A summer beach rental, one of the best things to do in Cape May

19 Best Things to Do in Cape May (In 2023)

A gorgeous resort town located at the southernmost tip of New Jersey, there are plenty of super fun things to do in Cape May.

As a resident of New Jersey for over 30 years, I have the inside scoop on this peaceful, historic town. Cape May is the nation’s oldest seaside resort and features Victorian architecture, an iconic lighthouse, and excellent beaches and shops.

In this article, we’re going to dive into the very best activities to do in Cape May, New Jersey. And while you’re here, bookmark my guide to where to stay in Cape May and my list of the best places to visit in New Jersey (spoiler alert: Cape May made the list!)

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19 Best Things to Do in Cape May

Cape May Beaches

Bask in cool ocean breezes

Clear blue sky over the Cape May Beach
Beach in Cape May

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily, Closed Mondays | Entrance: Beach badges $8/day age 12+ 

Who doesn’t love a day at the beach! Cape May’s beaches are some of the most beautiful that New Jersey has to offer. These peaceful, pristine beaches give you exquisite views of the Atlantic Ocean. 

There are so many to choose from too. Check out my list of some of New Jersey’s best beaches. It features two great beaches in the area – Diamond Beach (located in nearby Wildwood Crest) and Cape May’s own gem, Poverty Beach.

You’ll quickly see why people from all over come to enjoy this lovely seaside New Jersey resort town.

👉 Pro Tip: Beach badges are required during Beach season, which runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Outside beach season, they aren’t required. However, with no lifeguards present, water activities are limited.

Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center 

See majestic marine life in person

View of a dolphin on a coast in Cape May
Dolphin on the coast of Cape May

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (609) 898-0055 | Website | Hours: Varies per cruise | Entrance: Various per cruise | 👉 Browse Whale Watching Tours on Viator

Located in Lower Township, the Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center is a definite must-see when you visit Cape May. Few areas of NJ offer such breathtaking views of these beautiful creatures.

And you’ll see more than whales. You’ll also get to see marine life such as dolphins and pelagic birds on these marine-themed tours. They offer both cruises as well as off-shore tours. It’s educational, family-friendly fun that you don’t want to miss.

👉 Looking for more? My picks for the best things to do in New Jersey will point you in the right direction!

Washington Street Mall

Shop this classic open-air mall

People walking in Cape May, New Jersey
Washington Street Mall (photo: JWCohen / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (609) 884-0555 | Website | Hours: Varies per business

Washington Street Mall is an open-air strip mall and one of the most popular things to do in Cape May. This pedestrian-only mall is lined with a wide variety of great shops and restaurants. Find something new and unique at the small, boutique shops. Grab something to eat at one of the many restaurants and coffee shops. A crowd favorite is Delaney’s Pub where they serve up great food with friendly service.

Take a stroll through the Washington Street Mall on a sunny, summer afternoon. Even if you don’t buy anything, the sheer ambiance is enough to draw you in.

Jersey Shore Alpacas

Meet some new friends

View of alpacas in Cape May
Alpacas on a farm

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (609) 889-4957 | Website | Hours: By appointment only | Entrance: Fees vary

Come make some new friends at Jersey Shore Alpacas. Located in Middle Township, here you’ll learn about these fun, unique creatures. Get up close and personal with the alpacas, and observe their individual personalities. 

Kids will especially love the experience as they get to feed carrots to the alpacas. There’s even a gift shop featuring products made from alpaca wool. Stop in and take souvenirs home for everyone – including yourself!

👉 Pro Tip: The staff at Jersey Shore Alpacas only allows small groups that consist of no more than 6 people. This is so that the alpacas don’t get stressed. If you’re visiting with a larger group, they’ll separate you into smaller groups. All visits are by appointment only.

Salt Marsh Safari

Journey to an unseen side of Cape May

The Salt Marsh Safari over the clear blue sky
Marsh in Cape May

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (609) 884-3100 | Website | Hours: Check site for tours| Entrance: $23+, depending on Tour 

Looking for one of the most unique things to do in Cape May? Go on an adventure through Cape May’s Salt Marsh! Located in Lower Township, the Salt Marsh Safari is very unique and fun. You’ll make fascinating discoveries as you find a new way to explore Cape May.

Let the guides teach you about the Salt Marsh ecosystem, and see some of the feathered residents of the area. There’s also an interactive marine life tour that lets you get even closer to Cape May’s natural world. No matter which tour you choose, you’ll have a great time.

👉 Want to explore more of the Salt Marsh? This other Salt Marsh Birding Tour also provides great views of Cape May’s salt marsh.

Beach Plum Farm

Delight in farm-fresh goodness

The Beach Plum Farm signage on the entrance
Beach plum farm entrance (photo: Big Blink Creative / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (609) 459-0121 | Website | Hours: Farm & Market 8 am – 3 pm Wednesday – Sunday, Kitchen 8 am – 2 pm Friday – Sunday | Entrance: Free to enter, pay for whatever you purchase

Located in West Cape May at Cape May Point, Beach Plum Farm is one of the best stops if you love farm-fresh produce. It’s been one of the most popular tourist attractions for years. They even feature a great farm-to-table restaurant that guests love. There’s seating by the garden so that you can enjoy your meal with a great view.

You can walk the farm for free, but definitely buy some fresh produce to enjoy. If you’ve never been, and want some relaxing things to do in Cape May, a visit to Beach Plum Farm is definitely it.

Emlen Physick Estate

Explore an architectural wonder

The Emlen Physick Estate from the outside in Cape May
Emlen Physick Estate (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (609) 884-5404 | Website | Hours: Dependent on tour chosen | Entrance: $20, adults, $15 ages 3 – 12 

The beach is a popular attraction in Cape May – but this seaside resort town has more to offer than just stretches of sand. It’s also home to some beautiful Victorian-style architecture that allows you to journey to Victorian times as you explore one of the oldest homes in Cape May.

Built in 1879, The Emlen Physick Estate is dubbed an architectural wonder and holds the title of one of the best examples of Victorian stick-style architecture. Take a trip back in time as you explore this 18-room mansion. Tours have different themes, and there are even free experiences.

👉 Not sure when to plan your trip? My guide to when to visit New Jersey will give you all the information you need before you book.

Greater Cape May Historical Society

Discover Cape May’s rich history

A historic Victorian-era home in Cape May
Beautiful, historic Victorian-era home in Cape May (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (609) 884-9100 | Website | Hours: 1 pm – 4 pm Wednesday – Saturday 6/15 – 9/15 | Entrance: Free – By Appointment Only 

The Greater Cape May Historical Society is a steward of, and is housed in, The Colonial House. This is one of the oldest homes on Cape Island and is where visitors come to learn about Cape May’s rich history. In fact, part of their mission is to make the history of the greater Cape May area known and accessible to others.

Though admission to the house is free, they do encourage donations. This helps with the upkeep of the house, and to keep it free to visitors. If you love history and museums, you’ll love giving the Historical Society a visit.

The Museum of Cape May County

Take a trip back in time

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (609) 465-3535 | Website | Hours: Varies seasonally. Check the website for current hours. | Entrance: $12, Adults, Free to children under 12 and active-duty military personnel

Located in Middle Township, the museum of Cape May County is one of the best things to do in Cape May for history lovers. Take a trip back in time as you explore the 11-room Cresse Holmes house, which dates back to 1704 and is one of three historic structures that the museum is housed in. 

You’ll encounter snippets of what life was like back in Victorian times and, as you explore, you’ll see pieces dating back to the Revolutionary War. Guided tours are mandatory, so make sure to call in advance to book.

Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum 

Explore the history of aviation

Aircrafts displayed inside the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum
Naval Air Station Aviation Museum (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (609) 886-8787 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 4 pm Daily | Entrance: $14, adults, $10 ages 3 – 12

The Naval Air Station Museum is located in Lower Township at Cape May Airport. Here you’ll take a trip inside an actual World War II hangar home to several World War II-era aircraft, Hangar I.

History buffs will love exploring the interactive exhibits that delight people of all ages. There are even activities that help you learn about this time period and the advances in aviation. It’s a must-see for those who love history and aviation in general.

👉 Also planning a trip to Atlantic City? Then check out my guide to the very best things to do in Atlantic City!

Historic Cold Spring Village 

Immerse yourself in living history

View of the Cold Spring Village from the outside
Cold Spring Village (photo: ako photography / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (609) 898-2300 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 4 pm Monday – Friday | Entrance: $14, adults, $12 ages 3 – 12 

Historic Cold Spring Village is another stop you don’t want to miss during your stay in Cape May. This living museum allows you to travel back in time and step into Cape May as it once was. The Village mimics living in the 1850s, and there are a variety of classic buildings to explore. There’s a woodworking shop, an ice cream parlor, and even a poultry house. 

Tickets are available for one-day admission only. Due to the pandemic, admission to the buildings is very limited.

👉 Pro Tip: The Village is pretty sizable, so plan for a few hours to explore – or come back the next day to see more. 

Cape May Lighthouse

Explore Cape May’s lighthouse

The Cape May Lighthouse from afar in Cape May
Cape May Point Lighthouse

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (609) 224-6066 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 2 pm Weekend | Entrance: $12, adults, $8 ages 3 – 12 

The classic Cape May lighthouse is another must-see in Cape May. It’s located in beautiful Cape May Point State Park.

Plan to conquer the 199-stair spiral staircase for breathtaking views. Not up for the climb? No problem! The base features panels that tell you about the history of Lighthouse keepers, or you can just plan to stroll through the park. I highly recommend visiting in the Spring when everything is at its most beautiful.

Make sure you stop by the gift shop for souvenirs on your way home!

👉 Love Lighthouses? Then check out this Grand Lighthouse Cruise Tour where you can learn about these historic beauties.

Cape May County Park and Zoo

Enjoy a day at the zoo

The Cape May County Park and Zoo signage from the entrance
Cape May County Park & Zoo (photo: Rosemarie Mosteller / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (609) 465-5271 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 3:30 pm Daily (or until 4:30 pm March – November) | Entrance: Free

A day at the zoo is fun for the whole family! Located in Middle Township, the Cape May County Park and Zoo is a fan favorite.

Come see your favorite animals and discover some new ones. Parking and admission are free, making it a great place to visit if you’re budget-conscious. The park it’s located in also has a playground if the kids aren’t done running off their energy.

Cape May Bird Observatory – Northwood Center

Discover Cape May’s local birds

An egret in Cape May Bird Observatory
Egret at the Cape May Bird Observatory

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (609) 400-3868 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm Wednesday – Sunday | Entrance: Free – except for special programs

Bird enthusiasts will love the Cape May Bird Observatory. Here, you’ll get all the information you need to see beautiful birds in their natural habitat, and there are a variety of program options to choose from. 

There are birding walks, field trips, and even kids programs for aspiring ornithologists. If you love butterflies (as I do!), they occasionally offer Migration Watches. These watches help you spot the beautiful Monarch butterfly during its migration. Grab some binoculars and get ready for some beautiful sights.

Nature Center of Cape May

Explore Cape May’s natural world

A Cape May warbler on a tree branch
Cape May warbler 

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (609) 427-3045 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 4 pm Monday – Saturday (may change seasonally) | Entrance: Depends on event & program. Check website for details.

The New Jersey Audubon’s Nature Center is a great place to encounter Cape May’s beautiful wildlife. Here you’ll be introduced to not only local birds, but marine life as well such as horseshoe crabs and fish. There are various programs for all ages.

👉 Also considering Newark? Check out my picks for the best things to do in Newark, New Jersey!

The Lobster House

Dine in this classic harborside restaurant

The Lobster House signage in Cape May
Sign for The Lobster House (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (609) 884-8296 | Website | Hours: See website for current Lunch & Dinner hours

Located right on Cape May Harbor, the Lobster House is one of Cape May’s longest-standing seafood restaurants. Guests can expect some of the best and freshest seafood that Cape May has to offer.

Dining here, you can expect fresh seafood and excellent customer service. Some dishes may be a bit more pricey, but guests agree that they’re worth every penny. There aren’t enough amazing things you can say about this restaurant – you just have to go!

Tisha’s Fine Dining

Fine dining on the Washington Street Mall

A scallops dish in Tisha’s Fine Dining

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (609) 884-9119 | Website | Hours: See website for current Lunch & Dinner hours

Tisha’s Fine Dining isn’t just one of many great restaurants on the Washington Street Mall, it’s one of the best! Celebrating over 30 years of service in Cape May, Tisha’s Fine Dining serves up some of the tastiest dishes. They’re BYOB, but do offer some options for purchase if you want.

The seafood is fresh, and the ambiance is warm and welcoming. It’s the perfect spot after a day of sightseeing. 

Iccara Italian Bistro

Savor exquisite Italian cuisine

A plate of pasta in Iccara Italian Bistro

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (609) 884-0200 | Website | Hours: 4 pm to 9 pm Daily

Iccara Italian Bistro is yet another one of Cape May’s amazing restaurants. It’s located close to the Washington Street Mall, making it a great choice if you’re in the area. This BYOB restaurant features some of the finest Italian cuisine Cape May has to offer.

Guests love how fresh and flavorful the food is. If you’re looking for a cozy, yet elegant atmosphere, impeccable service, and amazing Italian food, you need to go to Iccara.

The Mad Batter Restaurant and Bar

Delight in a local brunch favorite

The Mad Batter Restaurant and Bar from the outside in Cape May
Mad Batter Restaurant (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (609) 884-5970 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 8 pm Sunday – Thursday, 8 am – 9 pm Friday & Saturday 

This family-owned restaurant is a definite must when visiting Cape May. The Mad Batter serves up some of the most delicious dishes such as their Lobster omelet and Chesapeake Eggs Benedict. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but guests particular rave about the breakfast.

The atmosphere is friendly, and sometimes they even have live music! Don’t leave Cape May without paying the Mad Batter a visit – you won’t regret it!  


That’s it for my picks for the best things to do in Cape May, New Jersey! You can also check out my guide on where to stay in Cape May or, if you’re looking for some insight into the best areas of the state, then read my guide to where to stay in New Jersey.

Have fun exploring all the best things to do in Cape May!

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