- Things to Do
Cape May is home to the the fifth largest base in the U.S. Coast Guard, which serves as the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center and the only enlisted accession point.
Cape May was proclaimed a Coast Guard Community in 2015. If you travel to Cape May to attend graduation, we hope you enjoy your visit, and our congratulations to the newly appointed Seaman Apprentice or Fireman Apprentice!
On this page:
Here are answers to the most common questions we receive about attending Coast Guard graduation.
Graduations are normally held on Fridays on Parade Field (foul weather location is the gymnasium) from 11:00am to 11:45am (that's 1100 to 1145, military time).
There is a breakfast at 8:30am in the Harborview Club (reservations not required). A parent's brief is held in the Ida Lewis Auditorium from 10:00 to 10:30am. For weeks where a holiday or special event falls on Friday, they will hold graduation on a different day.
View the Coast Guard graduation schedule and agenda on the USCG site
All friends and family members are welcome to attend graduation. You do not need a ticket or special invitation. We hear there's room for a few hundred people on base!
The Center is open to the invited family members and guests of the graduating class every Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Yes. All people over the age of 18 who wish to enter the installation are required to have a valid form of ID ready as they approach the main gate.
Military members presenting a graduation certificate must check in at 0930 in the Ida Lewis Auditorium. All presenters must be in the appropriate service uniform.
Yes. There is parking on the base outside of the auditorium for those attending graduation. You may be asked to show your vehicle license and registration to be allowed to enter the base.
Yes. If you can't make it to the ceremony, the Coast Guard Training Center streams graduations live on their Facebook page.
Most people drive to Cape May. Cape May is an island, accessible by one of two main bridges that cross the canal waterway linking the Delaware Bay with the Atlantic Ocean. The bridge nearest the base is found at mile-marker zero (the end) of the Garden State Parkway. The road straight ahead at that point crosses the canal and becomes Lafayette Street on the other side of Schellenger's Landing. The base is located at Pennsylvania Avenue, off Pittsburgh Avenue.
The base's official address is 1 Munro Avenue, Cape May, New Jersey, 08204.
Drive to the end of the Garden State Parkway, which becomes Route 109 S. Continue over the large bridge (over the canal) and a second smaller bridge. Keep left; when the road divides, turn left onto Sidney Avenue. At the stop sign, make another left onto Washington Street. Immediately get into the right-hand lane, making the right-hand turn past the C-View Inn where the road divides. The road is now Texas Avenue. Stay on Texas Avenue as it curves right and becomes Pittsburgh Avenue. Take Pittsburgh Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue and make a left. Continue to the Training Center's main gate.
If coming up from the south, you may want to take the Cape May-Lewes Ferry which leaves from Lewes, Delaware and docks in North Cape May. Leaving the ferry terminal, follow 109 (toward Cape May). Turn right at the third traffic light onto Route 626 (Seashore Road). Seashore will take you over the West Cape May Bridge and into West Cape May. This road becomes Broadway and terminates at the ocean in Cape May City. If you've reached the ocean, you are now facing Beach Avenue. Turn left. Stay on Beach Avenue until you come to Pittsburgh Avenue (1.7 miles). Turn left. Stay on Pittsburgh until you come to Pennsylvania Avenue (0.6 miles). Turn right. Follow to the Training Center's main gate.
If you are flying into the area, the nearest commercial airport is in Atlantic City (ACY), about 50 minutes from Cape May. The nearest large airport is Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), under 2 hours away. We recommend renting a car at either airport to use for local transportation.
Trains do not run from major cities to Cape May, but buses do. Visit NJTransit.com for schedules and fees
We know that Coast Guard families have different needs than people here on vacation, so we've put together this guide to make your planning easier. This section includes:
One-night stays are hard to find from Memorial Day through Labor Day and often expensive. Most Cape May accommodations have minimum stay requirements (especially during the summer) and strict cancellation policies. Call to reserve your accommodations ahead of time and specify if you will be a late arrival.
If you visit us in January and February, there are fewer accommodations, restaurants, and shops open, but you'll also enjoy lower rates and less traffic. Keep scrolling for a list of year-round accommodations.
Not in Cape May itself. The closest is a Red Roof Inn on Route 47 in Rio Grande, a few miles north of Cape May at exit 4 off of the Garden State Parkway. The hotel is located next to the Parkway ramp, so it may be noisy.
If you're considering hotels outside of Cape May, please check online reviews to make sure you and your family will be comfortable staying there. We aren't familiar with them and can't tell you what they're like.
The Coast Guard does not provide lodging for friends and familes of graduates. You will need to find lodging in the area (we have suggestions below).
If you are a military member, temporary loding is available. Unfortunately, the USGS website isn't displaying the information any longer, so please call them at (609) 898-6900 for information.
There is a Walmart in Rio Grande, just a few miles north of Cape May. Take Exit 4 off of the Garden State Parkway. Learn more about our neighboring towns
Coast Guard families, if any accommodation listed below refuses you these published discounts or offers to discount less than what is listed here, please call Jessica or Michelle at 609-898-4500 so we may edit the offer or remove the accommodation from this list. You can also email email@example.com.
|Antoinette's Apartments & Suites||Guest House||Year-round||10% discount off of published rates for 1 and 2 bedroom suites for 1 or more nights if available for Coast Guard families. During high season (Memorial Day to Labor Day) we only take longer stays and is subject to availability. We take children of all ages. On Friday all Coast Guard Graduates stay free. If they need a ride to and from the base we are happy to accommodate them.|
|The Bedford Inn||B&B||10% discount to Coast Guard families|
|The Billmae Cottage||Guest House||Offers 10% off a 2-night stay for Coast Guard Families, when available|
|The Blue Fish Inn||Hotel||Year-round||Mention to your reservationist our promotional code "weLUVcg" to receive your 10% USCG Family discount. The discount is not automatically offered, you must mention the promo code in order to be eligible. Flexible Check-ins & Outs available as well as use of a private changing area and half bath after the ceremony. Please coordinate services with your reservationist.|
|Camelot Motel||Hotel||Year-round||During the off season, a discount is available to Coast Guard families in town for graduation.|
|The Carroll Villa Hotel||Historic hotel||Year-round||Thursday Night Graduation Special discounted room. The rate varies depending upon the time of year and is posted on our web site. The Mad Batter Restaurant offers 15% off food.|
|Congress Hall||Historic hotel||Year-round||A one-night stay package for Coast Guard Graduation (an exception to our standard summer month minimum stays), with 10% off of the best available rate and 2 complimentary cups of coffee from our in-house coffee shop, Tommy's Folly.|
|The Dormer House||B&B||20% discount for Coast Guard families|
|Henry Sawyer Inn||B&B||Our Coast Guard discount varies during the year, but it is at a minimum 25%|
|Hotel Macomber||Historic hotel||One night Thursday stays for graduations|
|Icona Cape May||Hotel||10% discount and one-night stays for Coast Guard families|
|The Inn of Cape May||Hotel||15% discount for stays whenever the hotel is open (The Inn of Cape May closes at the beginning of the year). They have an on-site restaurant, Aleathea's, which offers a 10% discount on food.|
|La Mer Beachfront Inn||Hotel||Year-round (closed briefly at Christmas)||Discounts to USCG families and/or one-night stays, when available|
|Luther Ogden Inn||B&B||10% off for Coast Guard families|
|Madison Avenue Beach Club||Hotel||We offer a 10% discount for Coast Guard families|
|Mainstay Inn||B&B||10% discount with a 2 night minimum in season from July 1st to September 8th|
|Marquis de Lafayette||Hotel||Year-round||
Welcoming all Coast Guard graduating families! Your stay includes a welcome reception at the Marq Restaurant and Lounge for all family members on Thursday evening following the dinner on base. Special discounted rates available for extended stays.
For reservations December 2018 - February 2019, use promo code USCG and stay for $49/night Wednesday and Thursday, and $59/night Friday and Saturday.
For reservations for March 1, 2019 onward, please use rate code USCG19 for a substantial discount off of our current rack rates.
|The Periwinkle Inn||Hotel||10% discount to Coast Guard families throughout the season|
|The Queen Victoria B&B||B&B||Year-round||Per-diem rates (government employee rates) to families coming in for Coast Guard graduations. We also have some great mid-week specials that run through April for stays of 2 nights or more. The most popular is the "222", which is two nights for $222.|
|Southern Mansion||B&B||Military discounts and one-night stays during the week|
|Thomas Webster House||Guest House||Military discounts|
|Victorian Motel||Hotel||Year-round||One-night stays on Thursday nights to Coast Guard families. Open year-round!|
If your restaurant offers a standing, year-round military discount that you would like published here, please contact us.
We try to make this the best resource for Coast Guard families visiting Cape May. If you can't find the answer to your question here, please get in touch with us so we can help (and update this section).Contact Us
Whether you're in the mood for fresh seafood, summertime beach fare, or sit-down dining, Cape May won't disappoint. Many of our restaurants are open daily year-round. Visiting in the winter? There are additional choices in nearby North Cape May and Rio Grande.
Cape May is a year-round seaside community that is home to beautiful beaches, history, fine-dining, and a variety of activities.
More reading from our blog: