Nanaimo activities & events
It’s amazing what you can do here
Thanks to a spectacular location between the Pacific Ocean and Mt. Benson, Nanaimo effortlessly entertains visitors with amazing places, activities and events. The possibilities are endless. Here are some of our favourites.
The Waterfront Walkway
Lined with shops, restaurants, parks and the Fisherman’s Wharf, this paved 5 km (3 mi) seaside trail is only a few blocks away from the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. Other parks and trails: Newcastle Island Provincial Marine Park, Neck Point Park, Westwood Lake Trails, Trans-Canada Parkway Trail.
Departure Bay Beach
This wide beach near the BC Ferries terminal is the ideal escape on a hot day. Other beaches and lakes: Pipers Lagoon, Swy-A-Lana Lagoon, Neck Point Park, Westwood Lake, Long Lake.
Wildplay Element Park
A treetop adventure course, zipline and bungee jumping over the Nanaimo River are 15 minutes from downtown in this forest playground. Other outdoor adventures: hiking Mt. Benson, biking Doumont Trails, rock climbing at the Nanaimo River.
Kayaking in Nanaimo Harbour
Calm waters are perfect for beginning paddlers to circle Newcastle Island, spot eagles or seals, and stop for a snack at the Dinghy Dock Pub on Protection Island. Other activities on the water: sailing excursions, scuba diving shipwrecks, snorkeling with seals, salmon fishing charters.
A temperate climate moderated by the Pacific Ocean allows golfers to play almost every day of the year in Nanaimo or at one of the 19 courses within an hour’s drive. Nanaimo courses: Nanaimo Golf Club, Cottonwood Golf Course, Pryde Vista Golf Course, Eaglequest Golf Centre, Beban Park Pitch & Putt.
Nanaimo District Museum
On the first floor of the conference centre building, this new museum tells the story of the city’s coal mining days, our First Nations, Chinatown and more. Other history and culture: Nanaimo Bastion tours and cannon firings, heritage walking tours, downtown art galleries, performances at Port Theatre or Bailey Studio.
More than 400 slot machines and favourite table games (Blackjack, Texas Hold ‘em & more) are a block away from the conference centre at Casino Nanaimo. Other indoor fun: BCHL Clippers hockey games, 5-pin or 10-pin bowling, ice skating at the new Nanaimo Ice Centre, swimming at the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre.
World Championship Bathtub Race
Each July racers transform bathtubs into motorized boats and embark on a wild ride to earn the title in this 40+ year-old tradition. Other festivals and events: Maple Sugar Festival (Feb), Empire Days (May), Dragon Boat Festival (Jul), Vancouver Island Exhibition (Aug). View Tourism Nanaimo’s Events Calendar
Shopping in old city quarter
Just up the hill from downtown’s core, Fitzwilliam and Wesley streets are dotted with unique boutiques and specialty shops. Other shopping: Port Place Shopping Centre, Country Club Centre, Nanaimo North Town Centre, and Woodgrove Centre.
You’ll find the widest selection of Nanaimo restaurants downtown, with some geared toward nightlife and others suited for fine dining or international cuisine. Other dining: Mid-town and the city’s north end also offer cafes, restaurant chains, classic diners, pubs and fast food outlets.