People have been flocking to the Jersey Shore for years to enjoy its gorgeous beaches and the unique personalities of its beach towns. College students on spring break, retired couples on weekend getaways and families on summer vacation have all found something to enjoy in this beautiful part of the world. But which beach, and which town, is right for your plans?
Cape May Beach is better for relaxation. Its Victorian architecture and quirky atmosphere will suit visitors looking for a vacation with unique character and old-world charm. Wildwood is better for high-energy fun. Its retro boardwalk is packed with rides and games.
|Category||Cape May Beach||Wildwood Beach|
|Natural Beauty||Beautiful white sand and blue ocean||Beautiful white sand, wide beach, and blue ocean|
|Atmosphere||Relaxing and quirky||Lively and colorful|
|Weather||Cold in winter, hot in summer||Cold in winter, hot in summer|
|Entry Cost||$6 per person per day, or $15 for three days||Free|
|Activities for Kids||Beach, horse-drawn carriage, lighthouse, whale tours||Boardwalk rides and games, biking, water parks, rollercoaster|
|Parking||Street meter $1-$2 an hour, free parking on some side streets and Cape May Elementary School||Little free parking, parking lots and parking structures|
Overview: Wildwood Beach vs. Cape May Beach
Cape May is an island at the tip of New Jersey’s Peninsula, in between the waters of Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. It features many beautiful beaches and has become a popular tourist destination in summer, when its population can swell from around 92,000 to 750,000.
Cape May City Beach is on the southernmost coast of the island, right outside the historic city of Cape May.
Wildwood Beach is about a 20 minute drive east from Cape May. The beach itself is around 4.5 miles long and stretches through three neighborhoods: Wildwood Crest, Wildwood, and North Wildwood, but the epicenter is unquestionably the 2 mile boardwalk and amusement park piers in the heart of the beach.
This article will compare different aspects of the beaches to help you decide how to plan your visit!
The Jersey Shore is famed for its white sand and blue sea, and both of these beaches are prime examples of what makes this part of the world a tourist magnet every summer.
Wildwood Beach is wider than Cape May City Beach, with lots of open space on the soft sand. This is excellent for games of volleyball or frisbee, but it is a few minutes down to the ocean, so keep that in mind if you are planning to push strollers or if walking on sand is difficult for you.
While there may not be much to choose between Wildwood Beach and Cape May City Beach when it comes to natural beauty, the atmosphere of these beaches can be pretty different.
Cape May City Beach stretches directly from the historic town itself, and the famous Victorian ginger-bread houses form a charming and picturesque backdrop to the beach. It has more high-end eateries and restaurants, as well as opportunities to taste the region’s wine. The quaint atmosphere is unique among beach towns, and it’s clear why so many holiday makers are attracted to this endearing beauty year after year.
Wildwood Beach, on the other hand, is backed by Morey’s Piers, a colorful and lively connection of rides and amusements including a waterpark, a roller coaster, and a Ferris wheel. The boardwalk serves up a slice of carnival energy and classic nostalgia at the same time: visitors will be thrown into peak beachtown Americana. This is a great place to bring a family of older kids and teenagers for a morning in the waterpark or an evening sampling food stalls.
In June, the Wildwood area is host to thousands of highschool students who flock to the motels and beaches for a week of partying to mark their senior year. Visitors looking to avoid the crowds should plan accordingly.
Keep in mind that Cape May Beaches require the purchase of a beach tag, which you can get at beach entrances or the Beach Tag Office. Costs run at $6 per person for a day pass or $15 for three days, with children under 11 entering free.
Wildwood is free to enter.
Cape May as a whole is beautiful all year. Winter does get chilly in this part of the world, but if you’re looking for brisk walks and glorious scenery, these beaches can be enjoyed year-round. For a classic beach vacation in the sun and the heat, plan to your visit for anytime between the end of May through to the end of August. Or, to escape the worst of the crowds, visit in September when the weather is slightly cooler but still clear and fine.
Activities for Kids
Beyond the delights of a day on the beach, Cape May offers other enjoyments for families with young children. On land, take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage to get a taste of living history; at sea, go for a whale-watching cruise to catch sight of the stunning whales and dolphins in the Atlantic. Don’t miss a visit to the lighthouse a short drive away, where you can climb to the top for panoramic views of the area.
Wildwood offers a near-overwhelming array of fun activities on its retro boardwalk, from go-karts to a ‘Ghost Ship’. Check out Mariner’s Pier for younger children: this has the highest concentration of child-friendly rides and games. Bicycles are allowed on the boardwalk until 11am every morning, and many families enjoy renting bikes and zipping down the beach.
Both beaches make for incredible family days out, but when it comes to making memories with your older children and entertaining teens, Wildwood has the edge.
In peak season, parking can be a headache in Cape May, so it’s worth getting there early in the day to get spots closer to the beach. Most parking is streetside, metered at $1 an hour with some streets pushing it to $2. There is free parking at Cape May Elementary school, a short walk from the beach, during the summer months, so get there before it fills up.
Wildwood has parking lots and parking garages right on the beach, but they do get pricey, so if you’re willing to walk you can take advantage of free streetside parking from around 25th Street in North Wildwood.
Conclusion: Cape May Beach vs Wildwood Beach
If you’re looking to party – by day or by night – Wildwood is a better beach for you. The fast pace of constant entertainment and endless options for fun and excitement make this beach a great place to visit with kids or groups of friends, while the wide swathes of white sand offer moments of peace as a break from the happy chaos of the boardwalk.
To relax and recharge, Cape May Beach is a better option. This beach and the surrounding town offer a charming backdrop and allow the natural beauty of the beach and the ocean to take center stage.
Cape May has many beautiful beaches, and this article has discussed only two of them. This stunning region is well worth exploring – there’s sure to be a beach, and a beach town, for your perfect vacation.