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Where to Go in September: The Best Places to Travel

by Brook Wilkinson | August 27, 2019

Leisure travel usually slows down after Labor Day, as kids go back to school and adults go back to work. But September is a smart month for many places around the world, thanks to fewer tourists and shoulder-season deals. Here is a sampling of the best places to travel in September.

(Don’t miss the rest of our “Where to Go” series on the best destinations for every month of the year. If you’re wondering when’s the best time to book your destination to get the best value for your dollar, see our “What to Book Now” series.)

Disney World, Orlando

Disney World Hollywood Studios. Photo: Billie Cohen.

After Labor Day, you’ll find the fewest people and the shortest lines of the year (which means more time for fun!) at Disney World. The weather is still plenty warm enough for swimming, and in September Disney begins its special Halloween Party nights at Magic Kingdom.

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Seattle, the San Juan Islands, and the Olympic Peninsula

The view from Kerry Park, Seattle

The view from Kerry Park, Seattle. Photo: Seattle Convention & Visitor’s Bureau

In September, Seattle’s weather is still great—largely dry, and sunny more often than not, with highs around 70—but the summer crowds are gone. September is also a lovely time to travel to both the San Juan Islands and the peninsula. The weather is usually still very nice, and there are fewer tourists here too than you’ll find in July and August.

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Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park

Jenny Lake Grand Teton National park

Jenny Lake in autumn, Grand Teton National Park. Photo courtesy Caroline Bach Wood.

From mid-September to mid-October, the aspens are golden, the area isn’t crowded, and hotels often discount their rates; plus, the grizzly and black bears are more visible as they stock up prior to hibernation, and the elk are bugling. While the weather can be cooler, it’s a good excuse to take advantage of the fireplace in your room.

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Utah’s National Parks

Goblin Valley State Park Utah

Goblin Valley State Park, Utah. Photo: Brook WIlkinson

Spring and September (post-Labor Day) through October are best for Utah’s national parks: The temperatures are generally moderate and the crowds thin.

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Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon view of the watchtower.

The watchtower in Grand Canyon. Photo: Mike Buchheit

After Labor Day, the Grand Canyon gets much quieter, and prices fall from the highs of summer. Visitor services at the North Rim close on October 15, but the South Rim is open year-round, and the weather is pleasant into early November.

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Hawaii

Makena, Maui beach Hawaii

Makena, Maui. Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Come September and into the first week of October, Hawaii becomes less crowded, airfares begin to decrease, and great values are more abundant. It’s also a relatively dry and temperate time of year for most of the islands. From the fabulous restaurants on Maui to the history on Oahu and the rural remoteness of Lana’i; from the active volcano and remarkable manta rays of the Big Island to the glorious waterfalls and majestic Wailua River on Kauai, there’s a part of Hawaii that’s perfect for just about any traveler.

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Costa Rica

Kayaking Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica

Kayaking Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast has three seasons—less rainy, rainy, and very rainy. September is not only the least rainy, it is the least crowded, and the best month to see turtles nesting and hatching on Tortuguero National Park’s beaches. It’s also one of the best months for fishing, with tarpon, snook, shark, barracuda, king, and Spanish mackerel preying on the baby turtles. (October is normally only a little rainier than September, and it’s also a great month for fishing, wildlife viewing, and turtle hatching—but not turtle nesting.)

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Killarney & County Kerry, Ireland

Sheep grazing in Killarney National Park Ireland.

Sheep grazing in Killarney National Park, Ireland. Photo: Celebrated Experiences

April, May, September, and October, when the summer crowds have gone but the fine weather remains, are the best times to visit. It certainly might rain (this is Ireland, after all), which just means you’ll have rainbows! In September, which is considered high season, leaves start turning, ushering in fall.

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Porto & the Douro River Valley, Portugal

Grape harvest in the Douro Valley, Portugal

Harvest in the Douro Valley, Portugal. Photo: Porto Tourism

Late September and early October are typically the time for the grape harvest in the Douro. You can participate by picking grapes (more fun than it sounds) or—better yet—stomping the fruit à la I Love Lucy with your own two feet. There are also some amazing hikes just north of Porto, which are at their best in fall when the weather and landscape are starting to change; options range from easy strolls to expert-level routes.

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Tuscany

tractor harvesting grapes in a vineyard in Tuscany Italy

Come September, the vineyard-covered hills across much of Tuscany come alive for the vendemmia, or grape harvest. The rumble of small tractors rolling along the long rows of vines, the chattering of families and farm hands as they snip off individual clusters by hand, the tinkling of glasses and forks against plates as long tables are set up outdoors for everyone to take a break for lunch al fresco…these are the sights and sounds of autumn in Chianti, Montalcino, Montepulciano, and the rest of Tuscany’s wine country.

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Malta

colorful boats in Marsaxlokk Harbour, Malta

Marsaxlokk Harbour, Malta. Photo: Exclusively Malta

The number of travelers on Malta decreases in the fall, but there are still village feasts happening around the country, with parades, concerts, and fireworks. Plus, sunshine is practically guaranteed, but it’s not too hot—great for strolling through villages and indulging in the local culinary treats.

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Trancoso, Brazil

The beach lounge at Villas de Trancoso Brazil

The beach lounge at Villas de Trancoso. Photo: Villas de Trancoso

If you are after peace and quiet, the off-season (i.e., June through September) is pure bliss: Temperatures are still in the high 70s to 80s, and you will often have mile upon mile of palm-tree-backed beaches all to yourself.

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French Polynesia

The Brando Resort, French Polynesia

The Brando Beach Villa, French Polynesia. Photo: Brando Resort

Humpback whales approach the islands (mostly Rurutu and Moorea) to give birth and feed from August to October. The waters hold a lot of food that fatten up the babies before they head to the Antarctic. If the whales are calm and the weather is good, you can even snorkel with them and listen to the sounds they use to communicate with each other; it’s really quite an amazing experience.

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Kangaroo Island, Australia

kangaroos on kangaroo island Australia

Kangaroo Island, off the coast near Adelaide, is a top destination for animal lovers. Photo: South Australian Tourism Commission

Kangaroo Island is Australia’s own Galapagos, a time capsule of the region’s native plants and animals, largely undisturbed by civilization for thousands of years. Kangaroos, wallabies, echidna, koalas, dolphins, sea lions, fur seals, and scores of birds can be seen in their natural habitats all year round; however, antipodal spring is a particularly special time to visit, with clear and warm days returning, wildflowers blooming, and joey kangaroos emerging from their mothers’ pouches. (It’s also before the Australian school holidays hit and families start arriving in October.)

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South African Safaris

Elephants, Singita Kruger, South Africa

An elephant family at Singita Kruger, Kruger National Park.

September is glorious in South Africa. The winter chill has left, and spring is on its way. The grasses that grew high after the rainy season have been chomped down, leaving the animals in full view. Cape Town is warming up, and the rains have more or less gone for good. Whales can be seen off the coast, the vineyards are green, and safaris are spectacular throughout the parks and reserves.

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Uzbekistan

View over the mausoleums and domes of the historical cemetery of Shahi Zinda through an arched gate, Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

View over the mausoleums and domes of the historical cemetery of Shahi Zinda through an arched gate, Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Photo: Shutterstock

After the summer heat, Uzbekistan’s weather is once again comfortable for touring the ancient cities of Bukhara, Samarkand, and Khiva, and for hiking in the mountains or camel riding in the Kizil Kum Desert. Wendy’s family just returned from a vacation here.

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Other Good Options This Month

Click on any of the destinations below to find out why September is a good time to go.

Alaska Large-Ship (Affordable) Cruises

Amsterdam

Arctic

Argentina: Skiing in Mendoza

Athens

Bali

Beijing

Bhutan

Bolivia

Botswana

Brazilian Amazon

Cambodia: green-season deals

The California Coast

Chile: Atacama Desert

Colombia: Bogota

Croatia

Cuba: beach trips

Czech Republic: second half of the month

East Africa Safaris

Ecuador: Quito

European Canal Barges

Fiji

France: Provence and the French Riviera

Germany: Bavaria

Great Barrier Reef

Hungary

Iceland

India: Trekking in the Himalayas, Delhi, and Agra & the Taj Mahal

The Italian and Swiss Alps

Italy: Florence

Italy: Lakes Region

Italy: Sicily

Italy: Umbria

Italy: Venice

Jerusalem

London

Madagascar

Maui

Mongolia

Morocco

Myanmar

Nepal

Newfoundland and Labrador

New Zealand: Queenstown

Nicaragua: green-season deals

Norway

Oman: second half of the month

Papua New Guinea: Trekking

Paris

Peru

Portugal: The Algarve

River Rafting in the American West

Romania

Rwanda and Uganda: Gorilla Trekking

Scotland

Seychelles

South Africa: Safaris, and Cape Town and the Winelands

Spain: Andalusia and Madrid

Switzerland

Thailand: Bangkok

Turkey: Aegean Coast

Turkey: Cappadocia

Turkey: Istanbul

Washington, D.C.

Yellowstone

Zambia

Zimbabwe

 

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter @wendyperrin, and Instagram @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

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1 Comment

  1. David Dunhill

    I love these articles, and learn so much from them. I often consult your Where to Go by month posts to plan future travel. To this one, I would add a side note for Portugal: September is a great time to visit the Azores. You can find good deals on European vacation packages from the U.S. east coast to the Azores, and it’s a fantastic trip. Here’s more info about an Azores vacation package. Thanks, keep the good info coming!

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