Summer wouldn’t be complete for many families without a trip to the ocean to enjoy the surf and sand. However, an ocean beach vacation can get costly. I decided that camping near the ocean would be a more affordable way to get away. We would save money by eating some meals at the campsite, instead of always eating out, and the campground fees would be less expensive than renting a beach home or a hotel room. After visiting and/or a conducting an Internet search, I found a wonderful way to combine my love of camping with my love for the beach.
I focused my research on places that were within several hours of the DC Metro area, primarily Virginia Beach, Ocean City, Rehoboth, Bethany Beach and Cape May. In the end, we chose to go to Cape May, New Jersey to the Seashore Campsites & RV Resort which is located 4 miles from historic Cape May’s beautiful Victorian homes and a 10 minute drive to two Atlantic Ocean beaches.
About the Seashore Campsite & RV Resort
Compared to an average state park, this campground was expensive. A basic no water, no electric campsite for 2 adults and 2 children is currently $65 a night with an additional $8 per child up to 6 max individuals per site. A state park will only run about $25 to $35 a night. Considering the cost of a hotel or a B&B in Cape May or beach resort though, the Seashore Resorts felt like a bargain. If you don’t want to sleep in a tent, you can rent an air-conditioned modern cabin with a kitchen, 2 bedrooms, living room, bathroom, and flat screen television starting at about $135/night.
There are lots of trees and shade on the property. The facilities were clean, and the roads are flat and paved so bike riding is easy. There is a man-made lake with a sandy beach and a water slide. The lake looked like it had a lot of algae in it, but the kids had fun. There was also a separate swimming pool with a small snack shack nearby. For those not wanting to miss a workout, there is a small workout gym. There is a camp store with camping essentials and souvenirs, a mini-golf course, an arcade, and a place for the kids to do crafts. The campground has Wi-Fi so it is easy to stay connected. If camping, you’ll need quarters for the showers. Dogs are allowed. It was easy to get groceries as there were many places within 10 minutes of the campgrounds. Immediately outside of the Seashore Campsite & RV Resort is a fresh vegetable/fruit stand as well as an ice cream store.
We didn’t spend that much time at the resort as we were at the ocean most of the day. By the time we returned back, the pool or lake was closed (around 6:30 p.m.) However, in the early morning and evenings we enjoyed walking around. The Seashore Resort has an art colony feel, as many of the semi-permanent residents decorate their RV’s or mobile homes in a kitschy fashion. There are lots of kids and families. We didn’t have any problems with noise in the evenings, but we went at the end of August when the resort was only half full. During the season there are many kid friendly programmed activities (like Bingo night), so there is plenty to keep families busy just at the campgrounds. There are golf carts for rent to get around the property. So, you see lots of golf carts and kids riding their bikes.
There are several beaches within 10 minutes from the Seashore Resorts. We decided to try two of them. The Cape May Beach is very clean and is near historic Cape May. Life guards are on duty until 5:30 p.m. At the Cape May beach you’ll need a beach tag for all members 12 years and older which can be purchased at entrances to the beach. The current price is $6/day, $12 (for 3 consecutive days), or $18 for the week. Active Military members are free. There is metered parking along the street. A few years ago, they did some dredging along the shoreline, and there is a quick drop off when you get into the water. The waves also crash really hard making it less than ideal for young kids. I was told that if you go to the end of the beach, there is an inlet that is calmer and better for kids. It was called The Cove. We would like to try that next time we go.
The other beach we went to was the Wildwoods Beach in Wildwood, NJ also just a 10 minute drive from the Seashore Resort. This is a free beach with no entrance fee. The kids loved the boardwalk and the rides at Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Water Parks. Morey’s is a 6 block beachfront amusement park featuring over 100 + rides and a water park. We didn’t want to pay for parking at the beach, so we dropped our family and beach supplies off near the boardwalk and then found free parking about 5 blocks away. If you prefer, there were many private lots by the beach. One downside of Wildwood is that it is a FAR distance from the boardwalk to the water which wouldn’t be good if you had to carry young kids and your beach supplies. You can hail Wildwood Beach Taxi’s which will take you from the boardwalk to the beach and back from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The cost is $3 for adults and $2 for children.
There are many other beaches in the area which you can visit. Many of them offer free parking and some allow pets.
Other Fun Activities
- Cape May Lighthouse. It was a long way up the winding staircase. I would not recommend it for those with a fear of heights. Once at the top of the lighthouse, there were terrific views of the area. ($8/adults and $5 children)
- Parasailing and Jet Boating with East Coast Watersports. This was the highlight of our trip. I have a fear of heights but despite being lifted over 500 feet in the air, parasailing was not scary. Children must be 6 years of age or older. Depending on wind and weight restrictions passengers can ride single, tandem or triple. In addition to the Parasail, we took a ride on the Jet boat. The Jet boat, which held 24 passengers was super fast. The captain did thrill maneuvers such as a 360 spin and bow dunks. On both the Parasail and the Jet boat the captains told engaging stories and pointed out geographical and historical points of interest. Dolphins were spotted on the Jet boat trip. The cost varies by age, and some coupons are available.
- Cape May County Park & Zoo. The two tween and teen boys I was traveling with whined all the way to the zoo. They thought the zoo would be “boooring.” However, they ended up having a terrific time and wanted to stay longer. The park has very nice picnic areas, and lots of shade. The zoo is free, although donations are appreciated. This is a beautifully laid out zoo. I highly recommend it for all ages.
There are so many things to do in the Cape May area. Visit TripAdvisor and search on “Cape May Things to Do,” you will find plenty of activities to fit your family’s interest and budget.
Getting there and back again
On our way to Cape May from DC, we took I-95 N and crossed over the Delaware Memorial Bridge. If you have acrophobia (fear of bridges) like I do, you can get a FREE escort from the Delaware River and Bay Authority to drive your vehicle over the bridge. There are a number of tolls, so be prepared with lots of change.
On the way back, we decided to take a longer, more expensive, but much more relaxing and scenic route. We took the Cape May-Lewes Ferry from Cape May to Lewes, and then spent the day at Rehoboth Beach before heading back to the DC area. The Cape May-Lewes Ferry trip from Cape May to Lewes takes about 85 minutes, although you do need to plan to be there at least 30 minutes early. There was food available for purchase, WiFi and television. We spent time in the air-conditioned cabin and ventured outside to catch the ocean breeze. If you need to depart at a certain time, you should make an advance reservation.
If you come home to the DC metro area via Lewes or Rehoboth, DE, you will have to travel over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. For those needing assistance driving over this very long bridge, you can get an escort service with Kent Island Express for a fee of $30 cash or $35 credit. Rates double before 8 a.m. or after 8 pm. Just call one hour before you need to cross the bridge.
If your schedule allows, try to go at the end of August when Maryland and Delaware students are back in session. The campground and beaches are less crowded then.
Photos by Danielle Werchowsky.