DAY 1 – Treetop adventure
Start with a sure-fire kid win: Breakfast downtown at Waffle Magic. Does it get any better than a cookies-and-cream waffle for them and a Brie/walnut/honey rendition for you? Walk off the sugar high on the paved path that lines the Nanaimo Harbour, connecting parks, playgrounds, shops, and the wharf. Stop here in Maffeo Sutton Park to see the Indigenous totem and take a pic in the giant N-A-N-A-I-M-O letters with a gorgeous ocean and mountain backdrop. Also, the new waterfront playground here is epic. Grab a coffee near the wharf at Javawocky or head straight up the hill for lunch at the colourful, casual Gina’s Mexican Café. Next, take your little monkeys to the forest for a treetops course (ages 5+) or river canyon zipline (ages 7+) experience they’ll never forget at WildPlay Nanaimo. End the day with wood-fired pizza at La Stella, either dine-in downtown or carry out at the north location.
DAY 2 – Park to pool
Get everyone up and moving at Bowen Park, an urban forest with a waterfall and a stunning rhododendron grove that peaks in April and May. Kids especially love the duck pond, and you can access it on trails or paved stroller-friendly walkways. Before anyone gets hangry, break for brunch downtown at Gabriel’s Café and order green eggs and ham. Next, hit the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre. With one of the largest wave pools in Western Canada, two-story waterslides, and a lazy river, the NAC really can entertain the whole family. Pick up dinner at Smokin’ George’s BBQ, known for beef brisket sandwiches and pulled pork mac and cheese. If you’re up for some after-dinner fun, take the family five-pin bowling at Brechin Lanes.
DAY 3 – Baby animals and trails
Begin your last day petting adorable mini breeds of goats, horses, pigs and more at Yellow Point Farms or Superior Farms. The best time to visit is March or later, but over-the-fence encounters are possible earlier at Yellow Point Farms. After a Superior Farms visit, head across the highway to the Snaw-Naw-As Shell gas station. This hidden gem is packed with Indigenous puzzles, books and toys. For lunch, go for burgers at Mrs. Riches Restaurant downtown. Then make your way to Neck Point Park, where a loop trail leads through the forest and along the peninsula’s coastline with incredible views. Watch for the fairy houses built into the base of several trees along the trail. For dinner, get ready for a unique experience at Pirate Chips with a pirate-themed menu that has every imaginable type of poutine, deep-fried Nanaimo Bars (Yes, it’s on the official Nanaimo Bar Trail!), and rave-worthy fish and chips.