Where to Stay in Cape May (Best Places & Areas in 2023)
Wondering where to stay in Cape May? The quaint resort town of Cape May is one that tourists flock to every year, and finding the best areas to stay in Cape May is the first step to a great trip.
As a proud resident of the Garden State for over 30 years, I’m excited to spill the beans on some of the best places to stay in Cape May. And while you’re here, check out my guide to the best Cape May activities.
Whether you’re looking for a 5-star resort or something more intimate, I’ve laid out the best options in this article.
Table of Contents
- Best Places to Stay in Cape May, New Jersey
- 4 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in Cape May
- Historic District
- Cape May Harbor
- West Cape May
- Tips for Staying in Cape May
- FAQs About Where to Stay in Cape May
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Best Places to Stay in Cape May, New Jersey
Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in Cape May? Here are my top picks:
- 🏆 Best Overall Hotel – ICONA Cape May
- ✨ Best Luxury Hotel – Ocean Club Hotel
- 👪 Best for Families – Congress Hall
- 👔 Best for Business – La Mer Beachfront Resort
- 🛎️ Best Boutique – Elaine’s Cape May Boutique Hotel
- ⛱️ Best Near the Beach – Avondale by the Sea
- 💵 Best Budget – Angel of the Sea Bed & Breakfast
Ok, let’s do a deep dive of the best areas and neighborhoods in Cape May:
4 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in Cape May
Cape May is a popular New Jersey summer destination that people from all over come to enjoy every year. The quiet, historic charm of the town invites people of all ages.
There aren’t very distinct neighborhoods within Cape May, but there are some popular areas for where to stay.
👉 Best Area For Beach Lovers | ✨ Best Beachfront Hotels: ICONA Cape May • Ocean Club Hotel • Angel of the Sea Bed & Breakfast
Let’s face it, one of the main reasons many people even come to Cape May is for the immaculately-kept beaches. In fact, Cape May’s Poverty Beach is featured as one of New Jersey’s best beaches. The beachfront is where you can take in fantastic views of the ocean and hear the waves grace the shore.
Beachfront accommodations are in high demand, and as such, tend to be higher in price. But taking in the magnificent Atlantic Ocean views are well worth it. Some of the best hotels in Cape May are on Beach Avenue, which faces the shore.
Hotel guests can enjoy a variety of amenities such as free on-site parking and private balconies. There are even swimming pools if swimming in the ocean isn’t your thing. If this is your first time in Cape May, staying on the beachfront is your best bet for an amazing time. Just be sure to pack for a beach vacation!
Pros of Staying on the Beachfront:
- Magnificent ocean views
- Walking distance to the beach
- Great bars and restaurants within walking distance
Cons of Staying on the Beachfront:
- Hotels and resorts are pricey
- Peak season can get crowded
📚 Beachfront Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Beach Lovers
- ✨ Best Hotels – ICONA Cape May • Ocean Club Hotel • Angel of the Sea Bed & Breakfast
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Peter Shields Inn & Restaurant ($$), McGlade’s on the Pier ($$$), The Mad Batter Restaurant & Bar ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Rusty Nail, Harry’s Ocean Bar & Grille, Barefoot Bar & Grill
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Cape May Beach, Cape May Convention Hall
👉 Best Area For History Lovers | ✨ Best Historic District Hotels: The Heritage Inn • Lokal Hotel Cape May • Southern Mansion
The Historic District is one of the top choices for where to stay in Cape May. Its Victorian stick-style architecture is bursting with the historic beauty that Cape May is known for. It’s also home to the popular Washington Street Mall. You can find popular hotels such as Congress Hall, the Southern Mansion, and the Heritage Inn.
Pay a visit to the Greater Cape May Historical Society where you can learn more about Cape May’s rich history. You can even take a trip back in time at the Emlen Physick Estate. Here, you can step into a Victorian home filled with antique furniture and learn how one family lived during this time period.
The Historic District is a great place to stay in Cape May if you love history, but still want to be close to the beauty of the Jersey shore. Not to mention shopping at the Washington Street Mall!
Pros of Staying in the Historic District:
- Beautiful Victorian architecture
- Home of the Washington Street Mall
- Plenty of attractions to enjoy
Con of Staying in the Historic District:
- Not many hotels specifically in this area
- Farther out from the beach
📚 Historic District Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for History Buffs
- ✨ Best Hotels – The Heritage Inn • Lokal Hotel Cape May • Hotel Macomber
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – La La Lobster Cape May ($$$), Quincy’s Original Lobster Rolls ($$), Aleathea’s Restaurant ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Delaney’s Irish Pub & Grill, King Edward Bar (inside The Chalfonte)
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Emlen Physick Estate, Greater Cape May Historical Society, Washington Street Mall
Cape May Harbor
👉 Best Area For Nature Lovers | ✨ Best Cape May Harbor Hotels: La Mer Beachfront Resort • Inn at the Park • Cape Harbor Motor Inn
Cape May Harbor is further away from the more popular areas by the beaches and the Historic District. There aren’t any hotels in this area, so you’ll have to choose Cape May accommodations close to the Jersey shore. You can then drive up to the Harbor area to enjoy the attractions.
The Harbor is a beautiful, underrated section. Here you can enjoy waterfront dining at a number of harborside restaurants. There’s also a Marina where you can watch boats blissfully sail by. Pay a visit to the Nature Center, or catch a boat to go whale-watching!
While Cape May’s Harbor area doesn’t offer accommodations, it’s a great place to visit during your stay in Cape May.
Pros of Staying in Cape May Harbor:
- Beautiful waterfront views
- Waterfront dining
- Whale-watching opportunities
Con of Staying in Cape May Harbor:
- Farther away from the beach
- No hotels in the immediate area
📚 Cape May Harbor Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Nature Lovers
- ✨ Best Hotels – La Mer Beachfront Resort • Inn at the Park • Cape Harbor Motor Inn
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – The Lobster House ($$$), Harbor View ($$), Lucky Bones Back Water Grille ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Mooncussers, Mayer’s Tavern
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Nature Center of Cape May, Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center, Cape May Lost Fishermen’s Memorial
West Cape May
👉 Best Area For Relaxation | ✨ Best West Cape May Hotels: Buttonwood Boutique Hotel • Wilbraham Mansion • Elaine’s Cape May Boutique Hotel
West Cape May is a great place to stay in Cape May if you want a quieter experience. While Cape May isn’t a noisy town to begin with, West Cape May is even quieter. This area is more residential, so you’ll find more local Cape May residents as opposed to tourists.
Come to West Cape May if you want to avoid crowds of tourists and just enjoy a serene pace of living. Nearby Cape May Point is also a perfect place for a day visit. You can enjoy Cape May Point State Park, which features the historic Cape May Lighthouse. A little further out you can visit the Cape May Bird Observatory to catch a glimpse of Cape May’s feathered friends.
Pros of Staying in West Cape May:
- Very quiet
- Still close to Cape May’s beaches
- Fewer tourists
Cons of Staying in West Cape May:
- Not many options for hotels
- Further out from Cape May’s main attractions
- Most bars & restaurants are outside of West Cape May
📚 West Cape May Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Mature Visitors
- ✨ Best Hotels – Buttonwood Boutique Hotel • Wilbraham Mansion • Elaine’s Cape May Boutique Hotel
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Viggiano’s on Sunset ($$$), Sapore Italiano ($$), Beach Plum Farm ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Exit Zero Filling Station
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Beach Plum Farm, Willow Creek Winery & Farm
Tips for Staying in Cape May
Prepare to do Some Walking
While there is parking in Cape May, it can be tough to find – especially during the peak travel season. This is especially the case around the beach.
If you want to enjoy all that Cape May has to offer, walking is your best bet. It’s also great for taking in all of the great scenery in beautiful weather.
Don’t Skip Out on the Seafood
As a seaside resort town, Cape May’s seafood is unmatched. Enjoy a variety of fish, lobster, shrimp, and even savory scallops. Most of it is freshly caught, so you’re getting only the best and freshest seafood. This freshness comes out as a decadent flavor that you don’t want to miss.
It stands to reason, if you’re traveling during peak season, prices are going to be higher. In addition, restaurant reservations may be harder to come by, and you’ll encounter more people. In many ways, this coincides with my general tips for when to visit New Jersey.
Off-season travel between the months of October and April can give you the best possible way to enjoy the beautiful Cape May.
Take in the Historic District
One of Cape May’s most notable features is its fantastic architecture. The Victorian architecture is enough to draw in visitors from all over. You can take in such great sights as the Emlen Physick Estate.
Visit Local Breweries
Cape May is home to quite a few breweries and wineries. Stop by the Cold Spring Brewery for an ice-cold beer. Or you can take a vineyard tour at the Willow Creek Winery & Farm and relax with a glass of wine.
Don’t Miss Out on the Whales
Whale-watching is one of the most popular things to do in Cape May. The whale-watching season depends on their migration, so they’re only visible at certain times. Between Spring and mid-summer are the best times to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures.
Go Bird Watching
Cape May is home to some beautiful birds. One of these is the local Cape May warbler. These and other birds can be seen throughout Cape May, or at places like the Nature Center of Cape May. Visit the Cape May Bird Observatory at Cape May Point for even more views and to learn about bird conservation.
Pay a visit to Wildwood Crest
While Wildwood Crest isn’t technically part of Cape May, it is part of Cape May County. This is the livelier side of Cape May County. It features activities that appeal to a younger, more energetic crowd. There you can enjoy the famous Morey’s Piers. Bring some beach chairs and relax on the pristine Diamond Beach.
Venture Further Out
There are great Cape May attractions and activities close to the Beachfront and Historic district. But Cape May has even more to explore. Pay a visit to Lower Township where you can find the Historic Cold Spring Village. This village, almost frozen in time, gives you a glimpse of how life was like back in Victorian times.
Stroll Cape May’s Promenade
The promenade along Beach Avenue is a great place for a stroll. This peaceful 2-mile stretch of paved walkway offers amazing ocean views. It’s lined with a variety of stores and small restaurants you can stop into along your way. Enjoy a sunset on Beach Avenue or even a sunrise along the lovely promenade.
Hop on a Ferry
Want to see more of Cape May’s coastal views? Hop on a ferry to get a different perspective of this gorgeous town. Take a ride across the Delaware Bay for great views of North Cape May, as well as some of the wildlife that lives there. Some have even been able to spot turtles.
👉 Read Next: Best Areas and Towns to Stay in New Jersey
FAQs About Where to Stay in Cape May
What part of Cape May is the best?
The Beachfront is the best part of Cape May. There are great ocean views along Beach Avenue. Along with great restaurants, this area is popular for first-time and seasoned visitors alike.
Are Cape May Beaches Free?
Cape May beaches are not free during beach season, which runs from Memorial Day until Labor Day. From 10 am – 5 pm during beach season, you will need to purchase beach tags for any beach-goers that are 12 years old and over. After beach season is over, you can access the beach for free, but there will be no lifeguards on duty. As a result, certain activities like swimming may be restricted.
Why is Cape May Popular?
Cape May is a beautiful seaside resort town. It features great restaurants, fresh seafood, and beautiful Victorian architecture. Its relaxed pace and ocean views draw many visitors in every year.
Is Cape May a dry town?
Cape May is not a dry town, although other parts of Cape May County are such as Cape May Point, Wildwood Crest, and Ocean City.
Thanks for reading my guide to where to stay in Cape May! Check out these other great places to visit in New Jersey for more great destination ideas. Or read all my New Jersey travel guides.
Have fun deciding where to stay in Cape May!
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I also travel for the past 40 years. With tons of info on Hotels Restaurants Locations Attractions etc. So I loved your read on Cape May. Enjoy my Fav shore city. 🥂🥂🥂