Cape May Travel Guides

Super useful & totally free travel guides, written by locals who love Cape May

Aerial view of the Victorian houses in Beach Avenue
Aerial view of Cape May and the Victorian homes that line Beach Avenue

Why We Love Cape May: Beautiful Cape May holds the title of being America’s oldest seaside resort town. Thousands of visitors flock to this beautiful town every year for many reasons including the Victorian architecture and Cape May’s beautiful, well-kept beaches. The iconic Beach Avenue is lined with luxurious accommodations, all giving amazing ocean views. Cape May has a peaceful atmosphere that makes you feel right at home, and it’s no wonder that it’s one of the top vacation destinations in New Jersey.

Best of Cape May

Things to Do

View of a dolphin on a coast in Cape May
Dolphin breaching on Cape May’s Coast

Besides pristine beaches, Cape May also offers great historical attractions and a miraculous and diverse natural world.

  • Whale & Dolphin Watching – Hop aboard a chartered boat to see one of Cape May’s best attractions. Watch as these majestic aquatic visitors pass through during their annual migration.
  • Emlen Physick Estate – Step into the past in this well-kept Victorian mansion, complete with antique furniture. Here you can learn how one family lived during Victorian times. 
  • Cape May Beaches – Take in gorgeous ocean views and refreshing sea breezes on immaculately-kept beaches.
  • Historic Cold Spring Village – Visit this unique, living museum to see what life was like in the early-mid 19th Century.
  • Washington Street Mall – Shop a variety of boutiques and dine at fine restaurants at this walkable, open-air mall.

👉 Explore all things to do in Cape May

🗺️ Where to Stay

Whether you stay in a hotel along Beach Avenue, or further in from the shore, you’re sure to love your stay in Cape May. Here are some areas I recommend for your visit.

  • Beachfront – This area is best if you’re a first-time visitor, or want to stay as close as possible to the beautiful beaches.
  • Historic District – If you love history, you’ll love your stay here amongst the fabulous Victorian architecture. 
  • West Cape May – This is where you want to go if you want to be as far away from the crowds as possible, but still enjoy all Cape May has to offer.
  • Cape May Habor – There aren’t many hotels in this area, but it’s a serene place to visit and take in some waterfront dining.

👉 Read the complete guide to where to stay.

View of The Heritage Inn from the outside in Cape May
Heritage Inn Hotel in Cape May (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

🛎️ Best Hotels

The Congress Hall Hotel from the outside
Congress Hall Hotel, Cape May (photo: Alan Budman / Shutterstock)

Cape May has many different accommodations to choose from. You have options from fancy resorts to quaint bed and breakfasts. 

  • ICONA Cape May – This luxurious hotel, part of the ICONA family, sits right on the highly-desired beachfront. It’s close to a wide variety of amazing restaurants with both local and international cuisine.
  • Heritage Inn – Sitting in the heart of the Historic District, is this Victorian-style hotel. Like the ICONA, it’s also on the beachfront, giving you beautiful ocean views.
  • Congress Hall – This elegant resort sits not too far from the beach. It features a cozy, yet luxurious style, that’s designed to mimic cottage living.

🍽️ Restaurants

Cape May is well-known for having amazing restaurants featuring delectable dishes. This seaside resort town catches its own seafood. As a result, you get the freshest, most delicious seafood around.

  • Mad Batter – This is a must-try while you’re in Cape May. They serve up a wide array of amazing dishes but are best known for their exquisite breakfast menu.
  • The Lobster House – Sitting right on Cape May Harbor, they specialize in seafood, and they do it well. After over 100 years in business, they definitely know what they’re doing.
  • Tisha’s Fine Dining – Located right in the Washington Street Mall. Stop here for dinner after a day of sightseeing. It’s BYOB and reservations are required.
  • Iccara Italian Bistro – Enjoy exquisite Italian cuisine in an elegant atmosphere. BYOB and reservations are required here as well.
  • Lucky Bones Back Water Grille – Take in a relaxed dining experience at Cape May Harbor. Sip on a cocktail and enjoy great American cuisine at Lucky Bones.
The Lobster House signage in Cape May
The Lobster House in Cape May Harbor (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

🚗 Day Trips

View of the Wildwood Crest signage in Cape May
Wildwood Crest, NJ (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)
  • Atlantic City – Home to the iconic Atlantic City Boardwalk and a plethora of casinos. Many take the drive here to enjoy a day in this bustling resort city.
  • Cape May Point – This is the home of Cape May Point Park, as well as the popular Cape May Lighthouse. You can even view migratory birds at the Cape May Bird Observatory.
  • Middle Township – Travel over to Middle Township to enjoy a day at the Cape May County Park and Zoo as well as the Museum of Cape May County.
  • Ocean City – Take a drive to Ocean City for a day and delight in some rides at amusement parks such as Gillian’s Wonderland Pier.
  • Wildwood Crest – While it isn’t in Cape May, Wildwood Crest is part of Cape May County. Come here to enjoy the livelier side of Cape May County, such as the famous Morey’s Piers.

🏘️ Neighborhoods

View of Victorian houses under the clear blue sky in Beach Avenue
Victorian houses that line the Beachfront on Beach Avenue (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)
  • Beachfront – Many of Cape May’s hotels and resorts line Beach Avenue, which faces the beach. The area is also known for its variety of restaurants and bars.
  • Historic District – Much like most of Cape May, the Historic District is graced with elegantly-designed Victorian homes. One such home is the Emlen Physick Estate.
  • Cape May Harbor – This area is known for the whale watching charters, as well as great waterfront dining.
  • West Cape May – More residential than commercial, West Cape May is serene. It still has a nice selection of restaurants to choose from.
  • North Cape May – This very small section is home to the Cape May Lewes-Ferry that can take you straight across to Delaware.

🍸 Bars

A Cosmopolitan cocktail with a lemon
Cosmopolitan at a bar
  • Delaney’s Irish Pub & Grill – This bar features Irish and American cuisine, as well as a great selection of beer. 
  • Brown Room at Congress Hall – You can find this bar inside Congress Hall. Comfortable couches and mood lighting make this a great after-dinner chill spot. Call ahead as reservations are required.
  • Rusty Nail – This outdoor bar serves up great cocktails and American fare in a relaxed setting. There’s even a fire pit for chilly nights.
  • C-View Inn – Come in to enjoy a relaxed atmosphere and great drinks. Take a stroll by the Marina afterward. 
  • Ugly Mug Bar & Restaurant – This LGBTQ+ friendly bar and restaurant serves up great food and drinks. You can even enjoy live music some nights.

🏛️ Museums

The Emlen Physick Estate from the outside in Cape May
The Emlen Physick Estate (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)
  • Emlen Physick Estate – Come visit this museum to see what life was like in a real Victorian home. It’s graced with antique furniture and lots of historic memorabilia.
  • Harriet Tubman Museum – At this museum, you can learn more about Harriet Tubman, who was once a Cape May resident. You’ll also learn about the area the museum is located in, and how important it was to the anti-slavery cause.
  • Historic Cold Spring Village – Journey to a time that once was in this living museum. You can peruse stores such as the ice cream parlor, and even learn the art of basket weaving.
  • The Museum of Cape May County – Located in Middle Township, this museum teaches you about Cape May’s history. It shows life from the time of Native Americans, up until now.
  • Cape May Lighthouse – This landmark in Cape May Point can be seen at the Cape May Point State Park. Climb the steps of the Lighthouse for breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Cape May Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Cape May is in the late Spring to early Summer. This time offers great weather, without being too hot.

  • 🌼 Spring – Beginning in late March, Spring is one of the best times to visit Cape May. Though it begins in late March, you really don’t start to feel the warmth until about mid-April. This is the perfect time for walking about Cape May without risk of overheating.
  • 🌞 Summer – Though it can get hot, this is the best time to visit Cape May. Summer runs from late June through mid-September. It can get very hot come mid-July, so I suggest June – early July as your best bet. This way, you can enjoy the beach as well.
  • 🍂 Fall – Temperatures start to cool down come late September as the peak travel season wraps up. This is also a great time to visit Cape May, as the crowds start to thin out, and the heat dies down.
  • ❄️ Winter – The temperatures plunge from late November until early March. Because Cape May is so close to the water, it gets exceptionally cold. I don’t recommend going during the winter unless you plan on more indoor activities.

🚌 Getting Around

Most people get around Cape May on foot or bike. There’s very little in terms of public transportation. If you want to venture further out, you’re going to need to drive or use a ride-share.

  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – Most of Cape May is walkable unless you want to venture further out. If you plan on going to Cape May Harbor, West Cape May, or further you’ll need to drive or use a rideshare service.
  • 🚗 Driving – Driving isn’t usually necessary on Cape May island. If you want to leave the area, then you’ll have to drive. Parking can be rough though, especially by the beach.
  • 🚇 Public Transit – There is very little in terms of public transit in Cape May. There are NJ Transit buses that bring you to Cape May’s Welcome Center.  There’s also limited, free Jitney service that runs along Beach Avenue, and other select areas.
  • 📲 Ride Share – Uber and Lyft are readily available in Cape May.
  • 🚴‍♀️ Biking – Because of the flat terrain, biking is a popular mode of getting around. There are places you can rent a bike if you didn’t bring one. 
  • 🛴 Scooters – Much like biking, scooters are also an option when getting around. Scooter rentals are available, often at the same places as bike rentals.

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • 🚰 – Drink Plenty of Water – Especially during the hot summer months, you want to keep well hydrated as you go sightseeing. The humidity can make the heat feel worse, so keep water handy.
  • 👟 – Wear Comfortable Shoes – Since most of Cape May is walkable, you’ll want to make sure your feet are as comfortable as possible.
  • 🦞 – Enjoy Fresh Seafood – Fresh-caught seafood is the order of the day in Cape May. Don’t miss out on a delicious seafood dish.
  • 🐋 – Go Whale Watching – If you’re visiting during peak season, go see these majestic creatures during their annual migration. It’s a sight you don’t want to miss.
  • 🍷 – You might need to BYOB – While Cape May isn’t a dry town, there are many restaurants where you have to bring your own wine. Call ahead to find out. Fortunately, there are liquor stores around so you can pick up a bottle on the way to the restaurant. 

🧳 What to Pack

  • ⛱️ – Beach Umbrella – Umbrella rentals can get pricey. If you’re driving in, I recommend bringing your own beach umbrella. This may be more difficult if you’re flying in. In that case, you may need to rent one.
  • 👟 – Comfortable Shoes – A good portion of Cape May is walkable, so bring your comfiest shoes. Nice, airy sandals or flip-flops are a good choice.
  • 🧴 – Sunscreen – Whether you’re sightseeing or at the beach, it can be very sunny. Have your sunblock on hand to protect yourself from those rays.
  • 👗👔 – Dress-up Outfit – You should bring at least one dress-up outfit for dinner. Some restaurants that require reservations also have a dress code.
  • 📷 – Camera – Most phones have one, but an extra digital camera won’t hurt. Catch all those beautiful memories to remember why you need to come back!

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Census Population (2020) – 3,446
  • Time Zone – Eastern Time (UTC -5 / UTC -4 during daylight savings)
  • Area Code – 609
  • Airports – Cape May Airport, Cape May County Airport (WWD)
  • Nickname – America’s oldest seaside resort 
  • Demonym – Cape Mayan
  • State – New Jersey
  • CountryUnited States of America

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • 3 Star Hotel Room – $400/night
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $250/night
  • Rental Car – $60/day
  • Public Transit Ticket – Free Limited Jitney Service
  • Ride Share from Downtown to Airport – $20
  • Take Out Meal for Two – $60+
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – $80+
  • Draft Beer – $7

FAQs About Visiting Cape May

Is Cape May safe for tourists?

Cape May is safe for tourists. The crime rate is low, especially when it comes to violent crimes. As always, though, be alert to your surroundings, especially when out alone or at night.

Is Cape May worth visiting?

Cape May is well worth the visit. The beaches are clean and well-kept, and the Victorian-style architecture is beautiful. There are a variety of amazing restaurants and bars to satisfy every palate.

What is Cape May known for?

Cape May is known as America’s first seaside resort town. It’s known for its immaculately-kept beaches, fresh seafood, and Victorian-style architecture.

Is Cape May walkable?

The Beachfront and Historic Districts of Cape May are walkable. If you want to venture out towards Cape May Harbor, or even out to Lower Township, you will have to drive or use a rideshare service.

Is there a boardwalk in Cape May?

The commonly referred to “boardwalk” in Cape May is actually called the Promenade. Instead of wood like a regular boardwalk, the Promenade is paved. It stretches about 2 miles along Beach Avenue, offering great views of the Jersey shore.

Meet Our Cape May Travel Expert

Yvette Griffith

Yvette Griffith is a New Jersey-based Freelance Travel Writer who loves all things travel! She takes advantage of every opportunity to get away, often with her young daughter, as they explore their state as well as the world around them. From Southern Cali, to cruises to the Caribbean, to local adventures, Yvette is always ready for her next adventure.

👉 Read Yvette‘s Articles

📰 Cape May Travel Guides

New Jersey, affectionately known as the Garden State, is beautiful and diverse. There are seaside towns like Cape and Atlantic City, then there are more urban areas like Newark. We have a plethora of natural wonders like waterfalls. There are also the many relaxing beaches that line the Jersey Shore.

🗺️ Cape May Map