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Nanaimo Bar Trail A Sweet Self-Guided Adventure on Vancouver Island!

Neck Point waterfront park is located within the Nanaimo region on Vancouver Island.
EmilyNorton via Getty Images
Neck Point waterfront park is located within the Nanaimo region on Vancouver Island.

A friend of mine recently moved to Nanaimo and she shared with me that it is a wonderful and often overlooked destination.

I love finding out about cities from a local's perspective. So I decided to spend a few days in the Harbour city and share with you what I experienced. I found the people to be warm and welcoming, and the weather was very nice. It was a wonderful experience and the Nanaimo bars were delicious!

I recently tried the sweet self-guided adventure through the streets of Nanaimo and region. The tour stretches from the region of Lantzville in the north, to Cedar in the south (and now also includes a stop on Gabriola Island!). There are many deliciously creative interpretations of the world famous Nanaimo Bar.

I made most of the stops, (and will be on the stair master for the next six months to burn all of this off!) but here are the top destinations for Nanaimo bars:

Classic Nanaimo Bar

A classic, homemade version, almost identical to the version on display in the museum is available at several coffee houses and café's around Nanaimo. A few favourites are listed below, so you can decide which is your favourite!

  • A Wee Cupcakery - 407 Fitzwilliam St. (Old City Quarter)
  • McLean's Specialty Foods - 426 Fitzwilliam St. (Old City Quarter)
  • Perkins Coffee Company - 234 Commercial St. (Downtown)
  • Serious Coffee Downtown - 300-60 Commercial Street (Downtown)
  • Serious Coffee North - 6357-B Hammond Bay Rd. (North)
  • Hearthstone Artisan Bakery - 115A 50 Tenth Street (South)
  • Javawocky Coffee House - 8-90 Front Street (Downtown)
  • Mad Rona's Coffee Bar - 500 North Road (Gabriola Island)

Specialty Nanaimo Bars

  • Smokin' George's - Maple Bacon Topped Nanaimo Bar & Dulche De Leche Nanaimo Bar, Unit 5- 4131 Mostar Rd. (North)
  • BOCCA Cafe - Peanut Butter, Gluten Free, Seasonal, Chilli, & more, 427 Fitzwilliam St. (Old City Quarter)
  • Hearthstone Artisan Bakery - Peanut Butter Crunch Nanaimo Bar - 115A 50 Tenth Street (South)

Organic/ Vegan/ Raw/ Gluten Free Nanaimo Bars

  • Mon Petit Choux - Wheat Free, 120 Commercial St. (Downtown)
  • Power House Living Foods - Organic/Raw/Gluten Free, 200 Commercial St. (Downtown) or 6560 Metral Dr. (North)
  • Riso Foods Inc. - Gluten Free "Not your Average Nanaimo Bar", #15-7217 Lantzville Rd. (Lantzville)
  • BOCCA Cafe - Gluten Free, 427 Fitzwilliam St. (Old City Quarter)

Deep Fried Nanaimo Bar

Pirate Chips- Unit #1-75 Front St. (Downtown)

Nanaimo Bar Ice Cream Variations

  • Living Forest Cafe - Nanaimo Bar Milkshake (seasonal), 6 Maki Rd. (South)
  • The Bold Knight Restaurant - Death by Nanaimo Bar Martini, 1140 Trans Canada Hwy (South)

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake

  • Minnoz Restaurant - 11 Bastion St. (Downtown)
  • Longwood Brew Pub & Restaurant- 5775 Turner Rd. (North)
  • The Buzz Coffee House - 1861 Dufferin Crescent (Central)
  • Nanaimo Bar Cupcake
  • A Wee Cupcakery - 407 Fitzwilliam St. - Fridays & Saturdays & by chance (Old City Quarter)

Nanaimo Bar Cake Pop

Coco Cafe - #4A - 1840 Cedar Road (South)

Nanaimo Bar Spring Roll

Noodlebox Nanaimo (Port Place) - 107-648 Terminal Avenue (Downtown)

Nanaimo Bar Fudge

Cabela's - 6902 Island Highway (North)

Nanaimo Bar Chocolate

Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut - Country Club Centre, 3200 Island Highway North (North)

Nanaimo Bar Cocktails/Alcoholic Drinks

  • The Grand Hotel - Nanaimo Bar Cocktail, 4898 Rutherford Rd. (North)
  • Modern Cafe - Nanaimo Bar Martini, 221 Commercial St. (Downtown)
  • Bold Knight Restaurant - Death by Nanaimo Bar Martini, 1140 Trans Canada Hwy (South)
  • The Nanaimo BAR - Nanaimo Bar Cocktail/Shot/Martini, #2, 75 Front Street (Downtown)
  • Wolf Brewing Company - Dead Whale Beer + Nanaimo Bar, 940 Old Victoria Road (South)
  • Nanaimo Bar Tea and Coffee
  • Tea Desire - Nanaimo Bar Tea Latte, 16-3200 Island Highway North
  • BOCCA Cafe - Nanaimo Bar Latte, 427 Fitzwilliam St. (Old City Quarter)

Nanaimo Bar Recipe

To get you excited about your visit to Nanaimo, try making your own Nanaimo bars. It is a big part of their history and community.


Coast Bastion Hotel has lovely harbour views and is located downtown. They have newly renovated rooms, Wi-Fi and a great fitness centre. Minnoz Restaurant & Lounge features local seafood, gourmet breakfast and more dishes.

For more accommodation options check out Tourism Nanaimo for more ideas.

Picnic lunch

I love eating healthy when I am traveling (and at home), if you want a healthy picnic try Powerhouse in Nanaimo. They have lots of healthy vegan options too.

Farmer's Markets

Bastion Waterfront Farmers' Market

This popular market is in downtown Nanaimo. Every Friday, the market is held at the Pioneer Plaza with plenty of local products and lively music.

Getting There

To get some spectacular views and try a different way of traveling to the island. Helijet has transportation from downtown Vancouver to Nanaimo, daily.

Or another option is to travel by ferry.

Your suggestions are always welcome, as I continue on my journey to live life to the fullest. Let's explore some wonderful places and have the very best 2017!

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