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Top 10 Things to do in Nanaimo this Spring & Summer

Top 10 Things to do in Nanaimo this Spring & Summer

The city of Nanaimo, British Columbia is especially interesting from two main perspectives: that of the resident and that of the visitor.  For people who live here year round, Nanaimo offers all the amenities of a big city while preserving a sense of old west coast charm.

For visitors, spending time here offers countless opportunities like for hiking, relaxing, dining and exploring.  In that spirit, read about the top ten places you need to check out in Nanaimo this spring.

1. Westwood Lake

A gigantic lake in town completely circled by a walking trail. The area of Westwood lake is great for dogs, walking or running. Although it’s enjoyable throughout the year, Westwood is especially popular in the summer for family swimming or just hanging out by the water.   See a map of Westwood Lake

2. Piper’s LagoonJust north of Harbour Air’s downtown office, Piper’s is a slice of west coast right in the heart of the city. There's a quiet little beach facing the Sunshine Coast and the mountains, plus trails and rocks to climb on for the dog (or the kids!)  Check out pictures from Piper’s Lagoon

3. Asteras Greek TavernaLocated in a century-old heritage home in the old city quarter, Asteras is a quaint restaurant with authentic greek food. Just try not to feel as though you’ve been transported back in time to the shores of Ancient Greece!

4. Nanaimo MuseumFrom Harbour Air’s Nanaimo Base Manager John Winter: “I like to find a bit of history in every town I visit, so I took my parents to the Nanaimo Museum and although it took a bit of convincing to get my wife to go, I managed.  To my pleasant surprise we all had a great time learning how Nanaimo grew up. Plus, it’s like two dollars to go in, so you don’t worry about how much time you spend in there.”    Nanaimo Museum Hours

5. Bocca CafeA ten minute walk up from the main downtown strip of Commercial Street, Bocca Cafe serves authentic Torrefazione (Italian) coffee, sandwiches, juices and “worldly foods” right in the heart of Nanaimo’s old quarter. Sit on the shady patio and enjoy their delicious menu of baked goods (complete with gluten-free choices). Bocca is nestled in a village-type market surrounded by small shops and stores that are handy if you like shopping or browsing for local clothes, treats and trinkets.  See directions to Bocca Cafe

6. Cable Bay Trail

Another gorgeous and secluded part of town to walk around, the Cable Bay Trail is located in the Cedar community just south of town. The trail is a 2km walk that takes you from the parking lot right down to the waterway by the ferry. The end of the trail emerges from the forest to a stunning view of Gabriola island. The trail is nice and quiet; a place to get some solid thinking done. Bonus: The Cable Bay Trail is off-leash, so let the Fido free!  See a map of the Cable Bay Trail

7. Newcastle Island and Protection IslandAccess to Canada’s only floating pub, on a barge close to the shore, requires a small ferry ride:The Dinghy Dock Pub is moored to Protection Island and will most likely make you feel like a pirate. Newcastle Island is a nearby provincial park where you can hike for the day or camp overnight, possibly after spending some time wearing an eyepatch at the Dinghy Dock. Arrrrrr!

8. Harbourfront Walkway at McGregor Park

Right in front of our Nanaimo offices, the Harbourfront Walkway a is gorgeous (and free) way to see the entrance of the city - from the boats to the float planes to all the birds and seals and people who come down to the waterfront to hang out.  

9. Englishman River Falls Provincial ParkAbout 45 minutes out of town, Englishman River Falls offers both serene hiking and mountain biking trails and cool rushing water. A truly vintage west coast habitat that’s a must-see for anyone who hasn’t been to Vancouver Island before.   See more images of Englishman River Falls

10. The Water From a CanoeThe frame that makes Nanaimo the beautiful city it is, there’s nothing like floating around on the water in the harbour to take in the true essence of west coast charm. Bring your own canoe or join a kayak tour and see Nanaimo the way it was meant to be seen