48 Best Places And Things To Do in Nanaimo, Canada

Nanaimo, located on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, is a vibrant city with a diverse range of activities and attractions for locals and visitors alike. From picturesque natural landscapes to cultural experiences and delicious food, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Nanaimo. Here are some of the best places and things to do in this beautiful city:

1. Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park

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Accessible by a short ferry ride from downtown Nanaimo, Newcastle Island offers a serene escape with scenic trails, sandy beaches, and opportunities for wildlife spotting. It’s a perfect place for hiking, biking, picnicking, and exploring historical sites.

2. Nanaimo Harbourfront Walkway

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Stroll along the picturesque waterfront promenade, taking in stunning views of the harbor, boats, and coastal mountains. The walkway is dotted with cafes, restaurants, and shops, making it an ideal spot for a leisurely afternoon.

3. Bastion

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Visit the historic Bastion, a wooden tower that once protected Nanaimo’s Hudson Bay Company fort. Take a guided tour to learn about the city’s history, and don’t miss the daily noon cannon firing.

4. Nanaimo Museum

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Immerse yourself in the local history and culture at the Nanaimo Museum. The exhibits showcase the city’s indigenous heritage, early settlers, and its role in the coal mining industry.

5. Protection Island

Image Source: https://tourismnanaimo.com/what-to-do/island-hopping/protection-island/

Catch a short ferry ride to Protection Island, a charming residential island with lovely beaches, a floating pub, and a small but vibrant community. It’s an excellent place to relax and enjoy the laid-back island atmosphere.

6. Nanaimo Bar Trail

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Discover the famous Nanaimo Bar, a sweet treat made of chocolate, custard, and coconut. Many local bakeries and cafes offer their unique variations of this delicious dessert, so take a self-guided Nanaimo Bar Trail to taste different versions.

7. Westwood Lake

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A popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts, Westwood Lake offers a scenic setting for hiking, swimming, fishing, and kayaking. The 6 km loop trail around the lake is perfect for a leisurely walk or a trail run.

8. Nanaimo Art Gallery

Image Source: https://www.vancouverislandfreedaily.com/entertainment/nanaimo-art-gallery-exhibit-explores-life-work-of-overlooked-b-c-printmaker/

Explore the city’s artistic side at the Nanaimo Art Gallery, showcasing contemporary Canadian art and hosting thought-provoking exhibitions and events.

9. Neck Point Park

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This beautiful oceanfront park features rugged cliffs, rocky beaches, and scenic viewpoints. It’s an excellent spot for picnicking, wildlife watching, and photography.

10. Maffeo Sutton Park

Image Source: https://vanislander.com/landmarks/parks/maffeo-sutton-park

Located at the heart of downtown Nanaimo, this waterfront park hosts various events and festivals throughout the year. Enjoy the green spaces, playgrounds, and the splash park during the summer months.

11. Nanaimo Aquatic Centre

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If you’re seeking indoor activities, head to the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, which offers pools, waterslides, hot tubs, and fitness facilities for a day of family fun.

12. Vancouver Island Military Museum

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History buffs will enjoy visiting this museum, which showcases artifacts and exhibits related to Canada’s military history, including displays from both World Wars.

13. Nanaimo River

Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanaimo_River

If you love outdoor adventures, spend a day kayaking, canoeing, or tubing on the Nanaimo River. The lush surroundings and tranquil waters provide an excellent setting for water-based activities.

14. WildPlay Element Parks

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For adrenaline junkies, WildPlay offers thrilling zip lines, obstacle courses, and bungee jumping experiences in the natural surroundings near the Nanaimo River.

15. Gabriola Island

Image Source: https://tourismnanaimo.com/what-to-do/island-hopping/gabriola-island/

Take a short ferry ride to Gabriola Island, known for its vibrant arts community and beautiful beaches. Explore the local galleries, enjoy outdoor activities, and relax in the island’s serene environment.

16. Nanaimo Golf Club

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Play a round of golf at the Nanaimo Golf Club, a scenic course with stunning views of Mount Benson and well-maintained fairways.

17. Petroglyph Provincial Park

Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroglyph_Provincial_Park

Witness ancient indigenous petroglyphs carved into the rocks at this archaeological site, providing insight into the culture and history of the First Nations people in the area.

18. Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival

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Held in July, the dragon boat festival brings teams from around the region to compete in exhilarating races on the waterfront.

19. Whale Watching Tours

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Explore the abundant marine life around Nanaimo through whale watching tours that offer the chance to see orcas, humpback whales, dolphins, and other marine creatures.

20. Colliery Dams Park

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A tranquil urban oasis, Colliery Dams Park features a series of interconnected lakes and walking trails. It’s an excellent spot for picnics, birdwatching, and enjoying the peaceful surroundings.

21. Bowen Park

Image Source: https://www.nanaimohospitality.ca/directory/bowen-park/

This expansive park offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including walking trails, sports fields, a splash park, and the picturesque Millstone River.

22. Helijet Tours

Image Source: https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/helijet-bc-increased-service-free-flights-kids-summer-2021

For a thrilling aerial adventure, take a scenic helicopter tour over Nanaimo and Vancouver Island, providing breathtaking views of the coastline and mountains.

23. Nanaimo Astronomy Society

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On clear nights, join the Nanaimo Astronomy Society for stargazing events, where you can observe celestial wonders through telescopes and learn about the night sky.

24. Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park

Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morden_Colliery_Historic_Provincial_Park

Explore the remnants of an old coal mine at this historic park, where guided tours provide insight into Nanaimo’s coal mining past.

25. Harbour Air Seaplane Tours

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Take a seaplane tour departing from Nanaimo Harbour to witness stunning aerial views of the city and surrounding coastal landscapes.

26. Nanaimo International Jazz Festival

Image Source: https://www.vancouverislandfreedaily.com/entertainment/music-starts-next-week-at-online-nanaimo-international-jazz-festival/

Music enthusiasts should visit during the Nanaimo International Jazz Festival, a lively event that celebrates jazz music with performances by local and international artists.

27. Nanaimo Night Markets

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During the summer months, the city hosts night markets, where you can enjoy local crafts, food vendors, live music, and a vibrant, festive atmosphere.

28. Woodgrove Centre

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Shopaholics will appreciate spending time at the largest shopping mall on Vancouver Island, offering a wide range of stores, boutiques, and dining options.

29. Pipers Lagoon Park

Image Source: https://www.exploratoryglory.com/lake-it-and-love-it-lake-reviews/pipers-cove-nanaimo

This beautiful park features sandy beaches, tidal pools, and scenic viewpoints overlooking the Strait of Georgia. It’s a great place for a relaxing beach day or a leisurely walk.

30. Nanaimo Waterfront Walkway Art

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As you stroll along the waterfront walkway, keep an eye out for public art installations that add character and creativity to the city’s coastal landscape.

31. Nanaimo Fringe Flicks

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For film enthusiasts, attend Nanaimo Fringe Flicks, a film series that screens independent and international films in a cozy theater setting.

32. Nanaimo Yacht Club

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Nanaimo Yacht Club is a premier boating and sailing destination in Nanaimo, BC, Canada. Situated on the picturesque waterfront, the club offers excellent facilities, events, and races for sailing enthusiasts. Visitors can enjoy a vibrant maritime community and take part in various water activities, making it an ideal spot for those seeking nautical adventures.

33. Nanaimo Farmers’ Market

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Visit the local farmers’ market to discover fresh produce, artisanal crafts, baked goods, and other delightful finds from the Nanaimo region.

34. Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park

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Take a short drive to Parksville to explore Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, known for its expansive sandy beach and tidal pools, perfect for beachcombing and relaxation.

35. Little Qualicum Cheeseworks

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Not far from Nanaimo, Little Qualicum Cheeseworks offers delicious artisan cheeses and a chance to meet the goats that produce the milk.

36. Harewood Skatepark

Image Source: https://www.nanaimo.ca/your-government/projects/harewood-skatepark

Skateboarders and BMX riders will enjoy the Harewood Skatepark, a well-designed facility with ramps, bowls, and features for all skill levels.

37. Milner Gardens & Woodland

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Stroll through the stunning gardens and lush woodland of Vancouver Island University’s Milner Gardens, where you can enjoy beautiful blooms and serene landscapes.

38. Standup Paddle Boarding

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Rent a paddleboard and explore the calm waters of Nanaimo’s harbors and nearby lakes for a unique perspective of the city and its natural beauty.

39. Departure Bay Beach

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Relax on the sandy shores of Departure Bay Beach, take a refreshing dip in the ocean, or watch the ferries come and go from the nearby terminal.

40. Nanaimo River Estuary

Image Source: https://www.naturetrust.bc.ca/news/nanaimo-river-estuary-restoration-work

Birdwatchers will appreciate exploring the Nanaimo River Estuary, a designated Important Bird Area, offering opportunities to spot various species of migratory birds.

41. Nanaimo Marine Festival & World Championship Bathtub Race

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If you’re in town during the summer, don’t miss this iconic event, where participants race modified bathtubs across the Strait of Georgia.

42. Makerspace Nanaimo

Image Source: https://makerspacenanaimo.org

Get creative and join workshops and events at Makerspace Nanaimo, a collaborative space for artists, inventors, and DIY enthusiasts.

43. Nanaimo Disc Golf Club

Image Source: https://www.nanaimohospitality.ca/directory/nanaimo-disc-golf-club/

Try your hand at disc golf at this challenging and picturesque course nestled in the forest.

44. Englishman River Falls Provincial Park

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Englishman River Falls Provincial Park is a picturesque natural park near Nanaimo, BC, Canada. Visitors can revel in the beauty of two stunning waterfalls, surrounded by lush forest and scenic trails. Perfect for hiking, picnicking, and exploring, the park offers a serene escape into nature’s tranquility.

45. Frank Crane Arena

Image Source: https://www.cougarshockeyproject.ca/frank-crane-arena

Attend a hockey game or public skate session at this modern ice arena, offering fun for all ages.

46. Departure Bay Centennial Park

Image Source: https://www.nanaimohospitality.ca/directory/departure-bay-centennial-park/

Enjoy a family picnic or play on the playground in this waterfront park, where you can catch a stunning view of Newcastle Island and the coastal mountains.

47. Art 10 Gallery

Image Source: https://nanaimonorth.com/project/art-10-gallery/

Art 10 Gallery is an art exhibition space located in Nanaimo, BC, Canada. This cooperative gallery showcases the work of local artists, providing visitors with a diverse array of paintings, sculptures, and other visual art forms. With rotating exhibits and a welcoming atmosphere, Art 10 Gallery offers a delightful opportunity to immerse oneself in the vibrant art scene of Nanaimo.

48. Port Theatre

Image Source: https://www.porttheatre.com/

The Port Theatre is a vibrant performing arts venue located in Nanaimo, BC, Canada. Visitors can enjoy a diverse range of live performances, including concerts, theater productions, dance shows, and film screenings. With its modern facilities and welcoming ambiance, the Port Theatre offers an enriching cultural experience for all.