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15 Things to Do in Nanaimo, BC

Nestled on the east coast of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo, British Columbia, is a vibrant harbor city that offers a blend of urban charm and natural splendor. Known for its breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural history, and a plethora of outdoor activities, Nanaimo is a destination that caters to adventurers, foodies, and families alike. Whether you're looking to explore the great outdoors, delve into the local arts scene, or simply enjoy the city's culinary delights, Nanaimo has something to offer for every traveler.

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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 is perfect for a leisurely walk, jog, or bike ride. Along the way, you'll find art installations, cozy cafes, and spots to watch seaplanes take off and land. The walkway is a great place to appreciate Nanaimo's natural beauty and vibrant coastal culture.

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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. The island is a peaceful retreat from the city, offering visitors a chance to connect with nature and learn about the local Snuneymuxw First Nation.

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03 Visit the Nanaimo Museum

Immerse yourself in the history of the region at the Nanaimo Museum. Discover the 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 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. 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.

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05 Take a Culinary Tour

Nanaimo is home to a vibrant food scene, with an array of restaurants and cafes serving up local and international cuisine. Embark on a culinary tour to taste the famous Nanaimo bar in its hometown, enjoy fresh seafood, and discover the craft beer and spirits produced in the area. Foodies will relish the opportunity to indulge in the diverse flavors of the city.

06 Go snorkeling with Seals

seal

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

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07 Visit the Neck Point Park

Neck Point Park

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

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08 Attend the Nanaimo Bar Trail

The Nanaimo Bar Trail is a must-do for anyone with a sweet tooth. Follow the trail to various locations throughout the city that put their own twist on the classic dessert. From traditional recipes to creative variations like ice cream and cocktails, the trail is a fun way to 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 have lived in the area for thousands of years. The petroglyphs are 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.

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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 offers other adventure activities like zip lines and obstacle courses for those looking to push their limits.

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11 Visit the Ammonite Falls

Ammonite Falls

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

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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, dance performances, and more. With its diverse programming, the Port Theatre is a cornerstone of the city's arts community and provides entertainment for all tastes.

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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. You'll have the chance to discover secluded coves, marine wildlife, and the tranquil beauty of the Pacific Northwest from a unique vantage point.

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14 Play a round of golf

Thomas Northcut / Getty Images

Golf enthusiasts can 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. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a casual player, the city's courses offer a welcoming atmosphere and stunning views.

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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 is a slice of paradise within the city.

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