In 2012, after more than two decades studying marine mammals off the New Jersey coast, the founders of the Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center welcomed the American Star into port. The whale-watching vessel journeyed more than 2,700 nautical miles from Seward, Alaska to Cape May, allowing the Research Center to expand its private-exploration and public-sightseeing operations.
Today, the Research Center’s captains and guides effectively welcome up to 150 passengers onto the research team, relaying the basics of wildlife scouting before boogying into Poseidon's ballroom to scope out dolphins, whales, and birds around the island of Cape May. An enclosed, climate-controlled cabin keeps passengers comfortable during misty weather, and multiple, spacious sundecks allow for up-close views of migrating whale pods. On-board sonar, radar, cameras, and GPS capabilities facilitate up-close, unobtrusive sightings of nature in action.
Ever since he was a child, Ocean City native Tyler Barnes cruised the waters around his nautical town on his parents' boat. His nautical knowledge culminated in a three-year stint as a mate for a parasail company. As he fell in love with the craft, he realized he wanted to start his own adventure company. By blending his skills in watery sports with training as a marketing major, he founded Paradise Watersports. Ten years later, his company now owns a fleet of four 12-passenger parasailing boats and 30 Sea-Doo jet skis, which they buy new each year to ensure high-quality performance.
Tyler leads a team of U.S. Coast Guard–licensed captains and crew, who also all hold certifications in CPR and first aid and boast a thorough knowledge of the area as well as a near-compulsive need for year-round water-bound activity. They put this knowledge to use teaching boater-safety courses on the bay and guiding jet-ski rentals and beach-hugging parasailing tours. On tours, they pilot U.S. Coast Guard–inspected boats custom-built to accommodate parasailing gear and equipped with hydraulic winches and towlines to enable slow takeoffs, steady ascents, and undisturbed conversations with seagulls. For many trips, they grant visitors waterproof Canon cameras, letting riders snap their own photos from the boat or above it.
A block away from the original Lazy Lizard, de Lazy Lizard Brew Pub fills glasses with 20 draft microbrews, including four beers brewed in-house. Guests can pair their pints with gastropub fare such as bangers and mash or paninis as they sup in a separate dining area or at the spacious bar. 11 TV screens scattered throughout the space keep sports fans entertained as they steal sips from a 100-oz. beer tower or lob Old Bay chicken wings at the opposing team.
The Biggs Museum of American Art showcases late founder Sewell C. Biggs's impressive collection that focuses on the evolution of American and especially Mid-Atlantic art from the 18th century up to the present. Steal some time inside the museum's 18 intimate galleries and peruse the permanent collection’s early American furniture, regional silver, and sculptures needled by the famously opposable-thumbed Hiram Powers. Although admission is free, the Biggs Museum fills a bustling calendar with programs such as art classes and kids’ activities that members can enjoy at a discount, along with events such as the annual member appreciation breakfast. With a rotating cast of exhibitions, current offerings include the Award Winners XI exhibition running through October 23, 2011, which displays works by the Individual Artist fellows of the Delaware Division of the Arts. The upcoming Delaware By Hand: Masters Competition exhibition, on display from November 4, 2011 to February 19, 2012, features contemporary work chosen by a panel of judges and presented in tandem with an array of public programs, art sales, and grassroots movements to line public spaces with paint-spewing fire hydrants.
Operating since 1903, Beaver Dam Boat Rentals provides access to the quiet waters and plentiful wildlife of Oranokin Creek. Initially prized by the Lenape Indians for its abundance of crabs, the creek offers crabbing enthusiasts a chance to snag up to a bushel of prized blue claws. Staff can tow guests to one of the four salt ponds where the crabs are hiding and help lure them out with free subscriptions to People magazine. Beaver Dam will stop by throughout the day to tow boats to a more attractive location, and can provide all necessary supplies.
Sightseeers can also test out Oranokin Creek in an old-fashioned rowboat, or rent fiberglass boats ($50–$60) that hold five passengers or party boats that hold up to six ($70). Beaver Dam Boat Rentals also offers guided kayak tours suited to participants' experience and fitness levels, and operates a boat ramp for the start of duck-hunting season.:m]]
"Stormin" Shore Water Sports, LLC is the proud owner of the Stormin, a 33-foot custom-designed catamaran capable of high speeds and equipped with seating for up to 14 passengers. Aboard this high-speed vessel, captains explore the waters and beaches of Ocean City for thrilling powerboat rides, as well as dolphin-sighting trips that leave every hour. During the summer, the Stomin also embarks on hourly day cruises and festive party and casino cruises.