Things to Do

Top Ten Socially Distanced Things To Do In Cape May This Summer

Updated: June 29, 2020

Cape May has always been a place to relax and recharge ever since it emerged as the first seaside resort in America back in the 1600's. For more than 400 years, people have flocked here to enjoy the beautiful beaches, breath the pure ocean air, and soak up the summer sun. And while this summer will be a little different, those traditional pleasures still beckon, and whether you are planning a short mental health getaway or replacing an overseas trip with a drive to the shore, we want to help you experience Cape May in a new and safe way.  

To do that, we've put together a list of top ten activities that allow social distancing while showcasing the best of what Cape May has to offer. We hope you find it helpful, and we hope to see you in Cape May this summer. 

#1: Hit the Beach!

Now that the summer weather is finally here, hitting the beach is a great way to enjoy your Cape May visit. Grab your beach chair for a relaxing day watching the waves, reading a book, or just breathing in the ocean air. Or make plans to take a walk along the water's edge and get some sand between your toes. Here are some of our favorite beaches to check out during your visit:

  • Poverty Beach: Legend has it that this beach got its name because it was where the “help” went back in the Victorian days. Today, it's known as a quiet beach, perfect for sitting and relaxing. Located near the Coast Guard base, this beach is one of the best spots to find shells in Cape May. 
  • The Cove Beach: Located at the other end of the promenade, this beach is popular with the Cape May surfing crowd. If the waves are crashing, it's not unusual to see 10 or more surfers in the water. 

  • Sunset Beach: Located at the end of Sunset Boulevard, this is not only a great place to watch the sunset as it's name implies, but its also the best place to search for Cape May diamonds. Just be sure to bring a bag or a bucket for your collection! Never heard of a Cape May diamond? Click here to learn more about these unique stones. 

  • Higbee Beach: Located on the bay side and tucked away at the dead end of New England Road in West Cape May, this secluded beach is widely known for birding and botanicals, but it has a colorful past that includes bootlegging and nudity! It is also a dog-friendly beach. 

#2: Take a Walk on the Wild Side!

If you've never enjoyed a walk on some of our local nature trails, you are truly missing out. Cape May offers several options for taking a peaceful hike and taking in the natural beauty of the NJ shore. Please practice social distancing, and wear a face mask when social distancing is not possible when walking on the trails.

  • Cape May State Park: State parks around New Jersey reopened on May 2, and the Cape May State Park has three different trails that weave through the park’s varied habitats filled with resident and migrating feathered friends. Click here for more info about these trails.
  • South Cape May Meadows Walking Trails: Enjoy more than 2 miles of walking trails that are part of the Nature Conservancy including more than 200+ protected acres of critical habitat and freshwater wetland. Click here for more info about these trails.

  • Garrett Family Preserve: Located just two miles from downtown Cape May, this 180 acres of upland forest, farm fields and tidal marsh is part of the watershed and the Nature Conservancy. With its four miles of walking trails, expansive native wildflower meadows, fields and tree lines, the preserve is a haven for migrating songbirds, raptors, and pollinators like bumblebees and monarch butterflies. Click here to learn more about this location.

  • Cape May County Zoo: If you prefer your wild life to include things like lions, and tigers, and bears (oh my!), then take a quick car ride to the Cape May Zoo. Open daily from 10 am to 4:30 pm, the zoo has a collection of more than 550 animals representing 250 species across 85 acres - you will certainly get you daily steps in! Or you can check out one of the nature or fitness trails in the Cape May County State Park located next door.While donations are always appreciated, zoo admission and parking are free! Click here to learn more and plan your visit, or click here to check out a map of the zoo. 

#3: Explore Cape May on Two Wheels!

There's no better way to see Cape May than on a bike. The roads are super flat, the scenery is amazing, and the roads are bike-friendly. Check out these resources for the perfect socially distanced activity during your stay:

  • Bike Cape May Map: Click here to download a PDF that shows key landmarks and safe streets to bike along around Cape May.

  • Take a Self-Guided Bike Tour: Cape May MAC has created a detailed map for a self-guided bike ride (or a long walk) around town. You can purchase a printed booklet on MAC's website, or click here to download a PDF version. It contains information about more than 50 historic landmarks that you can view from the comfort of a bike. 
  • Cape May Point: Take a short bike ride out to the quaint town of Cape May Point. Here you will find a new place to explore. Take your time and ride around the side streets, make a stop at the freshwater lake to watch the birds, and be sure to stop by the lighthouse. Click here to get directions to the lighthouse. And you can stretch your legs once you get there by climbing up to the top (199 steps!) for one of the best panoramic views on the east coast. 

  • Curious Cape May Bike Tour: Sign up for a morning bike tour run by our sister company, Curious Cape May. You will see the town from a new perspective as you explore off-the-beaten path and learn about Cape May's curious past. Click here to learn more and don't forget to ask about discounts for Mission Inn guests!

  • Cold Spring Bike Path: Start at Cold Spring Bike Path at Seashore Road (Erma, NJ) and ride for 9 miles up to Cape May Courthouse. This is a flat and beautiful round-trip ride, perfect for intermediary riders. Add in a stop for lunch while your in Cape May Courthouse for the perfect afternoon. 

  • Cape May Shoreline Ride: Click here to see a map of the shoreline ride that starts and ends at the Cape May Lighthouse – 42 miles roundtrip and great for serious bikers.

#4: Explore Cape May on Two Feet!

There are plenty of great options for stretching your legs around this historic town. Here are some ideas to explore at your own pace:

  • Free Self-Guided Walking Tour: Curious Cape May has created a free self-guided walking tour for your smart phone. Take a walk around downtown to learn about the town’s unique and unusual history. Using a simple mobile app as your guide, you will walk about a mile at your own pace, anytime you choose. Click here to download the free app.
  • Cape May Promenade: Currently open for walking and running only, the promenade offers 1.3 miles of ocean-front views and fresh air. Take a stroll any time of day and enjoy the ocean breeze. Please practice social distancing, and wear a face mask when social distancing is not possible while walking on the promenade. No biking or gathering. And no dogs.

  • Walk/Run Around Town: With so many unique and historic homes all over town, Cape May offers a scenic view from almost every street. Take a walk down a new street to discover the amazing architecture and beautiful gardens that you may have missed before. Please practice social distancing, and stay on the sidewalks while walking/running around town.

  • Running Routes: Click here to check out a variety of suggested running routes on Cape May Running Company’s website – they range from 4 to 12 miles.
  • Carriage Tours: If you'd prefer to put your feet up while you take a tour of downtown Cape May, the Cape May Carriage Company is currently running private tours on a limited schedule. Click here to visit their website and schedule a private tour, or give them a call at 609-884-4466 to find out their schedule. 

#5: Smell the Flowers!

Cape May has spectacular flowers all over town. As you wander the side streets you will see the popular hydrangea, beautiful rose bushes, and many other colorful blooms in both private yards and the gardens of historic bed and breakfasts. And the "Walk on the Wild Side" locations in our list also offer many Instagram-worthy natural flowers. If you want to see some of the best blooms at the shore, here are a some special places to check out:
  • Beach Plum Farm: Named for a native fruit found on natural coastal dunes, this 62 acre farm grows more than 100 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Because it is a working farm, you will also find chickens, ducks, and pigs that roam certain areas of the property. Currently open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm, the farm is located at 140 Stevens Street, West Cape May, NJ. You can pick up a complimentary printed map inside the Beach Plum Farm Market, or you can access a digital PDF by clicking here. And don't forget to bring your camera for some great photos!

  • Hughes Street: One of the prettiest streets in Cape May, Hughes Street is only about two blocks long but it boasts well-preserved historic homes and beautiful gardens. Take a stroll down this picturesque one-way street to see a mix of Federalist and Victorian buildings. The street runs parallel to Washington Street and starts/ends at Franklin and Decatur Streets. Click here to see a map. 

  • Sunset Flower Farm: Just a scenic 30 minute drive from Cape May, you will find a 17 acre farm in Belleplain, NJ, with crops of peonies, sunflowers, hydrangeas, and a variety of summer annuals. Click here to learn more, or click here to get driving directions to the farm from Cape May. 

#6: Relax on the Water!

Cape May has a long history as a seaside resort and an active fishing community. If you want to enjoy some quality time on the water while visiting, here are a two options:

  • Tiny Tiki Tour: This tiny cruise line sets sail from the South Jersey Marina, located on the way into town. They currently offer custom tours for small groups, including a sunset option. Click here to learn more and give them a call to book a cruise. 
  • Whale Watching: With three or more tours daily, the Cape May Whale Watcher provides views of whales and dolphins off-shore. Click here to learn more and book your spot. And if you want to add some bird watching to your cruise, click here to check out the Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center that is currently offering a Whale, Bird, and Dolphin cruise each day. Both companies have implemented new social distancing policies to keep passengers and crew safe. 

  • Salt March Safari on the Skimmer: Take an eco-cruise to learn about all the wildlife that a salt marsh can support. Currently running at 60% capacity to allow for proper social distancing, the Skimmer offers a close-up look at the Cape May Coastal Wetlands Wildlife Management Area. Click here to learn more and book a cruise. 

  • Miss Chris Boats: Cape May has historically been home to commercial fishing boats. Top catches during the summer months include Fluke, Bluefish, Striped Bass, Weakfish, Drum, Shark and Tuna. And you can join in the fishing fun when you're in town. Miss Chris is currently sailing twice a day, so whether you are looking for an early morning excursion or an afternoon outing, pack your poles. Or, if you'd rather not worry about equipment, you can rent a rod and reel from them. Click here to learn more and check out their sailing schedule. 

  • Kayaking and Paddleboarding: Cape May offers a harbor perfect for safe kayaking or paddleboarding by yourself or a small group. Check out Aquatrails or Cape Kayaks for daily tours and rentals. 

  • Surf Fishing: If you'd prefer to stay on land to fish, you can cast a line right from the beach. Surf fishing is allowed in the morning and evening. Poverty Beach and the Jetties in and around Cape May Point are popular for this activity. 

#7: Drink Local!

https://capemaywinery.com/Cape May has quite a few wineries, breweries, and distilleries to enjoy during your visit. And many of them have a large outdoor spaces perfect for enjoying a summer beverage while practicing safe social distancing. Here are a few to check out:

  • Nauti Spirits Distillery: Located on preserved farmland, this local distiller uses locally grown sweet potatoes to make vodka and then turns it into delicious craft cocktails. They have a lot of room to spread out and even encourage you to bring your own beach chair, along with your own food. Click here to learn more. 
  • Cape May Winery: Boasting the oldest vines in Cape May County, this winery also has beautiful outdoor space right in their vineyard. Sit back, relax, and enjoy some local wines along with a delicious tapas menu from their kitchen. Click here to learn more.

  • Willow Creek Winery: Located right in West Cape May, this winery offers plenty of outside seating among their vines. Enjoy their signature sangria or local wines along with some farm-to-table snacks. Click here to learn more. 

  • Hawk Haven Winery: Just up the road in Rio Grande, NJ, Hawk Haven Winery is open daily for Outdoor "Wining" Reservations. Click here to learn more. 

#8: Hit Some Balls!

Tennis and golf are both great ways to enjoy the outdoors - and stay in shape - during your time in Cape May. No matter what your skill level, their are some local options open to visitors and residents alike. 

  • Cape May Tennis Club: Located at 1020 Washington Street, right next door to the historic Emlen Physick Estate, the tennis club was founded in 1962. It is open to the public and features both clay and hard courts. Click here to learn more and book a court time.  

  • Cape May Par 3 Golf Course: This 18-hole par 3 short course to hone your game while at the shore. They also offer a driving range and individual lessons. Click here to learn more. 

  • Cape May National Golf Course: Just a short drive from downtown Cape May, this nationally recognized course surrounds a fifty acre bird sanctuary. Click here to learn more and book a tee time. 


#9: Watch the Sun Go Down (or Up)!

If you're a morning person, consider waking up early and grabbing a cup of coffee to go, then heading out to catch a beautiful sunrise over the ocean. Check the time for tomorrow's sunrise online, and then set your alarm. It's a wonderful and peaceful way to start your day.

But if you're not sure you want to wake up before dawn on your vacation, then make plans to watch a Cape May sunset during your visit. Here are some of our favorite spots to end the day - no matter which one you choose, make sure to bring along your camera or phone for a memorable photo.
  • Sunset Beach: Located at the end of Sunset Boulevard, this beach is short on sand, but ideal for that postcard-perfect picture as the sun sinks down into the ocean. As an added bonus, you will also be able to capture Cape May's legendary sunken concrete ship in your sunset selfies. And, during the summer season, there is a flag ceremony held here every night at 7 pm, during which the family of a deceased service member is honored. 

  • Cape May Ferry Terminal: Right next to the ferry terminal is a little known beach with fantastic bayside sunset views. If you're lucky you will be able to capture some stunning photos of the ferry as it heads in or out of the terminal under the setting sun. 

  • The Cove: Right at the end of the promenade you will find The Cove beach. Home to Cape May's surfing crowd, this beach also offers beautiful sunsets over the ocean. 

#10: Dinner and a Show!

Turn any night into date night with a special "dinner and a show" - just make plans to watch Mother Nature's spectacular sunset before or after enjoying takeout from one of our local restaurants. The tickets are free, and you can skip the long lines for dinner if you order ahead. Just grab your beach chairs and head over to the ocean for the best view in town. Be sure to dispose of your trash (there are trash cans at every beach entrance) and be careful not to share your dinner with our resident seagulls! To see a list of local restaurants currently offering outdoor dining, takeout, or delivery, check out www.capemaystrong.org/business-updates

Good news: our restaurants reopened for outdoor dining on June 15!
If you are looking for a relaxing place to stay during your upcoming Cape May getaway, consider The Mission Inn. Ranked the #1 bed and breakfast in Cape May on TripAdvisor, we pride ourselves on our commitment to clean and comfortable rooms, delicious food, and exceptional hospitality. Plus we offer the most beautiful in-room views in town. Click here to check out our rooms and see for yourself. 

If you have any questions about the inn or need help planning your visit, feel free to contact us directly at 609-884-8380 or info@missioninn.net