Give your family a dose of adventure with these family activities in Nanaimo. This family-friendly community has over 200 + parks and trails to explore, vibrant cultural attractions to discover and many “one of a kind” activities for the whole family to enjoy. With so many options, it can be overwhelming to choose. But don’t worry, Tourism Nanaimo has you covered with this quick-reference list of some of the best family activities Nanaimo has to offer.
Maffeo Sutton Park
Get your play on at Maffeo Sutton Park. Let the kids adventure while you enjoy a peaceful moment near the ocean. The massive playground features wooden climbing structures, rope ladders, slides, and swings. In the summer, this is a prime viewing area for free concerts in the bandshell and a host of child-friendly waterfront events like the annual Silly Boat Regatta, and the World Championship Bathtub Race & Marine Festival.
While you’re there, take a walk along the waterfront and enjoy ice cream together (or a hot chocolate, depending on the season).
Explore Saysutshun (formerly Newcastle Island)
A few hundred feet off the shore near Maffeo Sutton Park is a beautiful island called Saysutshun, also known as Newcastle Island Marine Park. The entire 363-hectare Provincial Park is open to the public year-round and is accessible by foot-passenger ferry or boat. Part of the Snuneymuxw First Nation Traditional Territory, Saysutshun is home to numerous historical sites, more than 20 km of well-maintained trail systems, pristine beaches and steep sandstone cliffs.
If you’re visiting from out of town, book a campsite and get to know the island awhile. In the summer months you can even book time with a Coast Salish guide who provides tours and education about the history and cultural significance of Saysutshun. While this family activity is more of an all-day (or more) affair, it’s well worth the effort.
WildPlay Element Park
If you’re searching for adrenaline-inducing family activities in Nanaimo, look no further than WildPlay Element Park. This massive nature-inspired adventure park surrounds the beautiful Nanaimo River and features 19 zip lines, 67 aerial games, and a 150 ft bungee jump and Primal Swing that dives deep down into the canyon.
Before you take the plunge and adventure out to Wildplay Element Park, be sure to research the access restrictions for the various activities. Children must be at least 5 years old to participate in the Adventure Courses, 7 years old for the zipline, and 12 for the bungee jump.
Other Fun Family Outings
One thing’s certain, there is no shortage of fun family activities in Nanaimo. If you need more inspiration, here are a few more of our picks, from historical sites to culinary delights.
- Watch the cannon firing every day at noon at the Bastion (May – September)
- Grab a trap and try your luck at fishing for fresh crab right off the dock downtown
- Fish in the floor of Canada’s only floating pub/restaurant: The Dinghy Dock Pub
- Catch a free concert in the park at Maffeo Sutton Park during the summer
- Ride the tractor to feed the Bison at Morning Star Bison Ranch
- Pick up a Cedar Yellow Point Trail brochure and visit a cranberry farm, honey farm, hazelwood farm & more
- Sample over 39 versions of the famous Nanaimo Bar along the Nanaimo Bar Trail
- Feed the ducks at Oliver Woods or Bowen Park
- Hit up one of 4 water parks: Departure Bay, Haliburton, Harewood Centennial or Manson Park! (open seasonally)
- Ride the “Gertie” bus, Gabriola Island’s own transportation to check out the “Isle of the Arts“
- “Climb-on” up the wall at the indoor climbing facility, The Romper Room
- Play at Jumping Jiminy’s, a massive indoor play structure for kids