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Okay, so obviously, I think Cape May is wonderful any time of the year. What’s not to love? Cape May is an absolute charming gem in New Jersey that is perfect for a variety of trips: day trip escapes, romantic weekend getaways, fun girlfriends escapades, and longer leisurely vacations.
Not to mention, I wouldn’t dedicate an entire site to Cape May if I didn’t think it was delightful to visit throughout all of New Jersey’s four (very diverse) seasons.
So, yeah, I always think Cape May is worth visiting no matter what time of the year you plan to go.
However, I also know that this is a complete non-answer and if you’re reading this post, then you’re seeking more concrete insights for your travel plans.
What is the Best Time to Visit Cape May New Jersey
Honestly, the best time to visit Cape May New Jersey is entirely up to you. Think about it. Why are you visiting? What are you interested in? Do you care about the cold and rain, or do you just want to be a total beach bum? Depending on your interests (and budget), you might be limited to certain months of the year and that’s okay!
Just be honest about your travel needs.
In short, I’ve broken down this guide by all four seasons, as well as listed the pros and cons of visiting Cape May in a particular season. I hope this post all about the best time to visit Cape May New Jersey helps you plan your next magical vacation to this charming Victorian Wonderland.
Let’s get planning!
Spring (March – May)
Ahhhh, spring. When pink cherry blossoms bloom on the trees and warm weather slowly returns to New Jersey after a seemingly endless and dreary winter.
Who doesn’t like spring? Personally, I think shoulder season is a wonderful time to visit Cape May. The city is waking from its hibernation, and the hope for new beginnings is palatable in the air.
What I Love About Cape May in Spring
Spring in Cape May is very pretty with flowers and blossoms. Cape May has serious aesthetic. For example, tulips are all over the lawns of classic Bed and Breakfasts, and these wonderful flowers provide even more splashes of color in the gardens on Washington Street Mall.
Additionally, I love that the weather is comfortable on the sunny days, and although it’s not remotely warm enough to swim in the ocean yet, you’re able to walk on the beaches and enjoy the sand and sea in a sweatshirt rather than a bulky winter jacket.
The summer crowds also haven’t swept through the area. Sure, Easter and Mother’s Day are both crowded, but other weekends are quieter, which means you can enjoy the shops and restaurants without the hassles of working around the tourists.
What I Don’t Love About Cape May in Spring
The weather in Cape May in spring is unpredictable. I know I mentioned comfortable temperatures, but you’re rolling the dice when it comes to the sun peeking behind the clouds.
Check the weather forecast ahead of time.
Summer (June – August)
Ahhhh, summer fun in the sun at the Jersey Shore. What’s not to love?
After Memorial Day Weekend, everything is alive in Cape May. As a seasonal town, Cape May seriously pulls out all the hospitality stops to earn as much revenue as possible in the summer season – which appeals to families as well as … everyone else.
What I Love About Cape May in Summer
Everything is open. Like I said, Cape May is seasonal, and the small business owners want to make money. You don’t need to worry about your favorite cafe or shop being closed, or only having limited hours. You have plenty of options at your disposal and won’t ever have a dull moment.
And if you’re a fan of the beach? Summer is your season. Ocean breezes in Cape May are absolute heaven, and provide such a lovely break from the heat. Sometimes I feel like the ocean breeze is even cooler than the air conditioner running, and on those perfect afternoons, it’s easy to lie on a towel with a good book for hours.
If you love the ocean, July and August are also the best months to go swimming. Sometimes the water temperature gets as high as seventy degrees!
What I Don’t Love About Cape May in Summer
Ugh, full disclosure, I’m not a fan of the excessive heat and crowds at the Jersey Shore in summer. Sure, down the shore (Cape May included) you’ll find more relief from the heat than the interior of the state. Sometimes I experience as much as a 15 degree difference at Cape May compared to my full time residence, which is much further west.
Regardless July and August are very humid unless you’re sitting right on the water with that ocean breeze I just gushed about. For beach bums, summer is the most ideal time to visit, but if you want to go shopping, walk through the Cape May Zoo, or lounge outside at a winery, then spring or fall is probably more ideal for you.
And the tourist crowds? Well … they’re difficult. Individually, people are nice, but get them in a group, and you’re bound to see some bad and rude behavior.
Fall (September – November)
The humidity has broken. It’s now time for pumpkins, spooky stories, apple cider, and dark beer. Who else is absolutely, positively obsessed with fall?
And if you think Cape May is dead after Labor Day, then you’re entirely wrong. “Local’s summer” is the greatest.
What I Love About Cape May in Fall
Fall has stunning days. For example, if you visit Cape May in September, you’ll have beach days that are as glorious as August’s, but only a fraction of the crowds. Having the beach all to yourself is an absolute treat.
Cape May also has a ton of festivals in the fall. Jazz Festivals, Sherlock Holmes Weekends, and so much more happen in Cape May in autumn. Be sure to check the calendar ahead of time for more information. The wineries are also in full swing in the fall. Go on a tour, see the grapes on the vines, and taste the rich local wines.
Last but not least, Halloween Buffs will love Cape May’s haunted vibe in October. Ghost tour, anyone? The tales of haunted Cape May will keep you up at night, but isn’t that a big part of the fun?
Cape May NJ in the fall has a lot to love.
What I Don’t Love About Cape May in Fall
Fall is my favorite season, so it was hard for me to think of anything too bad. However, it’s worth mentioning that September and October are part of Hurricane Season. Hurricanes are rarely as intense and destructive in New Jersey, as they are in the southern states, but you still need to be aware of any potential hurricane or tropical storm forecasts.
After all, Hurricane Sandy, which caused unspeakable amounts of damage in New Jersey, hit over Halloween. It always pays to be mindful.
Don’t visit Cape May if a hurricane or tropical storm is predicted. Evacuation
Winter (December – February)
Cape May in winter is an interesting season. On one hand, you have the holiday season with the twinkling Christmas lights and cold open-air markets and Christmas carol celebrations, and on the other hand, you have complete desolation in January and February.
What I Love About Cape May in Winter
Christmas in Cape May is a lot of fun. Whenever I stroll the streets, I feel as if I’ve been transported into the pages of a Charles Dickens novel, which is just delightful.
Is December cold? Yes, it can be, but Cape May’s temperatures are milder compared to other parts of the state. Just bring a good jacket on a sunny day, and I promise you that you can still enjoy the outdoors. For example, a lot of the wineries have fire pits and blankets, which make the winter afternoons quite cosy.
All in all, December is my favorite winter month to visit Cape May.
What I Don’t Love About Cape May in Winter
On the flip side, January and February are cold and quiet. Too quiet. Sure, if you want absolute peace and a chance to write or reconnect with yourself, then a weekend in the dead of winter is actually rather refreshing.
Sadly, a lot of the restaurants have limited hours or are entirely closed for the season. And even if a restaurant or shop is open, they are likely limited to the weekends only, so if you come mid-week, there really isn’t much to do at all.
Cape May county’s milder weather usually protects it from too much trouble, but at the same time, snow is a reality that causes all sorts of travel delays and headaches. You take the risk of a snowstorm by visiting Cape May in winter. If you’re not comfortable with inclement weather, then my advice is to wait until March.
The Best Time to Visit Cape May: My Own Verdict
Argh, time to answer a truly difficult question. Personally, my favorite seasons for visiting Cape May are the shoulder seasons, meaning spring and fall.
Now I completely understand that these seasons are not always practical for families with children who want to experience Cape May. By all means, if you have children, then come to Cape May in the summer and don’t feel slightly guilty about it!
But spring and fall really capture Cape May’s magic without the stressors in the summer months.
Ultimately, though, deciding the best time to visit Cape May is a personal decision that’s different for each of us. Regardless of your decision, I’m sure you’ll have an amazing adventure. Go and fall in love with Cape May.
I hope you had a great time reading this post about the best time to visit Cape May New Jersey. So how about you? What do you think is the ideal time to go and visit Cape May? Why?