The Jersey Shore is synonymous with summer—think ice cream, amusement parks, and long, sunny days on the sand. But while most visitors flock to New Jersey beaches between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the quieter months of the year have their own pleasures. Below are a few reasons why you should visit the Jersey Shore in the off season.
In August, I found a rate of $334 per night at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City on a weekend, but they’re just $243 per night over a weekend in October. Off-season prices drop even further at the nearby Golden Nugget, which costs $514 a night in August but just $289 a night in October.
Vacation rentals offer similarly dramatic discounts for stays outside the summer months, and many B&Bs are also affordable, especially on off-season weeknights. If your dates are flexible, planning your trip during the off season could be the single best way to save money on a Jersey Shore vacation.
Especially on summer holiday weekends such as Labor Day or the Fourth of July, visitors often find themselves sitting in long lines of traffic en route to New Jersey’s barrier islands or swimming shoulder to shoulder beside dozens of others in the ocean. But come late September or early May, you’ll find that the crowds have melted away. This is the time of year when beaches are blissfully uncrowded, and it’s easy to find your own oceanfront stretch of sand.
In particular there are few families at the Jersey Shore in the off season, which makes this a good time of year for seniors or couples looking for a quieter romantic getaway.
Not a fan of the summer heat? While the ocean temperatures may not be ideal for swimming much past mid-September, Jersey Shore air temperatures are typically mild enough in April, May, September, and October to enjoy biking, strolling the boardwalk, or relaxing on the beach with a good book—though you might need to bring a sweatshirt or light jacket.
Biking at the Jersey Shore in spring and fall is especially nice, not just because of the pleasant temperatures but also because of the lack of traffic. With fewer people in town, it’s easier and safer to ride along the streets and boardwalks.
Festivals and Special Events
The summer months boast a series of baby parades, fireworks, and concerts on the beach, but there’s still plenty of action up and down the Jersey Shore in the off season. This includes music festivals like the Exit Zero Jazz Festival in Cape May, held in November, and the Fabulous 50s and Beyond weekend in Wildwood every October. Foodies shouldn’t miss Belmar’s New Jersey Seafood Festival in May or the Que by the Sea BBQ Festival in Seaside Heights, held each September.
To find more events, check out VisitNJ.org or ShoreVacations.com.
Winter is by far the quietest season at the Jersey Shore, but things liven up around the holidays. The historic town of Cape May is a particularly festive spot to visit during Christmastime, when its Victorian homes are decorated with twinkling lights and traditional greenery. Consider a Christmas Candlelight Tour or Holiday Lights Trolley Ride to get in the spirit.
On New Year’s Eve, events include family-friendly First Night festivities in Seaside Heights and Ocean City, complete with fireworks. Other fireworks displays are held in Atlantic City and Sea Isle City. Many people even start the New Year with a polar plunge into the ocean in communities such as Asbury Park, Ocean City, and Brigantine.
More from SmarterTravel:
- The 8 Best New Jersey Beaches to Visit This Summer
- What to Pack for a Jersey Shore Vacation: 28 Essentials
- 10 Beaches You Have to See in Winter
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Follow Sarah Schlichter on Twitter @TravelEditor for more travel tips and inspiration.
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