-- New Jersey Day Trips - Cape May
Located at the southern end of the Garden State Parkway, a trip to Cape May can require up to 4-hour drive from New York City and North Jersey, perhaps 2 hours from Philadelphia metro in traffic during summer.
Founded as a whaling port during New Jersey's colonial settlement, Cape May emerged as the nation's first beachfront resort in 1830s. Its summer residents included families of wealthy Philadelphians as well as Southern plantation owners seeking cooler climates and ocean breezes. After the Civil War, as the railroad connected Absecon Island to Philadelphia, it lost its position as the state's leading resort to Atlantic City. A series of fires also devastated much of Cape May. In September 1856, the newly-built Mount Vernon Hotel,, at the time believed to be the largest resort hotel in the world with some 400 rooms and a capacity of lodging some 2,100 guests, was gutted, with the owner and his family among the six who were killed. In 1878, leading beachfront hotels, along with rooming houses, stores and private homes were destroyed in a fire that continued for 11 hours and spread over 40 acres. The town's 600 Victorian era houses and hotels comprise one of the largest existing collections of late 19th Century frame buildings in the country, and it is a designated National Historic Landmark.
* Cape May on Fire, CapeMay.com.
Over the years and its periods of reconstruction, Cape May has sought to maintain its comparatively sedate ambience, avoiding the amusements featured at other shore resorts. It has been cited as One of 25 Greatest Beach Towns in America by Thrillist and One of Happiest Seaside Towns In America by Travel + Leisure.
* Emlen Physick Estate
Victorian home with 15 restored rooms originally home of Emlyn Physick and family, Physick lived in home from 1879 until his death in 1916, descended from wealthy Philadelphia family which included Dr. Philip Syng Physick, considered father of American surgery and inventor of surgical procedures and medical instruments, some of which still in use today; both guided ($15 adults; $8 children 3-12) and self-guided tours available
* Cape May Lighthouse
Built in 1859, visitors can climb 199 steps to the top for views of the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay. The original Oil Storage Building is accessible and houses a Museum Shop and accessible displays. Open daily from April through November and weekends in the shoulder seasons. Evening trolley tours and Full Moon Climbs offered during the summer season. The Cape May Lighthouse has been restored and is managed by the non-profit Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities. While located at Cape May Point State Park,, it is not affiliated with State Park system. The State Park is open sunrise to sunset and offers the Hawk Watch platform and nature trails; the beach is free but swimming is not allowed.
* Birding & Wildlife
Cape May and it surroundings are one on the nation's most popular sites for birding. It is a crossroads of the annual Atlantic Coast bird migratory path, with the “World Series of Birding” held each May since 1984 attracting teams of birders from other states and nations competing to identify most species over 24-hour period. The sponsor of the World Series, the New Jersey Audubon Society, also operates the Cape May Bird Observatory, which offers guided walks, field trips, classes and other events. for both beginning and advanced birders.
The Bayshore Center at Bivalve is the site of the restored 1904 oyster schooner A.J. Merwald and maritime center and the Delaware Bay Museum & Folklife Center with exhibits focusing on the peak of the oyster industry in the 1920s.
Cape May Whale Watcher is largest operator of sea cruises for whale and dolphin watching, operates fleet of boats with largest 110 feet in length, cabin seating for 100, and capacity of 405 passengers.
Jersey Shore Alpacas is a small farm located in Green Creek, a small town near Cape May, open to public August-December without reservation on Saturdays from 10 to 4; also private tours by advance appointment)
* Mainstay Inn (built 1872 as gentleman's gambling club, now B&B with total 12 rooms, 6 in main house, another 6 in adjacent cottage, Certificate Of Excellence, TripAdvisor.com,
* John Wesley Inn (6-room B&B, 5 of 5 stars, Certificate of Excellence, TripAdviser.com)
* Peter Shields Inn & Restaurant (1907 Georgian Revival mansion, B&B boutique inn, is located on Cape May’s Beach Avenue, steps from the beach.
* Wilbraham Mansion (26-room B&B on 3 floors, indoor pool 'exceptional' rating, Hotels.com)
* Carroll Villa Hotel (19-room hotel first built 1882 in town center, includes The Mad Batter Restaurant & Bar)
* The Mad Batter Restaurant & Bar (breakfast, lunch and dinner,, served in sky-lit dining room or front porch or garden, live music, one of Best Brunch Spots in New Jersey, BestofNew Jersey.com)
* Washington Inn (liquor license, dinner menu available in both bar and dining room, dinner entrees $32-$45, open weekends October thru December, closed January, March)
* Peter Shields Inn & Restaurant (5 dining rooms or overlooking sea on front porch, selection of wines from Cape May Winery & Vineyard in addition to being BYO venue, most dinner entrees $30 to $40; 4.5 of 5 stars, TripAdvisor.com)
* Union Park Dining Room (dinner Thursday thru Sunday, dinner entrees $29-$45, $39 prix fixe, 4.5 of 5 stars, Certificate of Excellence, TripAdvisor.com)
* Tisha's Fine Dining (lunch and dinner, dinner entrees $28-$36, 4.5 of 5 stars, Certificate of Excellence, TripAdvisor.com)
Shopping in Cape May is centered on the outdoor Washington Street Mall, extending for three blocks with convenient metered parking behind the line of shops connected by a landscaped walkway.
* Cape May Peanut Butter Co. (9 flavors of gourmet peanut butter including Honey Roast, Butter Scotch, Capu Cino, Choc Choc, Natural, Almond, Sunflower, Cashew, and Organic; over 40 flavors of jam including carrot cake, habanero, oatmeal stout, India pale ale as well as grape and strawberry; also sandwiches and dog treats);
* Cape May Olive Oil Company (gourmet olive oils and balsamic vinegars; spices, dips mustards);
* Gallery D'May (fine art representing local, regional, and international artists, also separate Home Gallery location with home crafts and original glass, sculpture, and fine objects);
-- Restaurants -- Hotels -- Theaters
-- Stadiums/Arenas/Teams -- Historic Homes
-- Battlefields/Military -- Lighthouses
-- Art Museums -- History Museums