Here’s why fall can be the best time to go to the Jersey Shore


It’s the month New Jersey Shore locals have been waiting for — September.

There is a feeling in the air that comes with it, a sense of relief now the crowds are gone, the noise will be less intense and the traffic will be more manageable.

Hello “local summer.”

Known for the sparse crowds and still warm weather, September is the time for folks living the everyday Shore life to reclaim their beaches, restaurants, and favorite hot spots.

It’s also an opportunity for the smart tourist to take advantage of all the benefits the off-season has to offer.

“It’s a local summer but it’s also a savvy visitor summer as well,” said Jack Wright, owner and creative director of Exit Zero Hospitality.

Wright — who turned the Cape May Ferry Terminal into a three-restaurant destination this summer, called Ferry Park, and is the owner of Exit Zero Filling Station in West Cape May — said that he has noticed a trend where in terms of revenue, September has started to beat June.

And why not? The water is warmer, the weather is better, the crowds are thinner and most everything is still open.

But for the businesses the end of summer is bittersweet. They will miss the revenue but welcome the relaxed atmosphere, which is a blessing because by the middle of August much of the seasonal help is headed back to school.

It’s also a chance for restaurants to experiment with food and beverage specials to sweeten the pot for off-season customers.

“Businesses get more creative and they do things to lure people in and that’s fun to see what everybody has up their sleeves,” said Scott Cronick, co-owner of Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall in Atlantic City.

Now that Labor Day is behind us here are a few reasons why September and October are no reason to give up on the Shore.

Jersey Shore beach badges

Beach badges from Bradley Beach: 1929.Tim Hawk | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

It’s just what you all wanted — free beaches, at least until next summer.

Now is the time to take advantage and stick it to your favorite beach town that stuck it to you all summer long.

Sure the cost of tags supports beach clean-up, lifeguards, and patrols, but that still doesn’t soften the blow of putting out more than $100 in some towns for a piece of plastic that can get you onto the beach all summer.

But still, it’s a nice feeling not to be hassled by the beach tag police before your foot even hits the warm sand or not to always have to avoid them if you happen to sneak onto the beach.

Brigantine beach

Late day crowd on the Brigantine beach over Labor Day Weekend, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022. Tim Hawk | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Sitting on the beach during those 90 degree days of August feels like you are in a boxing match with Mike Tyson — you’re hot and sweaty then bobbing and weaving around people to get to the ocean for some relief. By the end of the day, the sun beat you up.

In September the days are warm and comfortable and the cool nights are a reminder that fall is right around the corner.

“For me, it’s the best weather month out of the whole year,” said Cronick.

Most locals will agree.

The average high temperature in Atlantic City is 77 while the average low is 58. The same can be said for Toms River where the average high is also 77, and the average low drops to 55, according to the National Weather Service.

Break out the sweatshirts for that romantic evening stroll on the beach and make sure you put your feet in the water. But remember, by the time most lifeguards have packed up for the season.

According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the ocean is warmer at the end of September than it is in June. Average ocean temperatures for the first half of September range from 70 in Sandy Hook to 73 in Cape May. Compare that to the first half of June, where temperatures range from 60 to 67.

Wildwood boardwalk

People walk the Wildwood boardwalk, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022Lori M. Nichols | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

You wanted oceanfront property? Now is your chance at least in terms of a blanket and chair.

With fewer people your options are endless. You can park yourself right by the water or further back if that’s your preference.

For the next few weeks you can sit back and take in nature at its best — the calming sound of the waves, the cool breeze and the blue skies.

If there are fewer people on the beach chances are there will be fewer people on the boardwalk. You can now walk the boards without being bumped into by inattentive people or wonder why those big groups of teenagers are gathered on the beach at night.

Slip in and out of the stores quicker — but take a minute to look over the end-of-season deals. Get on the amusement rides faster, and even that slice of boardwalk pizza tastes better without the aggravation of standing in line.

Ferry Park

Bartender Susan Tomes makes drinks at Exit Zero Ferry Station at Ferry Park in North Cape May, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. Tim Hawk | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

It’s not uncommon to see up to a 90-minute wait to get a table at your favorite restaurant during the busy months of the summer. Even at the bar, there is usually a wait for whatever drink that will quench your thirst.

But after Labor Day, the crowds thin, the wait is cut in half, and you can enjoy some additional specials.

“You can actually get into some of your restaurants at the peak seating time,” said Francesca Santoro, La Mer Beachfront Resort general manager.

After a very good summer, the Cape May resort plans to keep the momentum going by offering different activities through the autumn and winter months.

Sept. 16 kicks off its pairing dinner series beginning with rosé wines paired with a four course meal. Other pairings in the coming months will include beer, scotch and sparkling wine.

Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall murals

Five new murals are the centerpiece at the outside portion of Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall in Atlantic City, Monday, May 30, 2022. Tim Hawk | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The cooler weather means different beer options for customers at the Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall. According to Cronick, during the summer people tend to go for lighter beers but as the temperatures drop the beer selections become heavier and have more interesting flavor profiles.

“It’s my favorite time for beer,” explained Cronick.

The beer hall will also bring back its beer dinners featuring Double Nickel Brewery.

Even in September, there is something about the Shore that will bring a smile to your face and plenty of food and drinks that will make your stomach happy. And you can feel good that you are supporting the local businesses that were there for you during the chaotic summer months.

“We would love every month to have the revenue of August with the vibe of September,” said Wright.

Other than beach tags the greenhead is one of the biggest gripes for anyone visiting the beaches during prime season. If a west wind is blowing, you will become a tasty meal for those females looking to get a blood source for their eggs

Those pesky flies will ruin a perfect day on the beach and make you run for cover or cover-up. Some brave beachgoers will try and stick it out and say it’s no big deal, that the flies don’t bother them, or that they have the perfect remedy to keep them at bay.

Most experts agree, nothing will keep them from gouging you and more than likely they will find you and they will take a piece of you as a souvenir.

But most if not all of them are gone by September so now you can relax without flinching anytime something touches your skin. You don’t even have to go on Facebook asking the annoying question “how are the greenheads today?”

Atlantic City Expressway

Atlantic City Expressway, looking east toward Atlantic City from an overpass in Pleasantville, Feb. 23, 2022.Lori M. Nichols | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Let’s face it, traffic to and from the Shore is sometimes brutal in the summer. The line of red brake lights along the Garden State Parkway gets even worse when you get so close you can smell the salt air. And when you just want to get home after your beach time you’re sitting in traffic again.

Most beachgoers plan their trips around traffic, but inevitably traffic will find you.

After Labor Day, people go back to their regular routines and traffic at the Shore is at a minimum. And as an added bonus, fewer cars also means more parking spots — and eventually, free parking.

La Mer Beachfront Resort

Francesca Santoro, right, La Mer Beachfront Resort general manager and Danyelle Addesso, director of marketing, stand in the resort’s courtyard, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. Tim Hawk | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Those savvy people know that there are great deals in September.

“They don’t want to be here in the peak of the summer. And they realized the room rates are a lot more affordable,” explained Santoro, who believes that La Mer could exceed last year’s strong numbers absent any bad weather.

Mike Moss, rental manager at Berger Realty, which specialized in Ocean City told NJ Advance Media that a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom beachfront duplex that sleeps eight, rents for $6,200 per week in July and August, but in September and October it drops to $2,600 to $1,700.

If casinos are your thing the Bally’s Atlantic City has rooms starting at $59 for midweek. Check your favorite casino for its off-season rates and specials.

The Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival

The Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival, Sunday, June 5, 2022. Tim Hawk | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

There were plenty of events happening at the Shore during the summer months.

Maybe you drank a keg of beer at the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival, stuffed your face at food truck festivals, danced the night away at the many beach concerts and was one of 500,000 people at the Atlantic City Airshow.

But fun doesn’t stop when the crowds go away and when the calendar turns to October things get a little scarier for Halloween.

The Exit Zero Jazz Festival returns Sept. 29 to Oct. 2 at Ferry Park featuring world class musicians

“There’ll be a couple of 1,000 people on this lawn that we’re overlooking,” Wright said. Ferry Park will also have a few different festivals including a “zombie takeover” on the weekend of Halloween.

Le Mer is the host hotel for the Hallowed Half Marathon Oct. 28 and 29 with food trucks, live entertainment and other family activities.

In Atlantic City, Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall will host its Oktoberfest on Oct. 1 and 2 focusing on German import beers and featuring a menu of German favorites such as a pork schnitzel sandwich and bratwurst with beer-braised sauerkraut.

Other festivals include the Irish Fall Festival in North Wildwood, Sept. 23 to Sept. 25, The Downbeach Seafood Festival in Ventnor, Sept. 17 and 18, the Festival of the Sea in Point Pleasant Beach, Sept. 17.

If music is what you’re looking for then check out the Sea.Hear.Now Festival in Asbury Park featuring Stevie Nicks and Green Day, Sept 17 and 18 or one of many other concerts including Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, Sept. 24 at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Hungry? Then head to Atlantic City for its restaurant week Oct 2 to Oct. 7. Participating restaurants will offer a multi-course meal for a fixed price.

Atlantic City Sunset

A November sunset from Brigantine looking toward Atlantic City. Tim Hawk | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

There is no denying it. The sunrises and sunsets are more vivid as the weather turns cooler. With a later sunrise, approximately 6:40 a.m by mid-September and an earlier sunset, around 7:05 p.m., it’s a little more convenient for those of us who like their sleep in the morning and

Getting up for that 5:30 a.m. sunrise, forget about it until next summer.

Some great spots to catch the sunset include Sunset Beach in Cape May Point, Sunset Lake in Sunset Lake in Wildwood Crest, the Cove in Brigantine, Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, and off of Barnegat Bay in Lavallette and Ortley.

Breeze's Dock Bar & Grill in Tuckerton

The sun sets behind the trees from Breeze’s Dock Bar & Grill in Tuckerton, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022.Tim Hawk | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Tim Hawk may be reached at thawk@njadvancemedia.com. Follow Tim on Instagram @photog_hawk.

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