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Cape May

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Cape May is ideal for whiling away summer hours on the beach (the most popular pastime of vacationers here). Its small size makes all attractions accessible by foot or bike. One of the most pleasant ways to spend an afternoon is simply to wander past the brightly painted Victorian homes and shops, or to promenade along the concrete boardwalk.

Things to do in Cape May

Aqua Trails kayaking trips

Older children will enjoy gliding through tidal marshes, nearby Pine Barrens lake, or even the Atlantic Ocean in double or single kayaks, led by a high school biology teacher who provides interesting tidbits along the way.

1600 Delaware Ave., NJ, 609-884-5600, www.aquatrails.com
Tags: family | water sports | things to do | outdoors | adventure

Bay Springs Alpaca Farm

Children love visiting the cuddly alpacas – smaller, nicer versions of llamas – at this Bay Springs farm Friday through Sunday. Buy a stuffed version in the store to take home, or some soft and fluffy alpaca yarn for knitting.

542 New England Rd., NJ, 609-884-0563, www.bayspringsalpacas.com
Tags: family | things to do | wildlife

Cape May County Zoo

Over 550 animals – including lions, tigers, bears, red pandas, camels, birds, and reptiles – populate this park-like zoo. The Hummingbird Express, a four-car “steam” train, pulls park visitors around the zoo. Admission and parking are both free. The 80-acre zoo is nestled within a 200-acre park with playgrounds and fishing spots.

Corner of Crest Haven Rd. and Rte. 9, NJ, 609-465-5271, www.capemaycountyzoo.org
Tags: family | things to do | outdoors | wildlife | zoo

Cape May Lighthouse

Climb the 199 steps to the top of this still-functioning 1859 Cape May Lighthouse to take in the view – on a clear day, you can see Delaware. On the way up, read about the history of the lighthouse and past lighthouse keepers.

Cape May State Park, Lighthouse Ave., NJ, 609-884-5404, www.capemaymac.org/attractions/index.html
Tags: historic | views | things to do | park

Cape May Whale Watcher tours

You might see a Humpback or Finback whale, but you will definitely see dolphins on these tours, which take place on 110-foot-long, red boats that cruise the Delaware Bay. Summer trips sell out, so buy tickets in advance – children under 6 are free, and ages 7 to 12 have reduced-price tickets. Bring your own binoculars, or rent them on board.

Corner of 2nd Ave. & Wilson Dr., Schellenger's Landing, NJ, 609-884-5445, www.capemaywhalewatcher.com
Tags: family | things to do | outdoors | wildlife | whale watching

Historic Cold Spring Village

Sit at a desk in a one-room schoolhouse, look through the goods at a country store, and learn about rural village life in 18th- and 19th-cenutry New Jersey. Interpreters demonstrate everything from basket weaving to blacksmithing at this living history museum, a collection of buildings transported here from across southern New Jersey. Open May 31 to mid-September.

720 Rte. 9 South, NJ, 609-898-2300, www.hcsv.org
Tags: family | things to do | history | museum

Island Bowl

If you’re stuck inside on a rainy day, bring the kids to this 32-lane bowling alley in Wildwood. 

3401 New Jersey Ave., NJ, 609-729-0111, www.islandbowling.com/
Tags: family | things to do | bowling

Movies on the beach

For a drive-in movie experience without the car, visit nearby Wildwood, which hosts first-run movies on the beach every night during the summer. Cape May usually hosts three family movie nights on its beach in July (check the calendar of events at www.capemaychamber.com). Bring your own beach chair or blanket (or rent a chair on site). Concessions are available, or bring your own picnic (but no alcohol).

On the beach next to the Wildwoods Convention Center, NJ, 609-522-6340, www.sunsetcinemainc.com
Tags: family | things to do | outdoors

Nature Center of Cape May

Climb up the three-story observation tower for a good look at the birds, marshes, and landscape of Cape May. An indoor observation center has telescopes; in summer, you can rent kayaks.

1600 Delaware Ave., NJ, 609-898-8848, www.njaudubon.org/centers/nccm
Tags: family | views | things to do | outdoors | wildlife

Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum

Get up close to 20 vintage aircraft in this giant wooden hangar. This former WWII Navy training base prepared dive-bombing squadrons to wage war in the Pacific. Hangar No. 1 itself is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Cape May Airport, 500 Forrestal Rd., NJ, 609-886-8787, www.usnasw.org
Tags: things to do | history | museum

Sunset Beach

Dazzling sunsets over open water are accompanied each summer evening by a trumpet playing Taps and the lowering of the flag. When the sun is higher in the sky, search out the “Cape May Diamonds” (small, sparkly quartz crystals that wink up at you from the sand). Those ruins in the water are the remains of the Atlantus, a WWI ship made of concrete.

Cape May Point, NJ, 800-757-6468, www.sunsetbeachnj.com
Tags: beach | editor pick | things to do | history

The Emlen Physick Estate

Tours of this mansion, which dates to 1879, explore daily life in Victorian times. The Physick Estate is the only Victorian house in Cape May that doubles as a museum, and is one of the finest examples of “Stick Style” architecture – a Victorian design style with strong Medieval influences. Inside, you’ll find original furniture and actors who bring to life past homeowners. Lunch and afternoon tea are served on the grounds; a carriage house hosts rotating historical exhibits.

1048 Washington St., NJ, 609-884-5404, www.capemaymac.org/attractions/index.html
Tags: historic | things to do | museum

The Wildwood Boardwalk

Roller coasters, carnival games, and water parks stretch along two miles of boardwalk in nearby Wildwood. The five piers combined are said to have more rides than Disneyland – in any case, there are certainly enough thrills to fill a summer day. Small children will enjoy kiddie rides like the flying elephants and bouncing giraffes; teens will get thrills on the twisting roller coasters. Stay until evening for weekly fireworks (Fridays at 10:30pm) during the summer.

16th Ave., NJ, 609-522-3900, www.gwcoc.com/boardwalk.html
Tags: family | editor pick | things to do | amusement park

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