Cruising to Cape May on the ferry

“There’s nothing––absolutely nothing––
half so much worth doing as messing about in boats.”
― Kenneth GrahameThe Wind In The Willows

Welcome aboard the New Jersey! Sit back and enjoy the 90-minute cruise to Cape May.

Welcome aboard the New Jersey! Sit back and enjoy the 90-minute cruise to Cape May.

Docking at Cape May, the cruise is over. The fun, however, will continue.

Docking at Cape May, the cruise is over. The fun, however, will continue.

I have to agree with Mr. Grahame. Put me on a boat and I’m a happy girl. Put me on a boat (even a tub of a boat) and send me to Cape May and I am a very happy girl.

I don’t have any good reason to go to Cape May. When I’m spending time at the the Atlantic beaches of Delaware and Maryland, my days are packed with things to do.

The bell from a World War II era ship, the Cape May, now calls Cape May home. You'll find it on Washington Street.

The bell from a World War II era ship, the Cape May, now calls Cape May home. You’ll find it on Washington Street.

So why would I skip the beach, the boardwalks, the ocean and everything else for a boat ride to New Jersey?

The Cape May Ferry and charming Cape May. That’s why.

The ferry ride takes about an hour and a half. Just enough time to enjoy the sun in your face and the wind in your hair. We’ve admired the lighthouses. We’ve seen dolphins playing in the waters off the bow. We’ve stopped for a snack and perused the gift shop. Mostly we’ve just enjoyed the views of Delaware slipping away as New Jersey comes into view.

A variety of seating options are available on the ferry.

A variety of seating options are available on the ferry.

The ferries are comfortable enough, nothing luxurious. New seating offers airplane-like rows in the center, a couple of rows with little tables and booths by the windows. I’ve seen families bring picnic lunches for their crew but I always look forward to lunch or a snack in Cape May.

You can take your car if you want to — we have in the past — but we found it so much simpler to jump on the shuttle into town.

Cape May has lots to offer. Including a day to just stroll and do nothing. Since we’re going to be in town only a few hours, we keep it simple: a walk to see the beach and drop into a few shops. Without a doubt, I’m going to want to stop in Fralinger’s for some macaroons and creamy mints. (No salt water taffy for me, thanks.)

The Congress Hall Hotel is marking its bicentennial this year.

The Congress Hall Hotel is marking its bicentennial this year.

The big old Congress Hall hotel marks its bicentennial this year — I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to stop here in 1816. Luckily, a photo display off the lobby tells the history. It’s worth a stop to see the old place looking quite good for a lady of her age.

Before it’s time to head back to the ferry, I’m going shopping. And there’s everything from a new frock to a new t-shirt in the little shops downtown.

Like a little history with your seaside fun? Cape May has house tours and trolley tours and lighthouse tours, too. Not to mention special events that celebrate all things Cape May. One of these days, I’m coming back to Cape May and check them out. (Nice to know these things go on long after the beach season is over.)

By the time the ferry docks in Lewes at the end of the day, I’ve had a good day. Guaranteed.

ⓒ Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman

Victorian style reigns in Rotary Park. Though it looks old, the gazebo is brand new, built in 2016 to replace a 50-year-old bandstand.

Victorian style reigns in Rotary Park. Though it looks old, the gazebo is brand new, built in 2016 to replace a 50-year-old bandstand.

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