There are spooky spots all over the Garden State, but if we’re talking towns, one stands out. You may not think of Cape May as creepy, probably because it’s overflowing with charm, but there’s a dark side to the seashore standout. There are entire books about the hauntings in this little town and lengthy tours focused on its otherworldly residents. People never seem to want to leave…
Dozens of spirits, both human and animal, are believed to roam the streets, shops, beaches and bed & breakfasts of Cape May.
It seems as if everywhere you go in Cape May has a ghost.
With so many ghosts, where does one begin? Let's start with the family of hauntings at the Emlen Physick Estate.
This gorgeous estate was custom built for Dr. Emlen Physick and his family in 1879. Dr. Physick, his mother and her two maiden sisters spent their final years in the home. By 1935, all of the home's original residents had passed on, but they may not have moved on.
With no family left, the house was willed to neighbors who sold it within a decade to Dr. Harry Newcomer and his wife Dr. Marian Newcomer. Their residence here was quite brief; disturbed by strange noises and unexplainable footsteps, they were forced to leave. While the pair were skeptics, no logical explanation could be found and the home was never lived in again. It fell into disrepair but was saved by a local group and now serves as the Mid Atlantic Center For The Arts. A popular stop on ghost tours, paranormal investigators have sensed two female spirits here - one benevolent, the other quite agitated. The spirits are believed to be Emlen's mother and aunt. There are also some stray animals of the supernatural variety wandering the home. Visitors have reported the feeling of being touched by cold hands and seeing a female face next to their own in mirrors. Visit if you dare at: 1048 Washington Street.
Next, we'll cover the ghosts at popular Hotel Macomber and the Union Park Dining Room.
Some rooms are more active than others in terms of paranormal activity, but room 10 is probably the most haunted. The ghost of Irene Wright, also known as the Trunk Lady, frequently resides in this room. She is more likely to be spotted in June and November.
So, who is Irene? A single, older woman with no children, she was a frequent guest at the hotel in her lifetime. She seems to continue her visits in the afterlife. A friendly ghost with a calming presence, she has been known to knock on doors and her disembodied voice has even been recorded on multiple locations.
Another popular spot with paranormal guests is the Peter Shields Inn.
Renovations at the Peter Shields Inn seem to have stirred up some spirits. Or perhaps, they were there all along. Earle, the son of Peter Shields is perhaps the most notorious ghost on the grounds. Those who run into him usually feel a sense of sadness, despair or remorse. At age 15, he tragically died in a hunting accident. The details are simply too gory for me to recount, but he survived for several hours after the accident, missing half of his head. Though he did not die at the inn (then his family's home), it is believed his spirit still seeks out his parents.
Who doesn't love the Washington Street Mall? You could shop here...forever.
There are several haunted locations within the Washington Street Mall, starting with the ticket booth. A former guardhouse, relocated to New Jersey from Pennsylvania, a guard was once shot and killed inside the booth. Another incident occurred just outside of the guardhouse in 1887. A woman was murdered and her body was placed in the booth for several hours. Perhaps one of these spirits is responsible for cold spots around the ticket booth and the phantom humming in the area.
The Ugly Mug is another Washington Street spot that's believed to be haunted. Multiple ghosts frequent "The Mug," including a teenage boy, young girl and two older men. The girl's history is unknown, the older men were likely frequent patrons and the teenage boy is believed to have died in a fire in the area. They don't start much trouble other than shattering mugs and have been spotted from time to time. They'll mostly just move objects and flicker lights, but they do it often enough where it's impossible not to take notice.
Ghosts on the beach...what better way to spend the afterlife?
There's a WWII bunker on the beach at Cape May Point and it seems that ghostly guards still patrol the shores. Nearby Higbee Beach is also believed to be haunted. The ghosts here date back quite some time as the otherworldly beachgoers are mostly Native American tribesmen. They consider the ground sacred and do not appreciate visitors.
Cape May is often ranked among the most haunted cities and towns in America. Are you as spooked as I am? If you enjoy the thrills and chills, you definitely won’t want to miss a ghost tour of Cape May. The trolley tour is a favorite, and you can read more about that and other (less scary) trolley tour options