Cape May Vacation Guide: History Buffs

Do you love learning about the history of a town when you visit? Do you want to know about how a place has changed over time? Do you want to actually travel back in time and see how things used to be? Or do you prefer experiencing history first-hand with a guided tour? If so, we suggest the following activities while visiting Cape May:

Cape May Trolley Tours

Historic Downtown Trolley Rides

Enjoy a trolley tour focused on Cape May’s Victorian heritage with the Historic District Tour offered by Cape May MAC (Museums+Arts+Culture). Or hop aboard more than 10 different seasonal trolley tours such as the Ghosts of Cape May, Mansions by the Sea, or Holiday Lights.

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Cost: $15/person

Cape May Insider Tip: Be sure to check the individual websites for up-to-date hours and specific tour times. Many of these organizations and businesses will change their hours depending on the time of year.

Curious Cape May Guided Bike & Walking Tours

Combine your love of history with the ocean air and a little exercise when you take a bike or walking tour with Curious Cape May. Sign up to explore the town on two wheels or two feet with your local guide and you will learn all about the curious past of this seaside town as you visit various locations off the beaten path. Tours offered daily May through November, weather permitting. Small group and private tours available. 

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Cost: $35/person, includes bikes, helmets and guide

Naval Air Station Aviation Museum

Check out the 26 planes and helicopters on display at this museum located at the Cape May Airport as you explore New Jersey military history. The 1940’s exhibit room recreates a typical house during World War II and gives you a glimpse of what life was like more than 75 years ago. Before you head back, stop at the Forgotten Warriors Vietnam memorial across the street.

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Cost: Aviation Museum: $14 per person; Forgotten Warriors: Donation

Discounts: Click here for a coupon worth $2 off adult admission. 

Historic Cold Spring Village

Wander around this 30 acre living history museum that brings to life the day-to-day activities of South Jersey residents during the age of homespun (1789-1840). The grounds include 26 historic buildings and artisans creating handmade crafts. Check out their historic walking tours and be sure to stop by the Cold Spring Village Brewery located inside a refurbished barn.

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Cost: $12/person; walking tours extra; brewery entrance is free.

Emlen Physick Estate Tours

Travel back in time when you visit the Emlen Physick Estate. Both guided and self-guided tours are available for this unique Victorian “stick style” mansion designed by architect Frank Furness. Hear about the history of the house and the Physick family. Then stop by the Carriage House to visit the Carroll Gallery and the Cape May MAC’s gift shop.

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Cost: $15/person

Cape May Lighthouse

Built in 1859, this historic landmark requires a good pair of shoes and decent stamina with its 199 step circular staircase to the top. Along the way you can catch your breath as you stop to read about the history of the lighthouse. And when you get to the top, the 360 degree panoramic views and cool ocean breezes are well worth the trip.

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Cost: $10/person

Cape May Insider Tip: When visiting the lighthouse, take time to explore the nature trails that are located in the state park. Three inter-connected trails wind through beautiful habitats, around beach vistas, and by peaceful lakes where you will likely see a variety of swans, ducks, raptors, and other bird species. Click here to learn more. 

World War II Lookout Tower

Walk up the 99 steps to the top of Fire Tower No. 23 built in 1942 for a great view of the Cape May Lighthouse and Sunset Beach. Listed in the New Jersey Register of Historic Places, the tower combines veteran memorials and educational history lessons.

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Cost: $6/person

Museum of Cape May County

With guided tours, rotating exhibits, lectures and special events, the Cape May County museum showcases local history. Housed in three historic buildings, it provides a treasure trove of exhibits showcasing county life from Native American times through the twenty first century.

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Cost: $8/person ($7 for seniors)

Cape May Insider Tip: When visiting the the Cape May County Museum, make plans to stop at some of the unique antique stores on the way along Route 9. Click here to see our list of recommended stores along this Antique Alley.