10 Best Places to Travel in September

Bermuda, Rwanda, and New Mexico all shine this month.

Labor Day might mark the end of summer and a return to work for many—and a reminder to wash and fold every pair of white pants you own until next year—but why not eke out a little extra off-duty time by planning a vacation for this month?

The weather is more appealing in September than it is in midsummer for destinations like Greece, where the temperatures will be balmy but the crowds have thinned. It’s the first chance to go check out autumn foliage in an unexpected locale, try your hand at champion-level sandcastle building, or gorge on gourmet offerings from Appalachia to the world’s oyster capital.

Here are our 10 favorite spots to visit this September.

Branson, Missouri

September is great for: an all-American alternative to New England’s trafficky leaf-peeping routes

Branson, Missouri

Skip the usual fall foliage spots and head to Branson, Missouri this year.

Photo by Connor Wilkins/Shutterstock

Forget New England: What about looking at changing colors in the heart of the country? Branson’s known for man-made entertainment, from concerts to amusement parks, along 76 Country Boulevard, but consider a trip here to explore the outdoors, specifically the Ozark Mountains. Bring a copy of Shepherd of the Hills, the 1907 folklore-inspired novel from local author Harold Bell Wright to read when you come. It was written right here, drawn from his own memories of visiting the countryside as a sickly child, and is an evocative glimpse of the area before development created the Branson more familiar today.

Head out to the Highway 165 scenic overlook, a 22-mile loop that offers superb views throughout, including across Table Rock Lake. Get out of the car and go hiking around the more than 1,500-acre Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area, or take an easy stroll for a couple of miles or so on the paved path around Table Rock. You can even opt for a ride on the Branson Scenic Railway.

Where to stay: The Ozarker

The 102-room boutique hotel opened in June 2023, offering a funkier alternative to the somewhat workaday accommodation that’s commonplace here. The six-person bunk bed rooms, with double bathrooms, are a fun, affordable family option.

How to get to Branson

Sun Country Airlines shuttles from Minneapolis to Branson, flying into BKG airport 10 miles south of town, while other carriers, including Allegiant and Delta, offer service to SGF, a 50-minute drive away.

The Radical, Asheville

The Radical in Asheville is an artsy bolthole in a former warehouse.

Photo by David Mitchell

Asheville, North Carolina

September is great for: a pair of gourmet bashes celebrating overlooked cuisines

Come hungry to Asheville in September, when the Chow Chow Food + Culture Festival takes place from September 7 to 10. The four-year-old nonprofit aims to promote all aspects of southern Appalachian culture via its food over a long weekend of programming, with talks, workshops, performances, and tastings. It’s returning to its original location in Pack Square Park downtown this fall. Check out its full program, including apple pie–making classes and a drag brunch in honor of Appalachian Pride. Pick up tickets to individual events, or buy a weekend-long pass to gorge yourself.

It’s worth saving room for Euphoria in nearby Greenville, too, another celebration of local cooking that takes place September 14–17. It was cofounded by local singer-songwriter Edwin McCain in 2006 and has mushroomed since then. Fittingly, events this year include Songwriter’s Recipe, where a trio of chart-topping country songwriters will share the stories behind their hits over cocktails, and Flutes & Frites, a high-low dinner pairing two French exports. Many events are sold out, but you can buy tickets that remain here.

Where to stay: The Radical

This new boutique hotel opens this month in a formerly abandoned warehouse that became familiar among locals as a blank canvas for the most creative local graffiti artists. Some of their work has been preserved in the 70-room redo. Make sure to stop in at the late-night coffee shop slash disco run by James Beard Award–nominee Jacob Sessoms.

How to get to Asheville

The local airport, AVL, has nonstop service from Boston on both JetBlue and Allegiant, while the latter also connects it nonstop to the likes of Denver and Las Vegas.


Hamilton Princess ha been welcoming guests for some 140 year.

Courtesy of Hamilton Princess


September is great for: indulging your inner kid on the beach

Bermuda’s beaches are glorious, notably for the pinkish hue to their sand, caused by a microorganism that lives in the waters nearby. Over Labor Day weekend, locals flock to Horseshoe Bay Beach in particular, but not simply to recline and admire; rather, they’re out en masse to participate in the annual Sand Sculpture Competition. This year it takes place on September 2. (If you’re here a little early, sign up for the prep classes, which run from August 26.)

There are four categories: children, family, adult, and visitor. Tourists can take a punt, too—sign up to build your own masterpiece over six hours on a 10-by-10-foot plot. Last year, 36 teams took part, and an off-islander took the grand prize: a visitor from Maryland who built an elaborate structure entirely out of sand.

Stick around and you can participate in the second annual St. George’s Seafood Festival two weekends later. It’s a chance to sample seafood pulled from the chilly Atlantic waters here (spiny lobster season has just started), plus plenty of family-friendly amusements including a fun park.

Where to stay: Hamilton Princess

This grande dame hotel, first opened in 1885, earned its sobriquet the Pink Palace from its bold facade, and it retains a retro cachet even now, perched on its own marina and retaining more than a whiff of Britishness.

How to get to Bermuda

There are nonstop flights on several major carriers from East Coast hubs like Charlotte and Atlanta, and it’s a quick hop, too. From New York, for example, it takes just over two hours.

Entrance to the Sculpture Garden at the New Mexico Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

The New Mexico Museum of Indian Arts and Culture is one of several Santa Fe spots to enjoy Indigenous art.

Photo by Polina LVT/Shutterstock

Santa Fe, New Mexico

September is great for: high-end contemporary art in a brand new setting

Santa Fe revels in its nickname the City Different, embracing its role as an offbeat, arty hub of the Southwest ever since five young artists here, collectively known as Los Cinco Pintores, earned headlines for their modernist art in the early 1920s. It’s synonymous, too, with Georgia O’Keeffe, who has a museum dedicated to her life and work here. However, there are countless other creatives, including many Indigenous artists, who have drawn inspiration from the area. Head to Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery, a gallery dedicated to Native American work, to see some recent examples.

This month, the New Mexico Museum of Art opens a major expansion, which cost more than $16 million to build: the Vladem contemporary wing, named in honor of philanthropists Ellen and Bob, who ponied up a quarter of the entire cost. It’s a reimagining of a onetime state archives building, whose adaptive reuse repurposes many of the historic elements, incorporating gallery space and studios for the artists who’ll be invited to take up regular residencies. In the first year, those will include Oswaldo Macia and Mokha Laget. The debut show, Shadow and Light, will feature work from the likes of Angela Ellsworth and Instagram catnip Yayoi Kusama.

Where to stay: Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi

The 58-room luxury property is named in honor of the area’s native tribe, and its decor riffs on local textures and colors without descending into pastiche. Make sure to rent a Moke from the hotel to explore downtown.

How to get to Santa Fe

SAF’s direct air connections are slimmer than many might assume, limited to Dallas, Phoenix, and Denver. Expect to connect in one of those cities if you’re coming from farther afield.

A silverback gorilla in Volcanoes National Park

September offer more navigable terrain in the hunt for that classic gorilla shot.

Photo by Bailey Berg

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

September is great for: baby gorillas—actual, baby gorillas

The landlocked central African country of Rwanda has made a remarkable recovery from the tragedy of its genocide in the 1990s. High-end tourism has been pivotal to the government’s strategy, focusing on a sustainable, smaller footprint of visitors: It doubled the permit price to visit the 1,000 or so mountain gorillas that live in its Volcanoes National Park five years ago from $750 to $1,500 for an hour in the jungle with these extraordinary animals.

September is the tail-end of dry season, making paths less slippery and foliage less dense, so gorillas are easier to spot. Most importantly, though, this month is when Kwita Izina takes place, a week of events culminating in a naming ceremony for the newborn gorillas. It was introduced in 2005, as a focal point for conservation; expect local bigwigs and visitors coming together to see two dozen or so infants named and then partying afterwards. The date varies, but this year it’s held on September 1.

Where to stay: Singita Kwitonda

There are just eight suites at the recently renovated property Singita Kwitonda, each with its own private terrace, heated plunge pool, and views out across the park.

How to get to Volcanoes National Park

Try Kenya Airways from JFK to Nairobi, before connecting on to Arusha (ARK), or Rwandair, with its sparkling new planes: It flies from Brussels to Kigali, so hop over to Europe before taking that nonstop.

Brixen, Italy

September is great for: classic music in a cultural melting pot

Brixen, Italy, Forestis, Mountain, Hotel

You can’t ski into Forestis at this time of year, but the view is no less impressive.

Photo by Michelle Heimerman

The month-long Südtiral Festival Merano is a standout classical music fest luring performers from across the world, including the Juilliard String Quartet, to this tucked-away corner of northern Italy. In 2023, it starts on August 16 and runs through September 20. Yes, technically, it’s an Italian province, but its history is a mélange of Mittel European cultures, from German and Austrian to Ladin, the native Dolomite, and it’s all the more appealing for this mishmash. Many performances for the music festival take place in the art nouveau Kurhaus, which wouldn’t look out of place in Vienna and offers a hall that was the work of Viennese secessionist Fredrich Ohmann.

If you speak a few words of German or Italian, it’s worth trying them both out with locals—about half the population speaks German, an official language here. The warm but breezy early fall is appealing for outdoorsy types to visit, too. Try the four-day Mountainbike festival in Brixen, which starts the day after the concert series concludes, and rent a bike to explore the town and countryside nearby. Otherwise, it’s apple picking season: These trees thrive in alpine conditions and are best experienced on a guided tour at fruit cooperative Melix in Varna.

Where to stay: Forestis

The aptly named Forestis, a three-year-old, 62-room resort, sits in the heart of the Dolomites—in winter, it’s ski-in, ski-out, but this month, you can simply install yourself in the rooftop bar for bracing fresh air, swoony views, and a glass (or two) of Veneto prosecco.

How to get to Brixen

Bargain all-biz airline La Compagnie now shuttles between Newark Liberty International and Milan up to six times weekly. Or hop on the Emirates service on the same route—a steal as it’s a Fifth Freedom flight. Then take one of Italy’s surprisingly impressive trains to the Dolomites from there.

A man carries a tray of 30 Galway oysters at the International Oyster Festival.

Come for the oyster, stay for the fresh air and hiking.

Photo by Stephen Barnes/Shutterstock

Galway, Ireland

September is great for: oysters

Finally, there’s an r in the month, so it’s time to start slurping some oysters again—and where better than in Galway, which throws an entire festival to celebrate the season starting this month? From September 24 to 27, come here to indulge everything oyster-related, from the world oyster opening championships (how quickly can contestants shuck 30 of them?) to cookery demonstrations and, of course, tastings. There are raucous parties on Friday and Saturday night, but Sunday’s Feile Bia Na Mara is a lazy day, with free-to-attend workshops and talks .

Galway’s a gourmet go-to year-round now, thanks to a rising roster of top-tier chefs who’ve opened here, headlined by JP McMahon at his Michelin-starred Aniar. That spot is tiny, with room for just two dozen diners, so if it’s booked solid, try the city’s other Michelin-endorsed spot housed in a huge onetime office, Loam.

Where to stay: Wild Honey Inn

Where else to stay than the local, Michelin-vouched gastropub, 90 minutes’ drive from town in rural County Clare, complete with homey rooms upstairs and a superb, unstuffy restaurant on the main level where chef-owner Aidan McGrath cooks.

How to get to Galway

Shannon Airport is 40 miles from Galway, and there are nonstop services stateside from there to Boston and New York on Aer Lingus, and Chicago on United. Remember that Shannon offers preclearance for returnees to the United States, which means all immigration formalities take place before you board, allowing you to breeze out of the terminal on landing.


September sees a diverse range of talent on display at

Photos by Laura Dannen Redman

São Paulo, Brazil

September is great for: an inclusive, challenging and boundary-pushing cultural bash

The 35th edition of this city’s prestigious Bienal starts on September 6 and runs through mid-December. It’s second only to the storied confab in Venice, after which it was modeled when the event began in 1951, an effort to bolster the country’s economy in the wake of World War II and connect the creative scene of this city with the broader global art world.

This edition will be overseen by a curatorial quartet, including Berlin-based artist and writer Grada Kilomba and anthropologist Hélio Menezes, who’ve dubbed their program Choreographies of the Impossible as a nod to an attempt to push boundaries creatively. There’s a huge emphasis on diversity, too, particularly fitting in a country such as Brazil where so many cultures coexist: 92 percent of the 120 participating artists identify as nonwhite, and more than three quarters come from the Global South. Outsider artists like the late Arthur Bispo do Rosário and Judith Scott will be spotlit, too.

Where to stay: Rosewood São Paulo

This sleek hotel conversion by Jean Nouvel of a former maternity hospital has jewel box–like rooms with surprisingly large bathrooms, and decor overseen by impish Philippe Starck. Look for the musical instruments festooning the walls.

How to get to São Paulo

Delta, United, and LATAM all fly there.


Costa Navarino is a luxury resort complex in Messinia region of the Peloponnese in Greece.

Photo by EQRoy/Shutterstock

Costa Navarino, Greece

September is great for: the chance to skip island-hopping, kick back, and relax

Sure, everyone flocks to the islands in Greece (if you need some ideas, we’ve got you covered) but consider zigging when others zag, sticking to the mainland instead and heading west from Athens to the Peloponnese. That’s where a wealthy developer snaffled up a huge parcel of land in the 1980s near his home village to create a resort town from scratch.

Don’t be discouraged by the just-add-water origins of the properties here: The developer ensured that only 10 percent of the total area of the site would be covered in buildings while planning for a sustainable future via efforts like using a species of grass on golf courses that requires 30 percent less water. The focus was squarely on high-end, low-density tourism, adding luxury hotels like the Romanos and the Mandarin Oriental, which is scheduled to open in August.

The area has a storied history. There’s been human settlement since the Bronze Age, and the strategic land pinballed between rival empires, including the Ottoman and Venetian, for centuries. They squabbled over the huge natural harbor here. It’s easy to see why: The turquoise waters of Voidokilia beach are a standout, even in Greece—it’s thought to be the “sandy Pylos” that Homer references in his Odyssey. All that, plus the local area is world-famous for its namesake, Kalamata olives.

Where to stay: Mandarin Oriental Costa Navarino

A brand-new addition to the resort complex is the ultra-luxury brand’s first venture into Greece as it ramps up expansion plans aggressively. Come to this 99-room hotel for R&R at an over-the-top, 16,000-square-foot spa as well as six different on-site bars and restaurants.

How to get to Costa Navarino

There’s seasonal nonstop service to Athens on all the major legacy carriers from their hubs, including New York, Chicago, and Atlanta plus another Fifth Freedom option on Emirates from Newark. From there, hop a regional flight to Kalamata airport or drive for around three hours.

MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL at garden by the bay - Dragon dance Lantern Route, Singapore

Mid-Autumn Festival in Singapore is an unforgettable experience for adults and children alike.

Photo by huntergol hp/Shutterstock


September is great for: an excuse to eat your body weight in mooncakes

On September 29, it’s the Mid-Autumn Festival here—a chance to eat mooncakes exactly when intended. There are numerous myths swirling around the origins of the centuries-old event, first marked during China’s Tang dynasty. Some think it was sparked by moon-worship each fall (coaxing good crops for the following year); others reference a goddess who flew to the moon after indulging a little too much.

Whatever its true origins, the festival is now one of the most celebrated in Chinese culture, with as much vim and vigor as New Year. Come to Singapore this month, and you’ll see an exhibition of lanterns curated amid the trees and flowers of the Gardens by the Bay. Kids can try umbrella painting and lantern decorating there, too, as well as a staged performance of the Lady on the Moon, recounting the story of that fleeing goddess at the Botanic Gardens. Most folks, though, will be most excited by the chance to graze on an assortment of moreish mooncakes, whether sweet or savory, whether white lotus with single or double salted yolks, yam, lychee, or even durian.

Where to stay: Mondrian Singapore

The newly opened 302-room boutique hotel in Duxton Hill has a rooftop pool and an appealing speakeasy-style cocktail bar, the Jungle Ballroom, accessed by a secret tunnel.

How to get to Singapore

Do you dare brave the world’s longest nonstop flight? It takes 19 hours to connect between JFK and Singapore on Singapore Airlines in its specially configured, no-economy-seat plane. Otherwise, the carrier also flies from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle on the West Coast.

British-born, New York–based Mark Ellwood has lived out of a suitcase for most of his life. He is editor-at-large for luxury bible Robb Report and columnist for Bloomberg Luxury. Recent stories have led him to hang out with China’s trendsetters in Chengdu and learn fireside raps from cowboy poets in Wyoming.
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