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Cape May is a wonderful destination to spend a holiday. Of course. Honestly, I would be content staying in Cape May City for an entire weekend, drinking craft cocktails in Victorian bars and shopping in tiny boutiques and taking leisurely walks on the wide, open beaches.
However, even though Cape May is fantastic, it’s not the only great spot in Cape May county. And if you’re visiting for an extended period of time, you might wonder about the other destinations that litter the Jersey Shore’s coast and barrier islands.
Ultimately, Cape May is a great springboard for taking day trips. A whole plethora of day trips.
You’re at the very bottom of the state, sure, but you’re also connected to the Cape May-Lewes Ferry and the Garden State Parkway, which provides easy and accessible transportation to other nearby places.
Let’s talk about the best day trips from Cape May NJ!
Should I Plan Day Trips from Cape May NJ?
First let’s touch on the bad news. A Cape May vacation isn’t exactly a cheap affair especially if the whole family joins you. Cape May has a big price day, particularly in high season.
Therefore, as you plan your itinerary, you might be wondering: when is it even worth it to take day trips from Cape May NJ? Especially since you’re already spending a lot of money?
Believe it or not, as awesome as the southern Jersey Shore is, sometimes it’s just better to relax in Cape May City than run all over the place.
Here are some of my thoughts about day trips, and whether or not you should bother venturing too far out of Cape May City.
Yes, Go on a Day Trip
Personally, I recommend doing some day trips if you’re staying in a weekly rental for your Cape May vacation. Sure, it’s possible to relax for seven days in Cape May and if that’s your truth, then go for it, but I would plan a couple of adventures for when you feel tired snapping pictures of Victorian homes and lounging on the beach.
No, Stay in Cape May
On the flip side, if you’re only going on a day trip to Cape May, then I recommend you stay in the city and see all the attractions in walking distance. You don’t want to sit in the car all day.
You should also stay in Cape May if you’re thinking about taking a day trip on a Saturday in July or August. I’m serious about this. Stay still. Stay still. Stay still.
Saturdays are the changeover days for weekly rentals. Traffic is everywhere. Pick another day to go exploring. Navigating the Garden State Parkway on a summer Saturday is 110% not worth it.
7 Days Trips from Cape May NJ
Okay, so you’ve decided to do some cool day trips from Cape May NJ! What options are available?
This list isn’t exhaustive, but honestly, I think these seven destinations are the best ones in Cape May County, as far as diversity goes. Meaning I’ve included a bit of gambling, a bit of boardwalk rides, a bit of classiness, and a bit of nature.
West Cape May
West Cape May is the closet day trip. As a town, it’s more spread out than Cape May City, but it’s also packed with a lot of great eateries, wineries, and outdoor attractions. It’s easy spending an entire afternoon simply driving around and discovering small, independently-owned gems.
If you love wineries, you will definitely want to visit Cape May Winery and relax on their outdoor patio. The small plates are absolutely delicious, too, for visitors arriving on an empty stomach.
West Cape May is also home to the popular Cape May Point State Park. At this park, you’ll fall in love with the sweeping views on top of the Cape May Lighthouse. I personally love visiting the lighthouse on days with dramatic clouds. Nearby, Cape May Wetlands State Natural Area offers several delightful walking trails through the marshes where you’ll encounter a variety of bird species.
Taking a West Cape May day trip is an absolute joy!
Avalon and Stone Harbor
Seven Mile Island is a barrier island off the coast of Cape May County and consists of the towns of Avalon and Stone Harbor. These small and ritzy towns have a lot to offer travelers who are willing to spend some money. Seriously, it’s not cheap here and wanted to give you a fair warning. It’s even more expensive than Cape May City, believe it or not.
But if money isn’t a worry for you, then this is an awesome place to come for one of your day trips from Cape May NJ.
What I love most about Seven Mile Island are the shopping options which mostly consist of local small businesses. Downtown Stone Harbor has one of the most “traditional” shopping downtowns that I’ve ever seen in the Jersey Shore area. The old fashioned movie theater is a delight on rainy days in Cape May. Furthermore, you’ll discover cute clothing boutiques, bookshops, art galleries, home goods stores, and spas as you explore Stone Harbor’s downtown core.
Avalon has a shopping street too, but it’s also very well-known for its bars and nightlife if you’re seeking a more “party” oriented vacation.
The strictly donation based Cape May County Park and Zoo is also located very close to the island, and makes a fantastic day trips for families with small children.
Wildwood is a famous seaside resort town known for its boardwalk, piers of rides, and iconic tramcar. Honestly, when most out of staters think of the southern Jersey Shore, Wildwood is probably one of the first places that immediately springs to mind.
Your first stop really should be the Wildwood Boardwalk. You’ll ride the tram and chow down boardwalk pizza. Just be careful of the crazy seagulls! If you like wild carnival rides, then you might want to spend the afternoon or evening at Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Waterparks. These three popular piers consist of over 100 rides, so you might not have time to go on all of them, but you’ll definitely have a packed day with lots of thrills and screams!
For some classic Wildwood eats, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. This area is well known for their Irish pubs! Cheers to that!
North Wildwood is quieter and more laid back than Wildwood. I recommend an excursion here if you want to get some extra steps in. Taking a leisurely stroll on the North Wildwood Sea Wall is a fantastic way to not only get a bit of exercise, but also to admire the sweeping views of Hereford Inlet.
Another attraction is Hereford Inlet Lighthouse. This beautiful little lighthouse was built to protect the ships coming into the Hereford Inlet — which is beautiful for visitors, but quite treacherous for boats. After steadily increasing shipwrecks, Hereford Inlet Lighthouse was first lit in 1874. The lighthouse is open for visitors in the summer months, and admission is free. You’re also welcome to walk around and admire the gardens.
Lewes, DE and Surroundings
The Cape May-Lewes Ferry makes nearby Delaware easy and accessible for all travelers. While several visitors use the ferry to transport their cars, you can just as easily board the ferry to take a day trip to Delaware.
For example, Lewes is a delightful historical town that has similar aesthetics to Cape May, as well as an abundance of shopping and dining options. Meanwhile, craft beer connoisseurs should hop into a rideshare to the rather impressive Dogfish Head Brewery. Take a tour to learn all about how the Dogfish beer is brewed right on site, and sample a good variety of beers.
Truthfully, even just the scenic ride on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry is an attraction in and of itself! You ought to try it especially on a sunny and pleasant day.
Ocean City is probably the most family-friendly out of the day trips from Cape May NJ. This is one of the few examples of a Jersey Shore dry town. You correctly read that. You cannot sell or buy alcohol in Ocean City, which means no liquor stores or bars are available.
Like Wildwood, Ocean City is most famous for its expansive boardwalk, although I should note that parking here is a bit of a nightmare on summer nights.
The most popular attraction on Ocean City boardwalk is Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, which has been a Jersey Shore establishment since 1929. Go on the famous ferris wheels for some of the best views of all Ocean City!
Another popular activity on this boardwalk is mini golf. You have tons of establishments to choose from, and they all have different themes, ranging from pirates to ghosts!
Without a doubt, Ocean City is one of the most delightful day trips from Cape May NJ for the entire family! You’ll have a blast!
Last but not least, Atlantic City is another one of the great day trips from Cape May NJ for travelers who want to experience a bigger metro and lose – I mean, gamble a little bit of money!
In Atlantic City, you’ll have a variety of casinos to choose from. Each casino is very different, so it’s super important for you to do your research ahead of time.
Additionally, if you’re a shopper and looking to discover a good deal, Tanger Outlets
As a side note, as fun as Atlantic City is, crime is higher here compared to the other destinations that I’ve listed in this post. My advice is to stay close to the boardwalks and outlet shops.
I hope you had a great time reading about all the day trips from Cape May NJ! What day trips would you add to this list? What day trips have you done? Feel free to share in the comments!