More than 300 years of history.
Cape May County’s rich history spans centuries from Native Americans to the arrival of the whaler yeomen, into the Victorian age, through world wars, to Harriet Tubman, to the Doo Wop era and beyond. Discover the Jersey Cape’s history at unique attractions located in venues throughout the County– and have fun doing it!
The City of Cape May played a pivotal role between North and South in the fight to end slavery, attracting both southern plantation owners, northern abolitionists, and Underground Railroad Leaders. The Center of abolitionist activism can be viewed today on Lafayette and Franklin Streets in the heart of Cape May City. The Harriet Tubman Museum of New Jersey, The Stephen Smith House, and Cape May MAC’s Underground Railroad Trolley Tour pay homage to these freedom fighters.
Historic Cold Spring Village, an Early American open-air living history museum, brings to life the day-to-day activities of villagers living in South Jersey during the “age of homespun” (1790-1840). Visit 26 restored buildings housing historically clothed interpreters who educate and entertain visitors about the lifestyles, issues, trades and crafts of the era. Stroll through the 22 acres of shaded lanes or enjoy the gardens where heritage crops are grown. Children can participate in a variety of projects, try on costumes, make crafts and play games.
Climb 199 steps to the top of the Cape May Lighthouse and stop by the Hereford Lighthouse to learn about our maritime history, relive the county’s patriotic experiences during World War II at Naval Air Station Wildwood or see what life was like here in mid 1800s with a visit to Historic Cold Spring Village. Naval Air Station Wildwood is housed in Hangar No. 1 at the Cape May County Airport, once a World War II dive bomber squadron training facility. The 92,000 square foot wooden structure has been restored to display vintage aircraft from all branches of the military. A Wall of Honor memorializes the 41men who perished while training at the air station. The hangar is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and hosts a variety of special events throughout the year. The Forgotten Warriors Museum, with a focus on that era, is also located near NASW.
Most towns have local museums filled with history, artifacts and knowledgeable people – the Sindia Museum in Ocean City, the George Boyer Museum in Wildwood or the Sam Azeez Museum in Woodbine housed in an historic synagogue. The Cape May County Museum in the John Holmes House is one of the oldest structures in the county, c. 1755, with period rooms, displays of furnishings, costumes, tools and decorative and practical objects from the 17th to 20th centuries.
The county is filled with buildings and sites on the National Register of Historic Places including most of Victorian Cape May, the state’s only National Historic Landmark City. Tours of the town – by trolley, foot or even horse and carriage – are a wonderful way to learn about Cape Island’s history, great fires, presidential visits and more.
For direct links to some of Cape May County's Cultural and Historical attractions please visit the sites below.
Cape May City:
Cape May Court House: