When the weather outside is frightful (I’ve got you humming now don’t I), and your kids are less than delightful…don’t fret. There are still many places you can go to keep them occupied! Find out where by reading this extensive list of the best indoor activities one can find in Nanaimo.
The following list was updated February 2020
Activity: Indoor rock climbing
Location: 4385-B Boban Drive
Suitable Age: 6 +
Do you often see your child climb to the very top of the monkey bars or play structures? If so, then head to the Romper Room for a great indoor activity. They have a Little Rockers Kids Club that is suitable for children ages 6 – 12. Your child will join other kids who also enjoy climbing (and possibly meet new friends!) and learn new skills.
- Saturday’s from 12:00 – 2:00 pm
- Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s from 4:00 – 6:00 pm
Cost: $20.00 per session, or save big and purchase a 10-day punch card for $150.00.
Important: This is NOT a drop-in activity. You must pre-register by calling ahead. Click on the link above for further information.
Activity: Indoor trampoline
Location: 4381 Boban Drive
Suitable Age: 3+
This is a great place to bring the kids when they are bursting with energy. At Airhouse they can jump until their heart’s content for a two-hour session. There are several options available to you depending on your child’s age.
- Toddler Time – for ages 3 & 4, including Pre-K 5-year-olds.
- An adult must stay on the floor with the child at all times.
- Cost: $15.00 per child (price includes one adult)
- Open Drop-In – for all ages
- 3 & 4-year-olds must be accompanied by a paying adult
- Kids ages 5 – 10 must have an adult in the building at all times (but you are welcome to head upstairs and just observe)
- Cost: $20.95 (plus tax) per participant (all ages)
If you plan on being a regular and want to keep the cost down, they have a monthly ‘Wicked Pass’ (where you have access to all Airhouse locations), or a ‘Local Pass’.
- You must sign a waiver for your child to jump at Airhouse
- All participants must wear grippy socks (you can bring your own or purchase at the front desk for $4.00 per pair)
- Pre-booking is required
For daily schedules and more information, please visit the Airhouse website.
Activity: Multi-purpose indoor playground
Location: #400 – 2980 Island Hwy North (Rock City area)
Suitable Age: The website says 0 – 15 years of age, but I feel it is most suitable for children under 10.
Over 8000 square feet of fun! Enjoy a massive indoor play structure, air hockey, foosball, games room, climbing room, craft area, toddler area, gift shop, birthday party room, and an onsite cafe. You can spend all day here if you like!
- 0 – 9 months: Free (with paid sibling)
- Adults: Free (with paid child)
- 10 – 23 months: $7.95
- 2 – 3 years: $10.95
- 4 – 15 years: $13.95
- Group rates are available
- Frequent visitor passes are also available
- Socks are required (you leave your shoes in a cubby)
- No outside food or beverages are allowed
- Adults must remain on the premise (it’s NOT a drop-off situation)
- There are several other rules that apply
Please visit Jumping Jiminy’s website for hours of operation and further information.
Activity: Motor skill development
Location: Oliver Woods Community Centre – 6000 Oliver Road
Suitable Age: Toddler/Preschoolers
Through climbing, riding, jumping and playing, this is a time for tots to explore and develop their motor skills. Parent participation is required. This is a drop-in program, not a drop-off program.
Dates: Friday’s & Sundays until March 29 (This program may go on longer, but the schedule doesn’t show past this date)
- Friday’s hours: 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
- Sunday’s hours: 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
- $3.75 per child
Further information can be found on the City of Nanaimo website.
Location: Flipside Gymnastics – 1911 Wilfert Road
Suitable Age: 3 – 19
Your children will have the opportunity to explore all of the equipment and try new skills, or just have fun in a safe and supervised environment. Everyone is welcome (no membership required). You are free to leave your child in the capable hands of staff while you run errands or just relax!
- A legal guardian must complete a release form online or at the front desk for all participants under the age of 19.
- Payments are to be made at the door before drop-in time begins, or you can purchase a drop-in punchcard which holds 10 classes (prepaid).
- Register online or at the front desk to reserve your spot. Space is limited and it’s on a first come first serve basis.
- Preschool (ages 3 – 5) & Parent/Tot – Thursday’s from 12:00 – 1:00 pm
- 6+ years (including teens) – Fridays from 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Cost: $10 per participant
Activity: A mental challenge
Locations: Various locations across Nanaimo (see below)
Suitable Age: All ages are welcome to most (room dependent), but I’d say age 8 or older in order to be a contributing puzzle solver.
This is a fun family activity. You will be locked in a selected room for no more than one hour. During this time you must search the room and work as a team to solve the puzzles and escape before the clock hits zero! It tests your ability to work together as a team, as well as your use of common sense.
Cost: Price varies depending on the number of players. Your chances of success greatly increase with more players, and they recommend at least 4 for optimal results.
Activity: Hands-on science
Location: NS3’s Science Studio is located in the new ConnectED building (formerly Mt. Benson Elementary) at 4355 Jingle Pot Road (Room 101).
Suitable Age: 3+
The Nanaimo Science and Sustainability Society (NS3) helps inspire children to develop an interest in science and sustainability through hands-on learning. They have several drop-in programs, as well as a drop-off program.
The drop-in program allows visitors the opportunity to explore the hands-on studio at their leisure.
Times: Thursdays & Saturdays – 10:00 am until noon
Cost: Each participating child is $5.00 (adults are free)
Important: Children under age 16 must be accompanied by a supervising adult
At the drop-off program, students are able to create and program LEGO creations using drag and drop programming, as well as enjoy open explorations in the science studio. It is a 90 minutes session, but students are not required to stay for the entire time. Pre-registration is not necessary.
Times: Tuesday’s from 3:00 – 4:30 pm
Please note: Drop-in programs run September thru April
Activity: Early learning
Suitable Age: 5 and under
StrongStart Early Learning Centres provide a FREE drop-in program for children 5 and under and their parent, grandparent, or caregiver. You can find these programs at many Elementary schools in Nanaimo.
You and your child can:
- Explore with sand and water
- Explore art through a variety of activities
- Develop all the senses
- Learn songs, enjoy music
- Learn fingerplays
- Listen to stories
- Play dress-up
- Climb and slide
- Build with blocks
- Pretend play with toy animals, puppets, trucks, and dolls
- Play with natural and real materials
- Bayview Elementary School – Monday – Friday 8:45 to 11:45 am
- Cedar Elementary School – Monday – Friday 8:45 to 11:45 am
- Fairview Community School – Monday – Friday 9:00 until noon
- Frank J. Ney Elementary – Monday to Friday 9:00 until noon
- Georgia Avenue Community School – Monday – Friday 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
- Ladysmith Primary – Monday – Friday 8:45 to 11:45 am
- McGirr Elementary School – Monday – Friday 8:45 to 11:45 am
- Quarterway Elementary School – Monday – Friday 12:30 to 3:30 pm
Activity: A history lesson
Location: 100 Museum Way
Suitable Age: All ages
The Nanaimo Museum hosts informative and interactive exhibits that tell the story of Nanaimo’s history. You will find award-winning exhibits (The Coal Mine) as well as ones loved by all ages (a replica of a 1920’s schoolroom). It’s a great way to while away an afternoon, and it’s extremely easy on the wallet!
- Adult: $2.00
- Student/Senior: $1.75
- Children (5 – 12) $0.75
- Children (under 5) FREE
Hours of Operation:
- Fall/Winter/Spring: Monday – Saturday from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Closed on Sundays and Holidays
- Summer: Open 7 days a week from May 21 – September 3 – 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Catch a Flick
Activity: Watching a movie
- Galaxy Cinemas – 4750 Rutherford Road (North Town Centre)
- Landmark Cinemas 8 Avalon – 6631 North Island Hwy (Woodgrove Centre)
Suitable Age: Movie dependent and up to the parent’s discretion
Head to the movies for a few hours of entertainment. There are two large theatres in Nanaimo to choose from.
- This one has large cozy reclining seats in most (if not all) of the theatre rooms.
- You can purchase tickets online to make sure you get a spot
- Along with the regular movie fare, they offer a Yogen Fruz (frozen yogurt), Starbucks coffee, and Mini Melts (ice cream treat)
- There are 8 screens, 4 of which are designated 3-D screens.
- You have to pre-book your seat selection at this theatre, so you must book online.
- They have a great selection of mid-day and morning movie times available.
- Varying prices depending on the time of day you watch the movie.
- Movie packs are available for further savings.
Please visit Landmark Cinemas website for further information about ticket pricing and movie times at Avalon.
Activity: Quiet reading, listening, active participation, Lego building or train building
Location(s): There are three public libraries in Nanaimo
- The largest (and oldest) is located in the heart of the city on Diana Krall Plaza (90 Commercial Street)
- The newest one is located inside Country Club Centre near Shoppers Drug Mart (3200 N. Island Hwy)
- The most kid-friendly (and nicest) one is located in North Nanaimo at 6250 Hammond Bay Road
Suitable Age: Any age, but the free activities offered by the library are most suitable for Preschool-aged children or younger.
The Vancouver Island Regional Libraries located in most communities across the Island offer lots of fun activities for young families. And the best part is, they are FREE! There are a variety of storytimes, as well as music, plays, puppet shows, and much more. Each activity is broken down into age groups. On any given day you will find:
- Baby Time
- Toddler Time
- Tiny Tots
- Preschool Time
- Lego Club
- Puppet Playtime
- Family Storytime
- Train Set Playtime (North Nanaimo branch only)
For information on schedule, please visit the Vancouver Island Regional Library website. Select the particular branch you are interested in and it will show you all of the upcoming events for that location.
Take a Dip
Location(s): There are two indoor pools to choose from. (Nanaimo also has an outdoor pool that is operational in the summer).
- The Aquatic Centre – 741 Third Street
- Beban Pool – 2300 Bowen Road
Suitable Age: All ages
The Nanaimo Aquatic Centre is home to one of the largest wave pools in Western Canada. It houses three water slides, a lazy river, and a fun, interactive fishing boat water feature with a slide and climbing net. There is also a separate pool designated for length swimming and diving. You will also find a large hot tub, sauna and steam room, a great swim shop, a large gym, and a cafe where you can buy everything from burgers to sushi.
This centre offers childminding (limited hours) in case you are wishing to swim or hit the gym on your own!
The Beban Pool includes a leisure pool area with spray features and lazy river, a tot pool, aquacise pool, a 25-metre length pool, water slide, hot tub, steam room and diving boards. There is an onsite cafe as well as a workout room.
For more information on drop-in swim times for either pool, please visit the City of Nanaimo’s website.
Head to the Ice Arena
Location(s): Nanaimo has three ice arena’s to choose from.
- The Nanaimo Ice Centre is located at 750 Third Street and features two NHL-size ice rinks.
- Centrally located within the Beban Park complex (2300 Bowen Road) you will find both the Cliff McNabb Arena as well as the Frank Crane Arena.
Suitable Age: All ages (as long as they can skate)
Between the three ice arena’s in Nanaimo, there are plenty of opportunities for public skating.
For a full schedule, (including everyone welcome skate, parent and tot skate, etc.) please head to the City of Nanaimo’s website. Once there, enter the date you are seeking and scroll down the page to find all the activities for the arena you are interested in.
Admission rates for the Ice Arena’s are the same as the pools mentioned above.
Knock those Pins Down
Location(s): There are two locations to choose from in Nanaimo.
- Brechin Lanes – 1870 E Wellington Road
- Splitsville – 171 Calder Road
Suitable Age: 4+
Brechin Lanes is a modern bowling centre that has kid-friendly bumper lanes available. The 5-pin bowling balls are lightweight and easy for kids to use. They have shoes for all sizes, from kids’ 7 to men’s size 20! They offer Glow Bowling, where you bowl in the dark with the special effects lighting. There is an onsite snack bar where you can purchase a few hot food items (pizza, nacho’s, hot dogs, etc.).
Splitsville offers 16 lanes, cosmic bowling, an arcade games room, large redemption prize store, and a full-service restaurant and lounge. This bowling alley uses the larger bowling balls, however, they stock lightweight balls in-house to make bowling easier for children. They also have bumpers so kids can score on every shot, and have ramps available for the really small ones.
Both bowling alleys offer open (public) bowling opportunities on almost every day of the week as well as throughout the majority of the day.
Please click on the links above for admission rates at each bowling alley.
Board Game House
Location: 411B Fitzwilliam Street
Suitable Age: 5+
The Board Game House is one of Nanaimo’s newest attractions. This unique venture, located in the downtown core, is a board game store, café, and place to play all in one. There are over 300 games to choose from, of all types and suitable to varying age groups.
Cost: You can play as many games as you like
- Kids 12 and younger: $2.50
- 13+: $5.00
- $3 Before 3:00 pm Monday – Friday
Hours of Operation:
- Monday: Closed
- Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday: noon – 10:00 pm
- Friday: noon – 11:00 pm
- Saturday: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
- Sunday: 11:00 am – 7:00pm
So there you have it, Nanaimo’s best indoor activities! As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to keep your kids busy even when the weather is not to your liking.
Did we miss anything? Feel free to leave a comment below with your favourite indoor activities.
*Please note, all prices, information, and hours of operation mentioned above are based on a web search as of February 2020. Changes may occur. It is always best to click on any links provided for up-to-date information.
If you are looking for ideas elsewhere, check this list out: Best Indoor Activities in Victoria