Day 1

Arrive in Nanaimo and start your day with a delicious brunch at Minnoz Restaurant in the Coast Bastion Hotel in Downtown Nanaimo – go for the classic eggs Benedict or treat yourself to the seafood omelette, stuffed with shrimp, crab, and red potatoes. You’ve got a busy day ahead of you, so make sure you fuel up.

Shopping for the perfect gift

Downtown Nanaimo has a fantastic selection of boutiques and shops with the ideal gift for the special people in your life. Explore the Old City Quarter to discover an eclectic collection of excellence – fine yarns at Mad About Ewe, and gently used fashion in Charlie’s Closet or Yours and Mine, and Woofles Barking Boutique has tasty, homemade treats for your furry friends.

Carol for Cocao

Stop at Bocca for a coffee and a Nanaimo Bar, and see why they’re one of the favourite stops on the Nanaimo Bar Trail. There are many ways to enjoy this sweet treat, but the best is with friends. Take a moment to relax, recharge, and refocus on your gift list, and then it’s time to explore the rest of the shops in the neighbourhood. At Lobelia’s Lair, you can learn what the future has planned for you, and find crystals, lotions, potions, and more for the spiritual person on your list. Then visit Luscious Me for a slinky-something that puts a little spice in your ‘nog.

Peek under the tree

For lunch, head south to the Calico Cat Tea House, where you can have a delicious meal in a 1910-character home with original stained-glass windows and fireplace. Get a glimpse of your future from a professional tea leaf reader, and enjoy one of the most amazing scones you’ll ever have. A fun experience, but don’t ask them to reveal what’s under the tree from Santa.

Merry giving

After your meal, head to the Arts District on Commercial Street to explore Hill’s Native Art, home to authentic masks, totems, talking sticks, and Cowichan knit sweaters that make a perfect gift for anyone that respects the cultural building blocks of our community. In the Art Lab at the Nanaimo Art Gallery, you can learn how to make a piece of art to give to someone special. The gift stores in the Art Gallery and the Nanaimo Museum offer creative, one-of-a-kind gifts for the art lovers on your list.

Pop into Artzi Stuff to find uniquely fabulous jewellery, gifts, and original art by local artists. Check out the handbags and outfits at Quintessential; discover style with substance at Lucid clothing; and shop for understated elegance for yourself or a very good friend at Flying Fish.

Festive Fuel

The choices for supper in Nanaimo are as varied as the shopping options, but there’s something delicious wherever you go. Take a break from the winter weather with an authentic Mexican meal at Gina’s Café, overlooking the busy city from a unique perspective. Or go for legendary comfort food at Pirate Chips – leave room for a deep-fried Nanaimo Bar!

End your day with a hot tea, coffee, wine, or beer overlooking Departure Bay and Saysutshun (Newcastle Island) at Drip Coffee Social, then head back to your hotel and enjoy the sleep of the satisfied, knowing you’ve found the perfect gift for the important people in your life.

Day 2

Start your shopping day at Woodgrove Centre in the north end of Nanaimo, with the big brands you know as well as interesting and exciting local vendors showcasing ornaments and goodies that will earn you the title of best-gift-giver ever. Head over to Nanaimo North Town Centre to find another selection of shops, including local favourites and Canadian icons.

A sleigh of sushi

Just a step away from Nanaimo North Town Centre, stop for lunch at Dami Sushi, a little restaurant that’s big on taste. Make sure to try the Monkey Brain appetizer – a terrible name for a delicious avocado and crab meat treat. If you’re not in the mood for sushi, cross the road to Smokin’ George’s BBQ restaurant, Nanaimo’s only authentic BBQ – you probably saw this on the Food Networks’ You Gotta Eat Here with John Catucci.

Fes-tea-vities for all

After lunch, head south to Country Club Centre, with a fantastic blend of local and chain stores offering everything you need to make the holiday special. Find gifts to engage the minds and unlock the imaginations of the children in your life, and homewares for yourself or the practical person on your list. Stop for a Nanaimo Bar Tea Latte at Tea Desire – another great stop on the Nanaimo Bar Trail.

Take a break from shopping to explore the Harbour City – with friendly people, delicious flavours, and incredible scenery everywhere you look. The mild climate takes the edge off winter and creates a welcome sense of community, no matter where you’re from. Watch a live presentation of a holiday favourite at the Port Theatre, or take a tour of the city and enjoy the brilliant holiday displays created by residents and local businesses – we truly love to shine in Nanaimo.

Rest and relax

End your shopping extravaganza curled up by a crackling fire at the White Sails Brewery, enjoying your post-shopping bliss with delicious craft beers that provide a taste of Nanaimo you’ll remember for many Christmases to come.