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A Weekend Getaway to Beaches, History and Victorian Homes

June 19, 2012

Photo of Cape May by Joseph B. Hopkins. http://hawkinsphotoalchemy.com/?p=377

Cape May is a very special seaside town tucked away in Southern New Jersey. It has history; it has entertainment; it has the seaside.  When I was in college it was a great place for my friends and me to rent 12 to a house. Now that those times are over, I realize that it’s a wonderful family friendly getaway.  There is so much to do: view and interact with wildlife, ride a surrey, take a horse-drawn carriage, climb to the to of a light house or just hit the beach.

Here is my list of what to see/do:

The Cape May Lighthouse
This beacon originates from 1859 and is fully restored. You can climb 199 steps to the top for a fabulous view of the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay. The lighthouse is open daily.

Cape May Lighthouse, Cape May Point

Sunset Beach
This beach gets its name for its exquisite setting from which to watch sunsets. Each evening there is a flag-lowering ceremony at this beach, which many site as an incredibly meaningful event. Sunset Beach is famous for its quartz pebbles that are known as Cape May diamonds. Kids love to look for the diamonds (quartz crystals) and they are usually pretty successful at it too! Also, check out the remains of the ship Atlantus. Don’t be surprised if you spot some dolphins frolicking in the waves too!

Cape May diamonds are actually pieces of pure quartz crystals, resembling translucent pebbles.

Salt Marsh Safari
This peaceful tour aboard a 40 foot Skimmer explores the coastal salt marsh. You may see nesting Ospreys, Laughing Gulls or a heron rookery. Along the way, your family will learn natural history, local environmental concerns, tidal flow and bird life.  The owners, Captain Ginny and Captain Ed, are very knowledgeable about the ecology and excited to share it with you. You can watch the drawn nets bring in mussels, whelks and shrimp so that you can examine them closely. With provided binoculars you can see a lot of the birds that are native to the area.  This tour is for older kids though- it’s a longish tour with small moments of excitement.

Cape May Carriage Ride
One of the best ways to see historic Cape May and its charms, is to take a carriage ride through its streets. The tours are lovely, the driver provides historical information and its a simple joy for children. I recommend doing the group carriage to save on cost. Group carriage (shared with other families):  $12 per adult  $6. per child age 2-11. Maximum seating 8 adults + 2 small children.

Image of a group carriage.

See Victorian Homes
Cape May, New Jersey’s collection of Victorian homes attracts visitors from all over the world. It’s no wonder. The entire New Jersey seashore town is a National Historic Landmark.  The Victorians are pretty spectacular.

The Abbey at Cape May

A view of some of the famous Victorian houses.

Historic Cold Spring Village
If you end up with a rainy day or you are tired of the beach, head to Historic Cold Spring Village.  The Village brings to life the day-to-day activities of villagers living in South Jersey during the “age of homespun.” (1789-1840). The shady lanes make a hot summer day actually pleasant. The 26 historic buildings and historically-clothed actors educate and entertain all ages. Kids can try on costumes, do crafts and try out old-fashioned games in the activity area. For eating you can visit the Ice Cream shop, Country store and Bakery for snacky food. You aren’t allowed to picnic on the grounds. s.

Find out what it was like to cook in the 1800's!

Civil War Weekend at Historic Cold Spring Village

To get to Cape May from Brooklyn, use your GPS but basically you’ll need to get on the Garden State Parkway South and get on the NJ-109S.  It’s approximately 121 miles from Brooklyn and will take about 3 hours.