Explore trestle bridges, trains and timber at the BC Forest Discovery Centre in Duncan, about an hour south of Nanaimo. Ride a train, check out the many indoor and outdoor displays - including an impressive collection of locomotives - and see what life was like in a logging camp in the 1930s.
Next, head to the historic seaside city of Nanaimo
, where the ferry from Vancouver arrives. Visit the Sports Hall of Fame exhibit in the Nanaimo Museum
, then stroll to the waterfront for a cannon-firing demonstration at the Nanaimo Bastion, a 160-year-old fortress.
For an energetic day out, tackle the aerial adventure course at WildPlay Element Parks
, where ziplines, bridges and rope swings are suspended high in the trees (daring parents can try bungy jumping), or head out to the harbour to snorkel with seals (Sundown Diving offers snorkelling trips). In summer, hop the Nanaimo Harbour Ferry for a day of biking, hiking and beachcombing on Newcastle Island, a car-free island in the harbour.
Book your family’s overnight stay at a suite overlooking the harbour at the historic Best Western Plus, Dorchester Hotel
. In the morning, it’s French toast at Mon Petit Choux, a French bakery and café near the harbour. For lunch, grab burgers at Tina’s Diner, an authentic 1950s diner downtown, or take the kids on a fun passenger-ferry ride to the Dinghy Dock Pub
, Canada’s only floating pub and restaurant.
A great time to visit Nanaimo is during the World Championship Bathtub Race, part of July’s annual Nanaimo Marine Festival. Watch competitors race bathtubs around the harbour.