Before we get into the best Cape May NJ Hotels, lets learn a little about America's original seaside resort. In Cape May, you'll find fine wines, outstanding restaurants, classic jazz festivals and special events year 'round. Cape May is a historic Victorian seaside gem and is the oldest most beautiful spots in the country. The entire city is a National Historic District, with nearly 600 preserved Victorian buildings.
In addition to the beautiful beaches and shimmering Atlantic Ocean, you'll find a year-round range of activities that make this more than just a one-season surf-and-sand stop. Cape May is one of the few Jersey Shore towns with year-round appeal, offering events, attractions, dining, and shopping.
Meet a painted lady. Painted Ladies are the colorful Victorian homes trimmed with gingerbread woodwork and framed by large porches that fill the historic downtown of Cape May. To learn more about the Victorian era that shaped this beach town, take a guided walking or trolley tour with the informative guides at Cape May MAC. For a list of all the great beaches in the area, head to the best East Coast Beaches here.
Cape May Weather – When to Visit
The best time to visit Cape May is from May to September (average temperatures from low 70s to mid 80s) when the air and water temperatures are warm enough for sunbathing and swimming. Summer is when the Jersey Shore comes alive, but this seaside destination still has plenty of activities throughout the year. Visit around Christmastime to see twinkling lights draped across the city's Victorian homes, or opt for an autumn trip to enjoy the Cape May Fall Festival in October.
Cape May Area Beaches
Ocean City offers 8 miles of pristine white sand with plenty of coastline to enjoy swimming in the waves. There are plenty of restaurants, taffy and fudge shops, and an amusement pier with a 140 foot Ferris wheel, kiddie cars, roller coasters, a miniature golf course and a water park.
This 2 miles is of one of the best family boardwalks in New Jersey. There are three amusement parks with more than 100 rides and attractions including a roller coaster, extreme thrill rides, kids rides and a water park. You can also enjoy everything from surfing to boogie-boarding to body surfing.
The beautiful white-sand beaches are backed by stately dunes. Most of the island's shoreline are fronted by large, well-spaced homes that give the area the feel of an exclusive private enclave. There is also a boardwalk with some concessions.
Sea Isle City
At Sea Isle City is a wide asphalt promenade that runs from 29th Street to 57th Street. It's low key, no amusement park, with a number of small concessions, and an attractive outdoor amphitheater at 40th Street for summer concerts. At Sea Isle City Beach there are plenty of activities to include rafting, surfing, volleyball, sailing, kayaking and surf fishing.
Here you'll find over 2 miles of pristine beach. There's a 2-mile promenade past the beautiful Cape May Beach on the east and many Victorian homes, B & B's and and grand hotels on the west. There a a small number of concessions, restaurants and small shops.
The wide, white, sandy, free beaches, the gentle surf, fun-filled boardwalk amusement rides and some of the best salt water fishing on the east coast, are just a few of the activities that bring vacationers back to North Wildwood year after year.
Best Cape May Tours & Activities
Whale and Dolphin Watching Cruise from Cape May
Take a break from the beach on a sightseeing cruise off the coast of Cape May. As your captain navigates to the best locations for spotting whales, dolphins, and porpoises, your certified naturalist guide offers live commentary about the area’s ocean life and the animals’ natural habitat. Learn more about the Whale & Dolphin Watching Cruise here.
Safari Cruise (Birding By Boat)
Get views of the wildlife of the salt marsh that people almost never have an opportunity to see. They sail daily from April until October and know where it is most likely to see the most interesting birds and with 25 years of experience running these tours, you'll have a great cruise. Learn more about the Safari Cruise here.
Grand Lighthouse Tour from Cape May
These lighthouses are not only dotting our shoreline, but also our waterways. They stand on pedestals surrounded by water out of sight of land. The Cape May Whale Watcher has been sailing to these extremely historic lighthouses since 1994. Learn more about the Grand Lighthouse Tour from Cape May.
Dinner Cruise with Dolphin and Whale Watching from Cape May
Enjoy dinner, sight dolphins, drink an ice cold beverage, enjoy the company of loved ones and see one our beautiful sunsets over Delaware Bay. No other Dinner Cruise in the world can offer top quality food (from a Restaurant, not a microwave), unparalleled views and dolphin sightings in a single evening. We have the most to offer in Southern New Jersey. Learn more about the Dinner Cruise with Dolphin & Whale Watching.
Sightseeing Cruise of Cape May
This is a private tour, no big crowds to deal with. They customize the departure time to work with your schedule and can adjust the tour to suit your needs. If you want to linger a while watching dolphins or see some architecture on the shore, or you want to snap some pictures, just ask and they will accommodate you. Learn more about the Sightseeing Cruise of Cape May.
Best Cape May Restaurants
Peter Shields Restaurant Over $30
The restaurant uses fresh ingredients from local sources with a concern for sustainability. The menu will not include any fish in danger of being over fished. Enjoy well prepared contemporary American food with elegant ambiance and old-world charm. Telephone: 609-884-9090 Web: Peter Shields Restaurant
Union Park Dining Room Over $30
Serves a well-executed menu, attractively presented, featuring fresh, locally farm to table ingredients. Enjoy well prepared contemporary American food with elegant ambiance and old-world charm. When available, try the North American Lobster, The Australian Lamb Rack and The Duck Breast. Telephone: 609-884-8811 Web: Union Park Dining Room
Tisha's $11 – 30
Their New American cuisine is sure to please even the most sophisticated palates. Offering both indoor and al fresco dining for lunch and dinner. Tisha’s is celebrating 30 years in business and considered a must try in Cape May. Telephone: 609-884-9119 Web: Tisha's
Sapore Italiano $11 – 30
They offer fine Italian food made with fresh local farm picked ingredients served amid an elegant white-tablecloth setting in a Victorian style restored home. Telephone: 609-600-1422 Web: Sapore Italiano
Backstreet Simply Delicious $11 – 30
The Backstreet Cafe is an alternative and a favorite amongst diners who come here for good food and reasonable prices in an unpretentious atmosphere. The bread and desserts are made in house daily. Telephone: 609-884-7660 Web: Backstreet Simply Delicious
Best Cape May Outdoor Bars
The Rusty Nail
There’s nothing better than relaxing fireside with your toes in the sand, and the sound of ocean waves crashing just feet away. At the Rusty Nail, adjacent to the Beach Shack Hotel, you can gather with friends and family among one of the many fire pits. Telephone: 609-884-0017 Web: The Rusty Nail
The Front Porch at the Ebbitt Room
A classic, elegant atmosphere awaits you at The Front Porch at the Ebbitt Room. Enjoy live piano paired with a Mint Julep on the front porch or just inside, in the enclosed sun room. Tie it together with some delectable food options (cheese platter or gourmet deviled eggs) and this is sure to be a great night. Telephone: 609-884-5700 Web: The Front Porth at the Ebbitt Room
Barefoot Bar at the Marquis de Lafayette
The Barefoot Bar at the Marquis de Lafayette offers a wide variety of flavorful dishes along with a daily happy hour from 4-7pm. Try a Blueberry Lemonade or a Sunset Celebration. Enjoy either (or both) at this swingin’ venue. Pet-friendly as well! Telephone: 609-884-3500 Web: Barefoot Bar at the Marquis de Lafayett
The Veranda Bar at Congress Hall
The Veranda Bar is a juice bar by day, and cocktail bar by night. This is a spot you do not want to miss! Located right on the back porch of Congress Hall, you can sit and relax, or walk around and play corn-hole with the whole family. Telephone: 609-884-8421 Web: The Veranda at Congress Hall
Tiki Ten35 at SeaSalt
Tthe Tiki Ten35 provides you with a laid-back beach vibe, servicing martinis, margaritas, mojitos, and much more. What else could you possibly ask for? Telephone: 609-884-7000 Web: Tiki Ten35 at SeaSalt
The Porch at Elaine’s
Here you'll want to try their frozen Jack & Coke! There's also a variety of live music any night of the week, so go prepared for a truly enjoyable time. We won’t even go into their top-notch food items on the menu; you’ll just have to go find out yourselves. In the fall season, there will be outdoor heaters and blankets: you can’t beat that. Telephone: 609-884-1199 Web: The Porch at Elaine's