By Patricia Doherty
July 30, 2019
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As always, with Saturday barbecues, backyard parties, and beach weekends, summer is moving along quickly. The good news for travel fans is that September is coming — when it still feels summerlike in many places, but kids are back in school, families are resuming their routines, and for many, vacations are over. It’s time to go to those places that were too crowded or too expensive until now. Those spots are our focus for September.

Hvar is Croatia’s lively island spot in summer, and September is a good time to explore the country and this island in particular, for its beaches, vineyards, and villages. Another island filled with happy guests in July and August is Santorini, Greece’s magnificent member of the Cyclades, known for those same attractions. Barcelona is also irresistible to summer travelers, but the city saves one of its biggest parties for September. Honolulu also celebrates the end of summer with its Aloha Festival.

Prince Edward Island’s season winds down in September as the Canadian island anticipates the coming winter, making it an appropriate time to visit and enjoy their bounty of seafood.

If there’s time for a longer trip, Shanghai’s exciting atmosphere, architecture, and soup dumplings are good reasons to fly halfway around the world. Or commune with nature in the Galapagos, a year-round destination, with excellent September weather for observing dolphins, whales, penguins, and mating season for many species.

Related: The Best Places to See Fall Foliage in New England

We also offer a few suggestions for travelers looking for new destinations. Greenville, South Carolina’s rivers, lakes, craft market, and food festival provide plenty to do in September. Fort Collins, Colorado is a western-style town with history, breweries, and a picturesque downtown with a surprising connection to Disneyland. Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest guarantees fun in this city, and there’s much to explore before heading to the beer gardens. With all these travel ideas, you won’t mind seeing autumn’s arrival when you turn your calendar page to September.

Honolulu, Hawaii

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Summer crowds have eased, and daytime temperatures remain in the high 80s, with mid-70s at night. Beaches, from Waikiki’s popular oceanfront to more secluded Kahala Beach, Sans Souci Beach Park, and Kaimana Beach, offer warm water, white sand, and a variety of activities. Diamond Head, the crater that forms Honolulu’s stunning backdrop, is also a favorite with hikers who take in the view from the top. Visitors often head for Hawaii’s other islands, but Oahu and the capital city have much to offer, especially in September. It’s the month of Aloha Festivals, celebrating Hawaii’s culture, and this year’s theme, “Ukulele Stories," recognizes Hawaii’s official musical instrument. The Opening Ceremony will be held on Aug. 31 at the luxurious Royal Hawaiian, Waikiki’s iconic pink hotel. The state’s largest block party, Waikiki Ho’olaule’a, takes place Sept. 21, with local foods, entertainment, and crafts. On Sept. 28, the Floral Parade features equestrians, flower covered floats, dancers, and traditional clothing. Between festival events, there’s time for snorkeling among colorful sea life at spectacular Hanauma Bay, learning about the island’s history at its museums, or snacking on local foods like poke, saimin, and shave ice. Lodging at a range of price levels is available, and September is a good time to look for deals. Honolulu’s newest hotel, Halepuna Waikiki, will open in late October, something to keep in mind if you can’t make it to the island in September.

Book This Deal
The Royal Hawaiian, fivestaralliance.com, rates from $500/night.
Includes $100 resort credit, complimentary resort charges, daily breakfast, banana bread welcome amenity.

Cincinnati, Ohio

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Named one of Travel + Leisure’s Best Places to Travel in 2017, the Queen City still flies under the radar of most domestic travelers. Set on the Ohio River, Cincinnati combines its 19th century history as one of America’s fastest growing and wealthiest towns with its present revitalization, lively waterfront, convenient street cars, and many attractions. The city’s German heritage and continuing influence bring us to Cincinnati this month with its Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, the next best place to celebrate if you can’t get to Munich. Just as overseas, this Oktoberfest gets a head start beginning in September, and special events like the Running of the Wieners, World’s Largest Chicken Dance, and Beer Stein Race take place Sept. 20-22. Cincinnati is a sports-minded city, keeping fans engaged all year, with baseball’s Reds, football’s Bengals, and FC Cincinnati soccer. The city’s Over the Rhine district, nicknamed by early German settlers referring to the Miami and Erie Canal, features 19th century Italianate architecture, restaurants, bars, breweries, and the National Historic Landmark Cincinnati Music Hall. Visit Washington Park, and enjoy Graeter’s Ice Cream, founded in Cincinnati in 1868 and still going strong. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, appropriately located on the Ohio River which was the barrier that once separated slave states from freedom, commemorates heroes of the era. Take in a view of the city from the Observation Deck of the Carew Tower, where you can also find shops, restaurants, and the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, conveniently located near the streetcar stop and featuring 1930s French Art Deco design.

Galapagos Islands

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September is one of the coolest and driest months in the Galapagos, and tourists are fewer after the busy summer. Daytime temperatures are in the mid-70s, with nights about 10 degrees cooler. The unique wildlife of the Galapagos has attracted visitors since Charles Darwin explored in 1835, and the islands are popular destinations year round. Located about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the archipelago was formed by volcanoes, some of which are still active. September is nesting season for albatross, blue-footed boobies, cormorants, and other sea birds, as well as mating season for sea lions, Galapagos seals, and frigate birds, letting visitors observe their fascinating courtship rituals. Whether you’re watching whales and dolphins from a boat or snorkeling with penguins, you’ll experience wildlife as never before. Planning a trip to the Galapagos requires a few decisions, and the basic one is whether to join a cruise or stay on one of the islands and explore via day trips. Pikaia Lodge on Santa Cruz Island offers luxurious, environmentally conscious accommodations and expansive views from their highlands location. A giant tortoise reserve, guided land tours, and marine day programs aboard their 105-foot yacht, spa, and locally inspired cuisine make this a great option for visitors who prefer to be land-based. For a memorable cruise, Ecoventura, a small luxury company, features the only two Relais & Chateaux yachts in the world, with daily excursions led by certified naturalists aboard environmentally friendly vessels. Their itineraries include nature walks, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and exploring from a glass-bottom boat or Zodiac along with world-class Ecuadorian cuisine.

Book This Deal
Pikaia Lodge, fivestaralliance.com, rates from $2,808/night.
Includes complimentary spa treatment for 2, daily breakfast.

Hvar, Croatia

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Glorious weather and diminished crowds entice savvy travelers to visit luxurious Hvar Island during the month of September. The stunning Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea enjoys a rich history dating back to 6,000 B.C. Beautiful beaches, lively nightlife, and modern high quality accommodations add to the appeal.The annual Hvar Summer Festival runs through Sept. 28, offering visitors a glimpse of Croatia’s musical heritage staged at various historic locations including the recently renovated Theatre of Hvar, one of Europe’s oldest venues.The sunny island climate is ideal for wine production and dates back more than 2,000 years when ancient Greek settlers planted the original vines. For a unique experience, Waves and Wines offers a half-day of swimming, wine tasting, and island sightseeing by speedboat. Many wine lovers arrive for the grape harvest and actually join harvesting crews for an authentic wine country experience. September travel will mean deals on accommodations, and choices range from basic to ultra luxurious. The Palace Elisabeth, Hvar’s first five-star hotel, was once a 13th-century Venetian Palace. Located in the heart of Hvar overlooking the main square with waterfront views, spa, and indoor pool, the elegant hotel is steeped in history and tradition. Arrive on the ferry from Dubrovnik for a beautiful first view of the island.

Greenville, South Carolina

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Set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the heart of South Carolina’s Upcountry, Greenville is a thriving community ideal for a September visit. Summer’s humidity has passed, and temperatures range from the low-80s during the day to mid-60s at night. A reason to explore this up and coming city is September’s Indie Craft Parade, a festival of handcrafted goods, including paintings, ceramics, fiber art, jewelry, paper crafts, and more. Celebrating its 10th year, the festival will be held Sept. 13-15 at Furman University. Just a few days later, from Sept. 19-22, Greenville will host Euphoria, the area’s largest food festival, with more than 100 chefs and beverage professionals, cooking demonstrations, tastings, parties, and live musical performances. Walking tours get visitors acquainted with Greenville, and topics range from the city’s extensive public art, culinary highlights, history, and natural beauty. Downtown’s Falls Park on the Reedy attracts visitors for picnics, summer movies, and the distinctive sculptural Liberty Bridge that spans the Reedy River. Upcountry’s rivers and lakes are perfect for kayaking, whitewater rafting, and boating, and the best way to see some of Greenville’s many waterfalls. Baseball fans will appreciate the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Fluor Field, designed to resemble Boston’s Fenway Park, and home to the Red Sox Class A Affiliate team. A range of lodging in Greenville includes the Westin Poinsett, Aloft, and Courtyard by Marriott as well as inns, bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds.

Barcelona, Spain

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This very popular city sees fewer crowds once summer vacations are over, and one of Spain’s greatest fiestas takes place in September. La Merce, from Sept. 20-24, is a celebration in honor of the Virgin Mary with a history dating to the Middle Ages. Concerts, parades, dancing, fireworks, museum exhibitions, and block parties mark the fiesta. Each day, parades feature a different theme, from papier-mâché figures to acrobats and fire runners dressed as devils. If you’re looking for a quieter visit to Barcelona or somewhere to relax after the fiesta, head for the beach where the weather is still ideal for swimming and sunbathing. The architecture of Antoni Gaudí is reason alone to travel to Barcelona, so plan to see the Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, and Casa Mila to appreciate his unique designs. Admirers of Picasso will want to visit Museu Picasso for its extensive collection and special exhibitions, set in five palaces, or town houses. Sip a glass of cava, the local sparkling wine, along with tapas for a casual meal or sample the exquisite Catalan cuisine of avant-garde chefs. A visit to the famed Boqueria Food Market for fresh produce, meats, seafood, cheese, olives, and bread is an adventure as well as a perfect place for a casual lunch. For five-star luxury and restaurant led by Michelin-starred chef Carme Ruscalleda, a stay at the Mandarin Oriental, set along the famous Passeig de Gràcia, would be a treat. For a beachfront room, consider the stunning W Barcelona, with views of the Mediterranean and the city.

Book This Deal
Grand Hotel Central Barcelona, fivestaralliance.com, rates from $306/night.
Includes €40 lunch or dinner during stay, 4G pocket WiFi device.

Prince Edward Island, Canada

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Surrounded by the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the north and separated from Canada’s mainland near Nova Scotia by the Northumberland Strait, Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) is the nation’s smallest province. Miles of shoreline on the crescent shaped island means lots of fresh seafood, and P.E.I. is known for oysters, mussels, lobsters, clams, and finfish like cod, tuna, and mackerel. Potatoes are a main crop, and in summer, farmers markets sell fresh produce at several locations around the island. Food is a great attraction, especially in September, with the annual Fall Flavours festival from Aug. 30-Oct. 6 this year. Events include chef demonstrations, musical entertainment, tastings, dinners, and culinary adventures like clam digging, lobster fishing, fruit picking, and more. Tastings at local breweries, distilleries, wineries, and cideries are on the schedule. The Mighty Island Chowder Trail is another opportunity to taste the best of P.E.I.’s waters and chefs while touring the island to sample chowders from more than sixty restaurants. There’s more to P.E.I. than great food, although that’s reason enough to go. Prince Edward Island National Park offers beaches, biking and hiking trails, boating, and gorgeous scenery. Stay at The Inn at Fortune Bridge or sister property Inn at Bay Fortune for luxury and island hospitality. Arrive at Charlottetown Airport in central P.E.I. or drive across the Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick. Ferries and trains will also get you to P.E.I.

Shanghai, China

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China’s largest city, Shanghai is located on the Pacific Ocean near the mouth of the Yangtze River on the country’s east coast. As China’s commercial center, Shanghai has experienced rapid growth and an ever-changing skyline. Cosmopolitan and exciting, with nightlife, restaurants, bars, and shopping, Shanghai’s ancient past coexists with its futuristic buildings and modern style. On Fangbang Road, or Old Street, visitors can see buildings in the style of the Ming and Qing dynasties and others more than a century old. For some of the best views of Shanghai, head for the observation decks of the Shanghai World Financial Center in Pudong District. The floor-to-ceiling windows on the 100th level provide dramatic views of the city, especially at night. For another perspective, cruise the Huangpu River through Shanghai to see both modern skyscrapers and colonial-era buildings. Shopping on busy Nanjing Road, slurping soup dumplings, strolling along the Bund’s waterfront, touring museums, or marvelling at the contrast of the city’s past and present, visitors find much to enjoy in Shanghai. Luxurious hotels add to the experience, and there are many to choose from. Banyan Tree Shanghai on the Bund, Mandarin Oriental in the financial district, and the Portman Ritz-Carlton in the Puxi neighborhood are a few worthy options.

Book This Deal
The PuLi Hotel and Spa, fivestaralliance.com, rates from $244/night.
Includes $100 spa credit, welcome fruit & chocolate amenity, daily breakfast.

Fort Collins, Colorado

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Located 60 miles north of Denver and home to more than twenty breweries, Fort Collins has earned the title “Craft Beer Capital of Colorado.” New Belgium Brewery, Odell Brewing Company, and the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company, complete with renowned Clydesdale horses, are just a few of the many beer producing venues. Most hold weekly events including live music, stand-up comedy, beer and bingo, and trivia night. September’s pleasant daytime temperatures and brisk evenings are perfect for walking, biking, or guided Magic Bus brewery touring and tasting. Historic Old Town, lined with restaurants, boutiques, antique stores and candy shops, served as inspiration for Disney’s Main Street, U.S.A. Ride the vintage trolley through Old Town and you’ll see the resemblance. The city boasts a rich and diverse cultural arts scene, embracing theatre, musical performances, dance, galleries and museums. Outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, golfing, kayaking and whitewater rafting are just a short distance away at Rocky Mountain National Park, the Cache la Poudre River, and Horsetooth Reservoir. The recently restored Armstrong Hotel, a favorite in Fort Collins since 1923, offers a newly expanded lobby and renewed guestrooms, while retaining its historic charm and atmosphere.

Santorini, Greece

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Descriptions of Santorini invariably include the island’s spectacular sunsets and cliffside whitewashed buildings, perfectly situated to reflect the pinks and golds of early evening. There’s more to this Greek island in the Aegean Sea, and visitors have discovered its beaches, villages, wineries, restaurants, photogenic views, and friendly citizens. Summers are bustling with tourists, but crowds taper off in September, and the weather is perfect. Santorini and its surrounding islands were formed by a volcanic eruption, and the volcano has created the stunning cliffs, beach sand, and the soil that lends flavor to its wines. The most popular varietals are Assyrtiko and Nykteri, white wines, as well as the sweet dessert wine, Vinsanto. Naturally, boat tours, especially at sunset, are popular ways to explore Santorini’s coastline. History fans will be fascinated by the prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri, both destroyed and preserved by a major volcanic eruption around the 17th century B.C. Food is another Santorini attraction, with local favorites like moussaka, salads, fresh cheeses, seafood, and lamb. Through September, the annual Gastronomy Festival hosted by Andronis hotels will feature award winning international chefs. The new Andronis Concept is home to the largest spa in Santorini, as well as private terraces, infinity pools, and individually designed wellness programs.

Book This Deal
Carpe Diem Santorini, fivestaralliance.com, rates from $1,013/night.
Includes $100 spa credit, roundtrip airport transfers, welcome amenities, daily breakfast.

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