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"A week by the sea" Top 5 Page for this destination Cape May by toonsarah

Cape May Travel Guide: 291 reviews and 537 photos

"Painted Ladies" on Gurney Street

I have to say that it had never occurred to us in the past that we might visit New Jersey. While I quite enjoy a brief encounter from time to time with the sort of brash tackiness that its reputation suggests, it doesn’t have enough appeal to lure me to spend a week in its company.

But while researching likely spots in which we might unwind after a week in New York I discovered Cape May – a very different sort of New Jersey resort. OK it has a boardwalk (so-called, though it’s actually a paved promenade) and some typical seaside attractions such as crazy golf and amusement arcades. But these are low key and relatively unobtrusive, or at least they certainly were when we visited in late September. The real attractions of Cape May are the large number of beautiful Victorian cottages that grace its centre and the beautiful natural resources on its doorstep.


The entire city of Cape May has been declared a National Historic Landmark, and as you walk its peaceful streets you can easily see why. Lined with hundreds of these beautiful “Painted Ladies” they create a real sense of having stepped back in time, especially when you hear the leisurely clip-clop of a passing horse and carriage or see the lantern of an evening walking tour guide ahead of you.

Every house is different, and they are a photographer’s delight, as well as providing visitors with a wonderful range of individual apartments and bed and breakfasts. And as well as the houses themselves there are many other traces of Victorian Cape May, such as hitching posts for horses and mail-boxes.

Alongside all this history, there is natural beauty too. We went on a fantastic whale watching trip, and the town’s location at the tip of the state, guarding the entrance to Delaware Bay, and its natural resources, make it a haven for migrating birds, especially hawks and sea birds, and even if you’re not an enthusiast or an expert you’ll probably, like us, enjoy seeing and learning about the various species. And it’s not just migrating birds who pass through the area – Cape May is on the route of the Monarch butterflies’ annual migration too.

There is also a beautiful (and award-winning) beach in the centre of town and many other lovely ones in the immediate area. Our favourite for walks was Higbee, but you’re bound to find your own special one. The nearby State Park has a lighthouse you can climb, as well as a beach and bird-watching decks.

But I think what we liked best about Cape May was the relaxing pace of life, the feeling of being “at home”, and the friendly welcome we received.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros: beautiful architecture, lovely beaches and a laid-back vibe
  • Cons: less to do than some other seaside towns – don’t come here for bright lights and action
  • Last visit to Cape May: Sep 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (38)

Comments (21)

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Jun 27, 2010 at 3:02 AM

    Hello, Sarah! Thanks for your nice story about that superb destination... Marvellous! ><><><><

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Jun 1, 2010 at 10:00 AM

    I took another viewing of your pictures and still think I may try to get up that way based on your comments. Thanks for the descriptions of the areas.

  • hopang's Profile Photo
    Mar 25, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    Outstanding Cape May travel page! Cold Spring Village, Point State Park, Higbee and Sunset Beaches are certainly worth visiting. Your tips on restaurants are really great! We hope to visit Cape May one day. ~ho & pang

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo
    May 13, 2009 at 4:30 PM

    So sorry we missed you when you were in NJ, Sarah. But it looks like you found it all. Glad you got to the zoo and ate fudge. The Blue Pig sounds like a cool place and you found out they make good cocktails in NJ too!

  • Arkeolog's Profile Photo
    Mar 31, 2009 at 4:28 AM

    Wow! great page. Esp i liked that lighthouse. looks excellent. Your photos and tips are great too.

  • Jenniflower's Profile Photo
    Mar 31, 2009 at 4:03 AM

    So much to do in Cape May!!! Lovely photos and descriptions, thanks Sarah!

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Mar 28, 2009 at 8:47 PM

    With birds, butterflies, whale watching, salt marshes, "Painted Ladies", a lighthouse, zoo, historic village, and your fabulous accommodations..I'd say Cape May is impressive. Marvelous restaurant tips. A joy to read & view.

  • sue_stone's Profile Photo
    Feb 14, 2009 at 8:27 AM

    Sounds like you found plenty to keep you occupied in Cape May, and some decent food too! Though I do take offence to your attitude to decaf coffee ; )

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Jan 13, 2009 at 4:09 PM

    Whale-watching, old Victorian houses, shipwrecks, lighthouses and some fine restaurants thrown in too - Cape May sounds like my kind of place! This is an excellent page Sarah - beautifully done!

  • gilabrand's Profile Photo
    Jan 11, 2009 at 2:31 AM

    Old cemeteries --oooh, just what I like...I caught the bug from my mother the geneaologist.


“I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust (Joni Mitchell, "Amelia")”

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