10 Best Places to Travel in September

Harvest season has arrived, deeming September the perfect time to go alfresco in some scenic locales.

10 Best Places to Travel in September

It’s harvest season in places like Kakheti, Georgia.

Photo by kosmos111/Shutterstock

Is it really the end of summer (well, for the Northern Hemisphere)? Even though Labor Day marks the return to work—and a reminder to wash and fold every pair of white pants you own until next year—why not eke out a little extra off-duty time by planning a vacation this month?

The weather is more appealing now than in midsummer for destinations like the Gulf, and it’s peak grape harvest season across the world, giving you the perfect excuse to travel from California to the Caucuses in search of new wines to try.

Here are our 10 favorite spots to visit this September.

 Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage month with a trip to New York City.

Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage month with a trip to New York City.

Photo by Gregory James Van Raalte/Shutterstock

1. Washington Heights, New York

September is great for: unleashing your inner In the Heights stan

Should we ever second-guess anything Lin-Manuel Miranda champions? Answer: No. America’s creative MVP was one of the first to shout about the joys of this hilly nabe in uptown Manhattan via his breakout musical In the Heights. It’s long been the hub of New York’s Dominican community, and an ideal time to visit is September; National Hispanic Heritage month starts on the 15th.

Come simply to soak up the vibe on a sunny day: Think fruit stands at La Plaza de las Americas, or a sugary jolt of caffeine from a cafecito at a local bakery or panaderia. Gorge on gorgeous Caribbean food at La Casa del Mofongo or the soon-to-open Jalao NYC, an outpost of the popular Santo Domingo restaurant inside the new Radio Hotel. Snap some In the Heights–inspired Insta shots at the mural-filled 191st Street subway station, or even the Domingo Grocery on Audubon Avenue. And don’t miss cultural anchors that nod to the area’s eclectic history, such as the nonprofit cultural and educational hub Shabazz Center, housed in the onetime ballroom where Malcolm X was assassinated, or the United Palace Theatre on Broadway—a loopy, over-the-top landmark whose architectural style has been described as “Cambodian neoclassical,” but could fairly be dubbed “Inside of Elton John’s Mind.”

Where to stay: Radio Hotel

Book now: Radio Hotel

The brand-new 212-room Radio Hotel is a statement addition to the ’hood, embedded in the local community via partnerships with local artists, musical acts by neighborhood performers, and, of course, that Santo Domingo–connected restaurant.

How to get to Washington Heights

Between New York area’s trio of airports—LGA, EWR, and JFK—you have connections to almost anywhere in the country. Right now, LGA definitely has the edge, though, as it just debuted the $4 billion overhaul of Terminal B.

The Trans Bhutan Trail crosses through Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.

The Trans Bhutan Trail crosses through Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.

Photo by Prithul/Shutterstock

2. Thimphu, Bhutan

September is great for: walking through the country—and its history

The 250-mile pilgrimage route, the Trans Bhutan Trail, will open in September for walkers and mountain bikers both, after two years of extensive renovations; it stretches from the country’s westernmost district, Haa, all the way east to Trashigang. This trek is a chance to travel through Bhutan’s history and geography, as it’s dotted with 400 sites of interest, including the Tiger’s Nest Monastery from 1692, where a few buildings seem to teeter uneasily on the cliff face 10,000 feet above sea level. The trail was used as a communication route in the country for centuries, for mail or messages, and weaves through nine dzongkhags or districts. The arrival of roads in what became Bhutan in the 1960s rendered this footpath largely redundant, and it fell from favor (and use) until its reopening this year.

Opt to hike it or come for the Tour of the Dragon cycle race on September 7. The almost 160-mile extreme endurance one-day mountain bike race starts off in Bumthang and heads through four different mountain passes before finishing in the town square at the center of the country’s capital, Thimphu.

Where to stay: Taj Tashi

Book now: Taj Tashi

The 66-room Taj Tashi, a five-star property overlooking the Wang Chu River, is wreathed in hand-drawn Buddhist murals throughout, a nod to Bhutan’s longtime religious traditions.

How to get to Thimphu

It’s a process to reach Bhutan, mostly thanks to the fact that local airlines do not codeshare with partners. Put simply: You’ll need two tickets. Book the first on American Airlines from JFK to Delhi, India. Then spend a night there, before hopping on to Paro (PBH) on local carrier Drukair.

Brixen is a mishmash of European cultures thanks to its history.

Brixen is a mishmash of European cultures thanks to its history.

Photo by Luca Lorenzelli/Shutterstock

3. Brixen, Italy

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

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; this year, it starts on August 17 and runs through September 21. 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

Book now: Forestis

The aptly named Forestis, a two-year-old, 62-room resort, is nestled 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 JFK and Milan five 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.

Visiting Doha in September means much more bearable weather.

Visiting Doha in September means much more bearable weather.

Photo by Gordon Bell/Shutterstock

4. Doha, Qatar

September is great for: beating the crowds to the country’s newest beaches

Sure, the world might be planning to descend on this Middle Eastern country when its controversial hosting of soccer’s World Cup kicks off in November, but why not beat the crowds? The weather’s already starting to become more bearable this month (sticking between the low 80s and low 100s) after summer’s extreme heat, where plus-100-degree days are the norm. You can stroll the new West Bay North Beach project downtown, one of the splashiest additions to the country as part of its 2030 plan centered on accelerating development of all kinds, whether social, economic, or societal.

This development—some 60,00 square feet in size—adds 13 different beaches to the city, with designated areas for different activities (including soccer, of course), plus a 1.2-mile-long walk and bike path and full amenities, such as changing facilities and plenty of cafés. There’s also a new cruise terminal, which will be serviced by lines including MSC and Ponant this year.

End the day with a sunset dhow cruise, a chance to see the gleaming skyline of the city flicker to life from the waters, or take one of the new Jet Ski tours that pinball along the coastline so you can take a quick snap at key locations—book one with Qatar Water Sports.

Where to stay: Hilton Doha

Book now: Hilton Doha

There are countless new hotels debuting for the World Cup, but their opening dates remain murky. If the Pullman, Andaz, and company aren’t yet open, the Hilton Doha is handily located minutes from the city center at the edge of West Bay.

How to get to Doha

Qatar Airways flies direct to Doha from many U.S. gateways, including DCA, DFW, and CHI. It’s worth splurging on business if you can, to try a unique commercial experience: the QSuite, which converts adjacent seats into a surprisingly roomy and comfy double bed.

Georgia's history with winemaking goes back to the the Stone Age.

Georgia’s history with winemaking goes back to the the Stone Age.

Photo by Alexander Tolstykh/Shutterstock

5. Kakheti, Georgia

September is great for: sampling vintages in the birthplace of winemaking

Georgia can lay claim to being the birthplace of winemaking, with a tradition that dates back more than 8,000 years, right into the Stone Age. Recently, it’s earned particular plaudits for its skin contact, or orange, wines, of which it’s the world’s largest producer.

Come in September and you can usually experience the Rtveli grape harvest festival, which celebrates these traditions (its date depends on the harvest or frost dates of individual regions). At this fest, the collected grapes are put into a satsnakheli, a long wooden vessel that the winemaker can clamber into and press their feet. The largest wine region in the country for this (and conventional reds and whites, if you must) is Kakheti, where a raft of indigenous grapes thrive, including rkatsiteli (white) and saperavi (red). Drive a short distance to Kartli—90 minutes or so—to sample some unusual sparkling wines, made both from local varietals and some imported French grapes like pinot noir.

Georgia retained an old-fashioned method of making wine, which involves burying juice in clay jars known as qvevri for fermentation to take place; its replacement by modern methods was mostly held back thanks to Georgia’s isolation behind the Iron Curtain for many decades of the 20th century.

Where to stay: Lopota Lake Resort & Spa

Book now: Lopota Lake Resort & Spa

Lopota Lake Resort & Spa nods to its location in the heart of the wine lands with its spa, where wine-based treatments are a delightful gimmick, as well as its own, onsite winery, Chateau Buera.

How to get to Kakheti

Fly on Turkish Airlines to Istanbul, which has direct flights from a dozen stateside airports, then hop over to Tbilisi from there.

Go on a gorilla trek while the footpaths are still in ideal condition.

Go on a gorilla trek while the footpaths are still in ideal condition.

Photo by sbedaux/Shutterstock

6. 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 both coming together to see two dozen or so infants named and then partying afterwards. Last year, it took place on World Gorilla Day, September 24, though the date for the ceremony varies.

Where to stay: Singita Kwitonda

Book now: 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.

It's of foodie interest to visit Greenville this September.

It’s of foodie interest to visit Greenville this September.

Photo by Kevin Ruck/Shutterstock

7. Greenville, South Carolina

September is great for: a food fest from Tyler Florence and co.

Come hungry to South Carolina this September: from the 15th to 18th, the 16-year-old Euphoria nonprofit commandeers Greenville for its foodie fest, which draws more than 100 chefs, wine gurus, and performers to the city in the state’s western reaches. This year, for the first time, Greenville native Tyler Florence—the TV host and food truck booster—will return to host a multicourse wine dinner. There will also be small classes available, on a range of topics; try Dill With It, on September 17, where chef Bill Twaler will school amateurs on the shortcuts and savvy around quick pickling.

Spend time outdoors, too, at the new, 60-acre Unity Park, which opened in May. The aim of this urban greenspace is to unite two formerly segregated parts of the city. The land had been requisitioned from Black residents in the early 20th century and was promised to be returned for decades; this opening was the culmination of that campaign, and there are playgrounds, paths, and plenty of picnic-ready lawns. Just across the river, old textile buildings have been rebooted as new apartments, creating fresh energy in a doldrum-prone corner.

Where to stay: The AC Hotel

Book now: The AC Hotel

The AC Hotel is a 196-room property downtown, with a 16,000-square-foot rooftop cocktail bar/gin garden right on Main Street.

How to get to Greenville

Greenville’s airport, GSP, has nonstop flights from LGA on Delta or Houston with United, among others.

Come to Oktoberfest in September, when the party really starts.

Come to Oktoberfest in September, when the party really starts.

Photo by Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

8. Munich, Germany

September is great for: getting a head start on Oktoberfest

Maybe it was one too many steins of beer. Somehow, Germany’s celebration of hop-hop culture came to be known as Oktoberfest, when the party actually starts in Munich this month—specifically on September 17. The world’s biggest beer party (pax, every fraternity rush committee) usually draws 6 million or so visitors who between them will drink 1.2 liters of beer each. That’s around 7 million total. One thrilling aspect of the celebrations is that they’re very much embraced by Germans as well as visitors, so you’re as likely to find yourself surrounded by locals as another tourist. And if you fancy dressing up in traditional costumes, don’t be shy, as it’s a widespread tradition.

The layout is simple: a large open field, where breweries set up big tents and serve beer, wine, and traditional Bavarian food. Each has its own vibe, but expect near-ubiquity from oompah bands, and make sure to come early on weekends, as by noon, the tents are full.

Oh, and call the festival Wiesn, like the locals do—a nod to its location on Theresienwiese.

Where to stay: Ruby Rosi

Book now: Ruby Rosi

The superb German public transport means you can stay anywhere, even outside the city, and reach the ’fest safely and quickly. In town, the funky, less-than-year-old Ruby Rosi boutique hotel is a standout.

How to get to Munich

There are nonstop Lufthansa-United flights from Boston, Chicago, and EWR to Munich—or it’s easy to connect almost anywhere in Europe.

September is alfresco season in California's wine country.

September is alfresco season in California’s wine country.

Photo by Timothy S. Allen/Shutterstock

9. Wine Country, California

September is great for: auctions, vineyard dinners, and I Love Lucy moments

Grape harvesting season in California’s wine country (that’s Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino counties) usually kicks off this month, when the so-called crush is an excuse not only for wineries to get started on their next vintages but also for the communities around them to throw major parties. It’s weather dependent (of course) each year, so triple-check with any wineries before planning a trip. That weather is one of the stand-alone appeals for a trip, as early fall marks the balmiest climate, ideal for alfresco days and evenings.

Take Calistoga’s Harvest Table, this year on September 11: Visitors can dine on fare by 10 local restaurants and drink wine from more than 40 area wineries at tables stretching over 1,000 feet down the town’s main street. Sonoma County also throws its Wine Auction September 15–17, a charity fundraiser that includes a preview party, vintner dinners, and an auction to raise funds for the local community.

Be sure to check out the full list of events in Napa and Sonoma. In particular, look for any vineyards extending the invitation to buy a ticket to go grape-stomping, or channel your inner Lucille Ball, albeit in Technicolor.

Where to stay: The Madrona

Book now: The Madrona

The Madrona in Healdsburg is a sumptuous, 24-room boutique hotel on an estate once owned by a wealthy local family that overlooks Dry Creek Valley and just opened this spring.

How to get to wine country

Charles M. Schulz airport (STS) in Santa Rosa has nonstop flights to Phoenix, Denver, Dallas, and more on carriers including Avelo and Alaska.

On the heels of the pandemic, Fiji is ready to welcome visitors.

On the heels of the pandemic, Fiji is ready to welcome visitors.

Photo by Ignacio Moya Coronado/Shutterstock

10. Fiji

September is great for: feel-good, do-good barefoot luxury

It’s shoulder season in Fiji, which means the best of both worlds: You’ll still enjoy balmy temps, with the mercury reliably hovering within 5 degrees either side of 80 Fahrenheit, but there’ll be none of the sticky humidity that blights summertime in February. Even better, now that the school holidays are over in the Northern Hemisphere, resorts will have thinned out and it’s the perfect time for a barefoot luxe getaway à deux.

The island nation needs tourism now more than ever, having been effectively shut to the outside world for more than 20 months, only allowing tourists across the border last December. It was a brutal period for a country where tourism provides almost 40 percent of the GDP; revenues plummeted as a result of COVID-19. Come back here and you’ll be doing good, as well as having a good time—a reminder of the power of tourism in helping countries recover from economic implosion.

Where to stay: Vomo Island

Book now: Vomo Island

Vomo Island is a five-star hideaway with just 34 rooms and villas dotted around 225 acres of greenery and beaches—yep, pure white sand, classic Fiji-style.

How to get to Fiji

Take the nonstop on Fiji Airways, which flies from both LAX and SFO. The journey takes 10 hours.

>>Next: Explore Travel Tales, our flagship podcast about the power of life-changing travel.

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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