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Mar 09

[ARCHIVED] 15 Free Things to Do in Cape May County in Southern New Jersey

The original item was published from March 9, 2016 4:17 PM to November 1, 2019 2:09 PM

Cape May County in Southern New Jersey is full of amazing bargains and freebies that guests can stumble upon. This guide narrows down the top 20 ways to enjoy the many perks of the Cape May area for free. So do your bank account a favor and take the kids over to the New Jersey Cape for stress-free, no expense paid adventures.

1. Animal lovers on a budget will want to meet Jerome the Giraffe, Charlie the Camel and Ellie the Lion at Cape May County Zoo. Admission and parking are free (charges only apply to busses and large passenger vans). However, the non profit zoo will accept donations that go toward maintaining the welfare and health of the animals. Guests will enjoy the zebras, monkeys, otters and many other exotic creatures at the zoo.


2. Every July in Lower Township, Cape May Beach Property hosts an annual Whale of a Day festival. Visitors can celebrate the whales that are known to migrate to its shores. Hundreds of street vendors flock to the area to sell their best goods, and children can take advantage of the arts and craft booths to make whale art and souvenirs. Live music, flea markets and food trucks are all available to enjoy on the premises. There is no admission fee to attend and the event will go on, rain or shine.


3. For a dose of nautical history, head over to the Delaware Bay and see the remains of the S.S. Atlantus ship that can be seen over the ocean. Lore has it that in 1926, this concrete ship sank after a violent storm broke her loose and pummeled her to the bottom of the ocean floor. Because S.S. Atlantus was made of concrete, it was nearly impossible to pry her out of the ocean. Instead, the ship has been a popular tourist attraction for more than 80 years, but is slowly disappearing as it erodes and sinks deeper into the seabed. Take your chances to swing by this historic marvel for free during your visit to Cape May. Afterwards, stop and look around the beach for Cape May Diamonds -- thousands of year old quartzes that can be polished and used like real diamonds. They are yours to take home if you find them.


4. Get your bean fix at the Lima Bean Festival that takes place on Columbus Day weekend each year. At Wilbraham Park in West Cape May, guests will have the opportunity to try unusual lima-bean flavored ice cream and other lima-infused dishes. Guests can browse through sculptures in the shape of lima beans, jewelry inspired by the beans or make a purchase of lima bean-influenced memorabilia. And before you know it -- your kids will be begging for more lima beans.


5. Another great free thing to do is to check out some of the beaches of Cape May County such as Wildwood’s beaches. Wildwood was ranked as the best beach in the state by the New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium and is one of the only four free beaches in the state. With no parking or beach admission fee, guests can come and go anytime on the beach at no expense and relax under

the sun. After a refreshing swim, beachgoers can go on a stroll along the boardwalk loaded with novelty shops, piers and a historic amusement park to put a pizzazz on your New Jersey beach vacation.


6. Go on scenic hikes at some of Southern New Jersey’s gorgeous nature reserves including Cape May Point State Park and Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area. Overlooking the Atlantic ocean, the parks are known for sporting fascinating birds (songbirds, hawks, shorebirds), so be sure to bring your binoculars. Some of the parks like Higbee Beach are known for their well-preserved, historic Indian burial grounds.


7. They don’t call Wildwood “The Parade Capital of New Jersey” for nothing. Whether it’s St. Patrick's Day, Mummer’s Day, Christmas in July or honoring firefighters, Wildwood is known for going all-out festive with glitzy parades and celebrations. Schedule your visit around the holidays or special events to catch fleets of talented bagpipers, holiday adorned boats or vintage firetrucks parading down the street.


8. Each spring, avid birders flock to Cape May County to enjoy the spectacle of more than a million migrating birds heading north. Cape May has the second largest assembled shorebird population in the Western Hemisphere. With no admission fees, guests will only need to bring their binoculars to catch a glimpse of herons, egrets and iconic bald eagles.


9. To celebrate Cape May County’s cultural history, the Sam Azeez Museum of Woodbine Heritage focuses on the wave of Russian Jews immigrating to the area at the end of the 19th century. At this free museum, guests can learn about the hardship and evolution of farming and the construction of their own synagogue. Today, the Brotherhood Synagogue (in the museum) houses documents, artifacts and personal stories of its past immigrants.


10. The National Marbles Tournament is a longstanding tradition of Cape May County and takes place at Wildwood’s Ringer Stadium at the beach. Visitors can watch youngsters aged 8-14 compete for the coveted title of king and queen of marbles. At no costs, guests (mibsters) can watch up to 1,200 marble games and root for their favorite players.


11. Why walk through Cape May County when you can peddle along one of its many scenic bike routes? The county is known for it’s extra-flat surfaces, making it ideal for bikers to enjoy their great adventures. The most popular designated bike trails are in Middle Township, Cold Spring, Petersburg and Woodbine. This bicycle-friendly county also has paved bike lanes by highways and boardwalks. A map of the complete bike lanes/trails is important to study before planning your ride.


12. Dreaming for a visit to Italy but don’t have the funds for it? Ocean City may be the much more affordable alternative as it hosts the annual Night in Venice festival every summer where the largest boat parade in the world is held. Thousands of spectators gather each year for free to see the beautifully decorated boats of all sizes. The boats leave from Longport Bridge and head south.


13. Every Friday during the summer, Wildwood Boardwalk is proud to host majestic and patriotic fireworks over the ocean. Free to spectators, the fireworks start at 10 p.m. and explode rhythmically to a musical score. Don’t forget to bring your beach chair or picnic blankets to make your comfortable evening go out with a bang.


14. Reveal your inner swashbuckler by grabbing a shovel and start digging for Captain Kidd’s treasure on the beach in North Wildwood. For the past 50 summers, the infamous pirate pays a visit to the shore and recruits your children to help him find the bounty he left behind hundreds of years ago. Honorary children and adult pirates will start to dig for hidden treasures when the event begins. Mateys that dig up the famed treasure will take it home for free.


15. During the middle of November, tip toe to Ocean City for the annual Quiet Festival. The event has one solid rule -- guests are to remain silent or speak quietly as they enjoy the many amenities. Children can make flying paper planes, partake in a Yawn Along, listen to seashells and partake in many quiet activities.