The Islands Travel Region
Nanaimo, British Columbia

Nanaimo, 68 miles / 110 km north of Victoria, is British Columbia's third-oldest city and the second largest city on Vancouver Island. Nanaimo is best known for its meandering walking tours of 19th century buildings and delightful waterfront vistas. Historic landmarks such as the Nanaimo Bastion, a former Hudson's Bay fort dating back to 1853, the Miner's Cottage (1897) and the 1898 elegantly steepled St. Andrews Church, are dotted throughout the city. Summer evenings are commemorated in traditional BC style on the Bastion grounds, replete with Scottish bagpipes and a ceremonial cannon firing.

Go Northwest photo by Ray Maxwell.

The walking tour of Nanaimo is generally not complete without a stop at the Scotch Bakery, home of the world-famous Nanaimo Bar confection. There are also numerous restaurants, tea shops and coffee bars to sample in the Old City Quarter, where antique stores and gift shops provide a reflective glimpse into Nanaimo's early history.

These days, Nanaimo's notoriety as the bathtub racing capital of the world gains almost as much attention as the city's historic roots. Started in 1967, the Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society's wacky races lay proof to the claim that with enough ingenuity, one can make just about anything float. Scheduled in July, the races are still considered one of BC's more popular festival events.

Nanaimo's rich Native history as an ancient meeting place for five separate First Nations communities can be appreciated at Petroglyph Provincial Park, on the south end of the city. The rock carvings date back more than 1,000 years and can be viewed throughout the park.

Recreation is year-round. Vancouver Island is famous for whale watching, birding and kayaking opportunities. Numerous cruises depart from the Nanaimo area throughout the summer. Winter recreation at Vancouver Island's Mt. Washington includes 1,200 acres of alpine skiing and snowboarding and 35 miles of Nordic skiing trails.

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