Planning an autumn holiday? That’s a great idea. The summer crowds are gone and you can now include more popular places on your itinerary, without getting stuck in large crowds at all your destinations. Use this list of the best places to visit in September in the USA to plan your September getaway.
Whether you prefer nature trips or urban trips in September, I’m sure you’ll get some ideas about places to visit in September in the USA.
Although the warm summer is saying goodbye, that does not mean you can’t travel anymore. Quite the contrary. With more manageable temperatures, you can plan hikes, go chasing waterfalls and the perfect foliage viewpoint. Check out the best places to visit in September in the USA to discover the magical fall nature with beautiful foliage.
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Best places to visit in September in USA
1 Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
What to visit: Mather Point, Bright Angel Point, Grandview Point
While September is still hot during the day, it’s much more bearable for hikes and outdoor activities. That’s why the Grand Canyon National Park is one of the best places to visit in September. Plan your activities for early mornings and late afternoons.
Another great advantage to visiting this overly touristic site in the US in September is the fewer crowds, as the school starts.
Did you know that the Grand Canyon is the second most visited National Park in the US?
2 Big Sur, California
What to visit: Hwy 1 Drive, McWay Falls, Purple Sand Beach, Pfeiffer Beach
There’s no other better place to watch orcas, humpbacks, or blue whales in the US, than the Big Sur coastline. The beautiful beaches and cliffs are the main attraction on these 90 miles of Californian coastline, but you can also go hiking in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns and Andrew Molera state parks. Don’t miss the impressive rocks on Pfeiffer Beach and go surfing at Sand Dollar Beach.
3 Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii
What to visit: Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Lanikai Beach
Experience the Aloha Festivals, enjoy the free beaches for swimming and surfing and relax on America’s most popular beach, Waikiki.
The breathtaking scenery complements the cultural and historical sites near Honolulu. The city offers many resorts, hiking trails and sparkling blue waters.
4 Greenville, South Carolina
What to visit: Falls Park on the Reedy, Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail, Greenville County Museum of Art
Although most famous touristic locations are less crowded in the fall, which makes them one of the best places to visit in September in the US, there is no better place to admire the seasonal foliage than a small town such as Greenville in SC.
The foliage’s peak is in October, which means you still have warm sunny days for outdoor adventures, such as hiking the trails of Paris Mountain State Park.
5 Flagstaff, Arizona
What to visit: Historic Downtown and Railroad District, Walnut Canyon National Monument, Lowell Observatory
Visit Flagstaff towards the end of September to observe nature’s breathtaking fall foliage. While this Arizona city is most known as a skiing destination, it also offers hiking trails and other visiting options, such as Flagstaff’s Historical centre, where you can admire the local shops, art galleries and breweries and the Railroad District.
6 San Francisco, California
What to visit: Golden Gate Bridge, Painted Ladies, Lombard Street
September might be the best month to visit San Francisco, as this is the warmest month there. The Bay Area is without fog, and Baker Beach and Ocean Beach have the perfect temperatures.
Make sure to visit the city in mid-September to attend the San Francisco Fringe Festival, and make sure you leave some time for whale watching, as this is the time to spot the blue and humpback whales.
7 Chicago, Illinois
What to visit: Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain, Millennium Park, Lincoln Park Zoo
The Windy City gets more fun when the crowds are gone, and the festivals start, including Oktoberfest Chicago and the Chicago Jass Festival. Some of the best places to visit in September in USA are cities which are usually full of tourists, but now offer some free space for you to take photos at their famous landmarks.
Treat yourself to exquisite music and food.
8 The Berkshires, Massachusetts
What to visit: Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow, Monument Mountain
Massachusetts is one of the best places to visit in September in the US for outdoor enthusiasts and culture seekers. The fall weather is perfect for visiting museums or hiking on Mount Greylock. Choose the trails on Monument Mountain for breathtaking foliage views and enjoy the fall during the seasonal events (Housatonic Heritage Walks and the Lenox Apple Squeeze).
9 Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
What to visit: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring
Outdoor enthusiasts will adore Yellowstone National Park. The many natural wonders are a delight for all visitors. As one of the best places to visit in September in the US, the park offers hot springs, luxuriant forests, pristine lakes, geysers, canyons and waterfalls. The park is huge and offers many trails to explore a part of its natural beauty.
10 Taos, New Mexico
What to visit: Taos Pueblo, The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, Ledoux Street,
Taos Pueblo is a UNESCO World Heritage village in which you can observe the Native American community.
The village has traditional adobe houses dating back to the 14th century.
Take a guided tour to discover a part of this wonderful community, but make sure to respect their lifestyle and be aware of the limits when visiting.
There is an admission fee, and they close the village for the public for a short period, usually during winter.
Go for a walk in Taos, admire the art galleries of this artsy town, fall in love with its views, and get in touch with the wilderness. If you decided to attend one of the cultural events happening throughout the year, make sure to book your hotel early on, as it tends to get quite full.
11 Lake Tahoe, Nevada
What to visit: Emerald Bay State Park, Squaw Valley, Donner Memorial State Park and Emigrant Trail Museum
The overly famous beauty of Lake Tahoe is hard to grasp in words, but the millions of people who visit it each year can’t be wrong. The lake rests right on the border of California and Nevada, and it’s a favourite vacation spot of many. The crystal blue water and the towering mountaintops are worth the trip, and you’ll find many hiking trails around, which will leeward you with the best vistas of the area.
12 Yosemite National Park, California
What to visit: Yosemite Valley, Tunnel View Outlook, Glacier Point.
Enjoy nearly 1,200 square miles of waterfalls, sequoia trees, striking cliffs and unique rock formations in the US. Crowds can be less of an issue if you decide to visit in September and if you start your hikes early in the morning.
13 Breckenridge, Colorado
What to visit: Main Street, Carter Park, Breckenridge Ski Resort
Breckenridge is the classic western Victorian town from the gold rush times. Although it is a famous ski resort, the town offers many hiking and cycling trails to be discovered during the warmer seasons. During the evenings, the downtown restaurants and bars are a delight for all tourists. Check out the local breweries and distillery.
14 Cincinnati, Ohio
What to visit: Eden Park, Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, Cincinnati Art Museum
The historic district of Cincinnati stands proof that this is a thriving and beautiful city, just as Charles Dickens once said. Explore the Findlay Market, check out the Cincinnati Music Hall and the pedestrian Fountain Square.
15 Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
What to visit: Rushmore Tramway Adventures, The National Presidential Wax Museum, Black Elk Peak
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a 60-foot stone sculpture of the four great American presidents: Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. You can visit the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center to discover how the carving was done, then walk along the Presidential Trail, which is 0.6 miles long and has 422 stairs to get closer to the mountain while exploring some of the wildlife. If you’re staying longer, check out the Blackberry hiking trail.
16 Glens Falls, New York
What to visit: The Hyde Collection Art Museum, The Shirt Factory, Charles Wood Theater
Home to a renowned art museum, the Hyde Collection, a vibrant music scene and theatre productions. The architecture has been preserved in many of its neighbourhoods, and that makes it a delight for visitors strolling down Glen Street.
If you decided to also visit the Big Apple, then here’s a list of mistakes to avoid in New York for the first time.
17 Seattle, Washington
What to visit: Pike Place Market, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Space Needle
The diverse neighbourhoods of Seattle and the enticing art scene make up for its cloudy weather. History museums and cultural activities can be intertwined with outdoor activities, such as camping, hiking and kayaking.
Regarded as one of the best foodie destinations in the US, exploring the breweries and food markets can be a nice reward after exploring Emerald City.
18 North Fork, Long Island, New York
What to visit: Harbes Family Farm, Monty Man II Fishing Charters, Southold Indian Museum
While most consider North Fork a perfect summer getaway, the harvest season is even more exciting because North Fork is home to over 55 vineyards. Check out the Harbes Family Farm fall festival if you plan to travel with your family. And don’t forget to try their apple cider donuts. If you prefer wine for dessert, then check out the many vineyards, as most host harvest events and may even let you pick grapes. Afterwards, you can enjoy lunch and wine at the vineyard.
19 Door County, Wisconsin
What to visit: Peninsula State Park, Gravity Trails, Hands On Art Studio
Door County has over 300 miles of shoreline, from where you can watch a sunrise and a sunset. See thousands of acres of orchards, explore art galleries, devour a cherry pie, sip on local wines and brews, swim in the lake or paddle and tour the 11 historic lighthouses.
20 Black Hills, South Dakota
What to visit: Spearfish Canyon, Hill City, Crazy Horse Memorial
As the summer temperatures begin to cool, the Black Hills will enchant you with its wonderful fall tapestry.
Of course, the highlight is Mt. Rushmore, but make sure to check out the Custer State Park for some gorges views, winding roads, and incredible rock spires. Don’t miss the beautiful Sylvan Lake, and plan this visit for late September to see the annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup, where you can admire the cowboys and other Western town activities.
21 Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
What to visit: Bushkill Falls, Asa Packer Mansion Museum, Poconos Whitewater Rafting
One of the best places to visit in September in the US is the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. Besides the breathtaking foliage views, you’ll find hiking trails and resorts perfect for couples.
Check out the Ricketts Glen State Park for scenic bridges and waterfalls.
22 Williamsburg, Virginia
What to visit: Governor’s Palace, Muscarelle Museum of Art, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum
The colonial-style of Williamsburg is the highlight of this charming town which also offers many autumn activities. You might encounter reenactors from the 18th century around the streets as you’re walking towards the second-oldest college in the US, the College of William and Mary.
You can even go on a Ghost Tour at night to discover the historical buildings.
During the fall, you will be able to witness Halloween’s Howl-O-Scream. Enjoy the many fall festivals: Williamsburg Fall Arts Festival, Market Days and Fall Festival Celebration in Yorktown, Yorktown Wine Festival.
23 Ouray, Colorado
What to visit: Box Canyon Park, Cascade Falls Park, Million Dollar Highway
I’ll have to admit that the best places to visit in September in the US are natural places with plenty of hiking trails and natural beauty. That’s why I included Ouray on this list of lovely places to visit in the fall in the US. As a historic mining town, expect to see beautiful landscapes in Ouray. It was called the ‘Switzerland of America’, and it offers beautiful hiking trails for both experienced hikers and beginners (Perimeter Trail), and you can finish your day in a hot spring at Orvis Hot Springs.
24 Woodstock, Vermont
What to visit: Mount Peg, Mount Tom, Cloudland Farm
Vermont is another beautiful place to observe the seasonal foliage. Woodstock is one of the most picturesque villages in America, and make sure to stop by the Sleepy Hollow Farm. While the farm is not in function anymore, it is a preferred spot by any photographers.
You can go hiking in Woodstock, visit the local breweries, cheese shops, and even visit a dairy farm.
Enjoy the art galleries, cafes and boutiques from the town centre, stop by the Billings Farm & Museum and go sampling local cheese at Sugarbush Farm or Quechee Gorge Village.
25 Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
What to visit: Multnomah Falls, The Gorge White House, Cathedral Ridge Winery
Another must-see place in September is the Columbia River Gorge.
This outdoor paradise is an 80-mile canyon where you can go hiking, enjoy beautiful viewpoints and even enjoy some wine tastings.
In fall, you can attend Hood River’s Fruit Loop, which is a celebration of the fall harvest. Go apple and pear picking in the Kiyokawa Orchards, and enjoy the pumpkin patches and corn mazes at Packer Farm.
26 Redwood National Park, California
What to visit: Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, Fern Canyon, Stout Memorial Grove Trail
The land of the Yurok, Tolowa and Chilula tribes is a magical destination for September when the trees’ colours shift to yellow, orange and red. The Redwood National Park is an outdoor destination that gets less crowded in autumn, and it even offers camping options. That’s the best way to explore nature and observe the wonderful trees. Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail and Boy Scout Tree Trail are the best hiking trails for this. If you want to skip hiking, you can drive through Avenue of the Gods to experience nature’s wonders.
27 Portland, Oregon
What to visit: Portland Japanese Garden in Washington Park, Pittock Mansion, International Rose Test Garden
The autumn foliage is a fantastic experience in Portland. Check out the Portland Aerial Tram for the best views in the city. Portland is a famous spot in America, especially for its haunted houses and general quirkiness. If you’re into Haloween, note that there are many haunted houses you can visit during October, and some even have age restrictions. Other fall activities include a corn maze, hay maze and hayrides.
28 Santa Fe, New Mexico
What to visit: Meow Wolf, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe Opera House
A must-see artsy city that is even more magical in the fall season is Santa Fe. Nature lovers will enjoy the National Forest for hiking, star gazing, camping. The Aspen trees make up for a perfect foliage picture, and as the weather gets colder, there are plenty of museums and indoor activities.
29 Oregon Scenic Byways, Oregon
What to visit: Toketee Falls, Willamette Valley, Oregon Coast Highway 101
Oregan has 3 must-see Scenic Byways:
- The Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway
- The Hells Canyon Scenic Byway
- The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway
Since I already mention the Columbia River area, make sure to add also the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway to your itinerary of autumn drives.
You can go hiking and fishing on the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail and then visit the Silver Falls State Park for more foliage colours.
Willamette Valley is the wine region of Oregon where you can attend harvest festivals during the fall. Check out Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway for lovely views of Mt Bachelor and Mt Hood.
Another sight is Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, where you can indulge in the greatness of the trees from Gold Hill to Crater Lake in the Umpqua National Forest. I personally enjoy coastal views wherever I go and for sure I had to include some on the list of the best places to visit in September in the USA.
30 Washington, DC
What to visit: Library of Congress, National Mall, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
While Washington, DC is the home of the US government, the District has many famous museums and has a thriving collection of cafes, boutiques and clubs as part of its cultural scene.
Immerse in its urban neighbourhoods, and enjoy the youthful and vibrant ambience.
I hope this list of the best places to visit in September in the USA will help you plan your next autumn getaway. Whatever holiday destination you chose, I’m sure you will enjoy the perfect foliage views. Enjoy!