If the beach is too hot or your vacation seems too long, here are some suggestions for fun with friends and family…
Biking – There are plenty of places to rent all sort of bikes around Cape May County…some bikes, called surreys, will even hold a whole family! Get out and explore the town, its good exercise and is a great option to tire children out.
Cape May County Park and Zoo – A great place to spend a whole day! Besides the excellent zoo offering many exotic and native animals to view, there is a large playground, picnic area, gift shop, carousel and rock climbing wall. Occasionally the county schedules special events such as fun runs and festivals. Located on Route 9, there is plenty of parking and admission is free although donations are welcome. (609) 465-5271, or go to www.cmczoo.com
Lighthouses – Take a trip to the Hereford Lighthouse at Central and First Avenues and explore the gardens and gift shops. After, travel south and compare it to the lighthouse in Cape May at 605 Pearl Avenue, Cape May Point; climb to the top 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 are not to be missed. Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) offers many programs for the whole family. Stop by the Ocean Street Trolley Stop on the corner or Washington Street and Ocean Street or the Emlen Physick Estate at 1048 Washington Street for a full list of activities to enjoy throughout your stay. For more information log on to www.capemaymac.org
Birding – With abundant wetlands, expansive undeveloped areas and a prominent location along migratory paths, Cape May County 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 call (609) 884-2736 or visit www.birdcapemay.org
The Wetlands Institute – Located in Stone Harbor, discover why this is “The Natural Place to Have Fun!” Learn about coastal Ecosystems in a fun and educational experience for families. Kids can feed the terrapin turtles, explore the salt marsh trail and climb the observation tower. Special activities are always going on. Great for a rainy day, too! (609) 368-1211 or go to www.wetlandsinstitute.org
Salt Marsh Safari -Explore the Cape May Coastal Wetlands Wildlife Management Area aboard the 40’ Skimmer. Tours explore the coastal salt march. Itinerary includes natural history, fish, crustaceans, shellfish, marina mammals, plant life, tide flows and bird life – Ideal for adults and kids. Each season holds spectacular natural wonders. In spring and fall reservations are recommended. (609) 884-3100 or visit www.skimmer.com
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. 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 – There are numerous local sites to choose from that vary in features and difficulty. Take the challenge to visit five different ones and vote on your favorite. On the Boardwalk in Wildwood and Ocean City, there are great courses that are mostly covered. Good for a rainy or hot day.
Parks and Playgrounds – Every town has a municipal park and/or playground. Amenities often include skateboard parks, tennis and basketball courts, nature trails or other family fun activities.
Library – Reading is a classic way to spend time on vacation. The libraries of Cape May County often feature special events such as guest speakers, art classes, movies and other child-oriented activities. Perfect for when the skies are not clear. CMC Main Library (609) 463-6350
Amusement & Water Parks – Ocean City and Wildwood are both home to great waterparks and rides on their boardwalks. Additionally, Cape May, Sea Isle City and other towns have arcades and amusements, great for the entire family!
Boating and Fishing – There are many 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 adventure off shore. Kids are always welcome! There are also many locations to rent jet-skis, Stand up Paddle (SUP) Boards and Kayaks. You can even check out parasailing if you are feeling adventurous.
Cape May-Lewes Ferry – If you are looking for a day trip, the ferry offers a great way to explore both coasts of the Delaware Bay! You can walk, bike, or drive on and then explore the towns of Lewes and Rehoboth. Trolleys are also available to different locations; check out the ferry website to get a full list! www.capemaylewesferry.com or call (609) 889-7200.
Historic Cold Spring Village – An Early American open-air living history museum bring 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 22 acres of shaded lanes, gardens and farm. Visit 26 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. The Village is located just North of Cape May and hosts many themed weekends. Call (609) 898-2300 for more information or visit www.hcsv.org
Naval Air Station (NAS) Wildwood – NAS Wildwood was commissioned on April 1, 1943. The site served as an active dive-bomber squadrom training facility from 1943 to 1945. The 92,000 square foot wooden structure is renovated and listed on the New Jersey and National Registrerts of Historic Places at the National Significance Level. The museum boasts over 26 aircraft displays as well as exhibits of military memorabilia, engines, photographs and more, including interactive exhibits which explore the science of flight. The museum features a library, food vending area and gift shop. NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum regularly hosts activities including fly-ins, aviation festivals and various community events. For more information call (609) 886-8787 or visit www.usnasw.org
Cape May County Museum – Located on Route 9 in Cape May Court House this museum is often overlooked. There are several buildings to explore and a guide is on hand. For more information call (609) 465-3535 or log on to www.cmcmuseum.org
Leaming’s Run Gardens and Colonial Farm invites visitors to relax and enjoy lush garden. It’s an outdoor classroom for children and their families to learn about plants and wildlife. It’s also a historic site that offers glimpses into a long, rich history with colonial origins. There’s something here for everyone: bridges, ponds and nooks are just a part of the many individually designed and expertly crafted gardens that comprise the largest annual gardens in the USA. There are 25 themed gardens, a fernery, and a shady bamboo grove. For more information call (609) 465-5871 or go to www.leamingsrungardens.com
Nature Center of Cape May focuses on “hands-on” activities. 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, indoor observation lounge, three classrooms, 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. Call (609) 898-8848 or go to www.njaudubon.com
Cape May Point State Park – The beach, dunes, freshwater wetlands and ponds and forested trails, located at the tip of the peninsula, make the Cape May Point State Park a wonderfully diverse natural area. Situated with the Cape May Lighthouse, 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. For more information call (609) 884-2159 or go to www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/capemay.html
Beyond the county line…
Historic Smithville and Village Greene – A wonderful place to shop and stroll. Enjoy the views, bakeries, restaurants and shops. There is a special event or activity almost every week of the year. For more information call (609) 748-6160 or visit www.smithvillenj.com
Lucy the Elephant – The oldest remaining example of zoomorphic architecture left in the United States. Over 126 years old, she has been painstakingly restored into the beautiful structure displayed today. A very unique trip, Lucy offers many activities for children. Call (609) 823-6473 or log on to www.lucytheelephant.org
Atlantic City – Even if you are not a “card shark” (minors are not allowed on gaming floors), Atlantic City is entertaining for everyone! Explore Tanger Outlets, “The Walk” for great shopping, and offering well over 50 stores for the entire family! Take in a show at one of the many casinos or enjoy exquisite food at an upscale restaurant or buffet!
Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center – Located in Millville, NJ, you can watch world class glass art 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 General Store to stock up on delicious candies and sweets!