There is nothing more impressive than watching a humpback whale have lunch, or seeing a finback whale breach into a splash of ocean spray. Take the kids down to Cape May for an afternoon of whale and dolphin watching onboard the Miss Chris Marina . On a perfect afternoon out on Delaware Bay , the kids can spot whales, dolphins, sea turtles and all kinds of birds and fish.
Go Whale Watching
Learn on the BeachFor older kids, the Sea Isle Beachcomber tours on Tuesday and Thursday mornings are a don’t-miss event. The tours last an hour, and only cost a dollar, but what the kids learn about the area sand dunes and beaches is invaluable. The tours are lots of fun, very kid-friendly and have won many tourism awards.
Staffed entirely by volunteers, the beachcomber tours are a fun way for kids and parents to learn a little about the beach and its wildlife while enjoying a gorgeous summer day. No need to pre-register, just show up on the Promenade at 29th on Tuesdays before 10 am, or at the park pavilion at the Townsend Inlet Waterfront Park before 10 am on Thursdays.
Play on the BoardwalkFor a day filled with thrill rides, amusements and cotton candy, take the kids to the Wildwoods Boardwalk in nearby Wildwood. Morey’s Piers features three piers of rides and two water parks right on the beach with rides and slides for kids of all ages. Bigger kids will love the thrills at Raging Waters Waterpark , right at Mariner’s Landing Pier . Parents will enjoy the more laid back beach club atmosphere of the Ocean Oasis Waterpark and Beach Club – mom can even book a massage.
Each of the three piers is packed with amusement rides, such as the Giant Ferris Wheel , the Sky Ride and the Sea Serpent . There are six roller coasters here, each suitable for different age groups, and nearly 70 other rides including go-carts, climbing walls and miniature golf. You can pay for rides as you go, buy a play-all-day family pass. There are even season passes for families planning to spend their entire summer on the shore.
Every kid dreams of being a pirate, and Pirate Voyages in nearby Ocean City can make those dreams come true during a one-hour pirate cruise aboard the Sea Dragon. A pirate crew takes you out onto the high seas, where the kids take a pirate oath and decode a secret map to find a hidden treasure. There are lots of pirate stories told, sea chanteys sung, and chances to fire one of the water cannons. Be careful you don’t have to walk the plank!
Be a Pirate for the Day
Parents will also enjoy the covered adults’ area, where they can enjoy a cool drink while the kids are entertained. Reservations are recommended, and there are five sailings each day.
Visit the Fish at the Atlantic City AquariumThe Atlantic City Aquarium offers a fun “Dive and Dine” program, where kids can watch a diver hand-feed nurse sharks and dogfish in a 25,000 tank. The diver even has a microphone to answer questions during his 20-minute show. "Dive and Dine" is included with admission, as is the Shark & Ray Touch Tank, a 900-gallon tank that gives kids the opportunity to actually touch white spotted bamboo sharks and southern stingrays. At noon and 3pm every day, kids can even feed the rays and sharks themselves. Admission to the aquarium is free for children under three. Atlantic City rentals are also available.
Sign up for Beach CampThe Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor is one of the East Coast’s leading research and conservation centers, and it offers great summer programs for kids. There are weekly meetings for kids up to grade 6, where they will explore the beach and the nearby marsh. There’s also a Kayak Kamp for teens up to grade 12, which takes them out kayaking, learning rescue techniques and how to play polo!
Visit the ZooThe Cape May County Zoo has a wide variety of animals and a charming small town feel. Younger kids love the petting zoo where they can feed the goats and ducks, and they'll definitely want rides on the carousel and the train. Older kids love the crocodiles, big cats (be sure to visit Rocky the Siberian tiger and Sabu and Kaba, the snow leopard cubs), and cool events like Night Out with the Critters, the one night you can stay in the park after hours. The zoo always has fascinating programs such as animal camouflage, endangered species, and animal myths. Parents will love the cleanliness and cost; the zoo is free.
Movies, Music and Dancing Under the StarsEvery Tuesday and Thursday night during the summer, Sea Isle City hosts free family movies at Excursion Park . Bring your own chairs and blankets, and sit back to enjoy such family classics as Mary Poppins, the Muppet Movie and Kung Fu Panda. The same location hosts free musical concerts on Monday nights and free family night dance parties on Wednesday nights.
Beyond planning what you do, you'll also want to plan for where you'll stay. Why not book a kid-friendly Sea Isle City vacation rental instead of a cramped hotel room?