Salt Marsh Safari
Anyone can take a cruise, but few people are curious and adventurous enough to spend an afternoon on a Salt Marsh Safari.
Taking place on a 40-foot pontoon boat, the Salt Marsh Safari is a trip through the “back bays” of Cape May.
This means that you’ll get a realer, more authentic look at the ecosystems that silently support the more glitzy and glamorous tourist areas.
It also means that you’ll have opportunities to spot rare and exotic wildlife that others miss.
If you aren’t the salt marsh type, you can also sign up for other pontoon tours with the same company, including a gorgeous Sunset Safari and a hands-on Marine Life Safari.
A trip on the water is one of the best things to do in Cape May, and a trip through a salt marsh will be fun, different and utterly exciting.
Call up the folks at Salt Marsh Safari, and you could be sailing out as early as this weekend!
Address: 1231 NJ-109, Cape May, NJ 08210, United States
17. Museum of Cape May County
If you’re the type of traveler who likes to immerse themselves in local culture and history, you won’t want to miss the Museum of Cape May County.
Actually a collection of buildings, the “museum” is a complex where you can explore all kinds of objects, artifacts and records from previous generations.
What to do will depend on what you’re interested in.
There are old, colonial-style rooms filled with vintage furnishings; there are barns and carriages where demonstrations and workshops take place.
There’s even a genealogical library where serious historians can look up family trees!
Since the museum is maintained by the local historical society, you can rest assured that all information is both verified and accurate.
It’s a chance to learn about the real history of the region.
All in all, the Museum of Cape May County is one of the best attractions in the city.
Not only does it offer tons of cool stuff to do, but it also plays an important role in protecting and preserving the city’s legacy, so your admission ticket will go towards supporting a good cause.
Address: 504 U.S. 9, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210, United States
18. Cape May Bird Observatory
Another destination that plays a unique environmental role in the region, the Cape May Bird Observatory is home to birds, butterflies and many other creatures that can bring beauty and childlike wonder to your life.
The building is a modest wooden construction that sits in front of a lake.
From its decks and piers you can enjoy front-row seats for waterbird observation; there’s even an on-site shop if you need to stock up on binoculars, maps and guidebooks.
If you visit during the fall, you’ll also be privy to events and activities surrounding the monarch butterfly.
They usually migrate around that time, and the observatory tags and tracks them as they go.
The observatory even hosts a Monarch Festival every September or October!
The Cape May Bird Observatory is one of the biggest points of interest for bird and butterfly enthusiasts on the east coast.
It’s also a rollicking good time even if you aren’t a nature person.
Who wouldn’t be amazed by thousands of butterflies flying overhead?
Address: 701 E Lake Dr, Cape May Point, NJ 08212, United States
19. Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Waterparks
One of the most thrilling things to do in Cape May is a little outside of the city limits, but if you’re willing to take a 20-minute drive north, you can enjoy everything that Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Waterparks have to offer.
In this case, “everything” means rides, games, food, music and more.
It’s a gigantic amusement/water park, and for bonus points, it’s located near a boardwalk that’s both beautiful and bountiful in terms of things to do.
Hop on a roller coaster.
Hurl yourself down a water slide.
Eat pizza until you’re thoroughly sick of it.
These are just a few of the ways to cut loose at Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Waterparks, which is hands-down one of the best places to visit in New Jersey.
Address: 3501 Boardwalk, Wildwood, NJ 08260, United States
20. Historic Cold Spring Village
Have you ever wondered what life was like during the 1700s?
At the Historic Cold Spring Village, you don’t have to imagine.
You can live it.
Literally called a “living history museum,” the Historic Cold Spring Village is a series of buildings that recreates life in the early days of American independence.
There are costumed actors; there are demonstrations of blacksmithing and butter churning; there are gift shops where you can buy everything from homemade jams to handmade quilts and toys.
It’s fun for the whole family, too.
Your little ones will enjoy the theater of it all, and you and the other adults will appreciate the history and the charm.
It’s definitely one of the most multifaceted of Cape May’s attractions!
If you’re wondering what to do with kids in New Jersey, take the whole brood to the Historic Cold Spring Village.
With any luck, they’ll learn something new while also having a good time!
Address: 735 Seashore Rd, Cape May, NJ 08204, United States
21. Turdo Vineyards & Winery
Turdo Vineyards & Winery is known as one of the finest vineyards in New Jersey, so if you’re looking to enjoy a little red while you’re on vacation, Cape May is the place to go.
The owners are a husband and wife team who oversee every aspect of the wine making.
From plucking the grapes off the vine to bottling the liquors and arranging them in the tasting room, this dynamic duo puts a personal, family-owned touch into everything that they do.
Visitors can tour the grounds, sample different flavors, shop for wines, and relax on the patio.
No reservations are needed; everything operates on a “first come, first served” basis.
For all that it’s a classy and cultured destination, it’s also one of those activities that you can arrange at the last minute.
Wine lovers, Turdo Vineyards & Winery should definitely make it into your vacation planner.
It’s among the best places to visit for those who enjoy the finer things in life, and it’s mighty tasty, too!
Address: 3911 Bayshore Rd, Cape May, NJ 08204, United States
22. SS Atlantus
If you’re wondering what to see in Cape May, how about a tourist attraction with an expiration date?
The SS Atlantus was originally one of a dozen “Liberty Ships” that were built during WWI for an emergency fleet.
After serving her purpose, she was towed to New Jersey in 1926 to join a ferry dock, but disaster struck in the form of a high-intensity storm.
She capsized and started sinking, becoming stuck right there off the coast.
The SS Atlantus remains partially submerged to this day, and she sinks a little deeper into the water every year.
One day, she’ll be completely gone, the ghostly underwater remnants of a once-proud vessel.
Check out the SS Atlantus if you want to do something cool and unique in New Jersey.
You won’t always have the chance, so visit before the sight is lost forever!
Address: Sunset Blvd, Cape May, NJ 08204, United States
23. Fire Control Tower No. 23
Another WWII relic, the Fire Control Tower No. 23 is a must see for history buffs vacationing in New Jersey.
It was originally built in 1942 as part of the army’s harbor defenses that stretched along Delaware Bay, and many soldiers manned the observation decks and assisted the coastal artillery during the height of the fighting.
Today, the tower stands as a powerful testament to the past.
It’s also a pretty fun tourist attraction!
A spiral staircase was built to allow visitors to climb to the very top, and many displays and exhibits were set up to teach about the history of the area and WWII in general.
It’ll be a much more exciting way to learn about the past than a old, boring textbook.
Other places to see include a veteran memorial and an Eternal Flame monument that pays homage to the sacrifices of the fallen and the continuing spirit of those who serve.
The Fire Control Tower No. 23 is one of the coolest attractions in the city, and best of all, it’s open year round.
Whether you’re traveling to New Jersey this weekend or next year, the eternal flame will still be burning.
Address: 536 Sunset Blvd, Cape May, NJ 08204, United States
24. Cape May Trolley Tour
The Trolley Tour is one of the most famous of Cape May’s attractions.
With its bright red trolley car, it’s something that you’ll see time and time again as you wander around the cafes and shopping malls of downtown.
A general tour is available year-round, and special tours include everything from the spooky and supernatural Mayhem Trolley Tour to the culturally rich Historic District Trolley Tour.
Kids are welcome, so if you’re traveling with the whole family, this is something that everyone can do together.
Tickets are also discounted for kids, so if you’re watching your budget while on vacation, you’ll be able to create lasting memories together without breaking the bank.
Consider a Cape May Trolley Tour if you want to do something fun and kitschy while you’re in town.
You’re a tourist!
You’re allowed to be a little cheesy.
Address: Cape May, NJ, United States
25. Cape May Whale Watch and Research Center
Last but certainly not least, if you want to cross a truly epic item off your bucket list, book a cruise with the Cape May Whale Watch and Research Center.
It’s exactly what it sounds like: a chance to go whale watching.
You’ll board a comfortable, 100-foot supership called the American Star, and you’ll cruise into the Atlantic Ocean to observe some marine life.
In addition to whales, you might also see dolphins, seals, crabs, stingrays, schools of fish and all kinds of migratory birds.
As a seaside town, Cape May is one of the best places to go to experience marine life, and the Cape May Whale Watch and Research Center will let you see it up close and personally.
Address: 1231 Route 109 South Jersey Marina, Cape May, NJ 08204, United States
Start Planning Your Trip To Cape May
These are just a few fun things to do in Cape May.
Whether you’re looking for historic homes, modern shopping malls or seafaring cruises into the great unknown, Cape May is a vacation destination that has it all!