25 Best Things to Do in Cape May, NJ (Beyond the Beach)

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There are so many fun things to do in Cape May NJ beyond the beach! This slice of paradise offers historic sites, endless outdoor activity options, plus great dining and shopping opportunities, too.

Whether you come to Cape May year after year or it’s your first visit, there is likely something on this list you’ll love to do.

Take advantage of Cape May’s ideal position, offering both the Atlantic coastline and beaches plus a serene wetland environment.

Enjoy the beautiful Victorian architecture and fascinating historical stories from the likes of the inimitable Harriet Tubman; Cape May has plenty of stories to tell.

And from delectable local seafood to toasted marshmallow-flavored peanut butter (trust us, you don’t want to skip that one), the food scene in Cape May is impressive for its small size.

Enjoy more of the Jersey Shore with our recommended things to do in Ocean City, Asbury Park, or Sea Isle City.

Or you might like our guide to Lewes Delaware if you’re taking the ferry from Cape May.

Fun Things to Do in Cape May, New Jersey

To enjoy all of these Cape May activities and attractions, we include all of Cape May itself, plus West Cape May, Cape May Point, and all of Lower Township.

Our guide starts in Downtown Cape May, then goes up toward the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge before doubling back to the southern tip of Cape May Point and then north into Lower Township.

Even going to every single spot on this list, it’s just over an hour of driving — so it’s all fairly close and accessible!

Cape May also features in our favorite NJ fall getaways, so don’t write this destination off after Labor Day!

Washington Street Mall

The Washington Street Mall (401 Washington Street) is a pedestrian walking experience right in downtown Cape May.

While there are many beloved stores and restaurants on the mall, the experience of walking and browsing the different options alone makes this one of the most cherished places to go in Cape May.

Take your time strolling the pedestrian walkways with stunning views of the beach and some of the most popular shopping and dining options.

Colorful Wish You Were Here sign in Cape May, New Jersey

Tisha’s

Tisha’s Fine Dining (322 Washington Street) is another beloved Cape May Restaurant along the Washington Street Mall, offering an assortment of Italian seafood along with a rotating series of chef specials.

The location on Washington Street Mall allows for a lovely pedestrian walkway experience, including both balcony and outdoor seating with beautiful views of the town and the beach.

If you do get a reservation, make sure to try the Scallop Risotto or the Pesto Shrimp and Gnocchi.

Cape May Stage

The Cape May Stage (405 Lafayette Street) is a renowned professional performance stage that hosts musicals and plays.

The only active theater of its kind on the Jersey Shore, the Cape May Stage is a unique Cape May attraction that draws large crowds for its various productions.

See a play or musical, attend a movie screening, or witness creativity at work with live play readings.

Cape May Peanut Butter Co.

For peanut butter lovers, prepare to stay all day at the Cape May Peanut Butter Company (516 Carpenters Lane).

The company originally began with the owner grinding peanuts in the storefront, but due to the incredible popularity of this destination, they eventually upgraded to a large production facility by the Cape May County Airport.

All peanut butter is still made from scratch and includes some unique beloved flavors including Honey Roast, Butterscotch, Maple Bacon, and Chocolate Chipotle.

Cape May City Library

The Cape May City Library (110 Ocean Street) is a quiet, peaceful space that is perfect for anyone hoping to get out of the sun for a while.

There are many amenities at the library, including a large collection of books as well as magazines and computers with free wifi.

Stop for a peaceful hour of reading, or find the perfect beach read you can take with you for the rest of the week.

The Colonial House

Get a tactile sense of life in the 1700s at the oldest preserved space in Cape May County.

The Colonial House (653 ½ Washington Street) is a historic property dating back hundreds of years, currently preserved as a museum through the Greater Cape May Historical Society.

Originally a tavern and home to Revolutionary War veteran Memucan Hughes, The Colonial House is now free to the public as a museum.

Long evening shadows on the beach at Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May Fireman’s Museum

The Cape May Fireman’s Museum (Washington St & Franklin St) is an excellent opportunity to learn more about a unique element of Cape May’s history.

Learn about the history of Cape May through the perspective of the men and women that put their lives on the line dating back to the 1800s.

Any young parent going to a fireman’s museum should be prepared to spend most of their day at the fire truck, and this museum certainly does not disappoint: an antique 1928 American LaFrance fire engine used by the fire department throughout the 1930s which is currently housed inside of the museum.

The Harriet Tubman Museum

The Harriet Tubman Museum (632 Lafayette Street) is a relatively new addition to Cape May, sharing one of Cape May’s proudest historical achievements.

It may come as a surprise to some, but Harriet Tubman actually lived in Cape May in the 1850s.

While traveling from the southern states to the north, developing what became known as the Underground Railroad, Cape May was a welcome space for Tubman and other members of the abolitionist movement to stay for the summer.

The museum is located on a block that served as the central point of abolitionist activity, where activists such as Tubman and Stephen Smith lived and collected for important meetings.

Get a guided tour of the museum and learn about a rich, often unknown, and incredibly special piece of Cape May history.

Washington Inn

For a historic fine dining experience, try the Washington Inn (801 Washington Street).

This historic inn and restaurant were first built in 1846, with the architecture of both the interior and exterior modeled after George Washington’s famous home, Mount Vernon.

Savor one of the Inn’s classic dishes, including crab cakes, roasted branzino, or lamb cavatelli.

Schedule your reservation well ahead of time, as it is one of the most sought-after dining experiences in South Jersey.

Emlen Physick Estate

Originally built in 1879, the Emlen Physick Estate is now a historical museum that serves as an ode to Victorian architecture as well as the Physick family.

This 18-room estate was built during the Victorian era and has been preserved in its entirety.

Guests can join a guided tour to learn more about the Physick family that lived in this home for generations, as well as the history of its construction under the management of famed architect Frank Furness.

This estate also features in our fall guide to NJ.

Underground Railroad Trolley Tour

If you can’t make it to the Harriet Tubman Museum (above), try to at least take the Underground Railroad Trolley Tour.

Cape May served an important role during the development and operation of the Underground Railroad, acting as the base of operations during the summer months for many noted abolitionists including Harriet Tubman and Stephen Smith.

Learn all about the storied history of Cape May during this period on the Underground Railroad Trolley Tour (1048 Washington Street).

A tour guide will escort you around town in a vintage Cape May trolley, stopping at all of the famous locations around the town that served important roles during the abolitionist period.

Nature Center of Cape May

The Cape May Nature Center (1600 Delaware Avenue) is a state-preserved natural space that also functions as a museum and educational center.

This is one of the loveliest places to visit in Cape May to step away from the sandy beach and enjoy the serenity of greenery.

Stroll the gardens, climb an observation tower to witness unique wildlife, or attend a class where you can learn about nature in and around Cape May.

Boat with Cape May written on it in New Jersey

Cape May Whale Watch

There are several options for a whale watch excursion — which is certainly one of the most popular Cape May attractions.

The Cape May Whale Watch and Research Center (1231 Route 109 South Jersey Marina) provides an exciting and unique Cape May sightseeing experience.

Board the American Star, a 100-foot supership that will take you out into the open ocean.

The certified captains and onboard marine biologists will be your guides for a wonderfully unique journey spotting whales, dolphins, stingrays, seals and other marine wildlife and learning more about these incredible creatures.

Or book a whale and dolphin watching tour on Viator or GetYourGuide with one of the largest operators in the area.

Humpback whale coming out of the water

Rent a Kayak or Paddleboard

Get out onto the water under your own power with a kayak or paddleboard rental.

Enjoy the quiet, slow motion of paddling along the shoreline, looking for local wildlife and birdlife.

Keep an eye out for osprey as you go!

Book your kayak rental or your paddleboard rental in advance and enjoy a 2-hour paddling session to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the Cape May area.

Salt Marsh Safari

While there are many great cruise experiences at Cape May and around South Jersey, experiencing the unique salt marsh experience through the back bays of Cape May is certainly up at the top of that list!

Sit back and soak in the sights and sounds of the salt marshes, which are home to hundreds of species of birds, fish, and other wildlife unique to marshlands.

Book a sunset safari to enjoy the serenity of this intriguing landscape.

View of wetlands at South Cape May Meadows, in Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May Cycle Cruises

For a fun Cape May activity, check out Cape May Cycle Cruises (954 Ocean Drive).

Whether it is a bachelorette party, a birthday bash, or just a large family going out for a sightseeing adventure, a cycle cruise is a great chance for lively entertainment.

Guests will sit at a set of pedals around a bar, which is BYOB and can also house whatever snacks you may want to bring.

Cycle as a team while you savor the drinks and food as well as the stunning views of the bay.

Book your cycle cruise and get ready for some laughs and good times!

Atlantic Parasail

Atlantic Parasail (1001 Ocean Dr Dock 1, Wildwood Crest, NJ) is the home for a thrilling 350-foot-high adventure when at Cape May.

Located right across the bridge from Cape May, the experience includes a 1.5-hour boat ride along the Cape May coastline, with each participant taking turns 350 feet above the water.

Single riders will spend eight minutes in the air, while tandem or triple fliers will be in the air for twelve minutes.

Take in the captivating views and sensations of flying through clouds and looking down at a stunning view of Cape May and the Atlantic Ocean.

Two people parasailing over open water

Cape May Lighthouse

The Cape May Lighthouse (215 Light House Avenue) is an iconic piece of the Cape May skyline and is certainly a Cape May must-see.

Originally built in 1859, this lighthouse has served many important roles.

In addition to guiding fishermen back to shore, this lighthouse was an important part of naval efforts in World War II.

The lighthouse is still in operation today thanks in part to the Cape May Museum, Arts, and Culture Organization.

It is one of the more popular destinations in Cape May, as the location is home to many nature trails and historical markers that tell the rich history of the Cape May Lighthouse.

Want to see even more lighthouses in the South Jersey area?

Book this Grand Lighthouse Tour to see multiple as you cruise along the coastline.

The Cape May Lighthouse from 1859 stands at the southernmost tip of New Jersey in the charming little resort of Cape May Point

Cape May Bird Observatory

The Cape May Bird Observatory (701 E Lake Drive) is a beautiful fifty-acre nature sanctuary home to hundreds of unique species of birds and other wildlife.

Originally founded in 1976, the observatory functions as both a recreation site and an important research center.

Throughout the year, there is an incredible variety of species that travel through Cape May, culminating in the World Series of Birding that occurs in May during the most diverse and plentiful migration season of the year.

SS Atlantus

Off the coast of Cape May Point, in sight of the World War II Lookout Tower (pictured below), there is a dynamic piece of American History slowly sinking under the ocean’s surface.

The SS Atlantus was built during World War I and finished construction at the end of 1918, shortly after the war ended.

Although the ship didn’t participate in the war, it is still a memorial to the unique wartime construction period, a living piece of hundred-year-old history.

The concrete warship ran aground in 1926, and since then has remained there in a very gradual process of sinking.

The SS Atlantus is set to sink entirely below the surface in the coming years, so this is definitely one of the things to see in Cape May before this fascinating piece of American history disappears from view forever.

There is a small parking lot with an informational sign about the ship located at 500 Sunset Blvd.

The World War II Lookout Tower, Cape May, New Jersey

Beach Plum Farm

Beach Plum Farm is a farm, restaurant, and wedding venue two miles from the downtown of Cape May.

Take part in a guided farm tour where you can see all of the agricultural space, or sit down for a farm-to-table dinner series that features all of the farm’s freshest produce.

Cape May Winery & Vineyard

The Cape May Winery (711 Town Bank Road) has provided fine wines to South Jersey for the past 30 years.

Take a tour of the vineyard grounds, attend a guided wine tasting, or stay for dinner at the Tapas kitchen.

The farmland not only contains grapes for the winery, but also an assortment of vegetables and fruits that are used at the Tapas and grill.

Merlot grapes in a vineyard.

Historic Cold Spring Village

If you are looking for a truly unique thing to do in Cape May, step into an early 1800s rural town for the day at the Historic Cold Spring Village (735 Seashore Road).

This museum is South Jersey’s most comprehensive collection of pre-industrial American history, encompassing 22 acres of rural land that have been transformed into an entire functioning historical town.

Spend the day strolling the grounds, browsing the preserved homes, and taking classes in cooking, crafting, or building in the style of the early 1800s.

Cape May National Golf Club

The Cape May National Golf Club (834 Florence Avenue) is adored not only for its rich history in Cape May, but also for its nature-centric design.

Nestled immediately next to the Cape May Bird Sanctuary, this golf course is nicknamed “The Natural,” with the design blending seamlessly with the neighboring wildlife.

This club has been in operation since the late 1800s when it replaced a golf club that had already been in operation dating back to the mid-1800s.

Golf ball on a tee in front of a golf club

Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum

The Naval Air Station (500 Forrestal Road) is a museum inside a repurposed World War II naval hangar.

Guests can explore the rich history of Cape May throughout the 1940s and 1950s, a period in which Cape May was home to a strong Naval and US Coast Guard presence.

The museum is home to many planes that operated in World War II, including a Grumman TBM Avenger, Grumman F-14 Tomcat, and a complete turbofan jet engine from a Boeing 777.

There is also an eclectic assortment of memorabilia from the 1940s, as well as a fully-maintained air traffic control tower that guests can climb into and get the feeling of being back at the operational naval base in 1945.

This is one of the more interesting things to do near Cape May that kids (and kids at heart) will especially love!

Final Words

Have you checked out all of these great things to do in Cape May yet? We hope you’re inspired by this list and that you get out there to experience even more of this beautiful area!

Share your favorite local spots in the comments below.

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