You may be compelled to visit Cape May, New Jersey, because of its beautiful beaches, featured by the Travel Channel in 2011 as the second-best beaches in America, and ninth best in the world. Certainly swimming, wading and sunning yourself along the scenic Cape May beachfront is a must-do.
But, while strolling the beaches of Cape May, you’ll probably want to also keep an eye out for shiny objects. Among the traditional shells and ocean-smoothed rocks that populate beaches across the country, Cape May’s got diamonds! Visitors may pick up the so-called diamonds, which are actually pieces of quartz that flow down from the Delaware River and are deposited on Cape May’s Sunset beach, according to the New Jersey Tourism Council. Many of the town’s shops also sell polished pieces of the quartz, which have been made into necklaces and other jewelry.
In addition to their special gems, Cape May’s beaches have become a hot spot for bird watchers to visit in the spring, as hundreds of species make their way through the cape during migration, according to the New Jersey Audubon Society. The organization hosts a World Series of Birding every May, and participants have spotted a total of 330 bird species on the beaches since the event’s 1983 inception. So make sure to bring your binoculars and a sharp ear for birdcalls when you visit.
The society will also hold its annual Cape May Birding Autumn Festival from Oct. 25 through 27. The event includes guided bird walks and other birding activities. For more information, visit www.njaudubon.org.
Continuing the fall fun, jazz lovers should circle their calendars for the second annual Exit 0 Jazz Festival, to be held from Nov. 8 through 10. The festival features nearly two dozen performers, including Grammy winners Diane Reeves and Eddie Palmieri, on seven different stages in Cape May. For more information, visit www.exit0jazzfest.com.
For a slightly quieter, but no less interesting visit to Cape May, history buffs may be interested to know that the entirety of Cape May, located on New Jersey’s southern tip, has been designated a National Historic District. Almost 600 homes located there have preserved Victorian architecture, and distinctive gingerbread trim. Hop on a bike and explore the many streets of unique homes in a unique way, with the help of the Cape May Bike Tour Map, researched and written by the MidAtlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities’ curator Elan Zingman-Leith. The $5 booklet provides descriptions and photos of more than 50 of Cape May’s historic properties and landmarks, along with directions and a map.