If you’re planning a Jersey Shore getaway, you’ll find the perfect escape in Cape May, one of the area’s premier destinations. Cape May summer rentals put the beaches and the boardwalk right on your doorstep, and offer the perfect spot for enjoying long summer days.

beaches in cape may

Beaches in Cape May

Getting to Cape May

With its Victorian homes, old-timey ice cream shops, and iconic lighthouse, Cape May might seem like its own quaint little world, but it’s easily accessible from most places on the Eastern Seaboard. Visitors looking to spend a weekend away from the bright lights and bustle of the big cities should consider driving to Cape May, as it’s only two hours by car from Philadelphia, a three-hour jaunt from Baltimore, and less than four hours from New York City.

cape may oceanscapes

Cape May Oceanscapes

If you’re planning on flying to Cape May, keep in mind that it’s a two-hour drive from Philadelphia International Airport, and a 45-minute drive from Atlantic City International Airport, so renting a car at the airport is recommended. Not only will a rental car give you the chance to explore Philadelphia’s historic landmarks, and the glittering casinos of Atlantic City, but you’ll also be able to hit South Jersey’s wineries, take some stunning summer selfies at Sunset Beach, and grab a slice of cherry pie at the vintage diners on Route 9.

While Cape May has certainly earned its reputation as one of the foremost summertime destinations on the East Coast, there are plenty of other interesting spots to visit along the way. And when you’re motoring down the sun-soaked shoreline with the windows down, the radio on, and the smell of salt marshes on the breeze, you’ll realize that the journey itself is half the fun.

Where to Spend Summer in Cape May

As one of America’s oldest seaside resorts, Cape May was once the playground of millionaires and bon vivants, but now exudes a decidedly more laid-back vibe. That’s not to say there aren’t remnants of its genteel past—the entire city is designated as a National Historic Landmark, after all—but families, couples, and sun-worshippers wondering where to spend a summer in Cape May will find plenty of cozy and comfortable quarters. Families planning an extended-stay vacation will want to check out the excellent selection of Cape May vacation rentals, where they can kick back in communal living spaces, use the kitchen to whip up Garden State staples like Jersey breakfast dogs, or just enjoy some downtime in the extra space. The Sandpiper Beach Club, perched within shouting distance of the dunes, offers spacious, apartment-style accommodations suitable for the whole clan, plus the added benefits of laundry facilities and an outdoor pool.

cape may summer rentals

Cape May Summer Rentals

Groups and couples, meanwhile, might want to set their sights on some of the town’s more intimate options, and will find plenty of unique old-world properties to choose from. Cape May’s collection of Victorian houses is among the finest in the nation, and a hotel in the Historic District will put you right in the middle of the Italianate mansions, leafy gardens, fairytale bungalows, and open-air restaurants.

For a classic Cape May experience, consider booking a room at the Virginia Hotel, a 19th-century landmark with a storied past. The Virginia offers boutique accommodations, charming American ambience, and elegant farm-to-table dining, and is situated just half-a-block from the beach.

Summer Activities in Cape May

For some visitors, a Cape May getaway begins and ends with unwinding on its beaches, but the city is much more than surf and sun. Shoppers will enjoy browsing for one-of-a-kind souvenirs in the independent boutiques, where they can find everything from peanut-butter-flavored treats at Cape May Peanut Butter Co., to a range of seaside-inspired art and locally produced wines. Cape May Soap Co. is the perfect spot to pick up a souvenir, as its small-batch artisanal soaps make for too-nice-for-the-shower gifts, while bookworms will love getting lost in the stacks at Cape Atlantic Book Company on the Washington Street Mall.

cape may state park

Cape May State Park

If you’re looking for summer activities in Cape May to get your heart pumping and your pulse racing, consider taking to the skies. Cape May offers a range of exciting airborne adventures, including skydiving, parasailing, and plane rides, giving you a whole new perspective on the city. If you’re planning a more down-to-earth stay, book a deep-sea excursion, where you can whale watch, water ski, or rent a kayak to explore the area. Sunset cruises are ideal for those who just want to kick back and enjoy a glass of champagne, while kids will get a kick out of the pirate cruises and paddle-boarding.

Cape May is also home to a renowned theater, and catching a summertime show in Cape May Stage’s circa-1853 building should be near the top of any culture-lover’s list.  Bike tours provide a breezy way to brush up on the city’s fascinating history, while a selection of day spas allow you to end your action-packed days with a bit of pampering and alone time.

What to Eat in Cape May

Cape May’s dining scene packs a punch, and foodies will delight in its fresh seafood and one-of-a-kind regional specialties. Lingering over a hearty breakfast is always a great way to spend a leisurely summer morning, and Uncle Bill’s Pancake House, Back Bay Bistro, and Coastal Blue are all perfect spots to kick-start your day with some classic American fare.

shopping and dining in cape may

Shopping and dining in Cape May

When lunchtime rolls around and you’re wondering what to eat in Cape May, skip the hot-dog stands and head to the Blue Pig Tavern at Congress Hall, a long-standing institution in a former gambling hall. The tavern offers a warm, cozy atmosphere, as well as fantastic beer-battered calamari. For something more global, dig into the eggplant rollatini at local favorite Godmother’s Restaurant, or stop by La Dona Restaurante Mexicano for some Oaxacan-style dishes. The Lobster House, meanwhile, provides the full seaside experience, with an excellent raw bar and stunning views of the ocean.

Dinner’s when things get lively, and Lucky Bones Backwater Grille, and Hemingway’s Prime Steaks & Seafood, are both family-friendly hotspots with a convivial vibe and casual menus.  If you’re looking for a more traditional dining experience, check out the Magnolia Room in the 19th-century Chalfonte Hotel. This elegant, family-run restaurant has been serving acclaimed Southern fare for over 75 years, so enjoying a cocktail and skillet-fried chicken on its breezy veranda makes for a truly memorable Cape May night. Of course, no Cape May visit would be complete without sampling the city’s old-school confections, and visitors can satisfy their sweet tooth at Pretty Tasty Cupcake Boutique or Uncle Charley’s Ice Cream.

With all that Cape May has to offer, it’s the perfect destination for a summer getaway. Book your Cape May vacation on Expedia today!