There's no denying that autumn is one of America's favorite seasons. With back-to-school shopping, pumpkin spice everything, and fall fashion, there are a lot of great domestic destinations (the entirety of New England, for instance).
But September also happens to be one of the best months for traveling abroad. Summer tourism is dying down and the sun is dialing it back a few notches, making for a mix of pleasantly warm and cool days.
So if you've grown a little bored with leaf peeping every fall, the experts agree that these international spots are the top places to book for September.
China's capital earns top billing from both Condé Nast Traveler and Lonely Planet for the dipping temperatures and still open tourist attractions. Sure, you won't be there for Chinese New Year, but think about the sheer number of people who live in Beijing (over 21 million!) combined with the usual over-packed feeling of a city during peak tourist season... no thank you! China's National Day is on October 1 and Frommers says that marks the end of tourist season, so traveling next month means you're getting to visit The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and The Summer Palace just as things are winding down.
You think the foliage in your neck of the woods is impressive? Wait until you explore the mountainside of Japan, which Lonely Planet notes is still perfectly accessible at this time of year. It's a beautiful time of year to visit in terms of both weather and rural sightseeing, says U.S. News, suggesting the lovely leaves of Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo. Japan Guide has some great suggestions on other parks in the country to visit at particular times of the season.
So, you know Oktoberfest doesn't actually begin in October, right? It starts in September, runs for about 16 days, and it's something that every beer lover in the world needs to experience — U.S. News and Travel Channel agree. Normally crowds aren't something you want to experience on a vacation, but just like you wouldn't do an epic pub crawl by yourself, this big Bavarian festival is something to be enjoyed with others. Brews, bratwurst, bretzels, bands, and banter... Prost!
Cooler months not your thing? Mourning the end of summer? Don't worry, snowbird, there's a little thing called the equator — pass it this September and you'll be entering springtime in the southern hemisphere. The likes of Condé Nast Traveler make Argentina's capital city, Buenos Aires, one of the top recommendations for South America by far. Both Lonely Planet and U.S. News describe the city with floral imagery like "South America blooms in September" and "The Rose Garden Walk ... bursts with over 1,000 different rose species in full bloom." Don't you just want to pluck one of those flowers, stick it between your teeth, and learn to tango?
As Lonely Planet notes, this Northern African country is a pretty popular holiday spot for Europeans who want to travel off the continent without going too far. That makes summer a busy time to go, and September much quieter. Markets and beaches are of course standard Moroccan vacation fare, but Rough Guides suggests taking advantage of the natural terrain. The Atlas Mountains are suitable for all types, whether you're looking for an easy walking trail or a serious hike up Jebel Toubka, the highest peak.
Europe in general
One place every travel guide can agree on is that Europe in general is the best continent to visit in September. With comfortable temperatures, much more reasonable room rates, and so many cultures to choose from, there's really no better time for a Euro trip. Suggestions include shorter lines for attractions in Paris, guaranteed sun around the Mediterranean, beaches and hot air balloons in Turkey, and, well — Fodors pretty much names most of the continent.