This post contains affiliate links. We earn a small commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase.
While most people plan summer getaways to Cape May, especially if they have school-aged children, Cape May in September is a magical time of year to visit this charming Victorian seaside town. Dubbed “locals’ summer,” Cape May in September has a lot of the same perks as July and August, and while I may receive hate from some locals for bragging about shoulder season (I’msosorry), if you’re flexible, a trip in September could be well worth it.
I talk a lot on this blog about the best time to visit Cape May. While I think any time of year is wonderful, I still think the autumn shoulder season months are the best in many ways. I’ve also written more generally about visiting Cape May NJ in the fall if you need more ideas, haha.
I dunno, maybe I’m just partial to fall in general. Who knows.
Why You Should Visit Cape May in September
In this post, I’ve listed a couple of reasons why you should visit Cape May in September.
Now, unlike some other travel sites who criticize anyone who travels in summer due to high prices (yes, they exist), I promise I’m not “guilt-tripping” anyone for taking their summer vacation to Cape May. For a lot of people, summer is the only option and I think the travel industry ought to be a little more accepting of it.
I mean, are you a teacher or professor? Are you a family with school-aged children? Do you have children who play fall sports? Are you a couple who is in graduate school or college? Then, seriously, take your summer vacation in Cape May 100% guilt-free and have an incredible time. Summer is still amazing, and I love it.
But, if you’re able to go in September, you might want to consider that month over July and August. If you have low tolerance for crowds and general hustle and bustle, but still want to take advantage of beautiful weather, then September might work very well for you. Summer is fantastic, but oh boy, is it hot and crowded.
Let’s discuss in detail.
Summer-Like Weather Lingers
September has gorgeous weather. For the first half of the month, you will seriously enjoy temperatures that are almost identical to August with a fraction of the crowds. I have enjoyed 80 degree days in September. Perfect for lounging on the beach without sweating off half my body weight.
In the second half of September, you may have a couple of crisp fall-like days, but I think this weather is perfect for Cape May too. While you may not want to sunbathe in a bikini, you are more than able to shop on Washington Mall or sit outside at a scenic winery, and feel comfortable at the same time.
My only caveat is that September is also Hurricane Season in much of the eastern United States. New Jersey doesn’t experience hurricanes to the same extent (most of the time) as the Carolinas or Florida.
However, still keep your plans flexible in case of tropical storms putting a damper on your plans. I wouldn’t stress TOO much about it, but regardless, it’s something to be aware of.
The Ocean is Still Very Warm
Feel free to swim in the Atlantic Ocean in Cape May in September. Depending on the year, the Atlantic Ocean is warmer in early September than June or even parts of July!
So, bring your bathing suit and jump in the ocean’s waves! I love embracing my inner child by spending an hour or two splashing around in the water.
A word of warning, though. Some beaches have fewer (or no!) lifeguards available after Labor Day weekend. Know your limits, and pay attention to any flags indicating rip currents.
Fewer Crowds and Cheaper Prices
Like I said, Cape May in September is cheaper than summer. Book ahead of time to find the lowest rates, and you could save a significant amount of money, even at the more popular hotels, such as Congress Hall.
The only word of warning, though, is September ushers in Wedding Season Round 2. Book your rooms well in advance on prime weekends.
Prices aside though, I personally think dealing with fewer crowds is the biggest benefit. Now don’t expect to have the entire town and county all to yourself. “Local’s summer” really isn’t a secret and if you visit on a glorious sunny Saturday or Sunday, you will absolutely hit traffic on the major highways.
At the same time, though, there is a noticeable difference in the crowds. For example, I don’t ever remember fighting for a parking spot at the Jersey Shore in September compared to the height of summer.
Plenty of Fun Events on Weekends
Cape May City, as well as surrounding Cape May County Towns, still offer great events outside the summer season.
Events in Cape May include the Harvest Brew Festival, Exit Zero Jazz Festival, Oktoberfest, and so much more! Not to mention, many of the restaurants, such as the Mad Batter, still have live music throughout the month of September.
Furthermore, towns that are near Cape May also offer a variety of fun events. For example, I know Irish Weekend in Wildwood is always held in September and is a lot of fun for locals and visitors alike.
Check the calendar’s in advance to plan ahead. On the flip side, if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of events, do just as much research to pick the “quietest” available September weekend, haha.
(Mostly) Everything Stays Open
Unlike some towns, Cape May remains fairly open in September. Honestly, the vibe still feels like summer in many ways. You won’t have to worry about limited hours much on the weekend, but I would always double-check in the middle of the week, especially if you want to frequent smaller shops.
And if you love food? Then you’re in luck too! Most of Cape May’s fine dining remains open after Labor Day Weekend. Perhaps restaurants will offer more limited hours, but on Friday and Saturday nights, I seriously doubt that you will encounter any issues.
If you have a particular restaurant in mind, I suggest that you make reservations in advance. Most restaurants will use OpenTable or Resy.
See the Monarch Butterflies
The Monarch Butterflies are famous in Cape May County. Starting at the end of September, the Monarch Butterflies migrate south, and as a result, you will see several of these beautiful orange and yellow butterflies in Cape May. Nature lovers from all over the state plan to visit this time of year to experience the Monarch Butterfly Migration for themselves.
The Monarch Monitoring Program is an educational and research program that studies the butterflies’ journey down the Atlantic Coast. The 2500 mile journey is truly amazing if you really think about it.
Visit Cape May at the end of September to see this natural wonder. You won’t regret it.
As an important note, Monarch Butterflies are endangered. Take pictures, sure, but please be extra careful not to accidentally hurt or kill the butterflies.
Cape May in September Tips
What to Pack for Cape May in September
Packing for Cape May in September is slightly different than in the summer months. Always check the weather forecast before you take your trip, especially in the latter half of the month when cooler temperatures are ushered in.
Items Not to Forget
- Bathing Suit: Still pack those adorable bathing suits if you want to enjoy the ocean’s mild temperatures this time of year!
- Comfortable Open-Toed Shoes: Pedicure Season isn’t finished yet, my friends! Don’t forget to show off those toes in a cozy pair of sandals.
- Moisturizer with SPF: Keep your skin happy and content. While you may not need to slather on the sunscreen quite as much, you want to absolutely make sure that your facial moisturizer has SPF in it if you plan to spend most of your time outside (and honestly, why wouldn’t you?).
- (At Least One) Pretty Dress for Evenings:
- Shawl for Chilly Nights: Going out to dinner and sitting outside? It may be chilly later on in September. My advice is to pack a shawl. Better safe than sorry.
- Sunglasses: You will still want to protect your eyes from the sun, especially out on the beach, so pack a pair of sunglasses for your trip.
Where to Stay in Cape May in September
Accommodation in Cape May in September is still widely available especially at hotels and bed and breakfasts. While the number of house rentals declines, I’m sure you could also from some good deals if you speak to a recommended realtor.
I’ve listed a couple of suggestions below. All three of these hotels/bed and breakfasts are open in September!
- Carroll Villa Hotel: One of the most popular hotels in all of Cape May City. The Carroll Villa Hotel is especially known for its on-site restaurant: The Mad Batter! See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
- Inn of Cape May: This gorgeous inn is right on the ocean and reminds me of an epic castle. Perfect for your stay. See prices on TripAdvisor.com.
- The Queen Victoria: This award-winning bed and breakfast is rather luxurious and perfect for those of you who want to splurge! See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
Do you want to visit Cape May in September? Do you have any plans to visit Cape May in the near future, or have cool suggestions? Feel free to share!