Nanaimo: just keep driving

We left Victoria this morning to head for the wilderness. Or at least Englishman River Falls provincial park. it’s a very pretty campground with some very, very large trees and on this day it’s almost completely empty. We had our choice of nearly 125 sites before we settled on #87.

We stopped in Nanaimo for some of the most expensive groceries ever and tried to stop for lunch too. After an hour of driving around we just moved on. It seems downtown is completely derelict (they’re building a big casino to spruce things up I assume) and the outer ring is the same fast food chains you’d find in any other town. Not a local diner to be found, unless you count the one with three drunks slumped in front of the door. That’s not exactly “family dining”…

At the campground we met a fellow with two of the biggest dogs we’ve ever seen. A Great Dane and Italian Mastiff. Small horses, actually. The mastiff was originally bread to battle lions in the roman colesium. I believe it.

UPDATE: Tratz comments that we missed the good bits and North Nanaimo is quite nice. We’ll check it out on the return leg!

UPDATE #2: OK, I stand corrected. Once you park and start walking around, it turns out that Nanaimo is a wonderful place. Thanks to the Jeff, Tratz and Mindi for commenting. I wouldn’t have tried it without you!

8 thoughts on “Nanaimo: just keep driving”

  1. I’ve lived in Nanaimo for just a little over three years now and lemme tell you, I’m terribly sorry that your impression of Nanaimo was made in it’s armpit (that being downtown). It’s horrible down there! I lived down there for two years…locked the doors and windows reguardless of who was home or concious.

    Anyways, moving right along here! Should you ever muster up the gumption to visit us again, be sure to visit Central or Northern Nanaimo. It’s farm more pleasant and civil up here. I’m happy I moved up here ;).

  2. Wow, thanks for the comment. We’ll be heading back there for sure at least once on this trip. We’ll get a better map and check out north or central Nanaimo. Can you recommend a local establishment to stop for a nice lunch? At times we’re dependant on our Frommers guide and it is silent on this subject.

  3. There are a few good places to eat downtown, they don’t look like much but misses richys good it’s a block out of downtown. There is a really good sushi place in the mall down town. And normaly acme food company is great but has recently gone down hill as the new waitresses suck.

    North end is much higher class but there arn’t any good local owned places to eat there.

  4. Fortunately for you I have a pile of brochures! Of course this all depends on the sort of atmosphere you want to put yourself in. Fast Eddie’s has a lot of character and great food. You’re also within walking distance of Beban Park from there. That’s in Central Nanaimo. Also near Central Nanaimo there’s the Westwood Lake Park. You’ll find some great outdoor swimming there if you have kids or if you enjoy a swim yourself. The Old City Quarter on Fitzwilliam is downtown but is full of unique coffee shops and resturaunts: Look for the Fitzwilliam Gate. That’s the one true gem that downtown has to offer and it’s easy to miss if you’re sticking to main roads. The north end is pretty generic for dining I’ll have to admit. There’s a few great resturaunts like White Spot, Romeos and our Boston Pizza is really great…but for fine dining maybe not so much. Woodgrove Center is probably one of the most frequented malls on the island and is definately worth a gander if you like to shop. If you wanna look into it more I suggest maybe visiting and taking a peek.

  5. Thanks for the tips folks! We’ll be heading back to Nanaimo in a week or so and now have much more of a clue of what to look for. I appreciate all the advice!

  6. I’m sorry but if you are from Victoria and actually are looking for something that is not a chain or isn’t small town hicksville, please don’t go to either Mrs. Riches or Fast Eddie’s! You’ll just keep thinking Nanaimo is a dump!
    I’ve lived in Vic and there isn’t the culinary options that you have, however we have a few gems. If it’s a beautiful day, go down to the Port (Front St.) and walk down to the marina. There is a floating Mexican restaurant called Penny’s Palapa that makes a fantastic Fish taco. Their nachos are excellent too. Another great place to eat is Delicado’s on Wesley St. If you want to see a quaint part of Nanaimo, check out the Old City Quarter.
    Nanaimo’s downtown is currently undergoing some serious overhaul for a conference centre (thankfully not a casino) in hopes of classing up this joint.
    Nanaimo isn’t Victoria, but it definitely is growing and changing, especially with all the young blood moving here!
    I hope you will come back, walk along the waterfront, check out our awesome lakes, rivers and hikes.

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