Cape May-Lewes Ferry: Better than any highway.

One of my dearest friends invited me to a birthday party in Northern New Jersey earlier in the month. Love my friend. Love New Jersey. (Yes, I actually do.) I hate driving on Interstate 95 and Northern New Jersey traffic.

Reasons why:

  • It is terrifying with kids and a minivan.
  • It is not the most exciting or attractive trips.
  • Tolls, Tolls, and more Tolls. ( I need to get E-ZPass.)

Well, those are my reasons for not loving driving in the New York/New Jersey area. Actually, it is not great. But, it is not that bad. But, I really do not want to do it with kids.

But enough about my anxieties of Interstate 95 and the Garden State Parkway. My daughter and I went to the party in Hackensack, NJ. We had a great time. When it was time to leave, I didn’t want to just drive home on the turnpike and then sit in traffic. (Boring!)

We decided we would drive down the Garden State Parkway, stop in Red Bank, NJ (One of my most favorite places in the world. I highly recommend a visit,) and then down the Parkway all the way to Cape May, NJ. If you are of the mindset that NJ is all concrete, people, and traffic, you need to take a road trip to Southern New Jersey. It is beautiful.

Cape May is one of our favorite places to visit, but on this trip, we were just passing through. Our real purpose was to get to the ferry. We would drive our minivan on the ferry and take it back to Lewes, DE and drive home from there.

The ride down the Garden State Parkway once we got past the Atlantic City area was devoid of traffic and beautiful. We saw wetlands and lush trees and foliage on the ride down.

It was an easy drive. We made our reservation for the ferry that day over the phone while we were finishing up lunch in Red Bank. We were taking the 5 p.m. ferry. We arrived a little early. If you are driving on the ferry, I recommend arriving at least 45 minutes or an hour before your trip departs. We drove our car into Lane 3, locked the car and went inside the terminal. There are bathrooms, ideas for future trips, a gift store and, of course, food. Outside, there is a playground and benches.

We only had 30 minutes before we were to drive on the boat. My daughter and I headed to the terminal, she had five minutes on the playground then we needed to get back to our car. As we waited, the ferry mascot walked past us waving at all the passengers.

We were then told to drive onto the ship. We did. We parked and then went upstairs to the deck, where there was a bar and snack food area. My daughter got a cotton candy ice cream bar and I ordered a glass of white wine. (We would have an hour on the boat.)

We found deck chairs on the top deck, a cool breeze, another bar and a two-piece band from Rehoboth Beach. This sure as heck beat looking at the back of someone’s bumper on Interstate 95 and Coastal Highway.

The bay was a little choppy, but the people working on the boat were friendly, the views were spectacular, the band played The Cars, Jimmy Buffett and some other bands from the ’70s and ’80s.

This is the way to travel. We saw the lighthouses in Cape May and in Lewes. We saw the wind turbine in Lewes and the town as we were approaching. I believe we will do this again.  The next time, we will take a day trip to Cape May or some of the other New Jersey attractions.

If you are taking a road trip to say Florida or North Carolina or you are heading to Ocean City, MD  from New York or points further North, I would highly recommend taking the ferry and then using Route 13 through Delmarva. I am not sure if you will save a lot of time, but you will save your sanity and leave the boat feeling refreshed.


If you go:

  • Bring a camera
  • Call ahead of time and make a reservation and ask about the departure times, or go online:
  • Be prepared to pay $7 for a glass of wine, about $3 for an ice cream and about $2.50 for a soda. You are on a boat. You are going to pay more for food.
  • It is not a cheap way to travel, but when you factor in tolls and gas it may actually balance out. It cost us $10 for my ticket, $5 for my daughter’s ticket and $37 for our minivan. All in, it cost $52.


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