The Best Fall Activities in Vancouver

The Vancouver skyline with the North Shore mountains beyond, December 2009. Vancouver British Columbia Canada.

Ron Watts / Getty Images

If you're planning on a trip to the Vancouver area during the fall months, there's plenty waiting for you in this lively and beautiful Canadian city, from outdoor adventures with gorgeous fall foliage to Halloween (which is a big deal in Vancouver) to film festivals like the celebrated Vancouver International Film Festival.

With mild weather in September, October, and November, plus fewer tourists than you'll encounter in the busy summer, Vancouver is an ideal shoulder-season destination. While you might encounter a few rainy days, it just adds to the atmosphere of the spooky and celebratory season.

01 of 06

Go Leaf Peeping

Leaves on the ground looking at Vancouver skyline

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Although Vancouver's forests are dominated by evergreen trees, there are still plenty of incredible spots to take in the changing colors of fall foliage in Vancouver. Two of the best places to see fall's stunning colors are VanDusen Botanical Garden and Stanley Park. Take a stroll through the park to see the changing colors and pick up some fallen leaves to dry out at home as a memento (check border regulations about carrying plants first). 

Take a trip to the nearby Gulf Islands to see more fall foliage from the ferry and as you drive around the islands. Head to the Sunshine Coast (part of the mainland but a short ferry ride away from Horseshoe Bay) for a spectacular show of fall colors. 

02 of 06

Explore the Great Outdoors

Zipline in Vancouver

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Fall in Vancouver is one of the best times for outdoor adventures. September is ideal with its still relatively warm weather, but October and November still offer plenty of days that are comfortable for being outdoors, and Vancouver is beautiful all season long.

Go kayaking at False Creek (rentals are available at Granville Island) or for zip-lining at Grout Mountain for some adventure—both are within a 15-minute drive of downtown. If hiking is your thing, check out the Grouse Grind, Lynn Canyon Park, or the Diez Vistas trails. You can also take a scenic drive for some less-physical activity. The famous Sea to Sky Highway connects Vancouver and Whistler and is incredibly scenic.

Wherever you're adventuring out, expect some rain and pack accordingly with lots of layers and waterproof clothing. 

03 of 06

Catch Screenings at Film Festivals

Sign for Vancouver International Film Festival.

Lonely Planet / Getty Images

Fall in Vancouver is the season for cinephiles (or anyone who even casually loves movies) because it's jam-packed with film festivals. The biggest film festival is, of course, the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF), which grows more acclaimed every year. VIFF screens more than 300 films from more than 60 countries and attracts industry insiders and celebrities as well as movie-lovers from across British Columbia. In 2019, VIFF runs from September 26 to October 11.

If you're really into the movies, check out Vancouver's other film festivals, like the Vancouver Asian Film Festival, the Vancouver Jewish Film Festival, and the Vancouver Irish Film Festival.

04 of 06

Enjoy Canadian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dinner in Vancouver

Robert Benson / Getty Images

Canadian Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday in October, and that means it lands at the very heart of fall in Vancouver. While there aren't a lot of huge Thanksgiving events in the city, though there are often great meal deals for dining out on the big day, it's still a special time to get together with friends and family. Head out to a pumpkin patch just outside of the city at UBC, Langley, or Abbotsford to get in the spirit of the season. While there's no Canadian Black Friday the day after Canadian Thanksgiving, the country's major retailers often do offer extensive sales on American Black Friday. On that day, shop at Metropolis at Metrotown, British Columbia's largest mall, or the Pacific Centre Mall in downtown Vancouver.

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05 of 06

Celebrate Halloween

The Haunted Mansion at Fright Nights at the PNE

PNE / Playland

The biggest event of the fall season in Vancouver has to be Halloween, celebrated on October 31. Halloween is second only to Christmas in the sheer number of events and activities happening around the city to celebrate this most spooky and fun holiday. Leading up to the big night throughout October, there are parties and haunted houses, attractions like Fright Nights at the PNE, an amusement park that takes on a spooky theme in October, and the Stanley Park Ghost Train, a themed miniature train that takes families on rides through Stanley Park, among many others

06 of 06

Attend Vancouver's Many Other Events and Festivals

Christmas market in Vancouver

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September, October, and November in Vancouver hold the promise of special events, festivals, and cultural happenings, and the changing foliage and seasonal treats only enhance the season's lineup. From musical events to pre-winter festivities, Vancouver is packed throughout the fall.

  • Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival: This event celebrates the full moon, the fall harvest, and the local arts community. There's a fair with games, crafts, and vendors; a lantern walk with live music; a performance by young dancers; and fireworks.
  • Opening Night of the Vancouver Symphony: The season runs from September to June.
  • Taste of Yaletown: This week-long food festival sees local restaurants offering deals on their dishes.
  • UBC Apple Festival: Apples are grown across Vancouver—try more than 60 varieties at this weekend-long festival.
  • The Vancouver Christmas Market: Opening at the end of November, this annual market has more than 80 vendors selling crafts, gifts, and snacks.
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