Just a few years ago, the Cape May County Park and Zoo was often referred to as “the best-kept secret in Cape May County.” That phrase is no longer true as the county’s zoo has steadily gained popularity and the distinction as one of the area’s top attractions. Located off Garden State Parkway Exit 12 on Route 9 one mile north of Cape May Court House, the Cape May County Park and Zoo has more than 200 species of animals – and about 550 animals! - on 200 wooded acres. It’s a fantastic place to spend an afternoon or even an entire day. There are miles of shaded walkways that wind around this free, public zoo and hundreds of exotic and interesting creatures to marvel at and learn about. The zoo itself is surrounded by acres of park land with biking and hiking trails, athletic fields, fishing ponds, playground areas and covered pavilions with barbecue grills. At the heart of the property, however, is the zoo, a fascinating place for a leisurely stroll surrounded by interesting residents of the zoo. Children can feed some of the animals. The zoo has an African Savanna that covers 57 acres at the end of a boardwalk through a forest of native vegetation, a reptile house and more.

To visit Leaming’s Run on Route 9 in Swainton is to leave the world behind and be enveloped in acres of flowers, gardens, birds and butterflies. From early summer to late fall, the gardens, flowers and birds change with the seasons.

For youngsters, there’s no more natural place to have fun than the Wetlands Institute with salt marsh trails, aquariums filled with turtles and horseshoe crab exhibits – or check out those crabs up close and personal along the bay especially in the spring when literally thousands come ashore to lay eggs that help provide nourishment for migrating red knots.

Cape May Nature Center right on the harbor in Cape May is busy with harbor safaris, guided kayaking trips, biking tours, gardening programs, family hikes, and beach explorations.

Ready to hit the links? Golf clubs– public and private, 9 holes or 18, throughout Cape May County have excellent facilities - challenging courses, pro shops and usually a restaurant or grill room for a pre-golf snack or a cold beverage at the 19th hole.

Birding enthusiasts already know that Cape May is the birding capital of North America – and novices and would-be birders are always welcome to join the fun. Cape May Point is a great place to start with marked, easy-to-follow trails to help even the novice birder spot ducks, swans, osprey, and other shore birds and wildlife along the way.

The Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary, a 21.5 acre preserve that is also a National Natural Landmark, is dedicated to the protection of coastal birds and their ecosystem. With three public access paths, visitors can almost imagine they are back in time when the Lenni Lenape Indians still fished along the shore and the beach was covered with sand dunes and groves of cedar, sassafras and holly trees (including an existing holly tree believed to be more than 200 years old).

Straddling the border the Cape May-Cumberland border, Belleplain State Forest encompasses 21,000 acres of Pinelands. One of Southern New Jersey’s premier camping destinations, it¹s a great place for hiking, biking, bird watching, canoeing and exploring.

The county also maintains several parks, open to the public at no cost. One of the newest attractions, the Cox Hall Creek Wildlife Management Area is quickly becoming a favorite spot for birdwatchers, walkers and anyone who just wants to see nature up close and personal.

The Wetlands Institute