No matter what time of year you visit, Hawaii seems to have perfect weather. Try to experience it in the fall, when families are done with their summer vacations and the snowbird rush from the West Coast has yet to begin. The Aloha Festivals -- cultural celebrations held on each island that include parades, block parties and special events such as canoe races -- start in September and run through mid-October. This is one of the best times to enjoy Hawaii as a local, not a tourist.
Dreaming of an African safari? It's never a cheap experience, but during September and October -- South Africa's spring -- prices and temperatures are a little lower and the foliage is less dense, making it easier to see animals. Bonus: You might see recently born baby animals up and walking around. Near Cape Town, the town of Hermanus, known as one of the world's best land-based places to watch whales, has an annual Whale Festival in late September or early October, featuring music, crafts and enviro-education.
Before the winter holiday rush, the beaches in Mexico's all-inclusive resorts empty out, and it's easy to find deals. By November, the most dangerous period of the hurricane season has ended, and the humidity isn't as bad (this is considered the dry season for this region of Mexico). Worth checking out is the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival, held in November.
People tend to think of during the summer, when the country's green hills are at their lushest, or the winter, when ski resorts in the Alps such as St. Moritz and Gstaad draw the rich and famous to their slopes. But the weather is still perfect in September, particularly in the southern canton of Ticino, which offers a taste of Italy in its food, wine and even language (the locals speak Italian rather than French or German). Several Swiss towns throughout the country also conduct an Alpabzug, when farmers herd their cows, bedecked in flowers and ribbons, down from the mountain in a celebratory march through the village.
Unlike much of North America, the Andes region of South America has two seasons -- dry and wet. The latter begins in November, so if you're looking to hike the Inca Trail, or just want to marvel at the ruins in this part of Peru, you'll want to go before the rains fall but after the busy summer months (June through August). Another tip for hikers who are doing either the Inca Trail or the alternative Salkantay Trek: Time your visit with the full moons for an outdoor adventure you'll never forget.
September and October are still warm in Arizona, but most of the summer crowds -- usually families on vacation -- have returned home. While this region rarely discounts, you won't have as tough a time getting a lodge or rafting trip reservation, and many consider the hiking conditions ideal. Keep in mind that some facilities close in mid-October and that snow falls on the North Rim as early as mid-November.
New England gets all the credit for fall foliage, but go a little further north into Canada and you'll see the same brilliant leaves, with much smaller crowds, cheaper prices and a French flavor. Go out into the Eastern Townships to taste the fruits of the burgeoning ice wine industry (autumn is also the apple and cranberry harvest season), check out migrating snow geese along the St. Lawrence River, or enjoy a romantic city break in Quebec City or Montreal.