You might have a severe case of FOMO when you see all your friends and co-workers taking epic vacations over the summer. But, if you can hold out long enough, you'll save money by waiting until fall to travel. A lot of popular tourist destinations drop their rates in September as their summer crowds head back home. Here are some of the best tourist destinations to visit in September for fewer crowds and lower prices.
You really can't go wrong with a visit to Hawaii. Waiting until September to visit Honolulu means you'll get to enjoy the same great weather and beaches as you would in the summer with the bonus of having significantly fewer people to needle out for a spot on the beach. Plus, because summer is the main tourist season for Hawaii, you'll find cheaper rates on hotels. If you're a beach lover, then you're in luck if you visit Honolulu in September, which is the month when the water temperatures tend to be the highest.
There are a few things to keep in mind if you want to visit Honolulu in September. First, August and September are technically hurricane season for the Pacific (which may explain the lower hotel rates). However, hurricanes are less typical in the Pacific than they are in the Atlantic, so there's a good chance that a hurricane won't interrupt your vacation plans.
Go earlier in the month if you want to reduce your risk of rain. The rainy season starts in October but, like anywhere, the weather is unpredictable so you might end up with some rainy days if you go in September versus June.
With the kids in school, the streets and attractions of downtown Chicago are a lot emptier, and the hotels are a lot cheaper. Visiting it in September is great if you want to get a taste of fall weather. Make sure to pack some long pants and at least one jacket since the breeze off of Lake Michigan can be cold, especially when it gets dark. Plus, if you're a baseball fan, you're more likely to find tickets for a game in September than you will earlier in baseball season (especially if the Cubs or Sox aren't doing well). If they're having a winning season, well, then maybe you'll get to catch a playoff game.
Keep in mind that some outdoor attractions, such as Navy Pier and the Lincoln Park Zoo, might have shortened hours after the summer season ends. If you're a foodie, Chicago is probably already on your list of places to visit. Make sure to book your tickets for Chicago's food festival, Chicago Gourmet, at the end of the month. This festival brings together some of the best chefs in the world and lets you sample tastings from over 250 Chicago area bars and restaurants. It's well worth the trip!
The Grand Canyon, Arizona, and Utah
Hot summer temperatures can make a trip to the Grand Canyon more miserable than exciting if you visit in June, July, or August. Beat the heat and the crowds by putting your trip off until September. There will be fewer people and fewer families since most kids are in school in September. Plus, if you plan your visit for September 28, you'll get free admission since that's Public Lands Day.
Be aware that September days at the Grand Canyon can still feel like summer on occasion, with highs reaching 100. Nights, however, are another story. Temperatures can drop quickly when the sun goes down, so make sure to pack some warm clothes, especially if you plan on camping instead of staying in a hotel. The warm temperatures mean you can still enjoy camping at all the park's campgrounds (some of them close in October), plus rafting, hiking, and biking through the canyon. Also, even though you might get cheaper rates in September than in the summer, lodging in and near the park still tends to book up early. You'll want to plan ahead to make sure you have a reservation.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a beautiful Eastern European city that's rich in culture and history, which is why it has become a popular tourist destination. It's especially popular in the summer when the sun is out, the days are long, and summertime backpackers are making their trek across Europe.
Like most other cities, Prague's tourist season ends in September, leaving many hotels to reduce their rates. Go in September to enjoy some of the beautiful weather before the bitterly cold winter sets in. Even though the winters are bitter, with frosts originating in Siberia, the Christmas markets in late November and December tend to be a draw. You might actually find cheaper rates in September than you will in December.
Make sure to pack long sleeves and pants, since Prague in September is significantly cooler than it is in the summer. The average high is 65 degrees Fahrenheit, but the lows can drop into the 40s. On the bright side, the days are still pretty long in September, averaging around 12 hours of sunlight. When planning, keep in mind that September 28 is a national public holiday that honors the patron saint of the Czech Republic, St. Wenceslas. You can participate in a festival celebrating the day, and restaurants should still be open. Some attractions and shops might be closed, though.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Like every other city on our list, Vancouver is busiest in the summer. Thanks to its location, it gets regular visitors from cruise ships in addition to travelers who visit the city from around the world. Visit in late September for your best chance of finding low hotel rates and fewer crowds, since the first week or two of the month still have a decent amount of cruise traffic.
Vancouver's climate is more similar to the Pacific Northwestern United States than it is to other parts of Canada, so you might not get to see lots of foliage when you visit in early September. However, you'll still enjoy warm days (the highs hover in the low 60s Fahrenheit). It may be rainy, so plan some indoor activities, like a visit to Science World or the Vancouver Art Gallery, to keep you occupied.