The University District is one of Nanaimo’s most-established and most desirable neighbourhoods. Alongside the traditional neighbourhoods of Harewood are new developments like Hawthorne that attract singles as well as families. Much of this popularity can be attributed to the neighbourhood’s central focus: Vancouver Island University where Canadian as well as foreign students receive a world-class education. Shops and services range from the unique such as the shops at Hawthorne Corners near the trendy lofts of the complex to the more traditional at University Village Shopping Centre that offers grocery shopping as well as thrift shops for bargain hunters. Residents can walk to a wide variety of recreational centres including the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre with its top-notch pool as well as water slides, water play pools and fitness area. The Nanaimo Ice Centre and ball fields are just across the way. Outdoor jewels include Colliery Dam Park with trails circling the upper and lower lakes and the Morrell Nature Sanctuary where interpretive trails invite you to visit the duck pond, Morrell Lake and dramatic viewpoints that take in the city and Georgia Strait. The two-hectare Petroglyph Park at the southern boundary of the University District boasts hundreds of well-preserved native carvings of sea creatures, animals and human figures. The neighbourhood also provides access to Nanaimo Lakes, a popular summertime playground that is well suited to camping, fishing and exploring.