Day 1

Welcome to the mysterious and historical city of Nanaimo, British Columbia, traditional and unceded territory of Snuneymuxw First Nation.

Explore the ancient, the colonial and the sometimes strange history of Nanaimo in this history-based itinerary, which is perfect for the spooky energy of Fall.

Check in to the Best Western Dorchester Hotel, located downtown Nanaimo at 70 Church Street.

Put on your walking shoes and download the Walking Tour App, “On This Spot.” Through this App you can explore Nanaimo’s downtown, using the built-in features to view key locations then and now.

Enjoy lunch at Coach & Horses, located at 321 Selby Street. This pub features some of Nanaimo’s best fare, including a wide selection of vegetarian and vegan food. The building was once the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway Station and retains the character of the terminal, built in 1920 by the Canadian Pacific Railway. The building features a distinctive square central tower.

Spend the afternoon exploring Nanaimo Museum and the Vancouver Island Military Museum. Nanaimo Museum will take you through the history of the region, and features information about the culture of Nanaimo’s First People Snuneymuxw First Nation. Sign up for a guided walking tour. Check out their events page for more information. Fall 2019 tours include: “Crime and Punishment” and Haunted Nanaimo Tours.

Vancouver Island Military Museum hosts British Columbia’s most distinctive and extensive collection of military materials. Volunteers are available to guide you through the material and talk about Vancouver Island’s military past.

Enjoy a Nanaimo Bar at any of our Commercial Street bakeries, restaurants and cafes. For a different treat, and something quintessential Nanaimo, try a deep-fried Nanaimo Bar at Pirate Chips.

A walk through Maffeo Sutton Park will take you to the statue of our Pirate Mayor – yes, Nanaimo’s quirky past includes Mayor Frank Ney’s love for Pirate Costumes (Mayor from 1968 to 1984, and 1987 to 1990).

Day 2

Treat yourself to a delicious breakfast at Nanaimo’s iconic Modern Cafe. Located on Commercial Street, this eatery features its trademark 1940s neon sign. It is an example of a building that has evolved stylistically over the years. It was built in the Classical Revival style in 1910 and was renovated in the 1950s. Today it is home to Vancouver Island’s most delicious mac and cheese, and the signature Nanaimo Bar martini. You will want to make time to return later in the day to sample this!

Catch the foot ferry from Maffeo Sutton Park to the tranquil beauty and soul-soothing respite of Saysutshun, Newcastle Island. Traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, this is a place of healing for Snuneymuxw people. Enjoy an Indian Taco from the Saysutshun Bistro and take a walk around the island to enjoy the beauty and peace of this wide-open space. The island was once a Snuneymuxw Village site. 

Spend the afternoon enjoying a self-guided tour of Nanaimo, either with the On this Spot app or this guide to the historical locations around the downtown core and beyond. Make time to shop in the Old City Quarter, featuring charming historical buildings housing shops for all – booklovers, fashionistas, gourmands and more.