Most people think of June, July, and August when it comes to summer travel, but September can also be an awesome month for a getaway. Why? It’s typically not considered peak season, meaning the prices are lower, there are fewer crowds, and in some locations, the weather is more pleasant (or just less sweltering).
It’s also great to scour all the desirable locations everyone scrambled to during peak summer and head there when things are a little less busy. That chic new restaurant? You managed to score a reservation and already know what to order. That secret beach cove that’s super hard to find? Your friends told you how to get there. That awesome bar everyone’s posting pictures from? When you go, you’ll actually have fun, and it won’t be so crowded that everyone is stepping on your toes.
If you’re in need of some travel inspiration, we’ve picked out six perfect locations for September travel. Start planning—summer’s not over yet.
Canouan, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Once the Northern Hemisphere gets cold, people make a beeline to the always warm Caribbean. That’s why September is the perfect time to enjoy an island paradise like St. Vincent and the Grenadines before things get too busy. If you’re in the mood to spoil yourself, head to ultra-luxe Pink Sands Club on the island of Canouan. The rooms and villas are top-of-the-line luxury, and the property also features an incredible spa. The spa suites are built over water, with glass-bottom floors for underwater marine life views while you’re getting rejuvenating treatments. Once you’re there, make sure to day-trip to Tobago Cays, a protected sea turtle site and islet with the bluest blue water surrounding it.
Dunton Springs, Colorado
Head to an old ghost town nestled in the Rocky Mountains for a rustic-meets-luxury getaway. Dunton Springs, Colorado, is known for its relaxing, striking natural hot springs. They've been in commercial use since the 1880s and have since been converted into an exclusive resort. This remote destination hotel will get you off the beaten path and out of your comfort zone and unplugged for serious relaxation as you gear up for the end of the year.
El Pescadero, Mexico
Mexico is always a popular destination, but it gets particularly busy from October to March. Book a trip to the sleepy coastal town of El Pescadero (located one hour away from Cabo) to enjoy a laid-back vacation filled with surfing, seafood, and the sunshine. Rancho Pescadero is a stunning 28-room, an adults-only property that is the perfect place to unplug. It’s also great for foodies—the property has its own on-site garden growing delectable passion fruit, eggplant, and a plethora of fresh herbs. This writer can say without reservation that she had the best michelada of her life there made with garden-grown cherry tomatoes. Let the on-site mixologist, Cristobal Abilen, create cocktail magic for you at least once a day.
Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara in September is a wine lover’s dream come true. Granted, with its impeccable weather, Southern California is appealing almost year-round, but when you head to wine country in September, you’re going to avoid the summer vacation crowds. If you want to have an active vacation, head to Alisal Guest Ranch, which has 50 miles of riding trails, a 100-acre spring-fed lake, two 18-hole championship golf courses, a pool, and tennis courts.
If you’re looking for a city vacation, visit the new Hotel Californian, which is located right on the Santa Barbara waterfront and features a rooftop pool with panoramic views of the coastline and the surrounding Santa Ynez Mountains. Whatever you do, make sure to visit a handful of wineries—Stolpman, Larner, and Carhartt offer fantastic tastings of white, rosé, and red wines. You’ll definitely want to bring some vino home with you.
Late summer is a great time to visit the nation’s capital, in particular Southwest D.C., which has had a slew of new restaurants, bars, and museums pop up. Head to Requin (run by Top Chef contestant Jennifer Carroll) to try her incredible Sticky Chicken L’Orange. If seafood is more your speed, Sushi Ogawa serves fresh, fantastic nigiri and maki, and Hank’s Oyster Bar creates playful riffs on classics like a seafood corndog. Love a good cocktail? Head to Potomac Distilling Company & Tiki Bar, which opened last month and serves up a high-end mai tai in a low-key Solo cup. Stay at the newly renovated Mandarin Oriental D.C., which is located right on the waterfront and ideal for exploring the area. The hotel features one of the best spas in the U.S.—get one of its facials if you want glowing skin.
Got more than a few days to spare? Plan a trip to Phuket, Thailand, to experience white-sand beaches, amazing massages, and outstanding cuisine. September is considered off-season, so you can score a great vacation with more privacy than usual. Trisara is the perfect resort for a romantic getaway or family trip. Each chic villa has its own pool perfect for lounging and sun-tanning sans strangers. Make sure to leave your villa, though, to try some of the outstanding food at Trisara. The seafood restaurant focuses on local “Mama” recipes serving tasty home-style cooking dishes. The haute-cuisine restaurant Pru utilizes fruit and vegetables from its locally grown farm, transforming them into daring, inventive European-style dishes. Of course, when in Thailand, make sure to get a massage. The Jara Spa at Trisara offers a variety of soothing and invigorating Thai massages to knead any stress away.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Head to Oregon at the end of September to witness the onset of fall among lush greenery. At the Allison Inn & Spa, you’ll be surrounded by seven acres of vineyard estates and close to a whopping 200 wineries ideal for exploring and drinking (ideally both at the same time). The inn’s restaurant, Jory, serves up the best in northwestern cuisine, preparing local fish, game, and vegetables to look like works of art. If you want to take your wine habits to the next level, you can also indulge in “pinotherapy” treatments, which allow you to beautify your skin through the antioxidant properties of pinot noir grapes. You’ll return home looking and feeling refreshed, with lots of great wine and culinary memories to boot.
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