Jim Byers photo
Italy can be unbearably hot and crowded in August, but by September it’s cooler and far less congested. Try Sorrento, where I shot this cool cafe last November.
I love summer. But it’s often the WORST time to visit so much of the world. It’s especially bad in Europe, mostly because it’s full of people like you and me. Especially me. And it’s hot. And the locals are all on holiday.
Notwithstanding the fact I met my wife in August in Rome in 1979 (it’s our 33 rd wedding anniversary today, by the way, so HAPPY ANNIVERSARY HONEY), I find it’s best to avoid most of Europe – especially Italy – in summer.
Far better to take a trip over the pond in September, when temperatures are still summer-like, prices tend to drop and tourists tend to stay home. You’ll have more elbow room, probably save money and almost certainly meet more locals if you go in September, or even October. Northern Europe might be chilly by October, but the south of France or Greece or Portugal or Spain or southern Italy should still have wonderful weather. Not that anyone can predict such things any longer.
September is equally a fine time to stay close to home. In southern Ontario, the weather can be even better in September than in August. It’s usually cooler but still warm, and the lake waters are usually still comfortable for swimming. Down around Port Dover and Port Stanley and Point Pelee, you’ll find great beaches and warm temperatures usually into October.
Jim Byers photo
September is a fabulous month down along Lake Erie. I shot this photo July 23 in wonderful and funky Port Dover.
“We wear out bathing suits and shorts down here almost all the way through September,” Rori McCaw from Coopers Hawk Winery near Harrow told me the other day. For some reason, I still liked her.
Late summer/early fall also is a tremendous time out in Alberta, with good climatic conditions and animals who are actively out foraging prior to the coming winter. That means better chances of spotting bears, if that’s your thing. In Edmonton, you can catch an Eskimos CFL game and also check out the trees along the North Saskatchewan River, which turn a lovely, deep shade of yellow in fall.
You also could check out a CFL game in Montreal, of course, and maybe catch some red leaves later in the month. I was in PEI and Nova Scotia last September and the weather was spectacular; warm and sunny. And, again, hardly any crowds. It would be just as great in Newfoundland and in New Brunswick and in Quebec’s Iles de-la-Madeleine, where I had a WONDERFUL time in June.
If you like San Francisco, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better time of year to go than September or October. The fog is usually worst in SF in June and July and sometimes in August. But by September the ocean water has warmed up and the fog, consequently, tends to dissipate. It’s often around 18 degrees in San Francisco in August but September is usually in the 20’s, as I recall.
L.A. and southern California, on the other hand, can get stinky hot in September. It’s also wildfire season in the south part of California. But, again, the crowds are down and the usually chilly ocean water is a pretty good temperature at that time of year.
Jim Byers photo
Downtown Chicago is a treat anytime of year. But September is a great month, with nice weather for walking or even swimming in Lake Michigan.
Other prime spots I can think of would be Chicago, New York and Boston. Again, the weather is still nice but crowds are down. You could probably catch an important ball game in all three cities and also catch an NFL game, if that’s your thing.
Hawaii gets a lot of business in summer with families, and again around the holidays and over the winter. Not so much in September and October, so that’s a spot that’s definitely worth considering if you love beaches, warm weather, golf, great food and South Pacific culture.
Jim Byers photo
The beaches of Bermuda are wonderful – and usually very warm – in September. Ditto for October in case you want to delay your holidays a bit.
It’s a great time for visiting Bermuda, with awesome beaches, and also Myrtle Beach, which is pretty cheap and has wonderful golf courses, good food and lots of activities, including kayaking and great shopping. I’d think the hill country of Virginia, with some excellent wineries, also would be just starting to cool off in September.
If you’re thinking of something further away, remember that September is the beginning of spring in South Africa, South America (most of it, anyway) and both Australia and New Zealand. I was in Sydney for the Olympics in 2000 in their spring/our fall and it was fabulous. I can only imagine how pretty New Zealand would be in spring.