Is the beach is too hot? Does your vacation seem too long? You might not know it, but there are plenty of ways to Do The Shore aside from a trip to the beach. Step off the sizzling sand and try one of these local activities to change up your typical day at the shore!
Biking – There are plenty of places to rent bikes around Cape May County, so get out and explore the area! Designated bike paths and lanes throughout the county’s municipalities offer safe pedaling for touring or commuting. Check them out on our Bike Paths page!
Cape May County Park & Zoo – The zoo is a great place to spend a whole day! Besides having many exotic and native animals to see, the zoo offers a large playground, picnic area, gift shop, carousel and rock climbing wall. Additionally, the zoo often holds special events such as fun runs, festivals and more. The zoo now features Tree to Tree Adventure Park, an aerial adventure course featuring zip lines, nets, Tarzan swings and other fun obstacles for every age and ability. Located on Route 9, there is plenty of parking and admission is free! Donations are welcome. For more information, visit cmczoo.com or call (609) 465-5271.
Lighthouses – Take a trip to the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse at Central and First avenues in North Wildwood, go on a tour and explore the gardens and gift shop. Then, travel south and visit the Cape May Lighthouse at 215 Lighthouse Ave. in Cape May Point State Park. Climb to the top, learn about the lighthouse’s history along the way and admire the Cape May Peninsula from a whole new height. Each lighthouse is different in style and worth the trip.
Victorian Cape May – Explore this unique city on foot, bike, trolley or horse drawn carriage. Victorian architecture, antiques, restaurants and shopping is what you’ll find in Historic Cape May. The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) offers many programs for the whole family to discover Cape May, including tours, festivals, shows and more. Stop by the Ocean Street Trolley Stop on the corner or Washington and Ocean streets or the Emlen Physick Estate at 1048 Washington St. for a full list of activities to enjoy throughout your stay. For more information, visit capemaymac.org, or call (609) 884-5404 or (800) 275-4278.
Birding – With abundant wetlands, expansive undeveloped areas and a prominent location along migratory paths, Cape May County is home to the Cape May Bird Observatory and offers a unique vantage point for observing many bird species. Accordingly, Cape May County is a coveted destination for avid birders. Birding can make a fun and interesting outing for amateurs, too! For more information, visit birdcapemay.org or call (609) 884-2736.
The Wetlands Institute – Located in Stone Harbor, come discover why this is “The Natural Place to Have Fun!” Learn about coastal ecosystems during a fun and educational experience for the entire family. Kids can feed the terrapin turtles, explore the salt marsh trail, climb the observation tower and more – special activities are always happening. The Wetlands Institute is great for a rainy day, too! For more information, visit wetlandsinstitute.org or call (609) 368-1211.
Salt Marsh Safari – Explore the Cape May Coastal Wetlands Wildlife Management Area aboard the 40-foot Skimmer. The itinerary includes natural history, fish, crustaceans, shellfish, marina mammals, plant life, tide flows and bird life – ideal for both adults and kids. Hop on board and see why this eco-cruise is considered one of the best nature outings at the Jersey Shore. Each season holds spectacular natural wonders! For more information, visit skimmer.com or call (609) 884-3100.
Cape May Diamonds – Go “prospecting” for these Jersey gems at Sunset Beach or other beaches along the Delaware Bay. The “diamonds” are actually small, glistening pieces of clear quartz which can be culled, or “panned,” from the coarse sands of the Delaware Bay beaches. This is a great end-of-the-day activity – start hunting in the late afternoon sun, and then stick around for a beautiful sunset across the bay.
Miniature Golf – Mini golf is a classic seaside game the entire family can enjoy! There are numerous mini golf sites in Cape May County that vary in features and difficulty. Each one is unique in its own way, having its own theme that makes for an adventure at every hole. On the Wildwoods and Ocean City boardwalks, many of the courses have covered areas that make for great rainy day fun.
Parks & Playgrounds – Every town has a municipal park and/or playground. Amenities often include skate parks, tennis and basketball courts, nature trails, picnic areas and other family fun activities.
Library – Reading is a classic way to spend time on vacation, whether it’s on the beach or in your shore home making time pass on a rainy day. Cape May County’s libraries often feature special events such as guest speakers, performances, art classes, movies and other child-oriented activities, which are perfect when the skies aren’t clear. Cape May County Library has many branches throughout the county. For more information and locations, visit cmclibrary.org or call (609) 463-6350. Contact the Avalon Free Public Library at avalonfreelibrary.org or (609) 967-7155, and the Ocean City Free Public Library at oceancitylibrary.org or (609) 399-2434.
Amusement & Water Parks – Ocean City and the Wildwoods are both home to great amusement rides and water parks on their boardwalks. Additionally, Cape May, Sea Isle City and other towns have arcades and amusements for the entire family!
Boating & Fishing – There are numerous water-related activities in Cape May County to keep you busy! Fishing or crabbing may be the perfect way to spend your day on the bay. Many marinas also offer boat rentals or charter boats to take your adventures farther into the water. There are also many locations to rent jet-skis, stand up paddleboards and kayaks. You can even check out parasailing if you are feeling adventurous!
Farmers Markets – Our Garden State provides us with lots of fresh produce, and you can find plenty of it right here at the Jersey Shore! Cape May County is home to many farmers markets that offer locally grown fruits and veggies to add flavor to your vacation. Downtown Wildwood, Ocean City, Sea Isle City, Stone Harbor, Upper Township and West Cape May all have weekly farmers markets which offer everything from fruits and vegetables, to jams and jellies, to homemade jewelry and décor!
Cape May-Lewes Ferry – If you are looking to take a day trip while at the Jersey Shore, the Ferry offers a great way to explore both coasts of the Delaware Bay! Board the Ferry in North Cape May via foot, bike or car, then journey over to the towns of Lewes and Rehoboth. While crossing the bay, enjoy historic lighthouses, picturesque harbors, oceangoing vessels, unique seabirds and possible dolphin sightings! The welcoming, modern terminals are a destination in and of themselves, with enjoyable restaurants and lounges, and well-stocked gift shops. For more information, visit cmlf.com or call (800) 643-3779.
Theater – Take in a live show at the shore with East Lynne Theater Company, Cape May Stage or Elaine’s Dinner Theater. Each offers its own one-of-a-kind experience, all boasting spectacular theatrical productions that will keep you coming back all season long!
Historic Cold Spring Village – This early American open-air living history museum brings to life the day-to-day activities of villagers living in Southern New Jersey during the “age of homespun,” 1790 to 1840. Interactive, educational and hands-on family activities take place on the 30 acres of shaded lanes, gardens and farm. Visit 27 restored antique buildings housing historically-clothed interpreters who educate and entertain visitors about the lifestyles, issues, trades and crafts of yesteryear. Children can enjoy playing at the activity area where they can dress up in period clothing and try out games of the 18th century, as well as participate in hands-on crafts. Cold Spring Village is also home to Cold Spring Brewery, located within a restored 1804 three bay English-style barn from Upper Township. For more information, visit hcsv.org or call (609) 898-2300.
Naval Air Station Wildwood (NASW) Aviation Museum – NASW, located at the Cape May Airport inside historic Hangar #1, was commissioned on April 1, 1943 and served as an active dive-bomber squadron training facility during World War II. Today, it has been restored and transformed into an Aviation Museum that houses aircraft, engines, special exhibits and educational interactive displays. The museum also features a library, food vending area and gift shop, and regularly hosts activities including fly-ins, aviation festivals and various community events. Bring the whole family to explore aviation, military and WWII history! For more information, visit usnasw.org or call (609) 886-8787.
Cape May County Museum – Discover local history at the Cape May County Museum. Located in three historic buildings, the museum is a treasure trove of exhibits showcasing county life from Native American times through the 21st century. With guided tours, rotating exhibits, lectures and special events, the museum offers something for the whole family, including children. Additionally, each municipality has its own historical museum so you can dig even deeper into Cape May County’s rich past. For more information, visit cmcmuseum.org or call (609) 465-3535.
Nature Center of Cape May – The Nature Center of Cape May offers a full schedule of natural history activities and programs. The environmental education campus, located on the shores of Cape May Harbor near the Coast Guard Base, includes the Trucksess Welcome Center, a three-story observation tower, an indoor observation lounge, three classrooms, an exhibit aquaria, a small gift shop and multiple themed display gardens. The harbor and adjacent area provide natural classrooms that are close to a diversity of habitats. For more information, visit njaudubon.org or call (609) 898-8848.
Cape May Point State Park – The beach, dunes, freshwater wetlands, ponds and forested trails, located at the tip of the Cape May Peninsula, make Cape May Point State Park a wonderfully diverse natural area. The park offers great opportunities to see dolphins and other ocean life, bird migration and monarch butterfly migration. There are beautiful ponds and dunes, a beach and wonderful views of the ocean. Within the park sits the Cape May Lighthouse, which you can climb to admire the Cape May Peninsula from a whole new height. For more information, call (609) 884-2159.
Wineries, Breweries & Distilleries – With six wineries, eight breweries and three distilleries in Cape May County, and new ones constantly popping up, it’s easy to spend an entire day traveling this kegs, corks and spirits trail. Tour the facilities, taste to find your favorite flavor, and kick back and relax with a glass in hand.
Movies – When you just can’t wait to see that new release, plan for a trip to Harbor Square Theatre in Stone Harbor or Frank Theatres in Rio Grande. Additionally, many municipalities host outdoor movie nights on the beach and in other locations, usually playing classic family movies.
Beyond the County Line
Historic Smithville & the Village Greene – At Historic Smithville & the Village Greene, you can dine at 10 different eateries, shop at 40 unique shops and boutiques, or simply stroll the cobblestone paths and enjoy the beautifully manicured grounds. There is a special event or activity happening almost every week of the year! For more information, visit historicsmithvillenj.com or call (609) 652-7777.
Lucy the Elephant – Located in Margate, Lucy is the oldest remaining example of zoomorphic architecture left in the U.S. Celebrating her 137th birthday this year, she has been painstakingly restored into the beautiful structure displayed today. Walk through Lucy and learn about her unique architecture and history from a tour guide. Once you climb the spiral staircase all the way up to the howdah on her back, take in the spectacular 360-degree view of the surrounding shore area. For more information, visit lucytheelephant.org or call (609) 823-6473.
Atlantic City – Even if you aren’t a “card shark,” Atlantic City is entertaining for everyone! Explore Tanger Outlets – The Walk for great shopping, featuring over 50 stores for the entire family. Attend a show at one of the many casinos, or enjoy exquisite food at an upscale restaurant or buffet. For those 21 and older, Atlantic City’s nightclubs keep the party going all night long.
WheatonArts & Cultural Center – Located in Millville, at WheatonArts you can watch world-class glass art be created in the Glass Studio, tour the Museum of American Glass and walk through the Craft Studios to see artists hard at work. Take a walk around the grounds and view the beautiful sites around the pond, or even take a short train ride! Don’t forget to stop by the museum stores to browse through the finest selection of handcrafted gift items. A variety of special events, exhibitions and educational programs are offered throughout the year. For more information, visit wheatonarts.org or call (856) 825-6800.