This past summer, I was looking for a vacation spot where I could just relax for a week. I didn’t want to have to go to the airport, rent a car, or travel too far from the city. My travel companion and I settled on Cape May, a charming beach town at the southern tip of New Jersey.
Why it worked without a car
NJ Transit works. There are buses down the whole length of New Jersey, and the Cape May bus station is in a pretty convenient location. One day we even took a break from oh-so-lovely Cape May and went by bus to Wildwood, where we got to experience the more stereotypical Jersey Shore vibe.
It’s a walkable city. The beach, grocery store, restaurants, coffee shop, ice cream shops, historic houses, bus station, and realtor’s office were all within walking distance of the apartment we rented for the week. Even if we had had a car, I don’t think we would have used it much.
Biking is the thing to do. There were several affordable bike rental shops to choose from, and casual bikers were a common sight on the streets. By renting bikes for just 24 hours, we were able to go beyond the city center and explore the rest of Cape May (including a lighthouse, a few other beaches, farms and farm stands, an antique sale, and a tasty restaurant).
We had low-key plans. All we really wanted to do was swim, read books, wander around, and not think about work. We weren’t seeking any major adventures this time, so staying put for the whole week worked out perfectly.
Old suitcases are heavy, and you never end up needing as many shirts as you think you will. Walking from the Tolz real estate office to our rental apartment wasn’t terrible, but the August sun made me wish I had a more streamlined, easy-to-roll suitcase. I also could have lightened the load a bit by cutting down on outfits.
Local buses are sloooowwww. If you can avoid it, don’t ever get stuck on a non-express bus from Cape May to New York City. There was a limited schedule on the day we wanted to return home, and the trip took several hours. It was especially painful because I was slammed with the worst cramps of my life that day.