To help you plan your next local adventure, we’ve put together a list of the 15 best places to visit in September in the USA.
September is one of our favorite months to travel. Why? The weather starts to cool, the summer crowds thin out since schools are back in attendance, and you can also catch early fall foliage. Since it’s shoulder season in a lot of places, you’ll get better travel rates too.
Please travel responsibly and follow health guidelines from the CDC and each State. Since we’re in a pandemic, make sure you are not putting yourself and others at risk (especially smaller communities that don’t have easy access to hospitals). Call ahead to keep updated on hours open and any recent closures.
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Last Updated: August 31, 2020
15 Best Places to Visit in September in USA
Things You Can’t Miss: Golden Gate Bridge, Painted Ladies, Lombard Street
What to Eat: Brenda’s French Soul Food, Tartine Bakery & Cafe, B Patisserie
Where to Stay: Golden Gate Hotel, Parker Guest House, Beresford Arms, Search Airbnbs Nearby
Weather Avg: 71° / 56° F
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve visited San Francisco but have had the worst luck seeing the Golden Gate bridge. Funny enough, Karl the fog always liked to meet me on days I went out to shoot.
Did you know that September is one of the driest and warmest months in SF? If you’ve had bad luck like me, it might be a great chance to see the city with fog-free skies.
On top of that, it’s whale-watching season, and there’s a chance to see blue whales and humpback whales in the surrounding waters.
September Events: Fringe Festival, Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival, Dodger’s Games, 49ers Games.
Things You Can’t Miss: Boiling River, Artist’s Point, Grand Prismatic
What to Eat: Old Faithful Inn Dining Room, Mammoth Hot Springs Dining Room, Lake House Restaurant
Where to Stay: Canyon Lodge, Grant Village Lodge, Old Faithful Inn, Search Nearby Airbnbs
Weather Avg: 62° / 31° F
September is an optimal month to visit Yellowstone National Park. You still have access to the roads, and hiking trails are still open (facilities start to close mid-October for the winter), but the majority of the summer crowds are gone.
We’re always looking to find that perfect balance during the shoulder season. During the shoulder season, prices are typically lower too.
If you like fishing, it’s also a great time to catch brown trout, and for wildlife lovers, bears are typically still active as they prepare for hibernation.
Things You Can’t Miss: Millennium Park, Willis Tower, Navy Pier
What to Eat: Au Cheval, Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings, Smoque BBQ
Where to Stay: The Peninsula Chicago, The Whitehall Hotel, Lowes Chicago Hotel, Search Nearby Airbnbs
Weather Avg: 74° / 62° F
If you love festivals, September is a great time to visit Chicago. Most of the summer crowds are gone and you’ll get warm, fall days to see the city (although a light jacket or layer is always good to have on hand when you travel).
September Events: Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Chicago Gourmet, Chicago Jazz Festival and the start of Oktoberfest.
Things You Can’t Miss: Hwy 1 Drive, McWay Falls, Purple Sand Beach
What to Eat: Nepenthe Restaurant, Big Sur Bakery, Sierra Mar
Where to Stay: Post Ranch Inn, Carmel Garden Inn, Carmel River Inn (budget), Search Airbnbs Nearby
Weather Avg: 77° / 50° F
Although September is still considered peak season in the Big Sur area, it’s on the tail-end, so you’ll have fewer people than in June to August. You still get the warm, dry weather, and it’s also a great time for whale watching. Have you seen any orcas, humpbacks, or blue whales in Big Sur?
5. Taos NM
Things You Can’t Miss: High Road to Taos, Taos Pueblo, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument
What to Eat: La Cueva Cafe, The Love Apple, Michael’s Kitchen
Where to Stay: Palacio De Marquesa, El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Spa, Sagebrush Inn & Suites, Search Airbnbs Nearby
Weather Avg: 77° / 43° F
In September, Taos NM is warm during the day, and cool enough to enjoy sitting by the fire at night. You can ride a hot air balloon to get views of the desert and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, explore the nearby hikes, or walk through the many museums and galleries.
Events: Big Barn Dance, Paseo Project, Taos Fall Arts Festival
6. Flagstaff AZ
Things You Can’t Miss: Walnut Canyon National Monument, Wupatki National Monument, Grand Falls
What to Eat: Nimarcos Pizza West, Delhi Palace, Simply Delicious Cafe Daily Fare
Where to Stay: Little America Hotel, Sonesta ES Suites, Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort, Search Nearby Airbnbs
Weather Avg: 74° / 42° F
We loved visiting Flagstaff last spring, but we can’t wait to make it back to see the aspen leaves change color near the end of September.
The weather will be perfect to go enjoy the outdoors during the day while bundling up to stargaze at night. If you climb, there’s some fun bouldering at Priest Draw (or the Draw as locals call it).
Events: Shakespeare Festival, FLAVOR, Cornucopia Fall Festival
7. Lake Tahoe NV
Things You Can’t Miss: Emerald Bay State Park, Squaw Valley, Donner Memorial State Park
What to Eat: Himmel House, Base Camp Pizza, MacDuff’s Pub
Where to Stay: Edgewood Tahoe Resort, Basecamp South Lake Tahoe, The Village at Squaw Valley, Search Nearby Airbnbs
Weather Avg: 74° / 46° F
September’s temperatures start to get too chilly for swimming in the lake, but it’s perfect to spend time on the water via boat, kayak, or SUP. It’s also great hiking weather, and you can find better deals on hotels.
September Events: Sample the Sierra, Genoa Candy Dance, Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival.
8. Grand Canyon National Park AZ
Things You Can’t Miss: Mather Point, Bright Angel Point, Grandview Point
What to Eat: El Tavor Lodge Dining Room, Canyon Village Marketplace & Deli, Phantom Ranch
Where to Stay: The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon Plaza Hotel, Holiday Inn Express Grand Canyon, Search Nearby Airbnbs
Weather Avg: 96° / 68° F
In September, it’s still hot in the day, but much more bearable than in the dead of summer (where it’s over 100°F / 37°C). Early mornings and late afternoons are great times to hike.
Since school is back in session, you’ll have fewer visitors than the summer. The Grand Canyon is the second most visited National Park in the US, so I’ll take any month with fewer crowds.
9. Honolulu, Oahu HI
Things You Can’t Miss: Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, Pearl Harbor National Memorial
What to Eat: Marukame Udon, Ono Seafood, Helena’s Hawaiian Food
Where to Stay: Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach, Ala Moana Hotel, Hotel Renew, Search Nearby Airbnbs
Weather Avg: 88° / 73° F
September and April are the two best months to visit Honolulu. Since the temperatures don’t change much year-round, you’re mainly worried about rain showers and the crowds.
September is a great balance between getting dry weather, but since it’s shoulder season, you’ll also have fewer people and better rates on hotel and travel. That means more money for Hawaiian food in our bellies.
Things You Can’t Miss: Glacier Point, Tunnel View, Half Dome
What to Eat: Village Grill, The Ahwahnee Dining Room, Curry Village Pavillion
Where to Stay: The Ahwahnee, Yosemite Large Loft Condos, Tenaya Lodge, Curry Village, Search Airbnbs Nearby
Weather Avg: 84° / 50° F
We’ve visited Yosemite 3 seasons out of the year, but we hope to visit in September. Our friends who went last year told us it was amazing to experience the park so empty.
September (and May) is the best time to visit the park since it’s shoulder season and temperatures are ideal for hiking and exploring. The park is still accessible, but you won’t deal with the summer crowds. After September, the hiking trails and roads start shutting down due to snow. Some campsites close late September and many are closed by mid-October.
If you’re there for waterfalls, many of them slow to a trickle or are gone in the fall, so May might be the better choice for you.
11. Breckenridge CO
Things You Can’t Miss: Main Street, Boreas Pass Road, McCullough Gulch
What to Eat: The Canteen Taphouse and Tavern, Hearthstone Restaurant, Piante Pizzeria
Where to Stay: Residence Inn by Marriott Breckenridge, The Lodge at Breckenridge, Alpine Inn, Search Airbnbs Nearby
Weather Avg: 63° / 48° F
I’m dying to see the golden aspen trees in Breckenridge CO. The town is best known as a winter destination, but since we only casually ski and snowboard, I’ll be going for the leaves. The weather is just right for a brisk walk through the golden trees.
September Events: Breckenridge Oktoberfest, Breckenridge Wine Classic
12. Cincinnati OH
Things You Can’t Miss: The Great American Ball Park, Smale Riverfront Park, Cincinnati Art Museum
What to Eat: Mazunte Taqueria, Eli’s BBQ, The Eagle
Where to Stay: Hotel Covington Cincinnati Riverfront, Graduate Cincinnati, Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, Search Airbnbs Nearby
Weather Avg: 78° / 58° F
September and May are the two best months to visit Cincinnati. The weather is perfect for being outside. Plus, there are plenty of fun festivals and events happening in September.
September Events: P&G Riverfest, Rubber Duck Regatta, Zinzinnati Oktoberfest, Chicken Dance, Running of the Wieners, Midpoint Music Festival
13. The Berkshires MA
Things You Can’t Miss: Norman Rockwell Museum, Mass MoCA, Ashuwillticook Rail Trail
What to Eat: Nudel, Brava, Alta Restaurant & Wine Bar
Where to Stay: Willows Motel, Chambery Inn, Maple Terrace Motel
Weather Avg: 68° / 45° F
Out of all the US September destinations on this list, The Berkshires is the best for the quintessential fall trip. It’s a great time to go hiking, and September marks the start of the fall foliage season just before the masses of leaf-peepers show.
14. Mount Rushmore SD
Things You Can’t Miss: Presidential Trail, Rushmore Tramway Adventures, Horse Thief Lake
What to Eat: Powder House Restaurant, Cruizzers, Jane’s Boardwalk Pizza
Where to Stay: Bavarian Inn Black Hills, Hampton Inn & Suites Rapid City, Springcreek Inn, Search Airbnbs Nearby
Weather Avg: 69° / 48° F
If Mount Rushmore is on your bucket list, visit during September. You’ll avoid the huge crowds and long lines in the summer, but you’re still able to take advantage of the dry weather. Plus, it’s easier to get hotel deals now that it’s shoulder season.
15. Glen Falls NY
Things You Can’t Miss: The Hyde Collection Art Museum, The Shirt Factory, Feeder Canal Trail
What to Eat: Morgan & Company, Cooper’s Cave Ale Company, Thai Sushi Aroy Dee
Where to Stay: Fairfield Inn & Suites, Holiday Inn Express Lake George, Home2Suites, Search Airbnbs Nearby
Weather Avg: 73° / 48° F
Glen Falls feels like a small town but has an up and coming food, art, and shopping scene. We mainly want to visit Glen Falls for the Adirondack Balloon Festival.
Otherwise, it’s a great place to explore the town or a great base to chase down the amazing waterfalls in upstate NY.
September Events: Adirondack Balloon Festival, Taste of North Country
Map of the Best Places to Visit in September in USA
More September Destinations in the US
Here are some more amazing places to visit in September in the US according to other travel experts.
- AZ – Sedona – ideal weather
- CA – Los Angeles, San Diego Restaurant Week plus good weather year-round and slightly fewer visitors.
- DC – Washington – Adams MorganDay street festival, Fiesta DC, DC State Fair
- KY – Louisville – Kentucky Bourbon Festival, Louisville’s Bourbon & Beyond
- LA – New Orleans – Louisiana Seafood Festival, New Orleans Restaurant Week, Fried Chicken Festival, Martini Madness
- MA – Lexington
- MD – Chesapeake Bay
- ME – Acadia – Night Sky Festival
- MI – Sleeping Bear Dunes – shoulder season, less people
- NY – Hudson Valley for an early fall escape, New York City – Tribute in Light on 9/11
- OR – Portland – Feast Portland
- RI – Narragansett
- SC – Greenville – Euphoria, Oktoberfest
- TN – Nashville – Tennessee State Fair, Americanafest
- TX – Austin – Waterloo Music Festival, Music in the Park concert series, Pecan Street Festival, Austin Museum Day, Texas Craft Brewers Festival
- WA – Port Townsend, Seattle, Leavenworth – Washington State Fair, Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, Skagit River Salmon Festival, Autumn Leaf Festival in Leavenworth
How many of these amazing September destinations in the US have you been to?
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
Esther + Jacob
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.