The Best Places to Travel in September
September's a sweet spot for travel, with a hint of summer still in the air, shoulder-season pricing setting in—and tourist crowds refreshingly diluted by the confines of a new academic year. So if you can break out of the back-to-school/back-to-work frenzy to indulge your wanderlust, you won't be sorry—especially if you go anywhere on our top six list.
Grab your flame-resistant party pants and hop a plane to Catalonia, where Barcelona’s biggest, baddest street festival will soon be kicking off. At La Mercè (Sept. 20–24), you and about two million other revelers will honor the city’s patron saint—La Mare de Déu de la Mercè (aka the Virgin Mary)—with music, processions, and free-flowing cava (that last part thanks to the concurrent wine festival). Don't miss the sparkler-wielding demons and Fantastic Beasts wannabes as they take to the streets—along with roving bands of drummers and dancers—for la Mercè's Correfoc (translation: fire run). And yup, you'll want some spark-protective gear. Another la Mercè can't-miss: the Castellers, gigantic human towers capped off with small children (U.S. safety standards most definitely do not apply). And don’t leave town without checking out the international rock, pop, and electronic music festival BAM (Sept. 20–23)—or the city’s new Nobu Hotel (scheduled to open Sept. 12).
Caño Cristales, Colombia
If wading through a liquid rainbow isn't on your to-do list, we're here to change that—and fast: For a brief window every year, Colombia's Caño Cristales river blooms with multicolored Macarenia clavigera plants that turn the water into an psychedelic Pantone display. While the exact window varies annually, September is traditionally prime time, and we're encouraged by what we're seeing of the latest #canocristales shots. To reach this spectacle in Colombia's Sierra de La Macarena National Natural Park, hire a guide: The river is remote, the terrain can be a bit rugged, there are only certain spots where you can swim—and if you're doin' it for the Gram (you know who you are), you're going to want an insider's perspective on the best vantage points. A sample three-day flight- and hotel-inclusive excursion includes hikes to waterfalls, riverside picnics, and dips in Wonka-esque ponds. (Keep your eyes peeled: You’ll be in the company of iguanas, monkeys, toucans and even some elusive jaguars.) And because you'll probably pass through Bogotá on your way to the river, you've got the perfect excuse to hit Jazz Al Parque (Sept. 14–15), where world music meets jazz in endlessly gorgeous iterations. For a little-bit-of-everything platter, catch hometown girls La Perla Bogotá, as well as Cuba's La Familia López-Nussa and Hungary's Romengo & Monika Lakatos.
Prince Edward Island
North Atlantic lobsters, red soil potatoes and Anne of Green Gables. A motley crew, no doubt—but together, they help explain the outsized reputation of Canada's tiniest province. Prince Edward Island is famously home to all three, and if you're a fan of any of the above, you're in serious luck this month. Fall Flavours (Aug. 30–Oct. 6), makes now the best time for to visit for foodies, whose options include a Lobster Party On The Beach hosted by Food Network-featured chef Corbin Tomaszeski (Sept. 8); a potato chowder, lobster, mussels and oyster extravaganza overseen by Irwin MacKinnon, the Canadian Culinary Federation's 2018 Chef of the Year (Sept. 19); and Chuck and Friends, a farm-to-table feast for 50 in an old converted church led by Iron Chef America-winner Chuck Hughes (Sept. 22). Lest you go thirsty, September also brings the Prince Edward Island Beer Festival, with more than 100 Canadian beers and ciders on tap (Sept. 27–28). And if you're here for the literary nostalgia, proceed directly to the Charlottetown Festival, where the 55th annual production of Anne of Green Gables—the Musical is on (Sept. 3-28). Should you need a bonus Green Gables dose (as true fans will), go deep into the author's home turf (and her title character's) with an entire themed itinerary.
All we had to hear about September in Boise were two little words—bacon and beer—before we started researching flights. Yes, 2019 brings the fourth annual Boise Bacon & Beer Festival (Sept. 7) with 25 breweries and cideries in attendance, and as many bacon (and bacon-inspired) dishes as you can handle in one sitting. Idaho’s capital also happens to be celebrating 50 years of the Boise River Greenbelt, a beloved recreational trail. So if you can stick around for a while—as hikers and outdoorspeople will want to do—be back in town for the Sept. 19–21 festivities, which include including a kickoff event at the historic Egyptian Theatre, riverside biking and history tours, and food trucks and live jazz at Ann Morrison Park.
Though June gets all the glory, Pride celebrations continue throughout the year—and one of the best comes with Dutch-Caribbean flare: Curaçao Pride (Sept. 25–29). The gay-friendly isle has pulled out all the stops with this year’s festivities: There’s a poolside white party at Floris Suite Hotel, a cruise on a 75-foot catamaran, and, of course, a Pride march among the candy-colored colonial houses of Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While you're in town, hit the Flavors of Curaçao (Sept. 28) culinary festival, too, where live music will accompany your gorging. But for all the international chefs who'll be doing demos and hosting events, you won't want to miss the local fried fish or truki pan.
For those of us who insist that summer ain't over till it's over on Sept. 23, one holiday that falls 10 days earlier is unfortunately named: Mid-Autumn Festival. But if you can get over the name (or just swap it out for "Mooncake festival," as locals often do), you'll want to follow the bakery scents and lantern light to Singapore. Though several countries celebrate the full moon harvest holiday (this year, on Sept. 13), Singapore—as any Crazy Rich Asians veteran knows—goes big. Really, really big. Take the festival's signature treat: mooncakes. While there's long been a tradition of mooncake one-upmanship among the region's bakers, we defying anyone to top the Champagne Truffle and Ganache Snow-skin Mooncake at the iconic and just-reopened Raffles Hotel, where you also shouldn't miss the signature cocktail: the Singapore Sling (said to have been born at the house bar). And remember, while mooncakes are intended to be shared between family members, you can have an entire cocktail to yourself, with no guilt whatsoever. After you’ve indulged, get into the swing of the festival season at one of the nightly stage shows—complete with lion dancing—in Chinatown’s Kreta Ayer Square. Then hightail it to Gardens By The Bay for gobsmacking light installations (Aug. 30–Sept. 15), calligraphy workshops (Sept. 1, 7, 8, 14, 15), and a lantern-guided walk (Sept. 14) led by—what else?—a gigantic LED dragon.