The Cape May Zoo is definitely something special. Ok, sure, it has some of the same animals you’d find in almost any other zoo. But what other zoo – besides the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. – has over 500 animals…and charges no admission prices to the casual traveler? And the zoo is clean, the animals well-cared for and happy, there are no pushy donation displays, and the enclosures just small enough to let you get close to the wild animals… What other zoo would I drive 4+ hours in horrible traffic, just to visit for a few hours?
I first read about the Cape May Zoo about 7 years ago. However, a 3 hour drive (without traffic) to a free zoo just couldn’t compete with other travel options (like, going to the shore, climbing a mountain, or canoeing from one end of the river to the other…after all, how nice can a free zoo be?) After several years of visiting northern New Jersey, though, we were beginning to run out of attraction options so I brought up the zoo again. My group still wasn’t impressed until I discovered it was considered a “gem” by AAA…and then it became a “must do” day-trip. And, oh, was it worth it! (BTW, the zoo has also won the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, now through 2017).
We arrived in the middle of the morning. (The drive, considered to be 2.5 hours by Google Maps was actually 3 hours due to traffic. On the way home, it was well over 4 hours. So let’s just say that if you’re coming from North Jersey you should expect some traffic, especially on a weekday! Oh, and we avoided to Parkway ‘cause we’re cheap and didn’t want to have to pay the tolls. I doubt it would have been much faster, though, since the Parkway is notorious for its slow traffic!) The parking area is a fair distance (maybe 0.25 miles / 0.5 km) from the zoo; just follow the signs and you’ll get there pretty quickly (the path and zoo are fully wheelchair accessible).
Once in the zoo area, make an immediate right to get to the zoo entrance. We got lost here, partially because we were looking for a restroom, and partially because the gift shop and snack shop are much more apparent than the zoo entrance! At the entrance, an employee gave us a short talk about not taking food into the zoo (no food or drink allowed, although I don’t think they minded our water which was very visible), told us what to look for, and handed us several color-photo-copied-black-and-white maps of the zoo grounds. Then we stepped inside.
And I won’t bore you with a discussion of every animal we saw except to tell you our favorites: The bird house (not very big but very, very nice) the reptile house (although the female end of the group was rather grossed out by the snakes, the rest of the exhibits were fascinating!), the peacocks that roam freely throughout the zoo, the otters tumbling and swimming in their pool, the monkeys (my personal favorite!), and the entire African exhibit (who can resist zebras, lemurs, snow leopards, and – best off all – mother and baby giraffes?)
Here are some of my favorite pictures from the zoo – too bad it wasn’t sunny, but maybe the heat would have made the animals less active and I wouldn’t have traded that for the sun!
And a video we took of the giraffes:
Although I don’t think we’ll be going back soon (it is rather a long drive from North Jersey), we’ll remember for a very long time to come!
Round Trip Walk: About 3.5 miles (5.5 km). Or that’s how far I walked.
Elevation Gain / Loss: Negligible. You’re in Cape May here; probably the biggest elevation change is when you’re on a boardwalk in the African exhibit!
Facilities: There are restrooms in the zoo, as well as on the other side of the gift shop.
Hours: Open every day except Christmas, 10am to 3:45pm (during Daylight Savings Time, open until 4:45pm)
Fees: None to enter the zoo as an average, every-day citizen. As a family group of 10, we were fine. Organized groups are charged a fee. A fee is charged for the rides, gift shop, and snack shop. Donations greatly appreciated, but not pushed for.
Key GPS Coordinates for the Cape May Zoo
Parking Area: 39.10564N / -074.81651W (60 ft.)
Restrooms (outside the zoo area): 39.10372N / -074.81361W (52 ft.)
Restrooms (inside the zoo area): 39.10215N / -074.81458W (48 ft.)
Bird House: 39.10302N / -074.81557W (45 ft.)
Reptile House: 39.10147N / -074.81372W (42 ft.)
African Area: 39.10006N / -074.81561W (37 ft.)
The gpx file for Cape May Zoo can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource.
Download File size: 90.5 KB Downloaded 44 times
(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website. Thanks!)
Getting to the Cape May Zoo
From the South: Take US-9 North to Court House South Dennis Road and turn left (or take the Parkway to Exit 10B and turn left; continue until the road crosses US-9). Continue 1.1 miles, then turn right into the Cape May County Park. Follow the signs to the parking area (“Zoo Parking”). This is a fairly large parking area; it was quite empty-looking on a weekday in May.
From Philadelphia: Take I-76 S to where it meets I-295; continue south on NJ-47 S. Take Exit 13 (after only a little more than a mile) to merge onto NJ-55 S (toward Glassboro / Vienland). After 40.5 miles, continue onto NJ-47 S for an additional 2.8 miles. Then take a left onto NJ-347 S for 8 miles; continue straight onto NJ-47 S (again – are you beginning to see a trend?) After an additional 4.1 miles, turn left onto Court House South Dennis Road and drive 4.7 miles. The park entrance will be on your left; follow the signs to the Zoo Parking.
From the North: Either take the Parkway to Exit 10, turning right onto Court House South Dennis Road and following the directions “From the South”, or go to Google, type in the GPS coordinates of the parking area (minus the “N”, “W”, and “/”) and the address you’re coming from and turn off tolls…it’s just too complicated to explain without a map J We used a GPS.
This Week’s Featured Product!
New Jersey is simply full of little-known places and charming destinations. I have had the benefit of knowing locals, but this book is good too, especially for places outside the northern section (which is where I normally hang out).
Sun Feb 18
Mainly sunny. High around 45F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph.
Mon Feb 19
Chance of Rain
Increasing clouds with showers arriving sometime in the afternoon. High near 50F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.
Tue Feb 20
Morning fog, then cloudy in the afternoon. High 59F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph.
Wed Feb 21
Considerable clouds early. Some decrease in clouds later in the day. Record high temperatures expected. High 61F. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph.
Thu Feb 22
Cloudy with periods of rain. High 53F. Winds NE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Rainfall near a quarter of an inch.