If you’re a beach person you must visit Cape May and see the lighthouse. The historic structure offers more than a trip up its 127 steps. It’s one of the nicest lighthouses on the shore. See the view from the top!
Inside its 3 feet 10 inch walls you’ll find interesting Cape May trivia at each of the spiral stair landings. You’ll see that the current Cape May lighthouse is actually the third lighthouse.
When you get to the top hold on because its very windy. Being a beach guy I’ve been to a few lighthouse along the east coast but the view from the top of the Cape May lighthouse is awesome. If it’s a clear day you’ll see:
- a panoramic view of Cape May Island and its white sandy beaches
- the experimental concrete ship sunk off of Sunset Beach (duh–it’s made of concrete) built by the Navy during WW2
- the Marine Corp bunker partially submerged off of the beach near the Cape May lighthouse
- the Naval radar station that nabbed a German U-boat during WW2
More Things to do at the Cape May Lighthouse
Visit the Wildlife Museum next to the giant whalebone (in the parking lot). Cape May’s marine life is fascinating. The Delaware Bay region (Cape May) is home to the largest population of the American horseshoe crab. Did you know that the medical profession uses an extract from the horseshoe crab to test the purity of medicines, speed blood clotting and to make absorbable sutures?
Visit the Gazebo overlooking the ocean. You can look for schools of dolphins with the coin operated binoculars (or bring your own) mounted on the Gazebo’s rails. You can also get a good look at the Marine Corp bunker.
If you like bird watching Cape May is famous for the migratory flights of many bird species (they don’t have an annual Wings N Water festival here for nothing) through Cape May. There’s a bird watching platform diagonally across the parking lot from the Wildlife Museum.
Cape May Lighthouse Fun Facts:
- the lighthouse is 157 feet tall
- the beacon still operates and aids the Coast Guard in navigation
- the small rooms on either side of the Cape May Lighthouse entrance are the original oil storage rooms
- Before electricity the US Lighthouse service manned the lighthouse. There was 1 head keeper and 2 assistants. They carried the whale oil to the top of the tower everyday to power the beacon.
- The keepers lived in 2 houses built next to the lighthouse with their families. One is still standing the other burned down
- the first lighthouse built in Cape May in 1823 was 68 feet tall,
- the second Cape May lighthouse, 78 feet tall, was poorly constructed in 1847 and succumbed to the ocean
- the present Cape May lighthouse cost $40,000 to build. The Army Corp of engineers built it in 1859
The Cape May Wine Vineyards
The Cape May Vineyards—Wine Tours and Wine Tasting
The Cape May Vineyards are a great place to visit in the “off season” or on a cloudy beach day. They offer tours that will get you complimentary wine glasses and more than $20 worth of wine “tastes”. If you don’t have time for the tour–buy a generous glass or two for $5 each. Bring your own cheese and sit outside in the shade sipping your wine. Who says you have to go to California to enjoy wine tasting?
The Cape May Wineries and Vineyard exploit Cape May’s extended “summer” season. Their grapes mature to get a full bodied wine. At one time Cape May’s vineyards led the nation in producing domestic wine. The vineyards are located at the southern-most part of New Jersey, in our beautiful Cape May County. Located in sleepy North Cape May they’re easy to get to. Between the Cape May Wineries create an overabundance of handcrafted premium wines from grapes carefully cultivated to their full bounty.
If you have time we highly suggest taking a day trip to Delaware using the Cape May Ferry. It’s a pleasant ride across the Delaware-about 90 minutes-with food and drink on board. The ferry will take you over to Lewes where you can visit Rehoboth Beach (great restaurants) or visit the huge Tangar Outlets in Delaware.