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About the Jersey Shore

Historic Appeal

Cape May County has long been enjoyed by residents seeking its mild climate and beautiful beaches. Archeologists have dated early pottery found in Cape May County to over 2,800 years ago. Native Cultures including the Lenni Lenape tribe are among the earliest recorded. The County derives its name from the Dutch captain named Cornelius Jacobsen Mey, who explored and charted the area between 1611 and 1614 and established a claim for the province of New Netherland. It was later settled by New Englanders from the New Haven Colony and the spelling changed.

The geographic thrust out into the Atlantic affords a mild coastal climate in the same zone as much of coastal Virginia. The moderating factor of the Atlantic provides a more mild winter and also a cooler summer than the rest of the state and areas inland. It is no wonder that people have been vacationing here for so long. As early as the 1700’s, people began to regularly visit Cape May to escape the heat of the cities. By the 1800’s, Cape May was recognized as one of the finest resort areas in the nation and was favored by several presidents who summered here frequently, using Congress Hall as their “Summer White House.”

Recognized as the nation's oldest seaside resort by the United States Government and designated a National Historic Landmark, Cape May continues to receive accolades today. The county contains 5 of the Top 10 beaches in the 2009 contest sponsored by the New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium, and Cape May was recognized as one of America's top 10 beaches by the Travel Channel. It is also designated as the top birding location on the East Coast.

Cape May Court House is a historic town of century-old homes, white-steepled churches and the old court house building—another National Historic Landmark that gives the town its name and its identity. One of the township's oldest homes, the John Holmes House (c. 1755) houses the Cape May County Museum, a repository of history and artifacts from the days of Lenni Lenape tribe through the settlement of the Southern New Jersey areas.

Nautical Ties

Cape May fishing boats are not only a source of wonderful fresh seafood but also a scenic delight!The county’s nautical history dates back to whaling communities like Townbank in the 1600’s. The Cape May Lighthouse, built in 1859 at the entrance to Delaware Bay, and the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse, constructed on the Atlantic Ocean side of the peninsula in 1874, are capstones of the golden era of shipping. Coastal fortifications from World War II, including an artillery bunker at Cape May Point and a fire control tower used to direct fire at enemy targets off the coast, have been restored. Today, there are still active fishing fleets that bring in fresh seafood for residents and visitors to enjoy.

Variety of Enjoyable Opportunities

From Upper Township to Lower Township, from Woodbine to the barrier islands, Cape May County is dotted with historic sites, old churches, one-room schools and other bits of history that continue to weave an interesting story for future generations. The county includes barrier islands that stretch along the eastern edge of the county from the oceanfront resorts of Cape May Point, Cape May, the Wildwoods, Stone Harbor, Avalon, Sea Isle City and Ocean City. Each has a distinct personality, while sharing the safe, sandy beaches and cool ocean breezes that bring our visitors back year after year, generation after generation.

Come enjoy Cape May County's incredible beauty from the ocean to the bay on the South Jersey ShoreA short distance inland, Lower, Middle, Upper and Dennis townships and the Borough of Woodbine offer vacationers great golf courses, fully-equipped campgrounds, and acres of unspoiled wetlands, meadows, marshes, parks and tennis courts. Enjoyed by residents and visitors alike, Jersey Fresh produce is sold from early spring through late Fall at farmers’ markets throughout the county.

(See Community Links page for more information about the Cape May area)