September is the start of fall in British Columbia, and the weather conditions walk the line between summery and autumnal. As at other times of the year, there's a lot of variation in British Columbia's climate from north to south and the coast to the mountains. In fall, inland areas tend to be warmer than coastal areas in the daytime but with colder nights. The farther north you go, the sooner in the season the leaves start turning.
On the southwestern coast, Vancouver remains pleasant in September, but the temperatures drop after the summer. It has a minimum temperature of 52°F (11°C) and a maximum of 64°F (18°C). Inland areas are also cooler but tend to be a few degrees warmer than coastal areas. For example, Kelowna, in inland southern British Columbia, has a low of 46°F (8°C) and a high of 71°F (22°C). In northern parts of the province, temperatures drop but are still mostly comfortable. For example, Fort Nelson, at roughly the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska, has a minimum of 39°F (4°C) and a maximum of 61°F (16°C).
Crowds & Costs
September is the shoulder season for travel in British Columbia, after the busy summer when many people take vacations and before the long ski season of winter. The slightly cooler temperatures, general lack of travelers, and lower costs make this a great time to visit the province. You can typically expect lower prices for accommodation and a little more peace in the more popular spots, especially Whistler, Squamish, and Tofino.
Where to Go
Vancouver Island is an excellent destination in September for many different kinds of activities and experiences. Victoria, the provincial capital, hosts exciting festivals (see more below), making it a great city destination alternative to Vancouver. On the southern tip of Vancouver Island, the small city exhibits elements of its British heritage, from double-decker buses and high tea to formal gardens (don't miss the beautiful Butchart Gardens). Explore the attractions and restaurants of the Inner Harbour on foot, including at night, when the Empress Hotel and the parliament buildings are lit up.
To get active in nature, head to the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in southwestern Vancouver Island. Rent a kayak or join a guided tour from Ucluelet, a small town on the northern edge of Barkley Sound. Paddle to some of the many islands in the Broken Island Group, where you can go ashore and hike.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
Lovers of good food and drink should head to the Okanagan Valley, famous for its wines and wineries, in September. Winery tours and tastings run out of the town of Kelowna, which also hosts the Kelowna Fall Wine Festival in late September/early October, around harvest time. Travelers can also enjoy farm tours, visits to lavender farms, and farm-to-table meals in the Okanagan Valley's top-notch restaurants.
To see the changing colors of the leaves in the Rocky Mountains, take a ride on the Rocky Mountaineer Train before it closes for the winter. Various routes and packages are offered, including 2-4 day train journeys and bus tours. All offer fantastic views of varied landscapes, including the Rocky Mountains (as well as parts of western Alberta), Kamloops, Kelowna, Whistler, and Vancouver. It runs from April until October.
Events in September
Kelowna Fall Wine Festival, Kelowna. The Okanagan Valley is famous for its wines, and the town of Kelowna hosts a fall wine festival around harvest time (late September/early October). Enjoy great food and drink in a beautiful setting.
Victoria Fringe Festival, Victoria. Over a long weekend, Canadian and international troupes put on comedy, drama, dance, magic, music, storytelling, and other shows around Victoria.
Victoria Classic Boat Festival, Victoria. Many traditional boats gather in Victoria's Inner Harbour for one of the Pacific Coast's most celebrated displays of heritage sail and power craft.
Vancouver International Fringe Festival, Vancouver. Over 11 days, this festival celebrates all kinds of theater, music, and performance.
Traveling to British Columbia in September? Check out these great itineraries
Pacific Rim Adventure: Vancouver to Tofino Road Trip - 6 Days. Starting and ending in Vancouver, this road trip takes you to the rugged coastline of Pacific Rim National Park. Base yourself in a wilderness lodge or cozy bed-and-breakfast along the coast and spend three days exploring the beaches and rainforest around Tofino and Ucluelet, as well as the remote islands of Clayoquot Sound.
Sunshine Coast & Pacific Rim Road Trip - 8 Days. Explore two of British Columbia's most beautiful coastlines. First, you'll have three days to explore the hidden coves and seaside communities of the Sunshine Coast. You'll catch a ferry to Vancouver Island for two days in the Pacific Rim, home to some of the province's best sea-kayaking and coastal trails.