September is a magical time because of the falling leaves and cool weather. As the summer crowds begin to dwindle, you might think the opportunity for travel is long lost.
Nothing can be further from the truth.
The fall season is one of the best times to travel because of the great travel rates and lack of crowds. Whether you’re a backpacking enthusiast or looking for the next best eats, there’s always someplace to see when the leaves begin to fall.
Let’s find the best places to visit in September without further ado.
- 1. North Cascades National Park
- 2. Kenai Fjords National Park
- 3. Honolulu Oahu
- 4. The Adirondack Mountains & Lake Placid
- 5. Cape May
- 6. Colorado Springs
- 7. Zion National Park
- 8. Yellowstone National Park
- 9. Big Sur
- 10. Beaufort
- 11. Taos, NM
- 12. Seattle, Washington
- 13. New England
- 14. Chicago Illinois
- 15. Burlington Vermont
- 16. Grand Canyon, AZ
- 17. Philadelphia
1. North Cascades National Park
North Cascades National Park in Washington is an underrated destination. It’s the park that has the lowest numbers of any national park in the Washington area, which is entirely at odds with what this park offers.
This “Alps” in North America is a potpourri of scenic beauty consisting of the most amazing snowfields, alpine meadows, mountain ranges, and glaciers.
However, what makes this park stand out is the cascading waterfalls from whence it gets its name. You don’t have to pay a fee to gain access, but you’d need the Northwest Forest Pass if you plan to go hiking.
The park is rich with wildlife, and it’s easy to observe the many marmots, black bears, mule deer, mule deer, and pikas, including various mountain goats, elks, and bats.
September is an incredible time to visit North Cascades because of the warm temperatures and minimal chances of rainfall. The Washington Pass Overlook is worth getting to because it provides the most amazing views without much effort.
The breathtaking view at 5000 feet is excellent for those afraid of heights because of the railings at the overlook edge.
Moreover, Lake Ann offers one of the most leisurely hikes in North Cascades National Park, and visiting in September gives you the most incredible views. It’s the perfect place for a picnic with shades of sunburnt gold.
If you’re willing to go the “extra mile,” Artist Point is one place worth the journey. This destination offers jaw-dropping views at any point you fix your eyes! The area receives a ton of snow, but most of it melts by September, making it an ideal time to visit.
2. Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park is a unique destination. It’s also one of the best places to visit in September because of the long days and warmer temperatures. More importantly, you get to experience nature in all its glory.
Kenai Fjords is renowned for its gigantic glaciers that stretch for miles. The Harding Icefield is the main attraction in this park, with over 40 glaciers. This Alaskan frontier is the home of much wildlife, including seals, puffins, and bears.
If you’re lucky, you can observe a whale breach – a magnificent sight to behold. This park offers multiple ways to explore, and you can hike the ice field, explore the fjord using a watercraft, or go on a boat tour.
Although this park is open all year, September is an ideal time to visit because you still experience the main attractions of summer without the crowd that comes with it. That said, services are often limited during this time of the month.
Harding Icefield is the centerpiece with beautiful glaciers that terminate in lakes or flow into the pacific. Some famous glaciers in this park include Exit Glacier, Aialik Glacier, Bear Glacier, and Skilak Glacier.
3. Honolulu Oahu
Most travel experts agree that September is an excellent time to visit Oahu because the vacation costs begin to spiral down. The summer crowds are back to school and their jobs giving you the freedom to explore the warm, balmy beaches on your own.
While September signifies the end of summer in Hawaii, the temperature continues to hover around the 80s. The “summer-like” evenings are more relaxed when you visit this city’s volcanic and mountainous regions.
Besides, there are many festivities to enjoy this month. For instance, the Aloha Festival in Oahu happens throughout September and includes the most beautiful parades, lots of ethnic foods, fun, music, and the most fantastic street parties.
Another festival worth attending is the Hawaii Island Festival, which gives you a colorful insight into the island city’s culture, heritage, and history. Expect lots of food, music, and dance this month.
There’s a slight chance of hurricanes in September, but this shouldn’t deter you from visiting Oahu. The lower hotel and Airbnb rates plus the slowdown in tourism make Hawaii one of the best places to visit in September and an island adventure to last you a lifetime.
4. The Adirondack Mountains & Lake Placid
The Adirondack Mountains is the perfect getaway for outdoorsy folks – from romantic getaways to family vacations, it’s one of the more popular outdoor destinations, particularly in the fall season.
The mountain comprises hiking trails, beautiful landscapes, and fantastic lakefront resorts. It’s no surprise the number of people arriving on this mountain to take in the Autumn season.
September provides the most majestic views of Lake Placid with a chance to observe the teeming wildlife. However, the hills can be challenging to navigate because of the ever-changing ecosystems and altitudes.
You’ll need to time your visit to late September to take advantage of the exceptional weather. Fall foliage is at its zenith this period, and you can hike the Indian Head Trail to enjoy panoramic views of the Lower Ausable Lake.
The Ausable Chasm is an incredible destination for tourists looking to take in scenic waterfalls without walking long distances to get there.
This location offers a panoramic view of the cascading waterfalls, and those who’d like a different trek can buy a ticket to enjoy the canyon trails on the gorge.
You can also go river rafting for those who’d like a dose of adrenaline. However, the rushing river at breakneck speeds isn’t for the fainthearted!
5. Cape May
Cape May used to be a fisherman’s dream with lots of whaling activities in the past. Today, it’s a tourist haven for all tourist types. The place is famed for its charming harbor, beautiful architecture, and accommodation to suit all budget types.
Summertime is impressive in Cape May, but you’ll miss a lot if you don’t stay for Labor Day Weekend. September weather is fantastic in Cape May.
The oppressive summer heat makes way for the cooler warm temperatures allowing you to enjoy the ocean more. The fall breeze is excellent for flying some kites, and you get fewer people too! People come far and wide to bask in the beaches, filling it up in peak summer.
But September brings solace and bliss as the rowdy crowd goes back to their various homes. The result is more parking space, ensuring you don’t have to go five blocks away to park your car.
Moreover, September gives you the chance to experience the Fall Sidewalk Sale. The venue is the Washington Street Mall, and you get significant discounts on shoes, jewelry, home décor, and delicious treats. More importantly, Cape May is known for its exceptional cuisine and a diverse collection of fine dining you can enjoy.
6. Colorado Springs
September is a gem of a time to stop by Colorado Springs because of the cool temperatures, fall foliage, and bargain prices for food and hotels. The beautiful mountainside is decked in red this time of the season.
One of the best ways to enjoy the fall foliage is via zipline. Even though the temperatures drop significantly, it isn’t so cold to prevent you from enjoying the outdoors.
The Garden of the Gods takes on a truly magical feel when you visit in September, and the rock formations towering 300 feet gives the impression of standing in front of a surreal giant.
Moreover, you can enjoy many more activities thanks to the cheaper ticket prizes for food tours, ziplining, and the Garden of the Gods E-bike Tour.
Vacationers who want space will love the absence of the summer crowds, and you can explore “America’s Mountain,” standing over 14000 feet tall.
The fall foliage is spectacular to behold when atop this majestic wonder. Finally, don’t hesitate to stop by the Penrose Heritage Museum – an attraction dedicated to the heritage of the Pikes Peak area.
Some exciting exhibits in this museum include 30 carriages, cultural artifacts, and vintage vehicles raced in the Race to the Clouds – America’s second-oldest race.
The Broadmoor Seven Falls is one of the best places to visit in September because of the colorful autumn foliage shrouding each unique waterfall.
7. Zion National Park
Zion National Park offers the most serene experience and feeling that’s a challenge to describe. The park is situated on Utah’s southern tip, and the contrasting fall colors give the impression of stepping inside a fairytale.
There are 148,000 acres to explore with constantly changing altitudes that reach up to 8700 feet. The scenic region offers outstanding hiking trails like The Watchman, Angles Landing, and Observation Point.
Nothing beats the vibrantly colored leaves that adorn the park’s sandstone cliffs. The dazzling yellows, red, and sunburnt oranges capture the imagination most remarkably.
Moreover, the September temperature is mild, ambling within 50 -90 Fahrenheit. Still, there’s plenty of sunlight to enjoy the outdoors with minimal crowds and more green space. Hiking is common in Zion, and the park is more suited for experienced hikers due to the nature of the trails. Make sure you carry lots of hydration ass you can quickly dehydrate while climbing and walking.
ZNP has several habitat types: riparian, desert, wetland, grassland, and forest. The diverse ecosystem is home to several animal species, including fish and mammals.
The Zion Canyon Theatre is less crowded in September, and you can enjoy a quiet evening with family and loved ones at the movies.
8. Yellowstone National Park
Shoulder season is a prime time to visit Yellowstone because the access roads are still open, hiking trails still accept hikers, and you get the vast park to yourself.
Moreover, the prices are significantly lower this time of year. The fall colors bring out the beauty of the Aspen trees and are a fantastic autumn treat.
September is exciting because it ushers the mating season for most animal species in the park. You can observe the bull bison fighting for and defending their harem around the Lamar and Hayden Valleys.
September is the most fantastic time to backpack and hike, and you can do so without the bugs and crowds. The backcountry opens up for exploring, and the weather is excellent.
One drawback to visiting Yellowstone in September is the shutdown of many facilities, including lodgings and campgrounds. Places like Roosevelt Cabin and Lake Lodge close at the beginning of the month, while others like Grant Village close towards the end.
However, fishing is fantastic, with most rivers teeming with fish. The trout starts to bite as the water temperature drops, making your fishing expedition one to remember!
Llama treks are one activity to enjoy if you want to explore Yellowstone’s backcountry. Each animal can move up to 70 lbs of supplies and gear, and you get the chance to see firsthand the vast wilderness and wildlife with minimal environmental impact.
9. Big Sur
Big Sur is an idyllic location off the California coast. The region has it all – from mountain hikes to stunning beaches, you get the most amazing experiences and views.
Big Sur is so famous and gets lots of tourists that September is part and parcel of peak season. However, it’s still a better time to visit compared to the summer months.
The region is blessed with numerous state parks offering an enviable number of activities to enjoy. The entire area is an experience; it isn’t uncommon to see vehicles pull up by the side to appreciate roadside attractions. Places like the Limekiln State Park and Pfeiffer Big Sur provide excellent campgrounds with many attractions.
Moreover, the iconic Bixby Bridge is one experience you must cross off your bucket list. This 260-foot-tall bridge is an engineering marvel built in 1932 and still stands strong almost a century later.
The Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park offers panoramic views of the ocean, and you can take a selfie from the magnificent McWay Falls, the highest elevation in the park. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve has abundant wildlife and many hiking trails to explore.
Moreover, the reserve is a photographer’s dream with many exotic spots for photos. Birdwatchers can head out to Bird Island to observe the numerous bird species on the coast.
Beaufort, SC, is one of the oldest South Carolina cities famed for its scenic beauty. Head on to Port Royal Island to take in the historic architecture and ancient magnolia trees as old as time.
September is a prime time to come here because the weather is still mild at 29 degrees. This temperature makes it ideal to go for walks and enjoy Victorian architecture, some of which you might have come across in a movie scene.
Even though Charleston and Savannah get all the attention, Beaufort has a rich history. The John Mark Verdier House is in the city center and is the most delightful museum showcasing the best of antebellum architecture.
The period pieces and antique furnishings provide a lovely insight into the lives of the wealthy in the era before the American Civil War. The Beaufort museum is a stone’s throw away and offers historical artifacts that tell the city’s story.
You’ll find historical artifacts and an extensive collection of curiosities that provide invaluable information about plantation culture, European explorers, the civil war, and the Native American people.
There’s no doubt this laidback town is an ideal destination for a relaxing September break!
11. Taos, NM
While most cities start to get cold in September, Taos stays warm, averaging 77F. The daytime temperatures are suitable for exploration, while the nighttime weather is excellent for some campfire activities.
This inspiring city is renowned for exceptional restaurants and stunning art galleries. The Taos Pueblo is a museum city still standing for thousands of years. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Historic Landmark, attracting tourists worldwide.
Additionally, visitors can make their way to the Taos Plaza to feel the vibrant heart of this city. And if you arrive in September, you can experience the many festivals and live concerts the city offers.
Thrill-seekers can go bungee jumping off the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge – a 650-foot tall bridge that ushers the most spectacular sunrise and sunset. Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Taos Art Museum, which exhibits the masterworks of Nicholai Fechin.
Interestingly, the building is named after this prominent artist – a Russian emigrant. Visitors will find temporary and permanent exhibits of the local artists, and the diverse artworks make Fechin House an exciting place to stop by.
Taos has many museums to keep you busy, but the Wild Rivers Recreation Area is another magnificent destination. Besides the jaw-dropping views of this deep canyon, you can enjoy the many hiking trails, including panoramic views of La Junta Point.
12. Seattle, Washington
September is a chill time to visit Seattle. The reason is that summer brings high prices of goods and services. The sweet spot for Seattle tourism is early fall. As the crowds thin out, room rates drop, and options increase with the lowest discounts up for grabs.
While there’s a chance of rain, be sure to layer up, grab an umbrella, and you’re all set to go! Lovers of quirky art can head to Fremont for a selfie with the Fremont Troll. This grumpy beast resides under the George Washington Memorial Bridge.
Seattle is known for the oddest things, and the Post Alley Gum Wall is arguably the quirkiest. However, some people might find the thousands of chewed gum off-putting!
Seattle has one of the best coffee shops in the United States, and you only need to walk a few blocks to see a cluster of world-class cafes with the most delicious brew. The competition is cutthroat, ensuring some of the best places like:
- Caffe Vita
- Seven Coffee Roasters
- Ballard Coffeeworks
- Storyville Coffee Queen Anne
Moreover, you can take panoramic city views in a hot air balloon. You’ll need to wake up before sunrise for this activity, but enjoying the Mount Rainier sunrise is an experience of a lifetime. Seattle is also a gastronome paradise with excellent places to eat.
Restaurants like Samburna offer mouthwatering Indian cuisine – with the goat curry the highlight, while Café Juanita provides a fine-dining experience that caters to all comers.
Interestingly, Seattle sits in the Pacific Northwest, providing access to prime seafood like oysters, clams, salmon, and shellfish. The city also has a significant Asian influence, offering the crème de la crème of Asian cuisine, including sashimi, sushi, and teriyaki.
13. New England
New England sits in the northeastern part of the United States and includes states like New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
These states are famous for their colonial heritage, vast Atlantic coastline, and verdant forests that bleed red-orange and yellow in the fall season.
September is the prime time to witness this colorful transformation, and the region takes on a vibrant fall atmosphere.
Foliage ziplining across the Bretton Woods slopes in New Hampshire is the best start for thrill-seekers looking to enjoy shoulder season from above.
The panoramic views of White Mountain and gorgeous vistas are an experience of a lifetime as you zip through the skyline.
Alternatively, you can go for a Balloon ride to get a new perspective in Plainville, Connecticut, reveling in the kaleidoscope of color below you. A lot depends on the balloon’s direction and wind speed but prepare to travel at altitudes up to 5000 feet!
14. Chicago Illinois
Fall is an incredible time to be in the Second City. The biting breeze, golden foliage, and energetic air give off a romantic ambiance that can only be autumn at its best.
The cold crispy air means you’d be better off layering up, but it’s still toasty enough to go on an open bus tour around the city or boat cruises along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. The Windy City provides boat adventures to catch a glimpse of the most iconic buildings.
Lovers and couples can take a leisurely walk beside the river, which boasts many attractions like boat excursions during shoulder season.
Sports lovers can take in a game when the Cubs come out to play as the city is home to many world-famous sports franchises across baseball, football, and basketball.
Besides, Labor Day is the best time to be here because of the numerous fests and events you don’t want to miss. Experience week after week of the most delicious cuisine worldwide, music concerts, and festivals that make the off-season one of the best times to visit Chicago.
15. Burlington Vermont
Vermont is the place to be in fall, and the shoulder season in Burlington makes for a most memorable experience because of the foliage colors that you can enjoy from different areas in the city.
An exciting way to take advantage of this season is by biking past Lake Champlain to take in the stunning sights of the Adirondack Mountains.
If you enjoy hiking, you’ll love the trails leading to Ethan Allen Park to see the different shades of oranges, reds, and yellows pooling at your feet. Burlington is also famous for craft beer.
The choices here will overwhelm you with many ciders, wines, and spirits commonplace in this New England hub. Pick one of the many microbreweries or stop by a distillery for a special tasting session.
Most beers in this city offer unique flavors with a fall theme. The Waterfront Park is the best place to bask in the sun as it dips under Lake Champlain. This stunning view confirms Burlington, Vermont is one of the best places to visit in September.
16. Grand Canyon, AZ
The Grand Canyon is a destination you can enjoy in one day. But you need a minimum of 72 hours to get the entire Grand Canyon experience. Depending on your hike, the canyon offers a unique perspective of its majesty.
Whether riding a llama on a multi-day trail or viewing the canyon via helicopter, most agree the Grand Canyon is an iconic sight.
However, the canyon can become unbearable in summer with many visitors milling about, which takes away from the experience.
Meanwhile, you get a big bang for your buck when you stop by in September, with the cooler weather and sparse crowds making your stay more enjoyable.
Philadelphia is the perfect place to visit in September. This month, there’s a gaggle of festivals with many events and occasions that capture people’s imagination.
Labor Day is a treat as visitors from far and wide attend the Made in America Festival. A-list artists like JayZ, The Chainsmokers, Cardi B, and Kendrick Lamar have thrilled the crowd, making it one of the most anticipated music festivals in the US.
Visitors looking for a less rowdy experience can explore the botanical gardens dotted throughout the city. You can catch the tail end of the Parks on Tap and SummerFest festivals that go on all summer. The venue for these events is the Delaware River, with food, drinks, and games for all.
The USA is filled with things to do- especially in September. The end of summer and the start of fall meet fun in these activities perfect for kids.