10 Best Cities to Visit in September

Spend your September in one of these great destinations


September is the ideal month for exploring exciting places such as Albuquerque, Nashville, and beyond. Whether you're looking for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, now is the perfect time to plan a trip and experience all these destinations have to offer.

Nashville, Tennessee

Go Greek in Music City. Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church is hosting its Nashville Greek Festival, a three-day glendi or celebration of Greek culture. The festival features authentic Greek food, music, dancing and culture. Tour the stunning church to learn more about the Greek Orthodox faith. Admission is just a few dollars and is good all three days. If you miss the festival, you can still go Greek at the full-scale replica of Greece’s Parthenon in Nashville’s Centennial Park. Built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition, the Parthenon houses the city’s art museum and hosts cultural events. Experience the ECHO Chamber Music Series at the Parthenon, organized by a collective of composers, performers, and lovers of classical and jazz music. Also this month, the African Street Festival is a wonderfully diverse, family-friendly event held at Hadley Park. Sounds like it's a great time to plan a trip to Music City!

Savannah, Georgia

Every Saturday in Savannah’s scenic Forsyth Park, nature’s bounty is available at the Forsyth Farmers Market. This mission of the market is to create a local food system that supports sustainable production and increases access to local products. You’ll find local produce, artisanal cheese, pastured meats, local honey, craft breads, coffee and baked goods. Want to try local seafood? It doesn’t get any better than the Pin Point Seafood Festival at the historic seafood processing community of Pin Point in the city’s Moon River District. Taste seafood prepared according to generations-old local recipes and enjoy live music and family fun. September in Savannah is still beach weather, so soak up some summer rays while you still can. Say au revoir to the official summer season with fireworks and live music at Tybee Island’s Labor Day Beach Bash.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

September is sublime in Albuquerque. Take a ride on a Rainbow Ryder, the official hot air balloons of the International Balloon Festival. The company offers rides year-round in Albuquerque. When you’re back on terra firma, head to Petroglyph National Monument, which stretches 17 miles along the city’s West Mesa. It’s a great place to hike while exploring one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America. The designs and symbols were carved into volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago. Fast forward to another time in American history on Route 66. The famous route stretches from the volcanoes on the city's far west side past the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden, Zoo and Aquarium, through historic Old Town and the Downtown business district, and continues through the University of New Mexico and the trendy Nob Hill area.

Madison, Wisconsin

Modeled after the street fairs of the ’60s and ’70s, the Willy Street Fair is a must-see in Madison in September. This fun slice of Americana involves a raffle, loads of live music on three stages, food, and a parade with bubble car, circus performers and fiddle brigade. If you’re in the neighborhood on Thursday, take the Willy Street Ethnic Eats tour that includes generous tastings at five culturally diverse eateries, including Indonesian and Ethiopian food. Don’t miss the Olbrich Botanical Gardens’ 16 acres of outdoor and indoor gardens. Enjoy a crisp fall evening by the flame of bonfires on the Great Lawn, groove to live music, and try a variety of Madison food offerings, and sip frothy Wisconsin micro-brews. The gardens’ GLEAM light installations are on view all month.

State College, Pennsylvania

As temperatures start to cool, a hike in Rothrock State Forest is a great way to experience beautiful central Pennsylvania, where there is a plethora of outdoor activities, including kayaking, horse riding, mountain biking, fishing, camping and hunting. On Fridays from 11:30 to 5:30, stroll Downtown State College Farmers Market where you can sample the area’s bounty. This diverse market features local farmers selling produce, bread, milk, cheese, beef, flowers, honey, succulent plants, Amish baked goods, and fresh-cut herbs. Head indoors to the free-admission Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State University with 11 galleries, a print study room, 150-seat auditorium, and a garden for large-scale contemporary sculpture. And if you can score a ticket, don’t miss a chance to join 100,000 other spectators at Beaver Stadium for a Penn State football game.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Fall is a fabulous time in the Smoky Mountains. To get it started right, Dollywood Harvest Festival happens every fall at the theme park, and it includes events like the Great Pumpkin LumiNights and Southern Gospel Jubilee. It runs from September 22 to November 4. The Seasons of Ober Restaurant switches to a special festival menu, and an outdoor biergarten is open for brew sampling. There are games and live music from The Smoky Mountain Oompah Band. Visiting later in the month? Get your fall fix at the Smoky Mountain Fall Festival at Ober Mountain on starting on September 29. Climb your way to the top of hay mountain, jump on a pedal bike as you make your way around the hay track and, if you like a puzzle, see if you can find your way out of the hay maze. Then go fly fishing before the water gets too cold. There are outfitters and guides ready to help beginners (including kids) to experts. Try Fly Fishing the Smokies and Smoky Mountain Angler.

Greenville, South Carolina

September is apple season in Greenville. More than 20 varieties grow in the area, and one of the best places to get them is Sky Top Orchard on Mt. McAlpine because of its weekend activities, apple cider donuts and proximity to the city. The South Carolina Apple Festival happens September 5–9 in nearby Westminster and involves a pageant, quilt show, car show, apple baking contest, live entertainment, parade, and arts and crafts. Then enjoy beautiful Falls Park on the Reedy with gardens, trails, waterfalls and public art. 

Little Rock, Arkansas

Just west of the city, you can hike to the top of Pinnacle Mountain, the centerpiece of a state park. The park offers a range of activities on the Big and Little Maumelle Rivers, in the Arkansas Arboretum, and along more than 15 miles of trails. See more animals at the Little Rock Zoo, which opened in 1926 with only an abandoned timber wolf and a circus-trained bear. Now with more than 500 animals and 400 insects, the zoo has expanded to offer a carousel, face painting, hay maze, and other classic attractions for the young and young at heart.

Anaheim, California

No trip to Anaheim is complete without a visit to Disneyland. Check out the Disney’s Happiest Haunts, Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark and more. And if that’s not enough supernatural fun, go catch Angels in the outfield (and infield) at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, one of the oldest stadiums in Major League Baseball. When the Angels win, the giant halo outside the stadium is lit up to celebrate. Tours of the stadium are available through September. After the game, head over to Anaheim Brewery, a revived pre-Prohibition brewery with a tasting room and a large beer garden, an oasis in the city’s Packing District and a fun place to go in Anaheim. The place is “proudly unhip” and serves “beer-flavored beer to be shared with friends.”

Tampa, Florida

See one of the most celebrated films of all time in Tampa Theatre, a stunning movie palace built in 1926. The Greatest Showman, The Sound of Music and more will be screened in September. For the animal lovers, since the manatees aren’t visible at the viewing center this month, head to Zoo Tampa, the only place you can see these marine creatures year-round along with hundreds of other species. The Florida Aquarium and Big Cat Rescue add to the mix. For a mash-up of old and new culture, visit Ybor City, a northeast enclave of Tampa. Once a cigar-rolling and coffee manufacturing district, it now features entertainment for visitors and locals, including modern nightlife, small businesses and restaurants coupled with historic buildings and streetcars. Visitors enjoy Cuban food and browsing a wide selection of cigars in this National Historic Landmark District.

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