The Getaway
15 Things to Do in Nanaimo, BC

Located on the east coast of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo, British Columbia is a vibrant harbor city that combines urban charm and natural splendor. Breathtaking landscapes, a rich cultural history, and plenty of outdoor activities make Nanaimo an interesting destination that caters to adventurers, foodies, and families alike. Whether you want to explore the great outdoors, delve into the local arts scene, or just enjoy the city's culinary delights, Nanaimo has something for every traveler.


01 Discover the Harbourfront Walkway

Harbourfront in nanaimo

Stroll along the Harbourfront Walkway for picturesque views of the marina and the Georgia Strait. This scenic promenade provides the perfect place for a leisurely walk, jog, or bike ride that showcases the city's natural beauty and vibrant coastal culture. Along this walkway, discover art installations, cozy cafes, and spots to watch seaplanes take off and land.


02 Explore Newcastle Island

Newcastle Island

Take a short ferry ride to Newcastle Island, a provincial park known for its rich indigenous history and tranquil natural setting. Hike the well-marked trails, enjoy a picnic by the shore, or go for a refreshing swim in the clear waters. This peaceful retreat from the city gives you a chance to connect with nature and learn about the local Snuneymuxw First Nation.


03 Visit the Nanaimo Museum

Immerse yourself in the region's history at the Nanaimo Museum. Become captivated by stories of the coal mining industry, the fascinating Snuneymuxw culture, and the famous bathtub races. The museum's interactive exhibits and engaging displays make it an educational experience for all ages, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of the city's past and present.


04 Enjoy the Old City Quarter

Old City Quarter in nanaimo

Wander through the charming Old City Quarter, where historic buildings house unique boutiques, art galleries, and delightful eateries. This area blends the nostalgia of the past with a modern, artistic vibe for a laid-back ambiance that lets you relax and take in the vibe. Take your time exploring the local shops, and don't miss the chance to sample some of the delicious food offerings from around the world.


05 Take a Culinary Tour

Nosh both local and international cuisine when you explore Nanaimo's lively food scene. Featuring an array of restaurants and cafes that serve up delicious food, foodies relish the culinary tours here that let you sample the diverse flavors of the city. Enjoy fresh seafood and sip on craft beer and spirits produced in the area.


06 Go snorkeling with Seals


For an unforgettable wildlife encounter, go snorkeling with the seals off Nanaimo's coast. Local tour operators take you on guided trips where you can swim alongside these playful creatures in their natural habitat. This thrilling experience lets you observe the seals up close and personal, and it's suitable for both beginners and experienced snorkelers for a versatile vacation activity.


07 Visit the Neck Point Park

Neck Point Park

The stunning oceanfront area of Neck Point Park is known for its pebbled beaches, rugged cliffs, and panoramic views. Hike the trails, watch for wildlife, or relax and take in the breathtaking scenery. The park offers some of the best sunset vistas in Nanaimo, making it a favorite spot for photographers and nature lovers.


08 Attend the Nanaimo Bar Trail

If you have a sweet tooth, the Nanaimo Bar Trail is a must-do. Follow the trail to various locations throughout the city to find establishments that put their own twist on the classic dessert. From traditional recipes to creative variations like ice cream and cocktails, this fun trail helps you explore the city and its culinary heritage.


09 Explore the Petroglyph Provincial Park

Petroglyph Provincial Park

Step back in time at Petroglyph Provincial Park, where ancient rock carvings tell the stories of the First Nations people who've lived in the area for thousands of years. The petroglyphs provide a fascinating glimpse into the spiritual and cultural life of the indigenous inhabitants. The park also offers a serene natural setting for a quiet walk or contemplation.


10 Try bungee jumping at WildPlay Element Parks

bungee jump

Adrenaline seekers can head to WildPlay Element Parks for an exhilarating bungee jumping experience. Leap from a bridge over the Nanaimo River, and feel the rush of free-falling in a stunning forested setting. The park also has other adventure activities like zip lines and obstacle courses if you're looking to push your limits.


11 Visit the Ammonite Falls

Ammonite Falls

Hike to the Ammonite Falls, a hidden gem within the Benson Creek Falls Regional Park. The moderate trek to the falls takes you through lush forest, leading to the impressive waterfall cascading over a prehistoric rock face. This peaceful spot lets nature enthusiasts enjoy the sound of the water and the beauty of the surrounding wilderness.


12 Attend a performance at the Port Theatre

Three Actresses in period costumes on theatre stage FOTOGRAFIA INC. / Getty Images

Experience the cultural side of Nanaimo by attending a live performance at the Port Theatre. This modern venue hosts a variety of shows, including concerts, plays, and dance performances. With its diverse programming, the Port Theatre serves as a cornerstone for the city's arts community and provides entertainment for all tastes.


13 Go kayaking or canoeing

Woman Kayaking on a pristine lake, top view peakSTOCK / Getty Images

Paddle the calm waters around Nanaimo by kayak or canoe to explore the coastline at your own pace. Rent equipment from one of the local outfitters and set off on an aquatic adventure. While on the move, you have the chance to discover secluded coves, marine wildlife, and the tranquil beauty of the Pacific Northwest from a unique vantage point.


14 Play a round of golf

15 Things to Do in Nanaimo, BC Thomas Northcut / Getty Images

Enjoy a round at one of Nanaimo's picturesque golf courses. With well-maintained greens and fairways set against a backdrop of mountains and forests, golfing in Nanaimo is both a challenge and a pleasure for golf enthusiasts. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a casual player, the city's courses offer a welcoming atmosphere and amazing views.


15 Relax at Pipers Lagoon Park

Pipers Lagoon Park

Unwind at Pipers Lagoon Park, a coastal haven perfect for beachcombing, bird watching, and soaking up the serene environment. The park features walking trails, tidal pools, and sandy stretches ideal for a family outing or a solitary retreat. With its natural beauty and calming atmosphere, Pipers Lagoon serves you up a slice of paradise without even leaving the city.


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