View of Cape May, NJ shores looking out into expansive, warm Atlantic Ocean water

Cape May transforms in the summer. Here's where to live to experience it every year.

It happens like clockwork during the summer months in New Jersey. Folks pack up their cars with beach towels, chairs, and coolers, put on their sunglasses, and make the trip down to the Jersey Shore. People travel from all over the state and Pennsylvania, and the Garden State Parkway fills up with cars and trucks heading down to beach towns and boardwalks for fun and relaxation.

Every South Jersey beach town has a different personality, with a few standouts:

  • Ocean City: Geared towards families, this dry town has a lively boardwalk and clean beaches.

  • Long Beach Island: This laid-back barrier island has no boardwalk but does feature a main street lined with shops and eateries. LBI is also known for its rolling, sandy dunes.

  • Cape May: Named the most beautiful place in New Jersey by Conde Nast Traveler, Cape May offers pristine beaches, historic 19th-century framed buildings, a vibrant downtown, and year-round events.

Active adults have a special fondness for Cape May, as its Victorian, small-town feel can be quite charming. Its beaches are the southernmost in the state, and its restaurants range from hot dog stands to opulent fine dining, like the famous Harry’s Ocean Bar and Grill. Cape May is an easy drive down the major highways and there is a small airport in Atlantic City. Many travelers also arrive by boat at the county marinas or by bus.

Although there are no active adult communities in Cape May proper, Cape May County has six, ranging from an intimate 60 homes to its largest at 149. To learn more about Cape May real estate, read on.

Gateway Shores - Cape May Court House

Mid $100s - Low $200s 

Privacy, affordability, and a private outdoor pool can all be found just 11 miles from Cape May at Gateway Shores. Built from 2000 to 2002, this tight-knit 55+ neighborhood has 66 resale attached homes set into quad formations on the property.

The town of Cape May Court House is strategically located between Jenkins Sound and the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, with several grocery stores in town, plus pharmacies, banks, and other modern conveniences.

The homes range from 850 to 1,040 square feet with one to two bedrooms, one to two bathrooms, vaulted ceilings, large living rooms, and paved parking spots or one-car garages. Many of the amenities, including the pool, are located at the clubhouse, where you can also find a library, catering kitchen, and a multipurpose room.

Legacy at Cape May - Rio Grande

High $200s - Low $300s

Getting to Cape May is easy when you live in Rio Grande since it’s only about seven miles away and NJ Transit operates several buses that can take you there. Legacy at Cape May is close to the center of town, just minutes from a movie theater, restaurants, Walmart, and a Social Security Administration office. There are medical offices nearby at the AtlantiCare Physician Group Primary Care Plus facility.

The Cape May County Parks and Zoo are also all easy drives from Legacy at Cape May. Residents can also head over to the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, which transports people and their cars across the Delaware Bay into Delaware.

This mid-sized retirement community built between 2007 and 2014 consists of 141 attached homes built by Lennar Homes and Ryan Homes. The Lennar models range from 2,140 to 2,600 square feet with two or three bedrooms, two or two-and-a-half bathrooms, and an attached one- or two-car garage. The expansive open floor plans feature master suites, great rooms, and covered porches.

The Ryan Homes models range from 1,983 to 2,023 square feet with three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, and attached one- or two-car garages. These have many of the same features as the Lennar Homes.

The community clubhouse at Legacy at Cape May is a hub for activity, with a craft room, game room, fitness room, and a catering kitchen. Outside, there is a pool and patio, plus bocce and shuffleboard. Friends gather together to enjoy activities such as holiday parties, dancing, luncheons, ice cream socials, and yoga.

Osprey Point - Upper Township

Low $300s - Mid $300s

Head a bit farther north and you will run into Upper Township, which is home to the welcoming 55+ neighborhood of Osprey Point. It is about 25 miles from Cape May, putting it closer to the seaside towns of Strathmere and Sea Isle City. Upper Township is surrounded by parks and recreation areas, including the Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area and the Cape May Wildlife Refuge.

It is in a less-developed region, and the homeowners relish the peace and quiet that is still close enough to shops and services to make running errands easy. Shore Medical Center in Somers Point is also about 10 miles away.

This age-restricted community includes 149 attached homes built by Grace Realty between 2004 and 2005. Two single-level floor plans are offered at either 1,850 or 2,010 square feet. These feature two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and attached garages. Upgrades may include luxury bathrooms, gourmet kitchens, gas fireplaces, and hardwood floors.

Osprey Point offers indoor amenities like a modern clubhouse with a large multipurpose room, a great room, and an exercise room. Outside, residents enjoy tennis, walking and biking trails, garden plots, shuffleboard, tennis, and a refreshing outdoor pool. Some of the most popular activities include line dancing, mahjong, bocce, and board games.