Where are the best trips to be booking right now? Our monthly Where to Go column tells you the smartest places to go each month for savings, special events, and all around great experiences. Here’s what’s hot for September.
Finger Lakes, New York
Foliage and wine. Hot air balloons and culture. What could make for a better kickoff to fall? In the Finger Lakes, a wealth of wine tasting rooms perch on the region’s lakeside valleys, effortlessly providing a great vantage point for all the season’s best colors. And thrill-seekers who visit in September will be able to catch the last few weeks of ballooning season — or hop on a two-seat glider — for even better foliage views. Even if you’ve traveled here before, there’s a great reason to return this year: The shiny new wing at the Corning Museum of Glass, a massive 26,000-square-foot space for the institution’s contemporary exhibits and live glass-making demonstrations that took $26 million to create.
Hotel tip: Unsurprisingly, weeknight prices are sometimes nearly half-off weekend prices in the peak of leaf-peeping season. But if you’re planning to visit during the weekends, book right now, as smaller hotels and inns are already starting to sell out. Some of our favorites include 7 on Strath, a Doubletree-operated inn in Rochester (from $159); the classy Hotel Skyler, a former temple and theater in Syracuse (from $199); and La Tourelle Resort & Spa, which offers guestrooms as well as glamping right outside of Ithaca (from $170). In wine country, try the Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars, right in the middle of a vineyard (from $199); Radisson Corning, just off of Corning’s main Market Street (from $127); or Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, at the foot of Seneca Lake (from $169).
Providence, Rhode Island
This former industrial town is on the brink of a comeback, and September is one of the months when the city’s creativity truly shines. Not only are there two WaterFire parades, in which flaming boat installations float down the river, the fall edition of StyleWeek Providence will showcase the city’s fashion prowess on September 14-18. After all, small as Providence may be, it’s home to the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design — not to mention a cool new designer’s collective. It’s exciting times here for foodies, too. Talented young chefs have taken hotspots like Local 121 by storm, whipping up fresh dishes featuring local ingredients that are only a fraction of what similar meals might cost you in neighboring big cities like Boston and New York.
Hotel tip: One of the reasons why Providence landed a spot on our Top Budget Destinations of 2015 is the affordably chic Dean Hotel. Only a year and a half old, retro rooms here start at just $99 for one and $129 for two. There’s much to enjoy on the ground floor — a coffee bar, a tapas restaurant, a pub (serving delicious brats), and even a karaoke room — but the friendly young concierges are always on-hand to share personal favorites offsite.
As the hurricane season starts to ramp up in much of the Caribbean, Bermuda has been historically blessed with sunny days and great surf. Water conditions might be a bit choppier, because of winds blowing through the region, but it generally remains warm on this island. Events still abound in September, too, from the European-style Old Towne Market on Sundays to Snorkel Park Beach bonfires four times a week. As you catch the tail end of snorkeling and deep sea fishing this month, don’t forget that the spiny lobster season starts to ramp up in return. You can find fresh catch at local restaurants — or even join a dive with local fishermen.
Hotel tip: If you’re a risk-averse kind of traveler, you can always make sure to book a property that’s part of the Bermuda Hotel Association, whose members all offer a no-penalty cancellation as a part of their hurricane guarantee policy. There’s also a Stretch Your Summer sale that offers travelers third, fourth, or fifth nights free at more than 10 hotels. For just one example, the Fairmont Southampton Hotel has rooms from $289 per night; with its third night free deal, that nightly rate comes down to $193 per night.
And now for something completely different: Nothing makes us more excited about South Dakota than the annual Buffalo Roundup, celebrating its 50th birthday this year. The herd drive of approximately 1,300 buffalo, kicking up the dust and charging through the grass, colorful foliage in the background, is quite a sight to see. And while the roundups are held on the last two Fridays of the month, we recommend visiting on the first weekend — so that your visit coincides with the companion Arts Festival, featuring 150 local artists along with a pancake feed, chili cook-off, and all-day entertainment. Outside of the cowboy and cowgirl fun, it’s a much less crowded time than summer to visit the Great 8 that put the state on the map: Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, Historic Deadwood, Jewel Cave National Monument, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, and the Missouri River.
The Beach, Everywhere
All the families have gone back to school, but chances are the waters are still warm in most parts of the nation, particularly at the beginning of the month. For those who enjoy as much seclusion as possible, try any of our staff’s very own favorite off-beat spots. These range from Huntington State Park in South Carolina (boasting an iconic boardwalk) to El Matador in Malibu (framed by dramatic rock formations) to Siesta Key in Florida (some of the best sand we’ve played on). If you’d prefer not to drive, there are plenty of beaches you can access by train in San Francisco and California, New York, Florida, and Cape Cod. And if you’re heading to California, don’t leave before considering overlooked destinations in San Diego like Silver Strand State Beach, Swami’s Beach, and Marine Street Beach — all havens for surfers and loungers alike.