The Jersey Shore has been a famous vacation destination for families in the northeast for generations. Surf and sun-seekers from New York City flood the sandy beaches in central New Jersey every summer from mid-June to Labor Day weekend – and folks from the Philadelphia region populate our beautiful southern beaches during that same time frame. September and October are also gorgeous at the Jersey Shore. The water and air temperatures can still be warm, and our beaches are completely uncrowded. Those that live along the Jersey Shore call this lovely time of year, “local’s summer.”
But is the Jersey Shore good for tent campers, glampers, and RV owners?
When it comes to camping of all kinds, the southern New Jersey shore is an absolute gem and the answer is clearly an enthusiastic yes! This stretch of coastline is packed with beautiful beaches, incredible food and wine, and fun activities for families with kids of all ages. In fact, I think that the Cape May region of New Jersey is one of the most underrated camping destinations in the country! Thankfully, Campspot offers several great campground locations near Cape May and Wildwood that are excellent.
My two favorite Campspot locations in this region are Seashore Campsites and Sun Outdoors Cape May. Neither of these resorts are directly on the beach – but they will get you really close. New Jersey’s best beaches and restaurants are just a few short miles away.
Seashore Campsites was the first RV resort we ever visited over a decade ago, and it was awesome then and is just as awesome now. The pool and man-made lake are perfect for days when the ocean is a bit too chilly or rough. The amenities, like mini-golf, tennis courts, and basketball courts, are also great for active families. The RV and tent sites are shady and many of them offer privacy–especially the sites in the back of the campground. There are also cozy cottage rentals and tent sites for those who don’t own an RV.
Sun Outdoors Cape May also offers up a variety of camping options including spacious RV sites, newer deluxe cabins, and shaded tent camping sites. Kids love the sandy beach by the lake and the modern playground–and the pool is also great for a dip after a long day at the beach. This campground is located midway between Wildwood and Cape May and serves as a great jumping off point for exploring both of these historic seaside towns.
Once you pick a great campground for your Cape May adventure it’s time to start planning some fun activities. Here are 7 of my favorite options for summer fun in Cape May, along with options for nearby day trips to Wildwood and Atlantic City.
1. Beach Days at Cape May Point State Park:
The beaches in downtown Cape May are excellent if you want easy access to restaurants, surf shops, and ice cream. But my family has always preferred to head a bit further south to the Cape May Point State Park. The beaches here are less crowded and you can climb the lighthouse, or do some light hiking on the park’s world famous bird watching trails. Monarch butterflies are also abundant here during their fall migration. Parking is free and the beaches are wild and beautiful.
2. Take a Surf Lesson at EcoVentures
If you are looking for a more adventurous day at the beach, why not take a surf lesson from EcoVentures Surf School? The teachers at EcoVentures offer hands-on instruction in small group settings for anyone 8 years old and up. All of them are CPR and First Aid certified and will also teach you and your kids the basics about ocean safety. Catch a wave (with a little help) and you’ll be sittin’ on top of the world! Just don’t forget your sunscreen and a rash guard.
3. Explore Downtown Cape May by Bike
Cape May is a terrific town to explore by foot, but it may be the perfect town to explore by bike. The Cape May promenade allows bikes in the morning hours up to 10 a.m. so plan on getting there early and taking a relaxing ride with the Atlantic Ocean as backdrop. You will be able to hear the sound of waves crashing within earshot. After 10 a.m. plan on cruising around Cape May’s back streets and byways to see stunning examples of turn of the century Victorian architecture. If you can’t bring bikes when you camp, no worries. Plan on renting them from Shields’ bike rentals–they’ve got your whole family covered.
4. Grab Some Local Libations at Cape May Winery
After you’ve exhausted yourself surfing, hiking, riding bikes, or just splashing in the waves, it is time to start thinking about dinner. But first, why not grab a bottle of local wine at Cape May Winery? You might also consider taking a tour of their vineyard and cellars. At the very least grab a bottle to go with dinner. I recommend their award winning Cabernet!
5. Dinner at Freda’s Cafe
My favorite restaurant in Cape May is almost certainly Freda’s Cafe. Freda’s serves up incredible American dishes featuring great steaks and ribs, and the Chilean Sea Bass is legendary. They also offer a variety of vegetarian dishes and delicious soups and salads. This is a small, intimate cafe with limited seating–so making reservations is highly recommended. Freda’s is also a BYOB, so don’t forget to bring your bottle from Cape May Winery.
6. Take a Day Trip to Wildwood
If you are looking for a bit less Victorian class and a bit more mid-century kitsch, then head over to Wildwood for a day trip! Check out Bobby Dee’s arcade for classic games right on the boardwalk or plan on spending the day on the water slides at Morey’s Beachfront Waterpark. Fans of music and pop culture from the 1950’s and 60’s should not miss the Doo Wop Museum, which chronicles Wildwood’s heyday over 60 years ago! Wildwood can get a bit crazy on the weekend, so I recommend a mid-week day trip for easier parking and shorter waits on all of the rides.
7. Take a Day Trip to Atlantic City
Atlantic City is known for its casinos and nightlife, but when my family goes we head directly to Bass Pro Shops to stock up on whatever camping gear we need for the season. The nearby outlets also make a great rainy day destination. While you are parked at Bass Pro Shops take advantage of your free parking spot and walk right over to White House Subs – which may just be the most famous sub shop in America. The photographs on the walls are a who’s who of 20th century Americana – from presidents to pop culture icons and world-class athletes. When in Atlantic City they all stop at White House for an epic dinner or lunch.
As you can see, Cape May and the southern New Jersey shore make for a great camping destination! Our family returns with our RV year after year, and we think yours will too!
It’s time to book that first trip to Cape May now! The sun and the sand and the fun are all waiting for you! What are you waiting for?
Jeremy Puglisi is a Campspot Ambassador and the author of the bestselling books Where Should We Camp Next, and See You at the Campground. He is also the host of the RV Atlas podcast and Go RVing’s 6 Things I Love About My RV.