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Your guide to Cape May
Welcome to Cape May
It’s easy to see why the entire city of Cape May is a National Historic Landmark. Stepping into the resort town, most of which was rebuilt following a 1878 fire, is like rewinding back to Victorian times, with hundreds of homes built in the charming architectural style — the second highest concentration after San Francisco. Along with its vibrant cultural offerings — which include the historic Carroll Gallery and the Exit Zero Jazz Festival — the region is also widely known for its beaches and other natural wonders. This is a popular spot for fishing (it’s home to the East Coast’s second-largest fishing port) and birding (more than 400 species have been recorded here).
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Cape May?
Like the rest of the Jersey Shore, Cape May’s liveliest season kicks off on Memorial Day with a Memorial Day Ceremony. The pleasant weather is accompanied by plenty of outdoor activities, such as the Independence Day Parade, Baby Parade (open to those ages 12 and younger), the MidAtlantic big game fishing tournament, and Rotary Park Concerts throughout the season. Cape May is known as one of the world’s best spots for birding in the autumn, with a fall festival dedicated to the peak migration. Though the temperatures drop as it nears December, the cozy Christmas spirit comes to life, with the decorated Victorian homes looking straight out of a storybook; Christmas Candlelight House Tours have been running here since 1973. The first few months of the year are the chilliest, but also mark a quiet time to take in the Cape.
What are the top things to do in Cape May?
Victorian Homes and Emlen Physick Estate
Strolling through the seaside town is like stepping back in time thanks to more than 600 preserved and restored Victorian buildings. For a deeper dive into the architecture, stop by the 18-room Emlen Physick Estate, the city’s Victorian House Museum.
Cape May Lighthouse
The 199-step climb to the top of the tower, built in 1859, reveals views of Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, while the Oil House on the ground level features displays of maritime artifacts. Buy a combination ticket to also visit the World War II Lookout Tower down the road. For those who enjoy getting spooked, the Ghosts of the Lighthouse Trolley Tour brings to light all the paranormal activities in the area.
Nature Center of Cape May
Run by the New Jersey Audubon Society, this nature preserve offers year-round programming, as well as a walking trail, kayaking, and paddle boarding. There’s a three-story observation tower for a bird’s-eye view. The society also runs the Cape May Bird Observatory at Cape May Point, which hosts the World Series of Birding each May.