Cape May County Zoo recently opened their new Safari Cafe area featuring a climate controlled food court like restaurant and dining area. I also walked the amazing zoo, and checked out Tree-To-Tree Zipline adventure park!
When was the last time you visited the Cape May County Zoo? It really is an amazing asset for the county and all of South Jersey…. and amazingly it’s FREE! Well they do ask for donations and when you see the facilities and animals you’ll happily contribute your fair share.
The park and zoo are only one hour from the Seven Star Diner and minutes away from the South Jersey beach towns.
Today the Zoo is home to African Lions, Bison, Giraffe, Black Bears, Bald Eagle, a variety of Monkeys, Leapords. Camels, Zebras, Otters, Red Pandas and more!
Check out the video of Kangaroo Jenga further down in the post! When I visited last week it was the first day of an expanded guest viewing area and Jenga just didnt know what to do about it!!
There are also two indoor exhibit areas; World of Birds and Reptile Amphibian House (The indoor bird building is temporarily closed to protect the birds from bird flu. NJ.com)
And they have really cool elevated walkway sections in the zoo. For example when you are looking at the Giraffes in their large habitat you are about 8 feet off the ground… so everyone has a great view of them!
I’m not gonna lie… the Zoo was large enough that I got twisted around inside and had to look at the map to see where I was at and what direction the exit was!
The extended park is also home to a variety of fun activities for everyone in the family including a disc golf course, fitness trails, playground equipment, pavilion rentals and more!
The Cape May County park area itself traces back to 1942 when the 40 acres were donated to the county. The local 4-H group was interested in having events there, and more activities were added.
In 1978 the Zoo was established with an African lion, spider monkeys and a few barn animals. In 1986 a “zoo renaissance” began with donations being solicited, and larger exhibits being added.
From those humble beginnings the zoo has grown to really be a really world-class amazing zoo!
Honestly I was always an adventurous Dad taking the kids to every cool new thing I could find, but this past week was literally the first time I visited the Zoo. And I was blown away!
Keep scrolling because I am covering the new Safari Cafe, an overview of the Zoo and park areas, as well as the Tree-To-Tree Zipline adventure park!
If you visit (and you SHOULD!) keep in mind that at certain times an animal may decide to relax indoors, or an exhibit may be closed for refurbishing. All the more reason to visit again and again!
Safari Cafe at Cape May County Zoo
Let’s get things rolling here in a traditional 42Freeway style… the new Safari Cafe opened early summer, and is an awesome guest comfort area to pick up a delicious lunch, refreshing drink, and a relaxing table in air-conditioning… or heat!
I didn’t mention this but the Cape May County Zoo is open all year long. And while they’ve had food options in the park, the new Safari Cafe adds a climate controlled experience.
There is indoor seating, but right outside is an extensive picnic area with numerous tables setup.
The restaurant area is setup like a small food court, and offers burgers, chicken tenders, sandwiches, pizza, soft serve ice cream, Icees and tasty beverages.
You pick what you want from the food court stands and then head to the cash-registers to pay.
Immediately past the cash-registers is the indoor dining area, and as mentioned… plenty of seating outside.
I visited this past Monday and it was a hot day… while I didn’t grab anything to eat, being able to grab a large soda and relax in the air conditioning offered a welcomed break!
Cape May County Park and Zoo Experience!
As I mentioned, this was my first visit to the Cape May County Zoo!
If you haven’t been there… pack up the kids and take a ride down. Or add it on to your vacation visits to the South Jersey beaches,
The Zoo is 13 mins to Stone Harbor and only a few more minutes to the Wildwood sign at the beach.
Honestly it wasn’t in my plans to stop in recently. I was coming back from Wildwood Crest on a Monday morning and just following Waze GPS app it took my right past the zoo. With some extra time on my hands I decided to pull in and check it out.
I literally had no clue of what to expect.
There are a variety of parking lots for the park and zoo, and I was fortunate enough to grab a spot right at a small lake with a center gazebo. As the water turned into a stream there was a small bridge which lead to a private pavilion in the woods.
Very cool sites to see and I really wouldn’t have known about this aspect had I not randomly gotten the parking spot I did.
From my parking spot it was a little bit of a walk to the zoo entrance, which was perfectly fine to me.
So you have to remember the zoo is just a portion of the larger County park. So during this walk I got to see the picnic pavilions and playground equipment. I imagine many local familes visit the park just to play on the extensive playground equipment.
While there is a defined entrance to the zoo, it starts to transition into the zoo outside the gate as they have a carousel and gift shops on the way to the zoo.
The one larger gift shop is also indoors and the air conditioning was almost as amazing as the products!
The Tree-To-Tree Zipline experience is also in this area, to the right of the Zoo entrance. More on that in a minute.
While there is a defined entrance area to the zoo, as mentioned it is completely FREE!
There were two people at the entrance collecting donations, which is entirely up to you. I noticed in areas around the zoo they also had donation bins.
Cape May County Zoo
My intro commentary covered a lot of the actual zoo highlights… but I always have more to say!
The CMC Zoo really does offer a full zoo experience with a variety of outdoor exhibits, indoor buildings, and the really cool elevated platform areas.
If it seems I am overly calling out that it’s a full zoo experience, well I think that because it is free many who haven’t visited the zoo would assume it’s has to be much less than what it really is!
The zoo has several themed/grouped areas, but geographically there are two distinct large sections; the main zoo and the more spread out African Savanna area.
The beginning portion of the zoo is very balanced with features and exhibits you would expect from any top zoo.
But they start off in a more simpler way featuring barn animals such as pigs, cows and goats. They can be fed via farm feed that is dispensed from an old-school coin operated candy machine. The animals here are used to humans and it quickly becomes a fun and up-close experience.
De Brazza’s Monkeys are also in the opening area!
Immediately after that is the World of Bird building (temporarily closed)
Surrounding that building are several outdoor displays of the American Bald Eagle, Pink Flamingos, Parrots, Fox and the Peacocks which roam freely!
By the way, at the entrance you have a decision to make. Like many Zoos or Amusement Park you have multiple paths to take… typically clockwise or counter-clockwise. I chose to stay to the right and loop around the zoo counter-clockwise.
Which then brought me to the first elevated boardwalk areas.
Here they have Camels, Alpacas and Llamas, Bison, and as you start to leave that stretch of boardwalk… Lions and Leapords!
I saw a beautiful lion perched perfectly on a large rock just feet from the protective fencing… like she knew she was posing for photos.
Working around my loop I was now at the back of the Zoo.
So there is a smaller Savana Gardens cafe in this area for grab-n-go food items and beverages.
Now this is very important… something you don’t want to miss!
Alongside of the Savana Gardens Cafe is the entrance to the African Savanna.
This portion of the zoo is entirely on an elevated boardwalk, and meanders through dense woods before opening up to showcase very open animal areas.
Along the way while still in the woods you’ll pass the Andean Condor, Spotted Leopard, and more.
This area is also a loop (coming back to the same Savanna entrance) so I stuck with my plan of “staying right”
At the far end of the boardwalk was a clearing and the first to be seen here were Giraffes and Ostriches! The ostriches hung out further in the back but a Giraffe was hanging around somewhat close!
In the distance are Oryx and Watusi.
As I followed the loop around it brought me to the large Zebra area. Unfortunately for me, in this visit the Zebra were hanging out inside. A reason to come back again!
And right out of Lion King, the next area was the Ring-Tailed Lemurs!
Then the African Savanna loop brought me back into the woods where a variety of Owls were showcased.
This loop then connected with the entrance boardwalk and I headed back out to the Gardens cafe area.
Following my “stay-right” plan, up next was the Capybara area and yes there was one just hanging out in the shade.
Capybara’s have become very popular and they are one of the animals featured in up-close animal experiences (additional fees).
In this extended area don’t miss the center walking path that features a variety of animals including Marmoset Monkeys, Wallabies, Alligators, and Giant Tortoises.
Reptile & Amphibian House – Safari Cafe Area
As we start getting closer to the new Safari Cafe and the exit… I approached the Reptile and Amphibian House.
This indoor building offers a variety of snakes, turtles, and reptiles!
I was able to get some really awesome photos in this area, despite being indoors and a lighted a little darker.
Immediately after the Reptile House is the new Safari Cafe and large outdoor dining area.
A new smaller gift shop is also in this area.
While you are enjoying your lunch or refreshing beverage, you’ll find yourself hanging out in this area a bit as there are really fun animals to see.
During my visit the black bears where out, and since it was a warm day one of the bears found a cool spot next to one of the water sprinklers.
And the Kangaroo area was very lively. I just happened to be there the first day the Zoo opened up a guest area alongside of the Kangaroo pen. One of the Kangaroos, Jenga… well he just didn’t know what to make of this change of scenery and he was a bit amped up bouncing around the pen in high-speed circles!
As I headed back out towards the entrance (after checking my map!) I passed the Snow Leopards, Bobcats, Porcupines and Fox!
Tree-To-Tree Adventure Park
Tree-To-Tree Adventure Park is a really cool course for guests to get up into the trees and move through a series of challenges… ziplines, nets, Tarzan swings, wall climbing, rope walks and more!
While it is adjacent to the Zoo it operates as a separate attraction and the Tree-To-Tree experience does cost money to participate. They offer a variety of options and it seems it’s best to book online first.
I see options for Kids, Zipline only, and Adventure Course with Zipline. They suggest up to 2 hours to complete the experiences!
So while I did not actually participate in the Tree adventures, I was able to walk around a big portion of the adventure area and take some photos.
When I first arrived there one of the employees was giving an instructional class to that morning’s guest on how to properly and safely navigate the challenges in the trees.
While I am not an expert on these types of activities I was impressed by both the size of the area, the number of activity stations they had, and the creativeness that went into each segment.
The Adventure Course and Zipline runs are not just one thing repeated over and over. I saw tightropes, and walking plank bridges, log bridges and tubes! All suspended 10 feet in the air!
It looks challenging and fun, and I have to believe being up in the air amps up the excitement 10-fold!
Cape May County Park and Zoo: A Fun Way To Spend a Day or More
If not clear I really was happily surprised by the Zoo, Park and Tree-to-Tree Adventure!
It really is an awesome set-up they have at the Cape May County Park, and while I am not an expert of New Jersey County Parks I have to believe there aren’t any that come close to this experience!
Keep in mind the Zoo is open year-round and makes for a fun trip on it’s own, or a quick and easy drive from your Jersey Shore beach vacation!
I recommend “liking” the Zoo Facebook page as they regular post about the animals and activities at the Zoo.
Links and Locations
Cape May County Park & Zoo
707 North Route 9
Cape May Court House
New Jersey, 08210
Tree To Tree Adventure Park Cape May