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September. It’s synonymous with the end of summer. But it doesn’t have to mean no more weekends away or escapes abroad. In fact, this month can often be one of the best *to* travel since many people head back to work and prices drop for “shoulder season”—when airfare and hotel prices dip significantly post-Labor Day—but you still get great weather and all the perks of summer minus the crowds. Here’s our list of the best and most affordable places to scratch off of your bucket list in September.

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borgata hotel swimming pool atlantic city
Courtesy of Borgata

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ

America’s playground down on the Jersey Shore, A.C. is like the East Coast’s answer to Las Vegas. It has long been a beach and resort destination for those in New York and Philadelphia looking for a quick getaway, and its glitzy casinos, wide beaches and famous boardwalk keep visitors coming in droves every summer. Gambling may be a big draw, but A.C. is, first and foremost, a beach town and heading there in September lets you squeeze some much-needed beach days out of the end of summer. Stroll the boardwalk, learn to surf or take in one of the region’s tastiest food festivals: 40 different local restaurants are on hand at the Atlantic City Seafood Festival happening September 8 and 9.

Where to stay: Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. A.C. has seen a lot of changes over the years, but “The Borgata” has stayed the same: It’s one of the only sure bets in town if you’re looking for glam accommodations and great service. The resort-casino is jammed with celebrity chef restaurants, impressive nightlife and big-name entertainment. Earth Wind & Fire and Sting and Shaggy will hit the stage at the Event Center while Lil’ Jon, Laidback Luke and Fedde Le Grand are all on the schedule at Premier Nightclub this month.

piedmont italy
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Piedmont, Italy

You had us at Barolo. This region, on the Italian side of the Alps, is responsible for one of our favorite wines, a full-bodied red made of 100 percent Nebbiolo grapes. Besides the vino, Piedmont is also famous for top-notch chocolate (Turin), risotto rice (Vercelli) and more than 160 types of cheese—it’s a true foodie paradise. If you tire of eating and drinking all day—and you won’t—you can always explore the medieval villages and hilltop castles of this mountainous chunk of Italy. September is a particularly good time to visit because it’s the beginning of truffle season but not as crazy packed as the prime month of October—and nowhere in the world is the expensive ($1,000-plus a pound!) and delicious delicacy so admired as in the Piedmont region. Experience Piemonte, a knowledgeable travel specialist that offers in-depth and customizable experiences in the region, can organize for guests to go on a truffle hunting excursion (with just a man and his dog) in the wine region of Langhe, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Where to stay: Every inch of Hotel Villa Beccaris oozes with authentic Italian charm. Once home to an Italian general, its 23 rooms—and the impressive glass-enclosed room where you’ll take in your breakfast each morning—overlook the Barolo hills near the vineyards of Langhe in the walkable village of Monforte d’Alba. It feels like a Fellini flick in this place, as it does at the nearby Felicin, which should be a must on any Piedmont traveler’s restaurant list.

quebec city
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Québec City, Canada

Winding cobblestone streets, imposing city walls, castle-like old world architecture—strolling through the streets of this 410-year-old city, you’ll swear you’re in Europe. Nope. It’s Canada. Québec City is one of the few UNESCO World Heritage sites that people actually live in and it’s the only walled city north of Mexico. Speak the French language (or québécois) and eat French food without ever having to cross the pond. Québec is always popular in the summer, but the crowds clear out during the fall shoulder season. Fewer tourists also means lower prices. You can fly for less than $300 from many major airports in the U.S. according to Skyscanner. And as a bonus, you’re likely to catch the beginning of the fall foliage season the region is famous for.

Where to stay: Hôtel Le Germain-Dominion. It’s chic and modern, set in an early 20th-century stone building that was built to house a fruit and fish company a century ago. We also love the location, just minutes from the Saint Lawrence River in the Old Port district. If you’re looking for a little romance, you may want to stay within the city’s walls. There are some cozy Airbnb’s perfect for couples from just $96 a night.

myrtle beach
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Myrtle Beach, SC

With 60 miles of beach along South Carolina’s Atlantic coast, it’s no surprise that Myrtle Beach is a top destination for families every summer—in fact, 15 million people visit each year. They may go for the sun and the sand, but they stick around for the small-town charm of southern city, which boasts a great oceanfront boardwalk, a lively downtown, lots of amusement parks, and more than 100 quality golf courses. And while Myrtle Beach is a pretty affordable family vacay destination year-round, nightly hotel rates average $86 in September. With outside temps in the mid-80s and water temps in the mid-70s, the weather is still amazing and will have a forever summer vibe all month long.

Where to stay:

The luxe Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort & Spa at Grande Dunes gets high marks for its service, pools, spa, activities and high-rise ocean views. Rooms are right around $200 a night on weekends in September. For a more affordable option, check out The Breakers. The family-friendly beachside resort is a fan favorite and has rooms priced from $78 per night in September.

shanghai china
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Shanghai, China

You’ll need more than a weekend for this getaway, but you won’t regret planning a trip to China’s largest mainland city. Modern and bustling, home to 24 million people and the country’s cultural, financial and tech industries, Shanghai is not for the faint of heart. Our musts? Take a stroll along The Bund on the Huángpǔ River and visit the Yùyuán Gardens and Bazaar in the Old City; you should also check out the city’s neighboring ancient water towns. According to Skyscanner, you can get there this month with options under $400 from some U.S. hubs.

Where to stay: For a room with a view, look no further than The Park Hyatt Shanghai (from $226/night). Occupying the 79th-93rd floors of the Shanghai World Financial Center, it’s the second highest hotel in the world. Not surprisingly, it also peaks in service, dining and amenities. If you prefer something more traditional and (way more) quaint, check out the Quintet B&B (from $125/night) in the lively and historic French Concession neighborhood.

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