The Best Places to Visit in the USA in September

Don’t Miss These Awesome Places to Visit in the USA in September!

September is a great time to travel in the US. As summer comes to an end, the weather begins to cool down in most places. This change creates an ideal time to go exploring places where it’s often too hot to be outdoors in the summer. However, it’s not so cold as to keep you from areas that are hit with snow-filled winters.

Another great part of traveling in September is that popular travel destinations tend to be much quieter than they are in the summer. Kids are back in school, so fewer families are traveling. Even the busiest of high-traffic summer vacation spots are a lot less crowded in September. 

With so many places to visit and see, how can you choose where to go on your September vacation? We’ve compiled our list of the best places to travel in the US in September for you, from bustling cities filled with art and culture to national parks changing into their fall colors. With these September travel recommendations, you’re sure to have an amazing time on your early fall vacation!

Awesome Places to Travel in the USA in September

Take in the Beauty of San Francisco, California

Best Places to VIsit in USA in September: San Francisco California

San Francisco is such a great travel destination because there’s so much to do for everyone. From incredible restaurants to museums filled with fun things to do for adults and kids alike, it’s a delightful place to take a trip. And, in particular, it’s one of the best places to visit in the US in September. 

September often means the start of colder weather as the summer comes to an end, but San Francisco has a pretty mild September. Fog City tends to live up to its name, as it doesn’t get too hot for most of the year. In September, you’ll likely be greeted by foggy mornings that warm up as the day goes on.

And with this mild weather, you’ll have the perfect climate to do some outdoor activities without having to compete with the summer crowds. Take in the beauty of the Japanese Tea Garden, have a picnic with the famous Palace of Fine Arts as the backdrop, or take a cruise to see the Golden Gate Bridge from the water.

Another fun thing to do in San Francisco in September is to attend the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival. Ghirardelli Square is an iconic part of San Francisco, and this festival allows you to dine on chocolate treats while you explore this landmark!


Enjoy a World of Color at Denali National Park

What Places Have Shoulder Season in USA in September: Denali National Park

Denali National Park in Alaska is one of the best places to see dramatic color in the American wilderness, making it one of the best vacation spots in the US in September. Here you’ll see color in many different ways.

One thing to note is that the seasons in Denali are a little different from what you’ll see throughout the rest of the United States. Essentially, Denali doesn’t have much of a fall. Early September still operates similarly to the rest of the summer. 

But by mid-September, you may already see a lot of snowfall. For this reason, many of Denali’s services shut down by mid-September, so you’ll likely want to plan an early September trip.

The good news, however, is that early September is still typically slower than the rest of the summer, so you’ll likely be competing with lower crowd levels. But early September also happens to be one of the best times to see the Northern Lights.

You’ll see even more color as the fall foliage takes over from mid-August through mid-September. Expect to see seas of yellow, orange, and red as you take breathtaking hikes through the national park.


Listen to Some Jazz in Monterey, California

Best Cities to VIsit in USA in September: Swinging Jazz in Monterey, California

Over in Monterey, the weather is essentially doing the exact opposite of what the rest of the country is experiencing. Summer months are actually not the warmest months in Monterey. Summer in Monterey is often on the chillier side – there’s a reason why August gets the nickname “Fogust.”

But the sun comes back out in September, with the weather often heating up to the hottest you’ll see all year. While beach weather may have ended for much of the rest of the country, you’ll still find sunny beach days in Monterey during your September vacation.

Another awesome part about visiting Monterey is that it’s one of the best places in the world to go whale-watching. Although whale-watching season is different for many locations around the world, there’s never really a bad time to go whale-watching in Monterey. You’re likely to see different types of whales depending on when you go. 

One of the best things to do in Monterey in September is to visit the world-famous Monterey Jazz Festival, the longest continuously-running jazz festival in the world. It arrives every September and brings with it three days of celebrating the legacy and artistry of jazz.


See Wild West Living in the Black Hills

Best Places to VIsit in USA in September: Black Hills

Over in South Dakota, the Black Hills mountain range is one of the best places to visit in the US during fall. Not only are you likely to see the leaves change into spectacular colors, but the milder weather is perfect for exploring. The summer months tend to get so hot that it’s unsafe to hike, but the weather is ideal in late September. 

September also brings about a number of events that will immerse you in the Wild West spirit. Many of the towns around the Black Hills host fall events since summer weather makes it difficult for outdoor gatherings. 

What Places to Visit in USA in September: Black Hills

See the sky fill with color at the Stratobowl Historic Hot Air Balloon Launch in the middle of the month. Or, later in the month, take part in the largest organized hike in the US and do the Fall Volksmarch at Crazy Horse Memorial. Also later in the month is the Custer State Park Annual Buffalo Round-Up and Arts Festival, one of the best festivals in the Black Hills and a glimpse into what it means to live on the frontier.


Hike around Grand Teton

What Places Have Shoulder Season in USA in September: Grand Teton

September is among the best times to visit Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. It’s one of the busier months of the year, but not as crowded as arriving in the summer. 

Early September is more ideal than visiting later in the month when you’ll likely have to contend with snow. During this time, you’ll also find that the leaves are changing color, creating a stunning landscape of reds, yellows, and oranges. 

Most trails are open in September, so you can go out on a hike to take in the breathtaking beauty. Still, be mindful of the weather before your visit. Snow and rain can still happen in September, so you may have to be prepared for unexpected trail closures. 

Campgrounds, lodges, and a handful of the visitor centers often start closing for the winter months in September, so you may have to deal with reduced services. But the majority of services stay open until at least mid-September. 

There’s plenty to do here in September, from fishing to hiking to horseback riding. If you’re looking for a September vacation where you can be at one with nature, this vacation spot is just right for you.


Enjoy Low Crowds in Maui, Hawaii

What Places to Visit in USA in September: Maui, Hawaii

You may be wondering if there’s ever really a bad time to go to the beautiful island of Maui. Perhaps not, since its tropical climate tends to be warm all year round. But Maui is a perfect place for a September vacation because it’s the beginning of shoulder season. 

Maui is often very crowded in the summer. But once September rolls around, there are fewer visitors now that kids have gone back to school.

Go snorkeling around the Molokini Crater or the Coral Gardens, attend an authentic luau without the typically high crowd levels, or just spend the day on one of the white sand beaches. The weather is just right for outdoor activities of all kinds.

September also brings about the beginning of the annual Festivals of Aloha. This celebration of Hawaiian culture and history happens for two months in Maui and consists of tons of different events. From musical showcases to incredible authentic food, you’ll be able to truly immerse yourself in the local culture throughout this festival.


Listen to Tunes in Louisville, Kentucky

Where to Vacation in USA in September: Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville is one of the best places to visit in the US in September if you like good weather, drinks, and music. As the summer ends, the climate becomes milder, setting the stage for one of the best festivals in the US, the Bourbon and Beyond Festival

During this festival, you’ll sip on bourbon right in the spirit’s birthplace while you watch four days’ worth of incredible musical acts. From bluegrass to rock to pop, this festival has something for every music fan. 

What Places Have Shoulder Season in USA in September: Louisville, Kentucky

But that’s not all. You can also take swing-dancing or two-stepping lessons, participate in hands-on bourbon workshops, and dine on dishes made by some of the biggest celebrity chefs around Kentucky.

Not a bourbon fan? There are plenty of outdoor adventures to be had in Louisville during your September vacation. See the horses at Churchills Downs, the home of the famous Kentucky Derby, or have a day filled with play at the E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park, where you can test your archery skills, do some BMX racing, or play around in the water at the splash park.


Celebrate Wine Month in Temecula Valley, California

Must Visit Places in USA in September: Temecula Valley, California

Did you know that September is California Wine Month? Many of the biggest wine regions in the Golden State have special tours and events to mark the occasion. However, September is also right at the peak of harvest season, so it tends to be one of the busiest months to visit the top wine regions, like Napa Valley or Sonoma Valley.

But while many people immediately think of Napa or Sonoma when they think of California wine, the state actually offers many different top wine destinations. And because they’re less well-known, they tend to all be less crowded, even during the busy season. One of our top places for a wine-based September vacation is Temecula Valley!

Best Cities to VIsit in USA in September: Temecula Valley, California

What is there to do in Temecula Valley in September? You have tons of events to choose from. Head to Monte de Oro Winery to listen to live music while you sip your way around wines from more than 30 wineries. 

Or go to Callaway Vineyard & Winery for a good ol’ fashioned grape stomp, as well as a harvest festival filled with fun for the whole family. And over at Europa Winery, you can enjoy a Wine and Food Festival featuring over 30 wines, local craft beer, and gourmet food.

You’ll have even more opportunities to try your hand at grape stomping at multiple locations throughout the month, including booking your own private grape stomping, complete with a horse-drawn carriage ride, courtesy of Temecula Carriage Company. And if you stay at select hotels, you can also enjoy complimentary wine tastings on Fridays throughout the month.


Become an Honorary Texan in Dallas, Texas

What Places to Visit in USA in September: Dallas, Texas

Dallas is where to go in September. Although the summers are often hot, mild weather starts rolling in throughout September. But what’s rolling out are the busy summer crowds. 

With milder temperatures comes more ability to be outside and experience the beauty of this city. This may be one of the best US cities to visit in September, but you’re also just steps away from nature and farm living. Watch a daily cattle drive in the Fort Worth Stockyards, kayak around Panther Island Pavilion, or climb through the trees at Trinity Forest Adventure Park

Best Places to VIsit in USA in September: Dallas, Texas

September also marks the beginning of Autumn at the Arboretum, which sees the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden transformed into a fall-themed wonderland. Marvel at a stunning display of over 100,000 pumpkins, gourds, and squash; walk through the pumpkin houses of the famous Pumpkin Village; and enjoy decor set to a new theme every year.

Autumn at the Arboretum offers themed weekends, so you can experience something different no matter how many weekends you visit. You can also take historical tours, book cooking classes, and taste unique dishes crafted by the arboretum’s resident chef.

But if you intend to visit Dallas in September, you may want to come at the end of the month. The end of September brings about the beginning of the State Fair of Texas, which runs for 24 days. It’s the longest-running fair in the US and is easily one of the biggest. Meet the iconic Big Tex, go on over 70 rides at the Midway, see real-life rodeo action, and so much more.


Attend a Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada

Where to Vacation in USA in September: Las Vegas, Nevada

Visiting Las Vegas in the summer? Now that’s a tough trip. The temperatures are skyrocketing, and you’re going to want to spend most of your vacation in the pool rather than walking around the famous Strip or going hiking in the nearby parks.

But in September, the weather finally starts cooling down, making your days in the sun much more bearable. Although September tends to be a busy month for Vegas, it’s worth contending with the crowds instead of competing with soaring temperatures.

Must Visit Places in USA in September: Las Vegas, Nevada

One of the best parts about planning a September vacation to Vegas is that event planners are also taking advantage of the milder weather by scheduling a litany of fun festivals for you to enjoy. 

For a true celebration of music, get your tickets to the iHeartRadio Music Festival, where you’ll watch a lineup of the biggest stars in music. From rappers to punk rockers to country artists, these big-name celebrities are sure to rock the stage.

While this festival is focused on music, the Life Is Beautiful Music & Art Festival is a celebration of all forms of art, from music to sculptures to food. This massive event features a top musical lineup, an 18-block art gallery, huge multi-course feasts, and immersive experiences that can transport you to a whole new world.


Celebrate Oktoberfest Early in Frankenmuth, Michigan

Best Cities to VIsit in USA in September: Frankenmuth, Michigan

As fall kicks into high gear in September, you may be wondering where to celebrate Oktoberfest in the US. And there’s perhaps no better location than Frankenmuth. This Michigan town is one of the best places to visit in the US during fall. 

When you walk through Frankenmuth, you’ll feel like you were transported to Germany. Founded by Franconian immigrants, this town earned the name “Little Bavaria” for its alpine buildings, traditional German foods, and festivals where the attire is strictly lederhosen and dirndls. It creates the perfect setting for an Oktoberfest.

Best Places to VIsit in USA in September: Frankenmuth, Michigan

The Frankenmuth Oktoberfest, which was the first Oktoberfest outside Munich to get the city’s official seal of approval, is typically held from mid-to-late September. Over the course of four days, you’ll head to Heritage Park to celebrate German culture and sip on world-famous Hofbrauhaus brews. Listen to live music, dine on frankfurters and bratwurst, and watch authentic German entertainment. Don’t forget to pack your lederhosen!


Visit Orlando for Low Crowds and High Thrills

What Places Have Shoulder Season in USA in September: Orlando

With Orlando being a big family destination, it’s no surprise that summer, when the kids are all off school, tends to be the busiest time for this thrill-filled city. But when September rolls around, Orlando’s many theme parks tend to empty out, creating shorter lines and more affordable accommodations. 

In Orlando’s top theme parks, Halloween starts early, and so do the Halloween events. These events tend to be pricier and busier the closer you get to Halloween, so doing them in September is a great way to take advantage of the low crowd levels. 

If you’re visiting the area with young kids or those who like more mild Halloween frights, grab a ticket to Walt Disney World’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. See the Headless Horseman ride through the streets, pick up candy from different stations all around the park, ride on your favorite rides with Halloween overlays, and meet with characters who are rarely out and about during the day at the parks. 

What Places to Visit in USA in September: Orlando

If you’ve got a family of thrill-seekers, you’ll love Universal Orlando Resort’s Halloween Horror Nights. These events are not for the faint of heart. Meet your worst nightmares in the scare zones, brave a dozen different haunted houses inspired by the greatest in horror films and TV shows, and eat your way around the park with tons of horror-themed treats.

During this time, you’ll also find one of our favorite festivals that’s not scary at all. Over in EPCOT in Walt Disney World, September falls right in the middle of the International Food & Wine Festival

Eat your way around the World Showcase with tons of food and drink options in every country that are specially made for the festival. You’ll also be able to watch cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs.

While Orlando is one of the best US cities to visit in September, it’s also important to remember that September does fall during its rainy season. Pack a poncho and be prepared for sudden downpours. Luckily, the rain tends to not last long!


Celebrate Halloween Early in Salem, Massachusetts

Best Cities to VIsit in USA in September: Salem, Massachusetts

Although Salem’s famous Haunted Happenings festival happens in October, visiting Witch City during the spookiest month of the year means dealing with massive crowds. Thousands of visitors come from all over to see the Halloween events, causing a huge spike in rates for accommodations and activities. It’s hard to get around, book the things you want to do, and see all there is you want to see.

Although there will be fewer events in September, you can still ring in the beginning of spooky season in Salem when you take a September vacation here. Visiting later in September means many haunted houses, attractions, and decor will already be up.

But you’ll have fewer people to contend with to reserve your tickets. Highly coveted reservations, like getting a reading with Salem’s famous love clairvoyant, will be far easier to obtain. 

And Salem’s year-round spooky attractions will be operating, like the Salem Witch Museum, tons of different ghost and history tours, or even activities that break away from the city’s witchy history, like the New England Pirate Museum

If you visit earlier in September, you’ll also get the experience of seeing a whole different side of Salem. As the summer ends, the weather is still lovely for exploring more warm weather hotspots, like the Salem Willows


Kayak around North Cascades National Park

What Places to Visit in USA in September: North Cascades National Park

Over in Washington is one of the best places to travel in the US in September: North Cascades National Park. During this time, snow, for the most part, hasn’t hit the park. So trails are mainly open. And though the weather is getting chillier than it was in the summer, you’ll still be able to enjoy the beautiful turquoise waters of Diablo Lake.

Go kayaking, relax on a fishing trip, or go for a dip if you don’t mind a little chill. There are also tons of hiking trails around the lake, which offer breathtaking views. And because there are so many trails, there are options for beginner and experienced hikers alike. Along the way, you’re likely to spot many of the park’s 300 glaciers, as well as waterfalls.


Take in the Arts and Culture of Burlington, Vermont

Best Cities to VIsit in USA in September: Burlington, Vermont

Burlington is one of the best places in the US to visit in the fall. Traveling here in mid-to-late September means seeing the famous Vermont maple trees breaking out their fall colors. Stroll around Lake Champlain, go for a ziplining tour of Stowe Mountain, or go on one of many amazing hikes that you’ll find around the city.

Go apple picking at Shelburne Orchards or head to Shelburne Farms, where you can take kids on a tractor ride to the stunning barn to meet the animals, go on a tour yourself, or sample some of the farm’s award-winning cheddar cheese. 

Burlington is also an artistic hub. You’re bound to find art installations all over. You’ll also find many venues playing live music each night. There’s always something fun going on in Burlington!

There you have it! The 15 best places to visit in the USA in September. What’s your favorite?


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Author

  • Jacqueline Gualtieri

    Jacqueline is a writer and editor pursuing the freelance life to explore the world. Born and raised in New Jersey, she spent her college years in Boston before settling down with her partner and puppy in Monterey, California.

    When she’s not writing, you can often find her planning her next trip. Road trips are her favorite, whether it’s driving across the country or simply exploring a new city in her own backyard. She loves uncovering the history of every new place she goes.

    Jacqueline has a restless passion for learning and makes it a goal to pick up a new skill every year. She’s picked up embroidery, crocheting, knitting, and cross-stitching, but she’s hoping to master more languages to help her in her travels. She’s also a published author, with short stories and poetry appearing in several anthologies.

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