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Cape May Highlights

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

The Exit Zero Jazz Festival takes place twice a year, spring and autumn, in the national historic landmark city of Cape May, a picturesque beach town on the very southern tip of New Jersey.

The Festival presents international touring artists in concert settings on two main stages- Schmidtchen Theater (cap. 1200) and Cape May Convention Hall (cap. 800). In addition to the concerts, a vibrant club schedule is presented throughout each Fest weekend in the bars and restaurants lining the beachfront and center of town, featuring many genres of music. You might find yourself one minute second-lining to a New Orleans brass band, and, in the next, snaking through town behind a 22-piece Brazilian drum bloco.

The joy of the Festival is in the discovery of incredible music and musicians you may never have known existed.

West Cape May Christmas Parade

Always the first Saturday in December, The WCM Community Christmas Parade sets the stage for the areas holiday season. Now in its 55th year, the parade steps off at 5:00 pm sharp from the WCM Volunteer Firehouse and marches South on Broadway, winds East on Perry, and onto Carpenter Lane in the City of Cape May. A small army of volunteers assembles an unforgettable hometown memory each year!

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Cape May Stage, an Equity theater founded in 1988, performs at the Robert Shackleton Playhouse on the corner of Bank and Lafayette Streets.

East Lynne Theater Company, an Equity professional company specializing in American classics and world premieres, has its main stage season from June–December and March, with school residencies throughout the year.

Cape May is home to the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC), established in 1970 by volunteers who succeeded in saving the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate from demolition. MAC offers a wide variety of tours, activities and events throughout the year for residents and visitors and operates three Cape May area historic sites—the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate, the Cape May Lighthouse and the World War II Lookout Tower.

The Center for Community Arts (CCA) offers African American history tours of Cape May, arts programs for young people and is transforming the historic Franklin Street School, constructed in 1928 to house African-American students in a segregated school, into a Community Cultural Center.

Home of the famous “Cape May diamonds” that show up at Sunset Beach and other beaches in the area, they are clear quartz pebbles that wash down from the Delaware River. They begin as prismatic quartz (including the color sub-varieties such as smoky quartz and amethyst) that get eroded out of the host rock and wash down 200 miles to the shore. Collecting Cape May diamonds is a popular pastime and many tourist shops sell them polished or even as faceted stones.

The Cape May area is also world-famous for The Cape May Bird Observatory for migrating birds, especially in the fall. With over 400 bird species having been recorded in this area by hundreds of local birders, Cape May is arguably the top bird-watching area in the entire Northeastern United States. The Cape May Warbler, a small songbird, takes it name from this location.

Cape May is also a destination for marine mammal watching. Several species of whales and dolphins can be seen in the waters of the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean, many within 10 miles (16 km) of land, due to the confluence of fresh and saltwater that make for a nutrient rich area for marine life. Whale and dolphin watching cruises are a year-round attraction in Cape May, part of an ecotourism / agritourism industry that generated $450 million in revenue in the county, the most of any in the state.

Fisherman's Memorial

The Cape May Fisherman's Memorial, at Baltimore and Missouri Avenues, was erected in 1988. It consists of a circular plaza reminiscent of a giant compass, a granite statue of a mother and two small children looking out to Harbor Cove, and a granite monument listing the names of 75 local fishermen who died at sea. The names begin with Andrew Jeffers, who died in 1893, and include the six people who died in March 2009 with the sinking of the scalloping boat Lady Mary. The granite statue was designed by Heather Baird with Jerry Lynch. The memorial is maintained by the City of Cape May and administered by the Friends of the Cape May Fisherman's Memorial. Visitors often leave a stone or seashell on the statue's base in tribute to the fishermen.

Cape May is proud to present the brand new The Harriet Tubman Museum! The museum recognizes Harriet Tubman's courage, compassion and conviction as well as the history of abolitionist activism and the African American community in Cape May and its surrounding region.


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