GratiTuesday: September’s Serenade

It’s nice to live in an area that tourists want to visit. We can enjoy year-round what many of them pay big bucks to enjoy for a few days or a few weeks. A trip to the beach, the zoo, or a popular entertainment venue doesn’t require a big effort any time of the year – we just get in the car and go.

The thing is, we very seldom visit these destinations in the summer… there are just too many people. Between the tourists and the local kids being out of school, most of the places that I’d love to go to are crowded. Parking is at a premium and the people per square foot is way over my comfort level.

So, we wait for September when everything starts to calm down. Hotels begin to empty of families and fill with business people. Getting a table at a popular restaurant no longer requires an extended wait. The beaches are much less crowded and parking is available. (And, here’s a little secret: we get some of our best weather in September and, often, even into early October.)

I was certainly aware of this seasonal switch when I was working full time, but I had many fewer opportunities to take advantage of it. I still had to be at work Monday through Friday and my weekends were shared with all the other 9-5ers and students. Now that I am retired, I can take mid-week walks on nearly empty beaches and visit the parks at a time when there is much less competition for space. In addition, the stores aren’t as crowded and some restaurants offer inducements to dine.

Sometimes it feels like my summer has just started.

I am grateful for the tourists (as long as they go home eventually) and I’m happy to see the kids out for summer vacation (I do remember being young, after all). But, when I start to notice the Back to School sales being advertised, I can hear the beginnings of September’s serenade. Now that it’s here, I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to fully enjoy its song.

Author: Janis @

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

59 thoughts on “GratiTuesday: September’s Serenade”

  1. This post strongly resonates with me, Janis! We also live in a popular ‘summer tourist’ area. September immediately brings fewer crowds, less traffic, and the weather is still good (knock on wood). Enjoy the peace and calm!

    1. So understand what you are saying. We are fairly recent retirees from the Midwest, who own a small place in Florida–which is thankfully still in good order despite being right in the path of Hurricane Irma just days ago. We may eventually become snowbirds who spend winters in Florida–when our two precious grandchildren are older and in school all day, but for now we enjoy using our Florida property in the fall and spring, when the weather there is really at its best and the snowbird crowds are not so great. An added bonus is that we can rent our place out during the peak winter months, which covers the majority of our expenses for the property, and allows us to do some other traveling to additional places that we enjoy visiting, preferably during during their off peak seasons. It makes our money go much further and is way more enjoyable to us to visit incredible places without having to fight the big crowds. Some call this being a contrarian. We call it being smart.

      1. It sounds like you have things set up pretty well for yourselves! I like the idea of having your second home pay for itself. I’m glad to hear that your place weathered the storm well – were you there or were you up north?

        1. We were ‘up north’ during the storm, so we were safe and just had to wait to see how things turned out. Our place is near the small, quiet town of Zephyrhills, just a little bit east of Tampa and right in the path of Irma. We bought there in order to be near and check in on my father-in-law more often and for longer periods of time. He turned 92 this year and we just moved him back north to be with family this past July. So thankfully he wasn’t down there alone as he had been for the past 12 years since his wife died. It was past time for him to be staying on his own, but we had to help him retain his independence until he was ready to realize and accept the need for the change. Time marches on and now it is we who are the ‘young’ retirees who are getting to travel and choose to visit special places during the non peak seasons–yay retirement! May we all be as healthy and enjoy it for as many years as my dear FIL.

    2. There are definite pros and cons to living where we do. There is a reason that tourists like to come here (and where you live), but all those reasons add up to crowds. I bet the wait for the ferries in your area aren’t too bad after September.

        1. Thanks, Jan. The last house we owned a house was very much in a summer place and the beach was packed, lovely in winter to wander along.

  2. Lots of people come to our mountains in NC in the summer. We don’t generally go to tourist spots, so we don’t run into many of them. A big part of our tourist season is yet to come — leaf peeping time. It affected us only once. We were driving back from seeing relatives in NY and planned to stop at a motel. Five in a row were full, so we just drove the whole way and fell into bed in the middle of the morning.

    1. We did that leaf peeper tour many years ago (a little north of you) and really loved it. We don’t get the change of seasons around here much at all so it was a real treat to see so many trees dressed in their blazing colors. The Blue Ridge Highway is definitely on my to-do list (so, one of these days, I’ll be one of those dreaded tourists too 🙂 ! ).

  3. We’re about 45 minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park – tourism is a big draw here, too. We love to camp but it’s tough to find a spot until after Labor Day so, like you, we look forward to fall (and spring).

  4. I think everyone has said it – Autumn and Spring are the best times…almost anywhere in the world I think. Altho I once did Paris in January …and that was great too. As you say – we are very fortunate if we can travel outside of peak times.

    1. It really is nice to have the ability to travel when we want (or stay home and enjoy the lovely weather here). Flexibility is what retirement is about. I can’t imagine wanting to be tied to someone else’s schedule again. Paris in January sounds lovely!

  5. Same here, Janis. I’m in a summer tourist area and don’t go near the beach on summer weekends. It’s absolutely wonderful now to be out and about so freely. Thanks for capturing the feeling so well.

  6. I don’t do anything on weekends unless absolutely unavoidable, and in the summer I avoid the downtown area. You’re so right … come September, it’s like the city has heaved a great sigh of relief.

    1. I’m not too crazy about weekends any time of the year (remember when we looked forward to them?). Unfortunately, so many events/festivals/etc. that I like to attend happen on the weekends so I have to either brave the crowds or stay home. Staying home is not always a bad option.

  7. Ditto to everything you said in this post. Living in a tourist destination has an upside, and being retired ensures that we are able to take advantage of the quiet times.

    To Jackie, glad your place survived Irma. There is a lot of damage on the West Coast and the Keys. East coast had minimal damage, and slowly getting power back. So ready for a small condo!!!

    1. I can’t imagine not having that flexibility in my day-to-day life. Yay retirement!

      The storm has past and the TV cameras are starting to leave but I know there has been a lot of destruction. Unfortunately, people have very little spans of attention and, once the next disaster hits, the focus will shift. I hope everyone gets the help that they need to rebuild (maybe in a safer place?).

  8. Amen. We live right near one of the most popular small towns in NH, on the way to the lakes region, close to the beach and the road to the mountains. We avoid them all during tourist season and breathe a sigh of relief once Labor Day passes. Ah, now back to regularly scheduled life. 🙂

  9. I’m with you. While I absolutely appreciate the value tourism plays in our local economy (basically, it’s all we have) I like the feeling of “having the house back to myself.”

    Now that you mention it, this is the first Labour Day that has come and gone where I didn’t have “back to school” pangs. It has taken forty years for that habit to recede!

  10. It’s funny, having spent my childhood there, we did some of the touristy things in the summer, but fall and spring were the seasons to really spend quality time. My parents had an annual pass to the zoo and we went a lot. Now, when we come at Christmas time, we enjoy the warm winters and fewer tourists. I’m also grateful!

    1. Of course, when we were growing up (and I know that I pre-date you), things weren’t so dang crowded, even in the summer. But, we still haven’t found a place we’d rather live so, until then, I’ll endure the crowds for the opportunity to live in year-round sunshine.

  11. We are a couple of hours from the NJ shore and much prefer September or even the every end of August when kids are either in school or preparing for it. No weekends either! We like quiet and peaceful!

  12. I’m the same way, even though I don’t live in a popular tourist destination. But we only visit popular destinations “out of season” because we don’t like to deal with the crowds. Even if the weather is less than perfect, it’s a trade-off we’re willing to make.

    1. It’s so nice to have the flexibility to travel off-season and often it’s possible to time it so the weather is still nice. But, you’re right, I’d take less-than-ideal weather in place of shoulder-to-shoulder people any day.

  13. I think everyone is in agreement! I never go to Edinburgh when the Festival is on in August, for example. When I was working, there was an advantage the other way: in the summer when the schools were out the roads were so much quieter I could drive to the library in half the time.

  14. Well said and well-understood, Janis. while as a teacher, I was sad September arrived, now, any time with less people is a good time. Unfortunately, we are also stuck to the weekends to do our fun stuff and the situations you describe are what made us want to get out of California for a while.

    I remember when we were first sailing, or RVing in Mexico and Central America, that we “hated” the weekends and preferred the weekdays to do our exploring. “Oh no, it’s weekend again,” we would mumble, well-aware of how we used to look forward to the weekends. Sometimes, we wouldn’t know which day it was, but we could tell by the crowdiness on beaches or in stores. 🙂

    Happy September!!

  15. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I remember my mom calling September and October “Indian Summer”. After all, it was her summer vacation, as my four siblings and I were stuck in school and out of her hair. Now, I think that the great weather and fewer tourists combine to make this the best time of year to travel.

    1. I remember “Indian Summer” too! I imagine that my mom was thrilled when school started and she once again had the house to herself (she was polite enough not to do a happy dance in front of us, but I sure she was doing one after we left).

  16. I hear ‘ya. We live in an area that is known for outside activities. It’s a great place to live, BUT trying to get through our tiny downtown when every vehicle has a bicycle or kayak on it, and doesn’t know where it’s going, does get to be tiring. Things slow down around here from November to March, but in-between time… ain’t we got fun!

      1. Yes, patient is the key word. Our community thrives, or not, because of these people who come here to be active… then eat & drink. It’s all good, in theory. But sometimes when a 5 minute drive takes me 15 I tend to get, shall we say, miffed.

  17. I guess I am happy to see Labor Day come because it means that Fall is on it’s way. It is my favorite season, after all! But we have to be very attentive to sense the difference between Summer and Fall; the sun falls a tad differently, there is a layer of coolness to the breeze that wasn’t there in July or August, and while there aren’t many, some trees do show their Fall colors. I love that phrase “September Serenade” !

    1. Fall is very subtle. I think I notice the slant of the sun first and, of course, the earlier dusk. My parents had a liquid amber tree in front of their (our) house that would signal fall with a brilliant blaze of leaves… then they would all fall off and we’d have to rake them up. I always think of my folks when I see one of those trees dressed in its fall colors.

  18. My retired friends joke that before long, the most crowded seasons will be the swing seasons thanks to all the baby-boomer retired Q-tips! I love fall and the relief it brings from summer heat and smoke.

    1. Oh wow, I hadn’t thought of that, but it’s probably true. Still, there are fewer of us retired folks than worker-bees and students, so I imagine we’ll still enjoy the lull. The smoke was just getting bad on our trip up to the Pacific Northwest in July. When we visited Mount Saint Helens we could barely make out the outline. I’m glad to hear it has gotten better.

      1. Wait till the full cadre of boomers has retired! Yikes. Well, I suppose perhaps the older echelons will no longer be traveling as much then…?
        Funny. I went on a honeymoon trip to see Mt. St. Helens in 1990 and rather than smoke, our view was blocked by thick fog. We drove all the way around the mountain and never saw a full view of her. She’s an elusive mountain. 😉

  19. Hi Janis! It looks like a large number of your readers live in vacation popular areas as well. And as you know, I live in one where the winter is overtaken by tourists so during the summer we escape to areas like yours and the mountains. BUT…I still like to travel in the fall especially if at all possible. And also prefer weekdays to the weekends just because it’s nice to be out when most people are at work and kids are in school. Enjoy your fall! ~Kathy

    1. I know that it can get pretty crazy in the winter where you live as the snow birds descend (my husband’s aunt and uncle are regular visitors). We are lucky to have the flexibility to travel in the fall (and spring) when there are fewer people competing for space.

  20. We have just moved to a popular tourist destination – Vancouver Island. It is an absolutely beautiful area. There is a reason tourists and retirees come here. The prairie city that we moved from was NOT a tourist destination. It was pretty quiet there in the summers there after school got out and people left on vacation.


    1. I have visited Vancouver Island and you are right – it is gorgeous! I’m sure it’s quite a change for you moving from the prairie to a popular tourist resort area… but a positive one now that you have plenty of time to enjoy yourselves.

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