Vacationing families can make the islands feel too busy to enjoy a truly relaxing getaway during the summer, but come September and October, the beaches are less crowded. While temperatures here are stable year-round, autumn tends to see the least rain. And with the drop in visitors, you can find great deals on airfare and lodging, such as at the 2016 Travelers’ Choice Winner Koa Kea Hotel & Resort on Kauai.
August in the Big Apple is brutal: The subways are steamy and the heat shimmers inside the canyons of skyscrapers. But when autumn rolls around, Central Park becomes a riot of colors, the tourists who choke the sidewalks during the summer head home, and the locals are back at work—giving visitors a more authentic view of what really makes the Big Apple tick. TripAdvisor users have named the elegant Sherry-Netherland Hotel their favorite across all of the U.S., and it’s just a block off of Central Park. Also in the top 25 are the Casablanca Hotel, in the heart of Times Square; the midtown Library Hotel, convenient to Grand Central for leaf-peepers who want a day in the country; and the Hotel Giraffe, which earns praise for its complimentary breakfast and evening wine and cheese.
From Tuscany to Rome to the Amalfi Coast, autumn is a wonderful time to see Italy: once the booming summer tourist season has come to a close but while the weather is still mild. The grape harvest brings Tuscany alive, the Colosseum is far less crowded (you can stay at the nearby Mercure Hotel for around $200 a night), and the sea along the Amalfi Coast is still warm enough to swim in. Context Travel’s Rome sightseeing tours—which are led by chefs, art historians, archaeologists, and the like—earn raves from TripAdvisor users.
Monsoons bring rain to northern, central, and southern Vietnam at different times of year, so autumn is the best period for a wide-ranging trip. From north to south, you can cruise the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay on an Indochina Junk boat, walk the pedestrian-only streets of Hoi An’s Ancient Town, and take in the megalopolis of Saigon from the Hotel Majestic, a charming colonial gem with a perfect location right in the heart of the city.
The City by the Bay is infamously foggy in summer—but this year was one for the record books: The thermometer didn’t hit 80 degrees all season, and cracked 70 only once in August. Temperatures actually rise in the autumn, and the shroud of fog lifts, making it the loveliest time of year by far to visit. City Sightseeing’s hop-on/hop-off bus tours are a great way to get around this hilly city, which makes up in views what it lacks in public transportation. Families looking to splurge will love the all-suite Fairmont Heritage Place, right in Ghirardelli Square; the Hotel Drisco, TripAdvisor’s number-one hotel in San Francisco, is a more economical option—even though it’s located in charming Pacific Heights, one of the city’s ritzier neighborhoods.
September in South Africa is springtime, so the foliage is in bloom and dozens of whale species can be seen along the coast, without even having to step foot in a boat (you can even watch them breach from your balcony at the Birkenhouse House Hotel, a 2016 Travelers’ Choice winner). Since this is also the end of the dry season, when the grass is low and the animals congregate around whatever water is left, it’s also prime time for a safari. Through the end of September, your third night is free at the Kichaka Luxury Lodge, also a 2016 Travelers’ Choice winner.
If you’re willing to take the kids out of school for a few days, a weekday autumn trip to either of Disney’s parks means that you’ll waste much less time waiting in line for rides. In Orlando, rooms at Disney’s Contemporary Resort are the least expensive that you’ll find right on the monorail line, with easy access to the Magic Kingdom. Bring a costume, as both parks starting gearing up for Halloween in early September!