Best cheap weekend beach trip from NYC in May?
April 9, 2009 10:02 AM   Subscribe

What's the best (cheap, clean, warm) beach to go to in mid-May, accessible by car from NYC?

I'd like to take a long weekend vacation at a beach in mid-May with a couple of good friends, but there's so much info out there on potential Jersey shore spots that I'd prefer to query the inestimable MeFi hive mind.

What we're looking for:
- Somewhere that we can drive to from NYC (max 5 hrs distant). NJ seems most likely but we're open to other places also.
- All we want to do is lay on the sand and soak up sun, so proximity to tourist stuff/amusement parks etc is OK, but definitely not required. (In fact, it's a minus if it attracts huge crowds.)
- Somewhere where it's possible to get reasonably cheap lodging. We'd like to be on or near the beach, and to be clean and safe, but we def don't need anything nice or pools/amenities etc.; we'll just be using it for sleeping & showering.
- Hopefully warm. Opinions seem to vary on if it'll be warm enough to lay out in Jersey in mid-May, but yell out if you have thoughts ...

Thanks, all! Suggestions on hotels or B&Bs you've had good experiences with are also welcome.
posted by alleycat01 to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think mid-May is WAY too cold. I went to the beach in early-to-mid June last year and found it too cold. I know last year at the end of April I was still wearing a fairly substantial coat. I don't drive up here so I have no idea where to direct you, but I'd definitely caution that I think you're going to be disappointed in the weather.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 10:26 AM on April 9, 2009

Ocean City, MD might put you far enough south to get some warm water and sunshine. Google alleges it's less than five hours drive; I used to go when I was in DC, so no recommendations for overnight stays unfortunately (it was a day trip for me.) Good luck! I know I can't wait to get back onto a beach!
posted by littlerobothead at 10:45 AM on April 9, 2009

Mid-May is too cold for the Jersey Shore. It'll be cheaper and uncrowded since it's off-season, but it won't be as pleasant.
posted by lullaby at 10:51 AM on April 9, 2009

The water will be too cold to swim, but there *are* occasional days in May where it would be warm enough to lay on the beach. For that reason, I wouldn't plan this too far out in advance. Maybe a week before, when you'll have the forecast.

I recommend Sandy Hook. It's a state park, so there's no boardwalk/amusement park- but it's less crowded, for that reason.

Also, last I heard, you can actually get there from Manhattan by ferry, as well as by car.

Sandy Hook NY Times Article.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:11 AM on April 9, 2009

Response by poster: Blah, I was afraid of it'd be too cold. Thanks for the thoughts & confirmations, all. Guess maybe we'll try to wait and find a last-minute package on the cheap to somewhere farther south/more tropical.
posted by alleycat01 at 11:53 AM on April 9, 2009

Sandy Hook is convenient to New York, so that would be a good spot for a day trip. But for what you want, it's not your best choice right now. It's not very removed in feel from the congestion of NJ that you drive through to get there. You can get near there by ferry, but not directly there - the ferry goes to either Highlands or north of the Hook.

If you're looking for a beach town where you can spend a few days wandering back and forth from the house/motel to the beach, and you want to feel like you're away, go farther down the shore. There are so many places to choose from - Barnegat, Brigantine, and Margate are relatively quiet. Ocean City won't be busy this time of year but does have snack places and a boardwalk that may be open on the nicer days and on the weekends.

Cape May would be a great destination. It's close enough, and has warm ocean currents even in May. You can take a ferry from there to Delaware. There is a lot -- well, enough -- to do if the weather doesn't cooperate. And there are tons of Victorian-ish B&Bs. This is kind of what they're known for.

It's not really too cold to swim if you're really into swimming. I grew up in NJ and we swam on a lot of the warmer May days. It all depends on the fluctations of the weather - yes, it's the coldest water of the season, but if you're looking to wade, splash and dunk it's plenty warm enough for that. Where I live now, in Northern New England, the water in August and September is about as warm as the Jersey Shore is in May, and people swim and surf in it. It's just a matter of whether you're up for it and whether there's enough warmth in the air and breeze.

Some days in May will be nice enough, some won't. Without going farther than 5 hours south you're definitely taking your chances. Still, they are worth taking. I was on the Jersey Shore with some friends last May and we got some great beach time in. Go for it - but be prepared to amuse yourselves in case it's too chilly to swim and even too chilly or windy or rainy to sit on the beach.

Virtual NJ Shore
Cape May Times
posted by Miko at 11:57 AM on April 9, 2009

Once it's really summer, you can just barely drive to Cape Cod in 5 hours... But it's far too cold now and will be until mid-June.

However, here's my answer to a related AskMe today about cheap beach getaways from NYC.
posted by nicwolff at 12:33 PM on April 9, 2009

hmm the hamptons on li i think might be good and cheap since it doesnt get busy until memorial day.
posted by majortom1981 at 12:43 PM on April 9, 2009

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