The shores of Cape May, New Jersey, are packed with history. In fact, it’s one of America’s first seaside resorts. But, did you know Cape May also has a rich military history? The remnants of yesteryear are scattered throughout its shores if you know where to look.
Whether you’re going on vacation or paying homage to the U.S. Navy, Cape May is the perfect destination. Check out our favorite Cape May Naval attractions to keep in mind when you’re planning your vacation to the Jersey Shore.
Explore Cape May’s Rich Naval History
Coast Guard Festival (May 2022)
The coast guard festival is postponed for 2021, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning your trip for next spring. This action-packed event, slated for May 7, 2022, fits enough entertainment into a single Saturday to keep the whole family happy and is one of the biggest attractions in Cape May.
Here’s what the coast guard festival has to offer:
- Walking tours of Coast Guard ships.
- Trolley tours of the Coast Guard training center in Cape May.
- A kids’ zone with face-painting, games, and a bounce house.
- Cultural exhibits celebrating the Coast Guard with a photo booth, and food and beverages from local restaurants.
- A USCG helicopter tour.
- Food and beer garden.
- Live music.
- Live Coast Guard demonstrations including:
- US Coast Guard recruit band performances.
- Search and rescue demonstrations over the harbor.
- K-9 demonstrations.
- Fire department demonstrations.
Naval Air Station Wildwood (NASW) Aviation Museum
If you’re looking for the ultimate military museum experience, Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum is the place to be. Located inside an authentic World War II hangar, this aviation museum is packed with exhibits, military history, and plenty of fun activities for the whole family. It also happens to be a top Cape May attraction.
Before it was decommissioned in 1946, the hanger was a training facility for dive bomber squadrons. After that it supported the United States Overseas Airlines until 1964, then became home to Allegheny Commuter airline from 1970-1990.
Finally, it was purchased in 1997 from Cape May County for $1 by a husband and wife pair who’ve worked hard to restore it and keep the history alive.
World War I “Atlantus”
Situated just off Sunset Beach, the SS Atlantus is a World War I ship that wrecked during a storm. It’s also one of 12 experimental ships built in 1918 made from concrete. Surprisingly, the SS Atlantus actually had a lengthy service record lasting more than two years. It transported American troops back home from Europe at one point and even ferried coal.
There were plans to use the ship to create a ferry dock, but it broke free from its resting place in a storm and ran aground. It remains in the same place today.
This Cape May attraction is a must-see for any military enthusiast and should make the cut for your itinerary on your Cape May getaway.
World War II Lookout Tower
Located adjacent to the SS Atlantus ship wreck, Cape May’s Fire Control Tower No. 23 has been open to the public since 2009. This structure is one of 15 towers that helped aim batteries of coastal artillery across Cape May’s shores. It was part of the Fort Miles harbor defense system and stands 100 feet tall.
You should be able to get a better bird’s-eye-view of the SS Atlantus after you’ve climbed to the top of the tower. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 3-12.
World War II bunker
Located just east of the Cape May Lighthouse stands a historic structure that should have washed away into the sea by now. The concrete bunker was built in 1942 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to house munitions and guns where it protected the coastline.
Because the tides have changed over the years, the bunker has slowly moved closer to the water. You can’t go inside the structure due to safety reasons, but it’s certainly a sight to behold.
Stay at Sun Outdoors Cape May
Located just a short drive from all of the attractions on this list, Sun Outdoors Cape May is a family-friendly outdoor destination packed with amenities and accommodations for everyone. You can expect spacious RV and tent sites, vacation rentals, a large swimming pool, a private lake, and so much more.
Sun Outdoors Cape May is the perfect place to rest your head and relax after a long day of adventure. Our amazing Cape May RV resort is the perfect spot to book a vacation the whole family will love.
If you’re an active duty military or a veteran of the United States and Canadian armed forces, you can take advantage of Sun’s Military Discount. With this military camping discount, you get one night free when you buy two nights thank you for your service.