Summer isn’t complete without a trip down the shore! While it’s great to spend sunny days building sand castles and playing with the kids in the surf, there are many great educational spots that you should carve out time to visit. Here are a few of my favorites along the South Jersey shore.
Cape May County Park & Zoo / Cape May Courthouse
Stroll through 85 beautifully landscaped acres to view over 500 animals at the Cape May County Zoo. Be sure to check out the awe-inspiring snow leopards and the comedic antics of the river otters – they always bring a smile to my face! Admission and parking are free! www.capemaycountynj.gov
Cape May Bird Observatory / Cape May Point
This observatory was founded in 1976 by the New Jersey Audubon with the goal of connecting people with nature while being a leader in research and environmental education. Bring your binoculars to catch a glimpse of the native wildlife in this preserved habitat. This a great place to view both the spring and fall migrations of songbirds, raptors and the beloved monarch butterfly. Be sure to bring water to keep hydrated while you are bird watching. www.njaudubon.org
Wetlands Institute / Stone Harbor
This wonderful nature center is kid focused and has a variety of events each week as well as week-long summer programs. Learn about a variety of sea creatures including crabs and turtles, wade in the bay and investigate life under the sea, and view local wildlife feedings. They have a breadth of summer happenings you don’t want to miss. www.wetlandsinstitute.org
Historic Cold Spring Village / Cape May
Step back in time with a visit to this living history village. The museum boasts a variety of 18th & 19th century buildings and demonstrations including a blacksmith, book bindery, basket weaver, potter and many more. www.hscv.org
Harriet Tubman Museum / Cape May
This museum celebrates and honors the courageous acts of Harriet Tubman and “her missions to guide enslaved people to freedom“. The museum also “highlights the pivotal role Cape May played in the fight for freedom”. www.harriettubmanmuseum.org
NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum / Cape May
This restored 1940’s aircraft hangar is home to a variety of aircraft and hands-on educational exhibits. The whole family will learn about the history of aviation and World War II. www.usnasw.org
Lucy the Elephant / Margate
This whimsical building is in the shape of an elephant! It was built in 1881 as a tourist attraction and was even a home for a brief time. This architectural treasure is fun for all ages to explore so be sure to include a tour on your itinerary. www.lucytheelephant.org
Doo Wop Preservation League Museum / Wildwood
“Brimming with cool artifacts, fun memories, fascinating history and bright neon lights, the all-new Doo Wop Experience and Neon Sign Garden is a celebration of architecture, design, music, pop culture and everything else that made Wildwood famous in its heyday of the 1950s and 1960s.“ www.doowopusa.org
World War II Lookout Tower / Cape May
Tour the last remaining free-standing WWII lookout tower in NJ as you learn about the defense system that was put in place during the 1940’s. You will have a stunning view of the surrounding area from the top of the tower. www.capemaymac.org
Cape May Point Lighthouse / Cape May Point
Climb the original spiral stairs and learn about the history of the 157-foot-high lighthouse and the day-to-day life of the keepers who cared for it. This lighthouse is currently active so if you are there near sunset you’ll also be able to catch a glimpse of its bright light! www.capemaymac.org
These are just a few of the many great spots to explore this summer. Share your favorite educational beach spots with us in the comments below.
Keep going! Keep growing!