Walking around Cape May can be tiring. Driving around can mean missing some of the city’s historic highlights. But what about taking in the city by bicycle?
“Bikes have been very popular in Cape May for a long time, and I’m always looking for some other tours we can do. Bike tours seemed a natural,” said Elan Zingman-Leith, curator for the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities.
Zingman-Leith considered guided bike tours but realized the logistics made them awkward and difficult to control. So he turned to a self-guided tour that would offer visitors a way to see the National Historic Landmark’s sights at each individual’s pace.
He created tours that originate at the center’s Washington Street Mall information booth and loop around the city, taking bicyclists to the east side of town, through the heart of the city and down to Cape May Point.
“What makes Cape May, Cape May is it’s really cute. It’s such a pretty town, and it’s got 1,200 Victorian and Edwardian houses. There’s also the lighthouse and the World War II tower. The architecture, the history and birding. There’s so much in Cape May that’s not the beach,” he said.
Riders can do one, two or three loops, creating short, medium or long tours of their own.
“You can come here and really appreciate Cape May,” Zingman-Leith said. “You get a great introduction to the town.”
Melissa Zeides, chief operating officer for the Mid-Atlantic Center and avid bicyclist, then became the guinea pig, trying out the tours that Zingman-Leith devised.
“I was the test case to make sure it all made sense, and it did,” she said as she and Susan Krysiak, communications coordinator for the center, demonstrated part of the route laid out in the guidebook.
Zeides and Krysiak rode their bikes from the Emlen Physick Estate on Washington Street to places such as The Mainstay Inn on Columbia Avenue and past the Gothic cottages on Hughes Street all the way to the information booth to show a glimpse of what tour users will encounter.
The tours, which Zeides said take about an hour, can also lead bicyclists past the Cape May Lighthouse, the Concrete Ship and St. Mary’s by the Sea.
“I think you miss a lot if you’re in your car. I think the best way to see Cape May is by bike,” Zeides said.
Krysiak added that once a person buys the guidebook, it’s theirs to keep.
“This is year-round,” she said. “You really can learn quite a lot, and it makes history that much more accessible.”
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