Back in the 1800s, the idea of going on a beach vacation was still a relatively new concept for most Americans. So when an ambitious developer named Thomas Hughes opened a 100-room beachfront hotel in 1816 in Cape May — an idyllic retreat on the southern coast of New Jersey — East Coasters in need of a sunny getaway started flocking to America’s first seaside resort. The property was later renamed Congress Hall and over the years, the iconic hotel attracted no less than five presidents. And yet, while Cape May — with its colorful Victorian mansions, charming town center and beautiful beach — has recently been rediscovered by A-listers like Oprah and Tina Fey, it has remained blissfully off the radar of many travelers.
On a recent summer weekend, I was looking for an easy and fun getaway from New York City for my family and decided to check out Cape May. My husband and I kept asking ourselves why we hadn’t come sooner (and had to apologize to friends for posting photos on Instagram and giving away their secret spot). Our 6-year-old daughter Lucy loved it, too.
Check out these reasons why we think this overlooked beach town is such a paradise for families.