Cape May Lighthouse: A Spectacular Ocean View

Cape May Lighthouse with clouds approaching

One of the oldest operational lighthouses in the United States, the Cape May Lighthouse has stood at Cape May Point since 1857. Over 21 million guests have climbed to its peak since its opening to experience open ocean vistas atop a living reminder of Cape May’s maritime history. It is one of our region’s most popular destinations. With Ocean Club Hotel, find out more about this iconic landmark, its history, and the stunning views you can enjoy while visiting Cape May.

Maritime History

The current Cape May Lighthouse is actually the third lighthouse to stand at Cape May Point. The previous two, built in 1823 and 1847 respectively, were each lost to erosion. Their former locations are now underwater just off the shoreline.

The Army Corps of Engineers began building the current Cape May Lighthouse in 1857. Two dwellings were also constructed for the lighthouse keeper and his family, followed by an oil house to store fuel for the first-order Fresnel lens that served as the tower’s beacon. First lit in 1859, the lighthouse would serve as a landmark and an essential navigational aid for sailors traversing the New Jersey coast.

In 1933, the lighthouse was updated with electricity. Its original lens can be viewed at the nearby Cape May Museum. The lighthouse itself opened to the public in 1988. It has been operated by the Cape May Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (Cape May MAC) as a popular tourist attraction ever since.

Visiting the Cape May Lighthouse

Today, the fully restored lighthouse is a popular tourist destination that sees thousands of guests each year. The Cape May Lighthouse isn’t just a piece of living history; it’s also one of the highest points around. Some visitors make an annual tradition of climbing the lighthouse to enjoy the spectacular views it affords.

199 steps tall, the Cape May Lighthouse offers a bird’s eye perspective of the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean. From the top, guests can see the Cape May Point Borough, Cape May City, the trails of Cape May State Park, and – on an especially clear day – all the way to Cape Henlopen, Delaware.

Other Ways to Explore

For those who prefer not to climb, the Oil House and one of the lighthouse keeper’s dwellings are still intact. The dwelling is now used by the State Park Service but can be walked around and admired from the grounds. The Oil House is open to the public and has a visitor center and a gift shop. There are also a variety of other activities to experience while visiting the Cape May Lighthouse:

  • Explore the well-maintained grounds and read informative plaques on the lighthouse’s history.
  • Walk down Sunset Boulevard to the World War II Lookout Tower, and pay your respect to veterans at the Hall of Honor.
  • Attend family-friendly events hosted by the MAC, including Christmas in July or the informative and entertaining lighthouse storytime.
  • Purchase souvenirs, books, and maritime gifts at the museum gift shop.

Whether you love history and ocean scenery or are just looking for something new to explore, there’s plenty to do at the Cape May Lighthouse.

Find Cape May Accommodations at Ocean Club Hotel

While visiting the Cape May Lighthouse and other destinations, consider booking your stay with Ocean Club Hotel. Located in the heart of historic Cape May, we offer a range of luxury accommodations including ocean view rooms and cabana rooms. Guests can enjoy fine dining without fuss at our Seasalt Restaurant, or relax on the sundeck with drinks from the Tiki Ten35 Pool Bar. A variety of vacation packages and promotions help make your Cape May vacation more affordable. Book your stay today and experience all the things to do in Cape May.