For classic luxury, reserve at the Mainstay Inn (from $155), a former private gambling club that has been meticulously restored to full Victorian glory. Period furnishings are in every room. Book the Henry Ford room with its private back porch.
Pick the Queen Victoria (from $130) for its generous breakfast buffet. The two-story Crown Jewel Suite, with private entrance, is one of the most romantic places to stay in Cape May.
A Victorian B&B, John F. Craig House (from $165) offers free bikes and beach chairs. Take your breakfast in the dining room or the glassed-in porch and return for tea (or wine) at 5 p.m. The owners' collections of Lionel trains and bawdy figurines are displayed throughout the house.
The Fairthorne Cottage (from $214), a former whaling captain's 1882 home, now offers intimate accommodations. Most rooms come with a fireplace.
For people who prefer small hotels, the 108-room Congress Hall (from $100) is a seaside classic. Many of the hotel's twenties fixtures and windows were fully restored during a 2002 renovation. Ask for a room with an uninterrupted view of the shore.