In most places in the world, September is a beautiful time of year. The heat of the summer has subsided but the days are still long and warm. The busy tourist season is over but everything is still running at full tilt offering you the same experiences and opportunities as those available in June, July and August. In many cases, prices have come off of their highs and are now settling into a more reasonable range. All of this is particularly true for places in the United States. Now what? Where should you go? Lots of places! According to some amazing travel bloggers, here are the best places to visit in the USA in September.
By Karen of Outdoor Adventure Sampler
September is fall foliage season in Vermont and the vibrant city of Burlington is the perfect place to enjoy it. Accordingly, this makes Burlington one of the best places to visit in the USA in September.
The splendid colors can be seen from many vantage points. Rent a bike on the Burlington bike path to pedal along Lake Champlain with incredible views of the Adirondack mountains across the lake. Or hop on a cruise on the Spirit of Ethan Allen to see the shoreline colors from the boat. Numerous hiking trails in the city limits lead to great views of the flaming leaves. Hike up the tower at Ethan Allen Park to see a mosaic of reds, yellows and oranges in the trees below your feet.
The farm to table market in Burlington is at its peak in September. Visit the downtown Burlington Farmers Market for just picked garden treasures. Stroll over to the pedestrian mall of the Church Street Marketplace for open air dining. Many restaurants specialize into using fresh local produce. While you are exploring Church Street, enjoy the street performers and one of a kind shops.
Craft brew, ciders, and spirits are popular in Burlington. Stop by one of the many microbreweries or distilleries for a tasting. Most will feature special fall focused flavors.
Top off your day in Burlington with a visit to Waterfront Park to view the best sunset in the Northeast over Lake Champlain. The golden light that melts over the water as the sun disappears confirms that September in Burlington is indeed magical.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
By Debbie Fettback from World Adventurists
The Grand Canyon, one of the seven wonders of the world, is a mind-blowing sight. With its incredible size, scale, and views that look more like a painting than reality, visiting the Grand Canyon is a must for any lover of National Parks.
The most popular attraction inside the Grand Canyon is to take a self-drive tour around the South Rim. There are several pull-out areas along Desert View Drive where you can admire the Canyon from different viewpoints. The route starts one mile east of Grand Canyon Village and ends at Desert View near the east entrance of the park. At a leisurely pace, the drive takes about 4 hours to do.
While you can see the Grand Canyon in a day, to enjoy more of the full experience, you should set aside 2-3 days. Several hikes will take you into the Canyon for a different perspective of its grandeur on day or multi-day trails. You can also ride a mule through the Grand Canyon or enjoy a bird’s eye view from a helicopter flight.
While summer is the peak season for visitors, the Grand Canyon is one of the best places to visit in the USA in September. The weather is cooler and more enjoyable, and there are smaller crowds. Plus, on shorter days it is easier to see a Grand Canyon sunset.
Since the Grand Canyon is over 277 miles long, and 4 to 18 miles wide, several cities are a reasonable drive away. Two of the major cities near the Grand Canyon are Phoenix and Las Vegas. Both have international airports.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
By Daria of The Discovery Nut
The oldest national park in the United States, Yellowstone is also one of the busiest averaging a few million tourists every year. Since the majority of visitors come from June through October, your best bet is to visit Yellowstone in September. Crowds have receded and weather is still warm enough for hiking and enjoying the magnificent scenery. October brings cooler temperatures, which is why September is ideal.
Yellowstone is located in northwestern part of Wyoming and portions of it extend into Idaho and Montana. Just to give you an idea, Yellowstone covers over 3,400 square miles which is more than a combined area of Delaware and Rhode Island.
If you decide to fly to Yellowstone, your best shot is one of the major cities a few hundred miles away from Yellowstone National Park such as Salt Lake City, Idaho Falls or Bozeman and then rent a car and drive.
Some of the top things to do in Yellowstone is watching Big Faithful, touring the Grand Prismatic Spring, and watching wildlife at Hayden Valley or Lamar Valley. You should try and allot no less than 3 days at Yellowstone as it’s huge and has a lot to offer. For its outdoor activities, it is one of the best places to visit in the USA in September.
By Elena Pappalardo of The Carry-On Chronicles
Early fall is a wonderful time to visit Savannah, Georgia, as daily temperatures decline along with hotel rates after the summer rush. Although Savannah is filled with things to do year-round, for jazz fans, it’s arguably one of the best places to visit in the USA in September, when the city hosts its free annual jazz festival.
Jazz music is an integral part of the arts culture in Savannah, as the city was home to famous jazz artists like Johnny Mercer. Savannah Jazz is proud to host this and other live performances throughout the year to foster jazz education within the community.
In addition to this highly anticipated festival, Savannah also offers visitors access to a Farmer’s Market in September. This weekly happening is held from 9AM to 1PM in beautiful Forsyth Park. The Forsyth Farmer’s Market aims to support local farmers as well as provide fresh produce to the community.
Those looking to venture a bit beyond the city may enjoy a day trip to Tybee Island, located just a 20-minute drive away. This beautiful barrier island offers its own farmer’s market on Mondays and is a perfect scenic escape from city life. It’s also home to Georgia’s oldest lighthouse as well as family-friendly beaches.
Sanibel Island, Florida
By Lori of Travlin Mad
There are several US destinations that are the best places to visit in the USA in September, and one of those is Sanibel Island in southwest Florida. It is an ideal location for a family vacay or romantic getaway.
If you’re looking for the quietest time of year without crowds and the absolute best prices in a destination that can get pricey, September is the best month to visit. Hotels offer excellent deals which often include a rental car, and there are no lines or reservations needed for local restaurants.
September weather is warm to hot, with some humidity, and a nice breeze at the shoreline. Typically there’s late afternoon thunderstorms – a perfect time for an afternoon nap – followed by a little cooling down and more fun to follow.
Your first stop should be to the beach to swim in the calm warm waters and scour the beach for sand dollars and seashells. Sanibel has the best shelling in the US, each one that washes ashore more perfect than the last. Take a boat tour to some of the surrounding Florida Gulf Coast Islands like North Captiva and Cabbage Key for lunch and an afternoon of exploring.
For spectacular wildlife viewing, rent a kayak and go paddling in the JN Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. Or opt for a golf cart rental and discover the winding paths from one end of the island to the other.
Getting to Sanibel is easy as well — fly into the Southwest Florida International airport (RSW) in Fort Myers, a 30 minute drive away. The city of Fort Myers is just across the causeway from Sanibel and makes an excellent day trip to visit historic sites and Fort Myers Beach.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
By Lori of Fitz 5 On The Go
Beautiful Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are wonderful beach towns on the Gulf of Mexico with miles of sugary sand beaches. Both cities generally have a laid back, low stress atmosphere. The most popular time to visit these coastal beauties is in the summer but it is one of the best places to visit in the USA in September, just after summer.
Gulf Shores in the summer is hot, very hot. It’s also crowded. Wait times for restaurants can be 1-2 hours and traffic can be miserable. In September, the weather is still warm enough to swim but also pleasant enough to hike and do other activities that are just too hot to be fun in the summer. In September most of the tourists are gone and you can feel like you have miles of white, sandy beaches all to yourself. You can also go to most restaurants with minimal waits. It’s much more enjoyable.
The one problem with visiting in September is the possibility of hurricanes. August and September seem to be the worst months for a big storm, but that doesn’t mean they happen every year. If a hurricane is heading your way, pay attention to local warnings and have a back-up plan for a different vacation spot.
There are so many fun things to do in Gulf Shores. The most popular activity is going to the beach. Getting a boat rental is a super cool experience. In September you can have Robinson Island all to yourself. The city has many fabulous hiking and walking trails in the Gulf State Park. Shopping, eating and exploring an alligator farm are all fun experiences too.
By Trijit Mallick of Budget Travel Buff
Located in the Pikes Peak area in El Paso County, Colorado Springs is one of the best places to visit in the USA in September. It is not only a popular vacation spot, but because of its affordable median home cost, low cost of living, and quick economical growth, COS has become one of the cheapest places to live in Colorado. The city is just 70 miles away from the nearby popular city of Denver. If you drive through I-25, it will take around 1.5 hours to reach Colorado Springs from Denver.
Although you can have an enjoyable visit to Colorado Springs throughout the year, September is the month when you will find the perfect temperature (hovers around the 50s and 60s) for outdoor activities, such as exploring hiking trails. In addition, you will get to see the fall foliage in the surrounding mountains. Most importantly, in September, the city is less crowded and you can find some amazing hotel deals.
Needless to say, there are plenty of things to see and do in Colorado Springs all year round. Start your day by exploring downtown. It’s a family-friendly place filled with plenty of local attractions, parks, and museums.
You should also visit “The Garden of The Gods”. People from throughout the country come to visit its stunning rock formations, scenic hiking trails, and the majestic views of Pikes Peak.
After that, you should visit Pikes Peak, 12 miles from the downtown. You can hike the Barr Trail or drive through the Pikes Peak highway to reach the top. I recommend hiking if you visit in September when the trails are filled with wildflowers. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, and rock formations from the top.
By Jess of I’m Jess Traveling
If you are looking for a tropical fall getaway, hop on a plane and head to the middle of the Pacific Ocean to the island of Maui. One of the best times to visit Maui is September during its shoulder season because there are less crowds and cheaper accommodations. You don’t sacrifice on weather. Since the Hawaiian Islands sit on the edge of the tropic zone, the temperature is warm all year round with an average temperature of 80°F.
There are several awesome and epic adventures to have all over the island. A few of the best things to do on Maui are:
- Drive the road to Hana – 52 miles of one lane bridges and hairpin turns that wind through a lush rainforest dotted with ocean views and road side waterfalls. There are plenty of opportunities to pull over, hike and discover hidden gems.
- Explore one of Maui’s world class beaches – with over 52 miles of coastline it’s hard not to find the perfect beach. Snorkel and watch from afar as giant turtles swim or boogey board on some crazy fun waves.
- Sunrise atop Haleakala Crater – a once and a lifetime experience watching the sunrise above the clouds atop a volcano summit at 10,000 feet. Make sure you dress warmly for this early morning experience.
Glacier National Park, Montana
By Alex of Alex On The Map
As someone who grew up right in the area, I highly recommend planning your Glacier National Park itinerary for September. You’ll want to fly into Glacier International Airport (FCA) located between the towns of Kalispell and Whitefish, and you’ll be more likely to find a rental car than during the busier summer months. The next closest international airport is Sea-Tac in Seattle.
I recommend checking out the Highline Trail for some spectacular views of Logan Pass. You’ll start to see some of the foliage change at that point, and it’s a bit cooler during the day. A dip in Lake McDonald is surprisingly warm since it’s been baking under the summer sun for a season. Finally, I recommend taking advantage of emptier camping sites and enjoying a night under the stars.
Every year, Glacier gets busier and busier with tourists packing the park during the summer months. It is one of the best places to visit in the USA in September for a more peaceful experience. You are able to enjoy the park with quieter trails and Montana’s lovely fall weather.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
By Constance of The Adventures of Panda Bear
Located along the Grand River for which the city is named, Grand Rapids, MI, is one of the best places to visit in the USA in September. The temperate to warm weather of early autumn makes it perfect for both outdoor and indoor activities.
Downtown Grand Rapids is perfect for a stroll when the weather is nice. Explore the Riveredge Trail along the banks of the Grand River and cross the picturesque Blue Bridge, one of the most recognizable landmarks in downtown. Be sure to check out Rosa Parks Circle, located in the center of town, there’s always something happening here.
Beginning in mid-September, Art Prize, an art competition and festival take over the city, with over 160 venues including museums, galleries, bars, restaurants, and more. The city plays host to the event biennially celebrating international and domestic artists working in all types of mediums. The festival is 18 days long and you’ll be able to find artwork throughout the city from the typical museum to vacant storefronts, and even bridges. You’ll be inspired anywhere you look!
There’s nothing that screams fall quite like apple picking. There are quite a few apple orchards surrounding the city, but Schwallier’s Country Basket in nearby Sparta, is one of the best! Throughout the month of September their trees produce a wide variety of apples from the rare Zestar and Cortland to the more popular grocery store varieties such as Gala and Red Delicious, there are multiple types of apples to choose from depending on when you visit. The farm also has a quaint store where you can purchase apple cider and apple cider donuts.
Credit to Go Far Grow Close website.