When it comes to Cape May, New Jersey, families flock to this picturesque beach town to build family memories and lifelong traditions. And it’s no wonder why; a short drive on the Parkway lands you in a historic, oceanside community like no other. With dollhouse-like Victorian houses lining the quaint streets that lead up to the beautiful and accommodating bed and breakfasts along the waterfront, this family-friendly town’s aesthetic is enough to keep visitors coming back for more. Paired with diverse and interesting local businesses, highly rated restaurants for kids, and a wide range of year-round activities, Exit 0 has everything families need for a day trip, weekend away, or an extended vacation. Experience the “heart of Cape May” at the quaint, outdoor Washington Street Mall, take a step back in time on the Underground Railroad Trolley Tour or horse and carriage ride, connect with nature at Cape May Point State Park or Cape May County Zoo, and many more family-friendly activities in Cape May, New Jersey.
Here are Cape May, New Jersey’s Best Activities for Families:
For families looking for an outdoor alternative to the beach, Cape May Point State Park is a must-do. This protected natural area offers ample opportunities to connect with nature, encounter friendly wildlife, and experience stunning views while breathing in the saltwater air. Take out your binoculars and take a walk along the well-maintained boardwalks through the wetlands to catch glimpses of the area’s wildlife in their natural habitat, such as frogs, muskrats, birds, and if you’re lucky – otters! The trails continue through pleasantly wooded areas, and along the beach, and are kid-friendly and extremely easy to navigate. All three trails are clearly marked and are no longer than two miles each. The famous Cape May Lighthouse is located within this park; whether you take photos from the ground or choose to climb the 199 steps to the watch gallery, your family will be able to say they saw one of the country’s most familiar lighthouses. Cape May Point State Park’s location on the very tip of Cape May’s peninsula makes for breathtaking ocean views, and is known to be an ideal spot to spot dolphins out in the surf along the coast. The park also offers picnic tables and covers for all of your snacking and lunching needs. Consider skipping the beach one sunny day, and bring the whole family to Cape May Point State Park for a relaxed day of oceanside activity.
Cape May Point State Park
For more information, please visit state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/capemay.html
85 acres of wildlife exhibits make this South Jersey zoo a staple for animal lovers. No other zoo offers free, year-round access to over 550 animals spanning 250 species, right in our back yard. Your family will see all of their favorite animals, including cheetahs, red pandas, camels, snow leopards, lemurs, zebras, bears, and a variety of monkeys. Keep the trip engaging and exciting for your little ones by visiting the zoo website prior to your visit, and printing out age appropriate scavenger hunts that can be completed during your time at the park. Take your visit to new heights by participating in the zipline, ropes course, and rock climbing wall. The zoo is one of Cape May and New Jersey’s treasures, and is the perfect free day trip for families.
707 North Route 9, Cape May Court House, NJ 08204
For more information, please call (609) 465-5271 or visit cmczoo.com
Located at the Cape May Airport, the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum is a home run for families. This nonprofit museum is actually situated inside the airport’s historic Hangar #1 for maximum authenticity, and features endless exhibits, hands-on activities, and interactive displays for children and parents alike. Visitors will be able to explore aviation in the World War II era by climbing a real air traffic control tower, trying the realistic flight simulator, visiting the Coast Guard exhibit, and even sitting in the cockpit of a real aircraft. Dozens of vehicles are on display for little flight enthusiasts to oogle at, including Jet Aircraft, Airplanes, Helicopters, and even engines out on display. The “All Available Boats” exhibit focuses on the timely manner in which New York City-area vessels were called to action on the morning of September 11, 2001. “Science of Flight” delves into what makes our journey upwards possible. Educational camps and programs, as well as special events, are always happening at the Aviation Museum – Explorers Academy; Lecture Series; Runway 5k, 10, and Fun Walk; and the highly celebrated annual AIRFEST are just some ways to have fun at the Aviation Museum all year long.
Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum
Cape May Airport, 500 Forrestal Road, Rio Grande, NJ 08242
For more information, please call (609) 886-8787 or visit usnasw.org
This outdoor strip of businesses, restaurants, and activities is the epicenter of activity in Cape May. The town urges families to, “Shop, Dine, and Relax” together while browsing eclectic stores, stopping in for a bite to eat, taking part in a special event, or simply enjoying the picturesque town square during an evening stroll. It’s hard not to spend a few hours indulging your curiosity at quaint shops include Cape Atlantic Book Co., Cape May Art Gallery, Beach Bums, Bath Time, and much more. As for sweets, eats, and treats – Washington Street Mall has got you covered. Don’t leave town without visiting Fins for a seafood dinner, or visiting the much-loved pub The Ugly Mug for your favorite dishes. For dessert, stop by Louisa’s Chocolate Bar, Uncle Charley’s Ice Cream Shop, or Fralingers Salt Water Taffy, and grab a cup of joe Cafe Buongiomo or Love the Cook Cape May Roasters. There’s always something happening at Washington Street Mall, from live band-stand music and sidewalk sales to special seasonal community celebrations. Once the sun goes down, the square illuminates with twinkling lights, making for a dreamy setting for an evening out with the family.
Washington Street Mall
For more information, please visit heartofcapemay.com
Founded in 1992, the Nature Center of Cape May focuses on providing hands-on activities to promote environmental education for all ages. Throughout the year, nature lovers can find a full schedule of diverse programs and happenings, including Wetlands Wildlife Safari, Family Fishing Trips, Birding by Boat, Kayak Tours, Native Nature Sales, and Sea Life Safari. Aquatic Trails Kayak Nature Tours offers two-hour long guided eco-tours to see and learn about marine life and migratory birds that grace the area. Crabbing 101 is for the seafood enthusiast; learn from highly skilled crew members in this hands-on trip, and keep any of the legal-sized beautiful blue crabs that you catch! These programs, and so many more, are part of how the Nature Center of Cape May keeps future generations in touch with their natural surroundings.
Nature Center of Cape May
1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204
For more information, please call (609) 427-3045 or visit njaudubon.org/Centers/NCCM/
6. Art Block
Calling all makers and creatives! In a town dripping with vibrant colors, carefully decorated buildings, and extraordinary details everywhere you go, it shouldn’t be surprising that visitors start to feel a little crafty now and again. Art Block welcomes artists of every age at every level for a variety of creative endeavors. Activities include Canvas Painting, Sand Art Painting, Soap Making, Paint Your Own Pottery, Color Plaster Piece, Woodcraft, Mosaics, and even Make Your Own Stuffed Animal. Take part in a class or stop in on your own time to get the creative juices flowing in the heart of Cape May.
507 Washington Street, Suite #108, Cape May, NJ 08204
For more information, please call (609) 884-2000 or visit artblockofcapemay.com
You’ll feel like royalty while immersed in the history of Cape May during a fashionable horse and carriage tour. The clip-clop, clip-clop of Cape May Carriage Company’s furry friends will bring your family a sense of peace as you make your way through the historic streets while seeing your favorite houses and destinations from a different perspective. Tours are available daily during peak season from 10:00AM to 10:00PM, opening up the possibility to tour the streets at sunset, or before lunch at your favorite cafe. For a different kind of horse and carriage tour, call in advance to schedule a special Ghost Tour. Families looking for a spook can learn about Cape May’s notoriously haunted locations, and learn the history of the town’s ghostly friends.
Cape May Carriage Company
Pickup locations at Ocean Street and Washington Street Mall
For more information, please call (609) 884-4466 or visit capemaycarriage.com
A short drive west along Sunset Boulevard to Cape May Point is all it takes to find the World War II Lookout Tower. Children and adults alike enjoy ascending this easily climbable tower in order to experience history firsthand. Built in 1942, this tower is the last remaining World War II tower of its kind. Thanks to the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities, a new boarded walkway leads right to the tower, and the spiral staircase to the top is easy for children and adults to climb. Exhibits and information can be found on each floor on your way to the top, before setting your sights on the wonderful ocean view that the Fort Myers coastal defense soldiers experienced so many decades ago. Located at Sunset Beach, a visit to the World War II Lookout Tower can be paired with a visit to the beach, a scenic bike ride, or even a trip to the nearby Cape May Point State Park.
World War II Lookout Tower
Sunset Boulevard, Lower Township
For more information, please call (609) 884-5404 or visit capemaymac.org/world-war-ii-lookout-tower
9. Family Bike Rentals (Delivered to You!)
It’s time to celebrate! Your to-do list before leaving home no longer includes the arduous task of inflating tires, fumbling with the car’s bike rack, and worrying the whole drive down about whether or not you secured the zip ties tight enough. Geared Up Rentals makes it easy for families to enjoy the shore’s number one physical activity, with bicycle delivery and pickups. Biking through the easygoing streets of Cape May is a perfect way to see the colorful Victorian houses, discover new parts of the area you might not have gotten to see on foot, and partake in physical activity as a family. Additionally, Geared Up Rentals has more than just bicycles for adults and children; they also offer a full menu of reasonably priced rental items useful to any family looking to hit the beach: beach chairs, carts, wagons, beach tents, coolers, boogie boards, and our favorite – the toddler bike trailer – are all available to rent. What does this mean? Packing up the car before a trip is no longer going to be a game of Tetris.
Geared Up Rentals
For more information, please call 888-473-6964 or visit geareduprentals.com
The Center for Community Arts is more than an organization that fosters artistic growth, it aims to celebrate cultural diversity and community building. A large part of CCA’s mission is to use art to bring these values to children in Cape May and the surrounding areas. The Youth Arts Program features a range of art programs for children that take place throughout the year. CCA offers the free program “Art at the Library” with local artist Penelope Cake, for ages six to nine. Summer camps, Winter/Spring programs, and Creativity Lab for elementary school students can also be found throughout the year. For a historic experience with CCA, take the family on the Underground Railroad Trolley Tour, offered in June through October, to see the places where slaves sought refuge during their journeys to freedom, and learn about the role that Cape May played in the Underground Railroad.
Center for Community Arts
717 Franklin Street, Cape May, NJ 08204
For more information, please call (609) 884-7525 or visit centerforcommunityarts.org
Feast your eyes on the world’s largest mammals right here in Cape May County. A variety of different tour options are available in Cape May to fit your family’s needs and interests. Whether you’re looking for a Dolphin Tour, Whale Tour, Whale & Dolphin Tour, Lighthouse Cruise, or Sunset Dinner Cruise – you’ve come to the right place. Tours are typically two to three hours in length, and are a wonderful way to spend time as a family while setting sail on the open waters. The folks who operate these cruises are so confident in their services, that they always want their visitors to experience marine life – in fact, if for some reason our aquatic friends don’t surface during your visit, you’ll experience a free pass to come again when the whales are more active. For dolphin-loving families seeking more of a thrill, try the Thunder Cat Dolphin Watch to climb aboard a zippy speedboat to find flipper!
Cape May Whale Watcher
1218 Wilson Drive, Cape May, NJ 08204
For more information, please call (609) 884-5445 or visit capemaywhalewatcher.com