There is something about stopping at exit 0 that is unlike anything else. As you step out into the salty air, you gaze out over the endless ocean and do a 180 to take in the awe-inspiring and graceful architectural charm of another time. Its appeal is not limited by the vacations that end our Jersey summers; and this finalist for Jersey’s best 2022 destination of the year hopes to stop at the finish line, ahead of his worthy competition.
A very polite and worthy member of the Jersey Shore family, Cape May has more of a spirit than an atmosphere. He is calm, elegant, casually confident in his grandeur – like the cousin who creeps into the room unexpectedly but nonetheless attracts all eyes and attention.
Cape May is distinguished, and these are just a few of its distinguishing features.
Cape May’s two miles wide and beautiful beach greet your feet with silky sand, inviting you to spend the day sunbathing, swimming and enjoying the ocean views. Water sports, like surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking and more, will keep you afloat; but you can also take to the skies with a parasailing adventure.
Stretching almost as long as the beach is the boardwalk, a paved trail perfect for a morning jog, evening stroll, or strolling any time of the day. In fact, walking is one of the best ways to get around Cape May. The town is small enough to walk around, but there are two rival options for enjoying all the scenic sights and delights: bikes and carts.
There are plenty of bike rental shops for adult and child cyclists alone or in tandem, as well as four-seater surreys to make pedaling a fun and whimsical affair with friends and family. A biker bonus? Cape May flat land.
Tram tours combine whimsy and history, offering guided getaways that showcase the city’s main attraction: nearly 600 preserved Victorian buildings, each with a fascinating (and sometimes haunting) past. The entire city of Cape May is a National Historic District, and there is a distinct sense of stepping back in time everywhere you look. Cart tours run year round – and ghost tours aren’t just for Halloween. Do you dream of a Dickensian Christmas? Ms. Claus herself can make a cute tram through town, and there’s nothing quite like a night tour to see all the holiday lights adorning every avenue.
Cape May’s Victorian architecture lines streets everywhere, a life-size gallery of pointy turrets, gingerbread trim, inviting porches, and rainbows of color; the city is just behind San Francisco for its wealth of Victorian homes. Visitors can enter to visit the historic Domaine Emlen Physick, Cape May’s only Victorian Home Museum, for an intimate glimpse into 18th-century furniture, fashion and lifestyle.
Immersed in Victorian charm, Cape May Bed and Breakfast Inns offer private accommodation and warm hospitality. A stay in one of the more than 20 guest rooms is a popular and romantic preference for those who appreciate the personal touch of an innkeeper, afternoon tea or cocktails on the porch and a breakfast. Freshly prepared gourmet lunch to start each day.
Lest you think that’s all Victoriana in Cape May, there are over 40 hotels to choose from – from luxurious to laid back and family-friendly – many along the waterfront with ocean views, pools , lively bars, entertainment and excellent restaurants.
Now that we’ve mentioned the restaurants, note that the dining scene in Cape May is divine, ranging, of course, from casual dining to fine dining. And if you like seafood, nothing fresher than here, the largest commercial fishing port in New Jersey and one of the largest on the entire east coast.
Cape May has a long and lasting history as our country’s oldest seaside resort. It has been built, rebuilt and restored several times since the 1700s, surviving devastating fires and a destructive northeast. And now he’s survived a pandemic.
âWhen we hear that Cape May is recognized as a ‘best of’ it makes us proud because we all work so hard; and we do it for a reason, âsaid Director of Tourism Diane Weiland. âWe love Cape May and we want everyone to love it too. It’s great to be recognized, especially now, in this time when everything old is new again since the pandemic. “
Yet there is always something new and remarkable to add to Cape May’s appeal – past, present and future.
In 2020, the rail bike with Revolutionary Railway Company open, offering a unique excursion that allows cyclists to cycle along the train tracks and enjoy the beauty of the Garret Family Reserve, with opportunities to observe annual migrations of birds and butterflies along the way.
With the most appropriate timing, the Harriet Tubman Museum open June 17, 2021. Telling the story of one of Cape May’s bravest residents, the museum is a tribute to Tubman and abolitionist activism; the Underground Railroad; and the central role Cape May played in leading runaway slaves to freedom.
Franklin Street School, one of the last separate schools in New Jersey to close in 1948, will soon be renovated and transformed into a library, gathering place and reception base for Community Arts Center.
Even though there are only a few “new” things to Cape May, there is no denying all of its wonders that never get old. The majestic presence of congress hall, once known as “The Summer White House” never loses its age-old appeal. The search for “diamonds” on The sun setting on the beach, where the sun makes its spectacular start and the evening flag ceremony honors fallen heroes, will always attract new friends. And the majestic Cape May Lighthouse, with breathtaking views awaiting all who climb its 199 steps to the top, will endlessly shine with its light to guide ships at sea.
Cape May is the enchantress of the Jersey Shore. Will it captivate our editors to become Jersey’s # 1 Best Destination of the Year in 2022?