Photo courtesy of The Skimmer, taken during a recent Salt Marsh Safari
School may be out, but who says the learning has to stop? When you’re stuck inside on a non-beach day, consider getting out by embracing nature in a fun and educational way. Cape May County is the perfect natural environment for exploring the wetlands, salt marshes, native creatures and more. Read on to see where both kids and adults can discover nature in Cape May County and pass the time on a gray day.
Cape May Bird Observatory
701 E. Lake Dr., Cape May
(609) 884-2736, www.birdcapemay.org
Founded in 1976 by New Jersey Audubon, the Cape May Bird Observatory is a leader in research, environmental education, bird conservation and recreational birding activities. 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 for both avid birders and amateurs alike. The Bird Observatory offers a great array of walks, boat trips, workshops, special events and more.
The Wetlands Institute
1075 Stone Harbor Blvd., Stone Harbor
(609) 368-1211, www.wetlandsinstitute.org
Located in Stone Harbor, the Wetlands Institute’s mission is to help people see the value in our wetlands and coastal ecosystems by educating them on how those systems work and why the health of them is so tightly intertwined with ours. Through the Wetlands’ classes, lectures and programs, kids can feed the terrapin turtles, explore the salt marsh trail, climb the observation tower and more, inspiring them to care about the environment.
Salt Marsh Safari Aboard the Skimmer
(609) 884-3100, www.skimmer.com
Explore the Cape May Coastal Wetlands Wildlife Management Area aboard the 40-foot Skimmer boat. Get an up-close look at salt marsh ecology and learn about natural history, fish, crustaceans, shellfish, marina mammals, plant life, tide flows and bird life. You won’t want to miss the spectacular natural wonders and exotic wildlife. The Skimmer sails seven days week from either Cape May or Stone Harbor, so be sure to check the schedule online.
Nature Center of Cape May
1600 Delaware Ave., Cape May
(609) 898-8848, www.njaudubon.org
The Nature Center of Cape May was founded in 1992 with the twin goals of inspiring people to care for the open space surrounding the Cape May Harbor and providing environmental education for those of all ages. The Nature Center offers a full schedule of hands-on natural history activities and programs which promote both of these goals. The environmental education campus, located on the shores of the 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.
Cape May County Park & Zoo
707 Rt. 9 N., Cape May Court House
(609) 465-5271, www.cmczoo.com
Lush county gardens, a leisurely atmosphere and an extensive natural environment is what you’ll find at the Cape May County Park & Zoo among over 550 critters, representing over 250 species. Several exhibits provide families with memorable wildlife encounters, including the World of Birds Aviary, the Reptile & Amphibian House, the African Savanna, the Big Cat Exhibit and more, plus ponds and fountains with beautiful swans and other waterfowl. Get up close and personal with nature at the Tree to Tree Adventure Park, an aerial adventure course featuring zip lines, nets, Tarzan swings and other fun obstacles through the zoo’s naturally wooded areas.