A guide to discovering the region’s natural beauty and culinary delights.
Centrally located on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo is known for its rustic beauty and proximity to fantastic day trip destinations. With a new wave of restaurants inspired by the region’s natural charm, Nanaimo is now also becoming recognized as one of the premier culinary destinations in B.C.
From gourmet food and wine to day trips and trails, Nanaimo offers plenty to indulge in. Remember, it’s just a short flight away.
BREAKFAST AND BRUNCH
Gabriel’s Gourmet Cafe serves farm-to-table cuisine offering bistro classics and internationally inspired dishes. Gabriel’s is all about balancing bright flavours with bold indulgence. Menu items range from sandwiches and wraps to rice bowls, but are a cut above typical “casual-fare”. From wild salmon burgers to coconut milk pancakes with bourbon maple syrup, Gabriel’s is simple, satisfying, and brimming with elegance, just like Nanaimo.
After brunch, be sure to check out Nanaimo Art Gallery and Nanaimo Museum, or take a public art walk through the downtown core. If you had an extra serving of French toast that you’re hoping to work off, walk the trail around Westwood Lake. For something a bit lighter, traverse the shorelines of any of Nanaimo’s beautiful beaches.
Smokin’ George’s BBQ is a local favourite that serves the tastiest, smokiest, most delicious BBQ on the Island. They chop seasoned wood for their smoker every day, resulting in the most mouth-watering pulled pork, beef brisket, pork ribs, chicken, and sausage you’ve ever tasted. That’s probably why they were featured on the Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here! Get your order to go and enjoy a picnic at one of the area’s parks, lakes or trails.
Shop the Old City Quarter, one of Nanaimo’s most distinct neighbourhoods. Home to an eclectic group of businesses including specialty shops, boutiques, and of course, restaurants, it’s a great place to get a feel for Nanaimo’s distinct island character.
COFFEE AND SNACKS
A slice of Paris on Vancouver Island! Mon Petit Choux is the perfect place to take a mid-day rest. Savour the taste of authentically baked French pastries, enjoy a simple breakfast anytime of the day or just sip some coffee before heading out to explore the area some more.
Welcome to the The BC Ale Trail, a distinct collection of breweries, natural beauty and agriculture interwoven throughout B.C. Here in Nanaimo, you can sample brews from three breweries and one brew pub. . Grab a flight at a tasting room or fill your growler before hitting some mountain biking trails.
White Sails Brewing is an award-winning brewery where you and your friends can actually watch the beer making process as you enjoy their original brews. A gathering space where people can meet, relax and celebrate, White Sails also offers small plates courtesy of local food vendors. You can even order pizza from a local pizzeria and have it delivered right to your table!
Longwood Brewery is “obsessively local” and sources almost all of its ingredients from Vancouver Island farms, including produce that makes for some tasty varieties (beet beer!) Longwood Brewery is a tasting room, so come fill your growler and taste a flight. It’s sister location is Longwood Brew Pub, which brews beer and offers delicious pub fare perfect for catching up with friends.
Wolf Brewing Company offers locally brewed beer featuring bottle artwork by local designers, illustrators and artists. Committed to the ‘local’ scene, head brewer Kev War sources many of his ingredients locally including raw honey from ‘Frederichs Honey Farm’ in Cedar and fresh hops from the nearby ‘Cedar Valley Hop farm’. B.C. and Canadian barley form the bulk of Wolf’s grain bill and the spent grain is turned over to local farmers for additional use as animal feed.
Fiddlehead Bistro serves a revolving menu of fresh seafood to best suit what is in season on the Island. With a fine dining take approach to local flavours, this is the perfect date destination for those who are visiting Nanaimo with their loved ones. Fiddlehead has also pioneered on the island unique dining events, such as “Adventure Dining”; an opportunity to meet new people and have new experiences accompanied by delicious food.
Chateau Wolff Estate Winery boasts some of the oldest vines planted on Vancouver Island and is tended to organically, with a focus on growing grapes for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Millstone Estate Winery is a small, family-run organic vineyard that produces handcrafted wines, with a particular focus on Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Ortega and Gwertz. With an emphasis on classic and cultivated wines, Millstone Estate showcases the local terroir and the vineyard’s own unique wine making techniques, including using chickens to control the vineyard’s bug population.
If you’re a fan of spirits, be sure to visit Arbutus Distillery, who uses only 100% B.C. grown agricultural fermentables and even grows a large portion of their own botanicals on-site. All of their spirits are crafted from scratch, brewed, fermented, distilled and bottled in-house. Be sure to enjoy some live music and spirit tastings/flights at their beautiful tasting lounge and cocktail bar.
MORE LOCAL FUN
Outdoor adventurers and nature enthusiasts will find everything they’re looking for right outside their hotel’s doorstep. Nanaimo features lakes, waterfalls, a stunning harbour, beach-front, lake-front or mountain hiking and biking opportunities. Centrally located on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo is also close to other island destinations, such as Tofino, Parksville and Victoria.
With daily flights departing to and from Vancouver, starting at just $89 each way, Nanaimo is the ultimate destination for those looking to indulge in the natural wonders of B.C., while also enjoying some great food and drink along the way.
To learn more, visit flyto.nanaimoairport.com
You can also connect with the Nanaimo Airport on Facebook.