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Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May County

Twist and splash in New Jersey’s elegant vacation destination

In the 17th century, early American settlers discovered a beautiful cape area that was bountiful enough to call home. More than 300 years later, Cape May County welcomes nearly one million vacationers annually to its pristine seaside and historic neighborhoods.

Beaches and boardwalks first come to mind when you think of “The Jersey Cape,” but did you know that it’s also where singer Chubby Checker first introduced “The Twist?” For the nearly one million visitors who come each year to this destination, nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay, discovering its history is just the beginning.



In the 1600s, whalers from Long Island Sound and New England, some of them Pilgrims, started coming to Cape May County for what was supposed to be only seasonal hunting expeditions. Ultimately, though, the whalers settled in Lower Township along the Delaware Bay. The original residents of the area were the Lenni Lenape Native Americans. Today, local museums share these and other facts about Cape May County, including how pirates buried their treasure along its beaches, how German submarines sank off its shores during World War II, and the important role it played in the Underground Railroad.

Cape May County has been a good steward of its past. Victorian architecture abounds, thanks to longstanding laws protecting the classic designs. Visitors who travel along US Route 9 will find themselves on the old stage coach road that took travelers of long ago to Philadelphia. Other glimpses of a bygone era are still visible, including the region’s early shipbuilding history and Historic Cold Spring Village, a living history museum showcasing 17th and 18th-century farm life.

Skipping a couple of centuries ahead will give music lovers an opportunity to find out just how Cape May County “twisted” itself into Rock ’n’ Roll history. In 1960, an 18-year-old performer named Chubby Checker began a new dance craze at the Rainbow Club in Wildwood, on the eastern coast of the Cape. With his hit song, “The Twist,” Checker changed the way people moved to music.

Spirits on the Shore

In years past, Cape May County has showcased itself exclusively as a summer destination. Lately, its calendar has grown to include spring and fall activities, along with a few winter events such as Sea Isle City’s Polar Bear Plunge, a charitable enterprise requiring participants to take a freezing dip into the Atlantic in the middle of February!

Other (and less chilly!) activities are offered as well. Water sports, bird-watching, golfing, fishing, biking, concerts and theater are among the vast array of choices. Add antique shopping, winery visits or leisurely strolls along the boardwalks. Visitors have their pick and set their own pace.

Speaking of pace, some areas in Cape May County offer trolley tours to get around to different points of interest in the east and west ends. Local tour guides also lead daily walks of about 90 minutes through the notable points of interest in the historic districts. There are even so-called ghost tours catering to the folklore that Cape May County—for whatever reason—has more than its share of “paranormal” activity.

Ghost stories aside, by far the biggest attraction for the thousands of vacationers who come to Cape May County every year is the beach. Pristine swaths of glistening sand promise those who flock here their own idyllic spot on the Atlantic—if only for a few days. Some have made the trek and never left. The abundance of vacation homes along the oceanfront—some of which are available for rent—dispels the notion that you can’t have it all.

The beaches on the Atlantic Ocean are the most popular spots from mid-May through September. Since sunbathing and breathing in sea air don’t quite count as exercise, the beaches offer ample room for a seemingly endless stroll. Host communities along the beaches offer surfing, volleyball and other beach games, including bocce and paddleball.

An alternative to the seaside beaches is Delaware Bay, located in western Cape May County. Unlike the beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, these shores are largely absent of lifeguards and are mostly frequented by visitors who enjoy less populated beaches conducive to quiet walks, exploring sand dunes and just enjoying nature’s impeccable wonders.


Cape May Diamonds are among those wonders. These quartz stones are fashioned by the Delaware River—and lots of time—ending their journey at the southernmost part of the Cape on Sunset Beach. Also aptly named, Sunset Beach offers exquisite sunsets for those lucky enough to capture them. In the background, a nightly flag lowering occurs at the remains of the S.S. Atlantus, an experimental (but failed) WWI wartime ship constructed entirely from concrete.

Where to Dine

The Cape has as many cuisines as diners have time to enjoy them. As a commercial fishing powerhouse, seafood is plentiful. Cape May County boasts that its oysters are second to none. A proliferation of farmers markets makes eating healthy easy. The self-proclaimed restaurant capital of New Jersey has an infinite variety of other dining choices, including French, Italian, Cajun, Mexican and even vegetarian. For the visitor craving a Coney Island hot dog or salt-water taffy, Cape May County has that, too.

For More Information

Cape May Chamber of Commerce




New Jersey Department of Tourism