September in the United States: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Fall colors appear in mid to late September

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Even though summer officially ends in September, it is still a great month for traveling. Crowds will have dissipated and the sunshine and warm weather will stick around for most of the month in many parts of the United States. Simmering August temperatures mellow into the crisp, clear days of September that are great for outdoor activities from discovering local attractions and hiking in national parks across the country.

In the latter part of September, the vibrant greens of summer start to fade to the brilliant oranges and yellows of the fall season. Fall leaves in New York and Massachusetts won’t reach their peak vibrancy until the beginning of October when the temperatures really start to drop, but places where temperatures cool down more quickly, like northern Maine or the mountain areas of Colorado, will see a dazzling fall show in mid- to late-September.

Booking travel should be relatively easy this month with the exception of Labor Day weekend, which always falls on the first weekend of September. At this time, there will be an influx of end-of-season vacationers taking their last holiday trip of the summer. Otherwise, you should be fine to book your accommodations and reservations in most cities on short notice and still get some great deals.

Hurricane Season

June 1 signals the beginning of hurricane season for both the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific regions, which lasts through November and typically peaks in September. As a result, traveling on the east coast—especially in southern states like Florida—during hurricane season can be risky as flights are often delayed due to the storms.

Although it's almost impossible to plan for natural disasters like these, knowing where they may strike can help you better avoid unexpected complications while traveling in the U.S. in September. Hurricanes that form in the Atlantic Ocean will likely affect coastal states from Florida to Maine and Gulf Coast states from Texas to Georgia. Meanwhile, storms that form over the Eastern Pacific rarely make landfall, but if they get close enough from time to time to soak the Southwestern states of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado as well as Hawaii.

If you do decide to travel to an area that is at high-risk for hurricanes in September, be sure to check local weather forecasts in the days leading up to your departure and keep an eye on hurricanes forming in the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.

United States Weather in September

Depending on where you are, the majority of the month will still feel like summertime in America for most of September. Coastal locations like Los Angeles and Florida remain beach-worthy with temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) and reaching above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius), while New England and the Midwest regions start to drop towards 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). Though average high and low temperatures dip a bit in many of the top tourist destinations in the U.S., most have plenty of sun and fun to offer in September:

  • New York City: 76 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius) / 61 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius)
  • Los Angeles: 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) / 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Celsius)
  • Chicago: 74 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius) / 55 degrees Fahrenheit (14 degrees Celsius)
  • Washington, DC: 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) / 57 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius)
  • Las Vegas: 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) / 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Celsius)
  • San Francisco: 73 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius) / 56 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius)
  • Hawaii: 89 degrees Fahrenheit (31 degrees Celsius) / 74 degrees Fahrenheit (24 C)
  • Grand Canyon: 76 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius) / 47 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius)
  • Orlando: 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) / 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius)
  • New Orleans: 91 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) / 74 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius)

What to Pack

Your suitcase will look different depending on where you travel in the United States come September. Unless you're traveling to foggy San Francisco or planning on camping overnight in high-elevation destinations like the Rocky Mountains or the Grand Canyon, you won't need to pack anything more than a light sweater for chilly nights. Since most of the southern United States is still experiencing warm days and only slightly cooler nights, you can still pack your shorts, T-shirts, tank tops, and sneakers for most destinations.

September Events in the United States

Every region and city of the U.S. will have its own schedule of events and things to do come September, but there are some federal holidays and common traditions you'll find throughout the country.

  • Labor Day: You can kick off September with Labor Day events across the country celebrated on the first Monday of the month. For many Americans, this is a great excuse to take one last trip before school or work starts again.
  • Oktoberfest: In September, you'll find bars and breweries across the U.S. celebrating this traditionally German holiday which usually begins in mid-to-late September.
  • State Fairs: In September, many state fairs are taking place across the country, so you can check to see if one is happening near you. These fun-filled carnivals stay up for weeks at a time and feature classic American fair traditions like fried food, beauty pageants, largest-vegetable competitions, and more.
  • Football: September ushers in the return of football season and if you can't attend a game, try to find a sports bar where the local team is playing for a fun atmosphere.

September Travel Tips

  • September is considered the start of shoulder season for much of the United States (with the exception of Labor Day), which means that major airlines, hotels, resorts, and even local restaurants and venues offer special deals on accommodations, dining, and experiences to entice more travelers as the summer rush starts to end.
  • If you want to go leaf-peeping, you'll need to wait until October or November. In September, the trees are typically still green, even though it's technically autumn. However, you may have better chances if you travel further north.
  • Football games air usually on Thursday, Sunday, and Monday nights for professional teams and on Saturdays for colleges. Bear in mind that sports bars and areas where there is a big stadium may be busy at this time.
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