With over 50 states to choose from, the US sure has plenty of amazing fall destinations to go to.
But I bet you’re wondering where to go in the US in September, am I right?
Well, you’re in luck!
I have scoured the American landscapes to bring you some of the best fall vacations out there. If you want to soak up the September sun along the coast, plan a road trip in the mountains, explore the country’s national parks, or venture into the city – this travel guide was made for you!
There’s one thing I’m certain about: Whether you’re a local or a tourist visiting for the first time, vacationing in America won’t disappoint!
Caladesi Island State Park (Florida) is only accessible by ferry.
Mountain and National Park fall vacations are the best place to witness fall foliage.
September weather is generally warm across all major US states.
Book your fall vacation accommodation in advance as it is a popular time of the year.
The Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina) is the world’s most popular scenic drive.
Yosemite National Park (California) is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
September is Walt Disney World’s (Florida) quietest month.
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Fewer crowds as opposed to summer months.
The weather is warm and mild.
Cheaper rates for accommodation and car rentals.
Best Coastal Destinations & Places to Visit in September 2023
Outer Banks, North Carolina
What makes it special: Home to the tallest sand dunes on the Atlantic coast
Tips: Peak hurricane season occurs between mid-August and mid-October
Outer Banks in North Carolina, or OBX, is a historically significant and stunning strip of coastline, offering stunning beaches and iconic lighthouses. You can explore Roanoke Island (the first English colony in the New World), try hang gliding over Jockey’s Ridge’s towering sand dunes, and visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
In September, the weather is warm, making it perfect for solo travelers or families with small children.
What makes it special: Surfrider Beach was named the first World Surfing Reserve
Activities: Surfing, sunbathing, hiking trails
Best time in September to visit: Late September/early October
Tips: Ocean temperatures can drop drastically, so perhaps pack in a wetsuit for surfing
Malibu is a coastal gem and has been affectionately dubbed “The Bu”. It is known worldwide for its beautiful beaches, including iconic Zuma Beach and Surfrider Beach (home to the Malibu Pier). September brings fewer crowds, sunny skies, and fantastic fall colors, ideal for hiking the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area trails, surfing, and visiting the Getty Villa Museum to see ancient Greek and Roman art and culture.
Malibu is a really beautiful, yet really expensive place, with many celebs – like Emma Stone and Miley Cyrus – owning their fair share of uber-stylish, seaside real estate.
Monterey Bay, California
What makes it special: Global home of ocean science
Best time in September to visit: Late September for the famous Jazz Festival
Tips: Monterey’s weather is known to be a bit unpredictable
This charming town is known for its stunning waterfront, historic Cannery Row, whale-watching, and world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. If you want a fun family fall getaway then Monterey Bay is for you!
Take advantage of the world-class Pebble Beach Golf Links (which has hosted 5 US Opens), visit the iconic Monterey Bay Aquarium, cruise along 17-Mile Drive, or explore the neighboring town of Pacific Grove (12 miles/ 19 km away) to see the annual Monarch butterfly migration.
Fun fact Jimi Hendrix smashed and burned his guitar onstage at the Monterey Pop Festival in the late ’60s.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
What makes it special: Fantastic weather
Activities: Whale watching, outdoor, beach
Best time in September to visit: Late September/early October
Tips: Pack in your flip-flops!
September is the ideal time to pay this quaint seaside village a visit, as most of the crowds have thinned out and the weather is simply gorgeous!
Its hooked-shaped coastline offers incredible sightings of humpback whales and the endangered Atlantic right whales from June to September – an experience I’ll never forget!
Best time in September to visit: Throughout the month
Tips: Miami is in the eye of the hurricane, from June to November. Travel insurance may be worth signing up for!
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Miami is toned guys and gals rollerblading along Ocean Drive, am I right? While this is true, this magical place has a whole lot more to offer than just rollerskates and hot beaches!
Miami is an eclectic place known for its strong Cuban influence, warm weather, dazzling beaches, and vibrant nightlife vibes, and is one of my favorite fall vacations of all time.
Visit the Bayside Marketplace – a huge outdoor mall with over 150 shops, cafes, and entertainment or explore Little Havana – Miami’s Cuban distinct where you can salsa dance and buy authentic cigars.
Best time in September to visit: Late September (to miss the rainy season)
Tips: Only accessible by ferry
Reaching this tranquil escape of pristine powdery beaches takes a bit of effort. But gosh it’s worth the trip! Only accessible by ferry from Honeymoon Island State Park, along the Gulf of Mexico on Florida’s west side – the trip takes 20 minutes at a cost of $8 per vehicle and $4 per person.
Search for birds, raccoons, armadillos, and snakes while you kayak through the mangrove forests, or enjoy dolphin and turtle watching from its sandy shores throughout the fall months.
Jekyll Island, Georgia
What makes it special: 5,500-acre island
Activities: Summer Waves Water Park, beaches, museums, golf
Best time in September to visit: Early September with average temperatures of 87.44°F (30.8°C)
Tips: September mornings and evenings usually have cooler temperatures
This isle is named after Mr Jekyll, a businessman from way back when – and has nothing to do with the split personality of Mr Hyde!
The 5,500-acre island is ideal for families and friends looking for the perfect fall vacation. With 10 miles of exquisite coastline, the Summer Waves Water Park, and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center nearby, there’s something for the whole family to enjoy!
Padre Island National Park, Texas
What makes it special: World’s longest barrier island
Tips: The Sea Turtle Conservation Center is found in the north while Isla Blanca Park in the south has some of the prettiest beaches.
Padre Island – meaning “Father Island” in Spanish – is a haven for nature lovers, especially during the fall season. It offers beach camping, turtle-hatchling releases, crystal-clear waters (perfect for snorkelers), and some of the best stargazing views in all of the US at The Night Sky Observatory on the island’s northern side!
Huntington State Park, South Carolina
What makes it special: Grand Strand Beach stretch
Activities: Beach camping, skate park, surfing, swimming, bird watching
Best time in September to visit: Visit the annual art and crafts festival every September at the Atalaya Castle
Tips: The park is open daily from 09:00 to 17:00 at a cost of $8 per adult and $2 per child.
This is definitely one of those epic USA fall trips that you wanna make!
The Grand Strand is a massive 60-mile (97km) stretch of sea-facing bliss that extends from Little River in the north, all the way to Winyah Bay in the south on the US’s east coast.
Huntington Beach State Park is found on the southern side and is known for its surf culture, picnic spots, and laid-back beach vibes. It’s a perfect fall getaway. Birdwatch in the salt marsh, explore the Atalaya Castle (for $2 per person), or unwind on 3 miles of pristine beaches.
Best Mountain Destinations is the US in September
What makes it special: The Rocky Mountains
Activities: Hiking trails, skiing, Aspen Music Festival (August)
Best time in September to visit: Mid to late September for the best fall foliage
Tips: Book accommodation in advance as Aspen is a popular destination
September makes the perfect fall getaway to escape the busy crowds of winter months. While you may not be able to glide down the infamous Rocky Mountains, you can catch a glimpse of the iconic Maroon Bell peaks and see the beautiful landscape change to shades of amber and red.
Peak foliage season is usually in the third week of September.
Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
What makes it special: Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Best time in September to visit: Early to mid-September for good weather and fall colors
Tips: Check park updates and road closures due to weather conditions. The National Park is free to enter but you’ll have to pay for parking.
The area is known for its lush forests, diverse wildlife, and iconic mist-covered peaks. September is cooler and has fewer crowds; perfect for a fall weekend road trip. Hike the 11-mile Cades Cove Loop inside the National Park and see the stunning fall foliage in late September.
Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada
What makes it special: Lake Tahoe
Activities: Hiking trails, camping, paddling, Emerald State Park
Best time in September to visit: Early September for fewer crowds
Tips: Temperatures vary between day and night so pack accordingly
Lake Tahoe is a beautiful lake surrounded by the stunning Sierra Nevada Mountains and comes alive with colorful fall foliage from mid-September onwards! Do bite-sized chunks of the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail, paddleboard on the crisp, clear lake, or explore the nearby Emerald Bay State Park for $10.
What makes it special: Skiing in winter, festivals in fall
Best time in September to visit: Mid to late September for fall colors
Tips: The Breckenridge Wine and Film Festivals are both in mid-September
Due to Breckenridge’s high elevation, it’s one of the first places in the country to see leaves changing color. Enjoy beautiful scenic hikes during the day or have a couple of beers at the annual Oktoberfest, where Munich meets the mountains in late September!
North Conway, New Hampshire
What makes it special: The White Mountains
Activities: Hiking trails, scenic drives, quaint village visits
Best time in September to visit: Late September for peak leaf peeping
Tips: Book in advance as this area is popular in the fall.
Late September is the best time to visit for peak leaf-peeping when the surrounding mountains burst into vibrant fall colors. Popular things to do in the fall in North Conway, a picturesque mountain town nestled in the White Mountains, is the Tuckerman Ravine Trail (where you can hike up to Mount Washington), shop at the long-standing Settlers Green Outlet Village, or take a scenic drive along Kancamagus Highway.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
What makes it special: Grand Teton National Park
Activities: Hiking trails, national park, horseback riding, art galleries
Best time in September to visit: Mid-September for fewer crowds and fantastic fall foliage
Tips: Check road and trail conditions
Jackson has to be one of my favorite fall vacations! The National Park – which receives close to 3 million visitors per year – was pure magic, with sightings of wild elk and bison. Horseback riding and scenic trips along the Snake River truly make an unforgettable fall vacation!
What makes it special: Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains
Activities: Aerial tramway rides, hiking trails to Laurel Falls, moonshine tasting
Best time in September to visit: Mid to late September for fall foliage
Tips: Buy a National Park pass if you want to extensively explore the Smoky Mountains
Gatlinburg is a charming town that is close to the Great Smoky Mountains. Hike the 2.6-mile (4km) trail to see the 80-foot Laurel Falls inside the National Park (where the fall foliage is simply spectacular!) or get a kick out of moonshine tasting at the Ole Smoky Distillery.
Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina
What makes it special: The Blue Ridge Parkway
Activities: Hiking, mountain biking, wineries
Best time in September to visit: Late September to mid-October for fall foliage
Tips: Book in advance as this is a popular tourist destination
Be captivated by the colorful fall foliage on the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are part of the larger Appalachian Mountain Range. Known for its rolling hills and dense forests (and charming mountain towns!); this place has to be on every traveler’s fall getaway bucket list!
Fun fact The Blue Ridge Parkway is the world’s most popular scenic drive!
Best US Cities to Visit in September
New York City, New York
What makes it special: NYC is iconic for its cultural diversity, landmarks, and vibrant energy
Activities: Central Park, Broadway shows, sightseeing, art galleries
Best time in September to visit: Mid-September is best for a fall vacation
Tips: Book theatre tickets in advance and use the city’s public transport system to save some cash.
Ah, The Big Apple! Home to the Hudson River, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, trendy Manhattan, and hip-hop mogul Jay Z – to name a few. In September, Central Park oozes with all the colors of the (autumn) rainbow, and the shopping along Fifth Avenue is out of this world!
Oh, and don’t forget to take a selfie in the iconic Times Square, when the streets are quieter – by New York standards – in the early fall.
San Francisco, California
What makes it special: The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Levi jeans!
Activities: Sightseeing, museums, art galleries
Best time in September to visit: Early September to November has the best weather conditions
Tips: Book tourist attraction tickets in advance.
San Francisco is high up on my ‘best fall vacations’ list with its unique bustling neighborhoods, iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and the infamous (and somewhat eerie!) Alcatraz Prison!
It makes the perfect fall getaway destination with a range of activities for the whole family. And the incredible fall foliage in Buena Vista Park just burst with orange, red, and brown hues.
Fun fact The fortune cookie was invented in San Fran and not in Japan as many may think!
What makes it special: Impressive architecture and Lake Michigan
Activities: Sightseeing, museums, boat trips
Best time in September to visit: Early September to early October
Tips: It’s not called the ‘Windy City’ for nothing!
Chicago overflows with vibrant foliage in early fall and the fiery hues linger until late November. This is also the best time to skip the crowds of the summer months and get your adrenaline pumping at the iconic Six Flags amusement park!
Best time in September to visit: Anytime in early fall (September – November)
Tips: It’s best to make restaurant reservations
If you really want to make this one of your best fall vacations yet, then book a Charleston After Dark Tour, where you’ll explore historic haunted houses, dark alleyways, and old creepy cemeteries in the dead of night! Or marvel at the fantastic fall colors at White Point Garden which won’t cost you a cent!
What makes it special: Art, theater, and music scene
Activities: Museums, city parks, Oregon Zoo
Best time in September to visit: Early September is when the roses start to bloom
Tips: Embrace the city’s eco-friendly ethos!
See how the famous Japanese Gardens inside Washington Park shed their green leaves for colorful fall foliage. Or enjoy a 3-hour bicycle tour of the city where you’ll stop at Clinton Street Theater, cross over the Tilikum Crossing, and cruise alongside Poet’s Beach – to name a few! This tour is easy to book through Around Portland Tours’ website at a cost of $50 per person.
What makes it special: The home of country music
Activities: Museums, music gigs
Best time in September to visit: Mid-September to late October for the Fall Family Pumpkin Festival
Tips: Plan your visit around live music performances
Visit the iconic Johnny Cash Museum on 3rd Avenue or spend your days in one of the many parks around the city to get into the true spirit of the fall season! Riverfront Park is a lovely park that runs along the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville and is home to some of the best open-air concert events!
What makes it special: Coffee!
Activities: Visit Space Needle, hiking, fishing, watersports, museums
Best time in September to visit: September and October have fewer crowds
Tips: Accommodation and car rentals are usually cheaper during the fall season
If you want to have one of the best fall vacations to date, then Seattle is the place for you! Surrounded by water, mountains, and forests, it really has a lot to offer. The aquarium and art museum are always worth a trip while Kerry Park offers the best city skyline views!
Fun fact Starbucks Coffee originated in Seattle back in the ’70s.
What makes it special: It’s the oldest city in Georgia
Activities: Historical city tours, watersports, museums
Best time in September to visit: Fall foliage starts in early September
Tips: It can be rainy in September, so pack accordingly.
Savannah makes a superb Southern-style September vacation, boasting old-world antebellum architecture and historical landmarks. Cruise along the Savannah River and witness firsthand the changing colors of the surrounding landscape or visit the Wormsloe State Historic Site and picnic underneath the amber-colored oak trees in early October.
Activities: Walt Disney World, Seaworld, Universal Studios,
Best time in September to visit: September is usually Disney’s slowest month
Tips: Buy theme park tickets in advance for cheaper deals
Orlando would have to be one of the best fall vacations for any kid, being home to the iconic Walt Disney World! Luckily September has cooler temperatures when compared to the sweltering summer heat and there aren’t too many crowds either. To get into the swing of fall; Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party runs from mid-August until early November.
Salt Lake City, Utah
What makes it special: Family vacation
Activities: Museums, Liberty Park, historical landmarks
Best time in September to visit: Anytime in September
Tips: Hotels are much cheaper in the fall
Salt Lake City is a top choice for fall family vacations. September, with its fewer crowds and budget-friendly hotel rates, is an ideal time to visit.
Towards the end of the month, don’t miss the Wheeler Farm Pumpkin Days Festival, where you can enjoy pumpkin picking and wagon rides with the kids for just $10 each.
Best National Parks
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
What makes it special: Old Faithful natural geyser
Best time in September to visit: Early September has fewer crowds
Tips: Stay on marked trails!
See Yellowstone National Park’s colorful foliage from late September to early October. This remarkable wonderland is known for its geothermal features, diverse wildlife, and stunning landscapes. Explore Old Faithful or opt to hike through rugged terrains where you might see grizzly bears, bison, and elk!
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
What makes it special: The Grand Canyon
Activities: Hiking, helicopter tours, rafting
Best time in September to visit: Early fall
Tips: The rainy season begins from mid-August to mid-September
Prepare to be amazed by the breathtaking geological wonder of the Grand Canyon, a 277-mile (447km) long gorge skillfully carved by the Colorado River. Amidst this natural marvel, don’t forget to check out the vibrant fall colors of the abundant trees that grace the park.
September, with its fewer crowds and cooler weather compared to the scorching summer months, provides an ideal opportunity to venture on an unforgettable fall weekend getaway.
Zion National Park, Utah
What makes it special: The towering rock formations of the Zion Canyon
Tips: Credit or debit cards are preferred when purchasing day passes
Nestled in Utah’s breathtaking red rocky landscape, this park showcases incredible fall foliage when its lush canyon and valleys transform into vibrant shades of red and gold. Its natural beauty of towering sandstone cliffs, winding canyons, and views of the Virgin River are just some of the incredible sights that draw tourists and locals to this part of the US.
Yosemite National Park, California
What makes it special: UNESCO World Heritage site
Activities: Hiking, rock climbing, waterfall chasing, rafting, camping
Best time in September to visit: September in general has fewer crowds
Tips: Book campsites well in advance.
Spanning its 1,200 square miles (3,100 square km) of impeccable beauty, Yosemite National Park promises an unforgettable fall vacation.
Whether you’re chasing waterfalls in late spring/early fall when the snow has melted, venturing on a horseback adventure across its rugged terrain, or simply gathering around a campfire for stargazing with loved ones, Yosemite’s ever-changing landscapes in autumn offer photo opportunities worthy of a National Geographic shoutout!
Glacier National Park, Montana
What makes it special: Alpine lakes, and numerous glaciers (though they are diminishing!)
Activities: Hiking, boating, camping
Best time in September to visit: Early to mid-September
Tips: There are no fueling stations in the park
If you’re looking for the best places to visit in the US in September then roadtripping to the Glacier National Park in Montana is the place for you!
Witness peak leaf peeping from mid-September onwards. With over 700 miles (1120 km) of trails and the iconic Going-To-The-Sun scenic drive, there sure is enough foliage to go around!
Acadia National Park, Maine
What makes it special: Stunning fall foliage
Activities: Hiking, biking, camping
Best time in September to visit: Late September for peak foliage
Tips: Camping reservations must be made online
Acadia National Park is one of the 10 most visited national parks in the US and I totally understand why – its stunning fall colors are next level! Its rugged coastlines certainly live up to the “Crown Jewel of The North Atlantic Coast” name and create a picturesque backdrop; a top choice for any fall getaway for sure.
Fun fact Acadia National Park is home to the tallest mountains on the U.S. Atlantic Coast
Map of the Best Places to Visit in September 2023 in the USA
Tips for Fall Travel in the US
Layers: Fall weather can be unpredictable. Mornings and evenings are cooler so packing layers is essential. Include light jackets, scarves, suitable shoes, and long-sleeve tops.
Comfortable footwear: Pack hiking boots and comfortable walking shoes. The appropriate footwear will save your feet from blisters, especially when out and about on the rocky trails!
Rain gear: Be prepared for the occasional light shower. I advise that you take along rain jackets and umbrellas.
Seasonal clothing: If you’re planning to partake in fall activities like pumpkin or apple picking, consider bringing flannels and jeans to blend in with the festivities.
September time: While this month mostly has clear skies and warm climates; temperatures can vary across major US States. (i.e. 70° F/21° C in San Francisco to 100° F/38° C in Phoenix).
Check forecasts: Stay up to date with local weather forecasts for your planned destinations and check for any road closures ahead of time.
Hurricane season: If you’re traveling to Florida, North Carolina, or other hurricane-prone areas, do check hurricane forecasts and plan your fall trip accordingly.
Other activities that are special to fall vacations
Murphysboro Apple Festival
When: 13 – 17 September 2023
When: 14 – 17 September 2023
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze
Where: New York
When: 15 -17, 22-24, 27 – 30 September 2023
Monterey Jazz Festival
Where: Monterey County
When: Last week of September
Kerman Harvest Festival
Where: Fresno County, California
When: 17 September
What is My Favorite Place in the US to Visit in Fall
One of my best fall vacations has to be visiting the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee – it was like stepping into a postcard! I do not have enough words to explain the fiery autumn hues of the forest; they were simply out of this world.
The area was quiet and serene, which was exactly what I was looking for – to escape the bustle and hustle of New York City. Every twist and turn of the hiking trails (and we did many!) was met with something new to see and the smell of pine has become my new favorite scent!
The Alum Cave Trail was superb as we walked over crunchy golden leaves to reach the narrow Arch Rock tunnel. I’m almost certain we heard black bears in the distance, but I’m rather glad we didn’t see any! At night, my partner and I cozied up by the campfire, stargazed, and sang old ’60s blues at the top of our lungs.
What I can say? The Smoky Mountains have stolen a piece of my heart and I’m sure it would do the same for you! (Just book your accommodation in advance, okay?)
So there you have it! A complete rundown of the best fall vacations and things to do in the US during September.
Whether you’re looking to rollerskate along Ocean Drive in Miami, hike trails in Yosemite National Park, explore Georgia’s oldest city, Savannah, do apple picking in Illinois, or picnic with family and friends in New York’s Central Park; vacationing in the US will leave you with unforgettable memories (and some pretty amazing fall foliage photos too!)
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is warm in America in September?
Florida, South Carolina, Dallas, Salt Lake City, and Georgia are a few US states that have warm, pleasant weather during September.
Is September a busy travel month in the US?
Not usually. September is when US kids go back to school, making September less busy when compared to the summer holiday months.
Is September a good time to travel to the US?
Yes. September is a good time to travel to the US. It has fewer crowds, cheaper accommodation rates, and some of the best weather conditions.
What is New York like in September?
September in New York is generally great with daytime temperatures of around 74 – 82°F (24-28°C). Evenings are cooler, so it’s best to pack a jacket.
What is Miami like in September?
Average daytime temperatures in Miami are in the range of 90-91°F (32-33°C) at the start of the month and drop to cooler temperatures of about 77 – 86°F (25 – 30°C) towards the end of September.
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