Courtesy of Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort
September. It’s synonymous with the end of summer. But it doesn’t have to mean no more weekends away or escapes abroad. In fact, this month can often be one of the best *to* travel since many people head back to work and prices drop for “shoulder season”—when airfare and hotel prices dip significantly post-Labor Day—but you still get great weather and all the perks of summer minus the crowds. Here’s our list of the best and most affordable places to scratch off of your bucket list in September.
Courtesy of Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort
Fiji is known for a lot of things, but being close and cheap to get to is not one of them. Still, the heart wants what the heart wants, so if it’s always been your fantasy to get down to the South Pacific island archipelago, you’re in luck in September (and October, too) because it’s officially off-season. Better deals on flights (many leaving the West Coast of the U.S. at under $1,000, as of press time), accommodations and even food aren’t compromised by weather. In fact, the average temp in September is 83 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can extend your summer tan on those dreamy, palm-lined white sand beaches or submerged in its famed blue-green water. Surfers will revel in the great conditions this month, yachties will appreciate the calm waters and the influx of sailing ships in port for Fiji Regatta Week (September 13 through 18), and foodies will find lots of interesting local grub to try—everything from the ceviche-like Kokoda to out-of-this-world coconut breads. But no matter what time of year you go, you’ll always find smiling faces—because Fiji is full of the “Bula spirit,” and its people are known for being some of the happiest in the world.
Where to stay: It’s pretty fitting that the world’s most celebrated ocean explorer, Jean-Michel Cousteau, would lend his name to a resort in Fiji. The eco-luxury resort is positioned near some of the best dive sites in Fiji, including the Namena Marine Reserve, one of the most celebrated in the world due to its biodiversity. The hotel has some pretty luxurious digs, housed under thatched roofs and surrounded by gorgeous beaches, pools and palm trees. After a day of diving or just relaxing by the pool, you can also partake in many of the activities offered by the resort, like yoga, meditation, sailing and volleyball.
Courtesy of Borgata
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ
America’s playground down on the Jersey Shore, A.C. is like the East Coast’s answer to Las Vegas. It has long been a beach and resort destination for those in New York and Philadelphia looking for a quick getaway, and its glitzy casinos, wide beaches and famous boardwalk keep visitors coming in droves every summer. Gambling may be a big draw, but A.C. is, first and foremost, a beach town, and heading there in September lets you squeeze some much-needed beach days out of the end of summer. Stroll the boardwalk, learn to surf or take in one of the region’s tastiest food festivals: 40 different local restaurants are on hand at the Atlantic City Seafood Festival happening September 7.
Where to stay: Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. A.C. has seen a lot of changes over the years, but “The Borgata” has stayed the same: It’s one of the only sure bets in town if you’re looking for glam accommodations and great service. The resort-casino is jammed with celebrity chef restaurants, impressive nightlife and big-name entertainment. This month alone, J Balvin is set to take the stage at the Event Center while Lil’ Jon, Cash Cash and D-Nice are all on the schedule at Premier Nightclub this month.
You had us at Barolo. This region, on the Italian side of the Alps, is responsible for one of our favorite wines, a full-bodied red made of 100 percent Nebbiolo grapes. Besides the vino, Piedmont is also famous for top-notch chocolate (Turin), risotto rice (Vercelli) and more than 160 types of cheese—it’s a true foodie paradise. If you tire of eating and drinking all day—and you won’t—you can always explore the medieval villages and hilltop castles of this mountainous chunk of Italy. September is a particularly good time to visit because it’s the beginning of truffle season but not as crazy packed as the prime month of October—and nowhere in the world is the expensive ($1,000-plus a pound!) and delicious delicacy so admired as in the Piedmont region. Experience Piemonte, a knowledgeable travel specialist that offers in-depth and customizable experiences in the region, can organize for guests to go on a truffle hunting excursion (with just a man and his dog) in the wine region of Langhe, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Where to stay: Every inch of Hotel Villa Beccaris oozes with authentic Italian charm. Once home to an Italian general, its 23 rooms—and the impressive glass-enclosed room where you’ll take in your breakfast each morning—overlook the Barolo hills near the vineyards of Langhe in the walkable village of Monforte d’Alba. It feels like a Fellini flick in this place, as it does at the nearby Felicin, which should be a must on any Piedmont traveler’s restaurant list.
One of the most popular times of the year to visit Austin is during Austin City Limits (October 4 through October 13 this year), but hotels and flights are at a premium during the music festival, which attracts over 100 bands on multiple stages and includes headliners Cardi B, Childish Gambino and Billie Eilish—among others—this year. Opt instead to visit the city just before things get started in September so you can avoid the huge ACL crowds while still taking advantage of all that the “Live Music Capitol of the World” offers visitors—you certainly won’t be at a loss to catch a few acts.
The rapid growth of Austin as a city makes it a dynamic place to visit and keep visiting even if you’re not into live music. While a night out on Rainey or Sixth Street is a must if you’re a first-time visitor, some of our favorite activities in Austin have nothing to do with its famed bar scene or BBQ scene, for that matter. Explore the city through a different lens by planning a shopping jaunt on South Congress, where vintage clothing and gift stores and even specialized vintage cowboy hat and boot boutiques fill the streets. There’s more of that to be found in East Austin, where the hipster-y streets are home to bookstores that double as art galleries, succulent shops and fashionable home goods stores. Other musts: An afternoon at Laguna Gloria, The Contemporary art museum’s campus and sculpture garden on the shores of Lake Austin; or, a visit to Lake Austin Spa, one of the most celebrated spas in the country that is a glorious compound of spa activities all overlooking the lake. The spa will even pick you up on a speedboat closer to downtown at Walsh Landing to get you there, meaning you get a free boat trip out of the experience.
In Austin, there’s always lots of new food to try, too, like the casual Asian smokehouse Loro, with friendly and quick counter service in an airy, contemporary space. The restaurant also boasts an outdoor deck where large oak trees shade the sometimes glaring Texas sun; try the Candied Kettle Corn, the Prime Babette, the chicken plate and wash it all down with the Kyuri mule. Also new: Comedor, a stylish modern Mexican restaurant that makes a killer quesadilla, scallop crude and double-cut pork chop, and Emmer & Rye, which serves up exquisite homemade pastas and a traveling cart full of dim sum.
Where to stay: South Congress Hotel’s prime location just south of the city’s downtown is reason enough to check in, but the property also possesses a relaxed, unpretentious vibe while maintaining a coolness factor so many hotels strive for. An epicenter of the creative community in Austin, the hotel is bustling with locals and travelers alike, who sprawl out on the large communal lobby spaces filled with leather couches, comfy ottomans and accent chairs. Upstairs, thoughtful design plus details in guest rooms and suites like poured concrete complement an industrial-meets-mid-century-modern decor. As a guest, you can also gain access to the hotel’s stunning urban oasis pool on the 2nd floor, and in September it’ll definitely be warm enough to use it.
You’ll need more than a weekend for this getaway, but you won’t regret planning a trip to China’s largest mainland city. Modern and bustling, home to 24 million people and the country’s cultural, financial and tech industries, Shanghai is not for the faint of heart. Our musts? Take a stroll along The Bund on the Huángpǔ River and visit the Yùyuán Gardens and Bazaar in the Old City; you should also check out the city’s neighboring ancient water towns. According to Skyscanner, you can get there this month from many major U.S. hubs for under $600.
Where to stay: For a room with a view, look no further than The Park Hyatt Shanghai. Occupying the 79th-93rd floors of the Shanghai World Financial Center, it’s the second highest hotel in the world. Not surprisingly, it also peaks in service, dining and amenities. If you prefer something more traditional and (way more) quaint, check out the Quintet B&B in the lively and historic French Concession neighborhood.