With a storied history and a wealth of beauty reminiscent of yesteryear, Cape May, New Jersey has been charming tourists and residents alike since the first Philadelphians arrived to put their toes in the sand in the mid-1700s. Those early vacationers knew great beaches when they saw them and Cape May is today's setting for many weddings and vow renewals, simply because there isn't a bad view in the entire city.
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Of course, the ocean and bay views are great natural wonders, and if sitting back and relaxing on the beach is the way to spend the day, that's fine. Still, fishing, crabbing, swimming, sailing, and all other water sports keep visitors busy. Children enjoy combing the local beaches for Cape May diamonds, tiny pieces of quartz that have been polished smooth by the salt water. Cape May Point is where these beautiful "diamonds" are most likely to be found. Cape May was named for Cornelius Jacobsen Mey, a seafaring captain who explored the area in the early 1600s. Vacationers left the heat of Philadelphia in the mid-18th century to find cooling relief along the shoreline making Cape May the country's oldest seaside resort. A fire destroyed a five-block radius of Cape May in 1878 and the rebuilding effort resulted in Victorian architecture, which is still seen throughout the town today. The US Navy was active in Cape May during the Second World War, protecting shipping companies and other industries from wartime threats. In 1976, the city was designated the Cape May Historic District. It is the only city in the entire US that is designated as such. Approximately, 3,600 people live within Cape May, which uses a Council-Mayor form of government. The mayor is elected by voters to a four-year term in office. Four Council members are elected to four-year terms on a staggered basis. The 2nd Congressional District and the 1st state legislative district serve Cape May. Students between prekindergarten and the sixth grade attend Cape May City Elementary School. Beginning in seventh grade and commencing with high school, students attend Lower Cape May Regional School District. Beach tags are required for anyone over the age of 11 in Cape May. Tags must be worn from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Cape May does offer protected beaches. Families can enjoy movies on the beach throughout the summer months. Nature lovers will be fascinated by the variety of migrating birds that visit Cape May, which is a known haven for the flying creatures. The Cape May Lighthouse was built in 1859 and is still in operation, which makes it a notable stop for visitors. Cape May is home to various fine dining and casual dining restaurants alike. Some offer children's menus. Others are dog-friendly, meaning you can bring Fido along when you dine. Some restaurants are BYOB while others have liquor licenses. There is much to see and do in the city including a shark tournament, a triathlon, ghost tours, miniature golf courses, local theater, spas, local breweries, and a youth arts program. There is so much to do and enjoy in Cape May that it's understandable why this southern hotspot of the old and the new draws in residents and tourists over and over again. The architecture is beautiful and the city offers so much to those who come here. It's easy to see why Cape May which was a haven for people more than 200 years ago is still a place to gather and relax today.