Where art, adventure and brews abound


Bellingham is known locally as the “city of subdued excitement.” This Waterside community will keep visitors busy while making them feel as chill as the growlers in its plentiful breweries. It is a youthful college town where visitors soon feel at home. There is a reason that so many college students and snowboarders end up sticking around the city to raise their families. Come and get rooted, even if just for the weekend.

This Waterside gem sits on Bellingham Bay in view of Mount Baker, and hosts the annual ski, run, bike, canoe and kayak Ski to Sea race. The 94-mile multisport team race brings crowds to Bellingham every Memorial Day weekend.

Regardless of the season, it’s almost always a good time to drive the 39 miles east to Mount Baker. The wildflowers and mountain air in summer are almost as refreshing as shredding with friendly local skiers and snowboarders in the winter. Whether hiking to Artists Point in July or snowshoeing in January, the view will take the breath right out of you.

Within Bellingham city limits, visitors will find lakes, waterfront parks, trails and beaches. Downtown and the up-and-coming Waterfront District are both worth a wander with plentiful local shops, coffee spots and restaurants. 

Take a walk down Railroad Avenue on a summer Saturday and find that you’ve strolled into a bustling and long-standing Farmer’s Market. Visit long-time stalls full of veggies, flowers, hula-hoops, pottery, hot food, and clothing. Info on Bellingham farmers market can be found on page 41.

Bellingham was established as its own city when the neighboring towns of Sehome, Whatcom, Fairhaven and Bellingham amalgamated in the early 1900s. The distinct neighborhoods are what makes Bellingham so unique. Visitors won’t run out of areas to explore or things to do because, in Bellingham, there is always another district (with a different energy) just around the corner.

Local businesses with friendly faces abound in Bellingham; from eateries to bookstores, the locals make visitors feel like regulars. Bellingham is a dog-friendly town, and furry friends will be hard pressed to find an area where they don’t find friendly, petting hands. Bring your dog along to one of the many breweries or restaurants with outdoor seating, because in Bellingham, your dogs don’t have to sit out the fun.

In the evenings, local breweries are often bustling with hipsters downing oatmeal stouts and vegetarian appetizers, but there truly is something for everyone. Dietary restrictions are rarely a problem in Bellingham, as many restaurants have gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options available.

The smell of coffee and delectable breakfast specialties waft through the Bellingham streets in the mornings. There is a coffee shop to fill every desire, a breakfast spot for every taste. An artful town through and through, even the cafés offer paintings for sale by local artists.

If visitors feel inspired to seek out more art, they will find no shortage of galleries, city sponsored sidewalk sculptures, murals and the Whatcom Museum. Those searching for more science-minded history can get their fix at the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention or Mindport Exhibits. Or learn about marine species of the Salish Sea at the Marine Life Center in Squalicum Harbor.More information on museums can be found on page 58.

The newest development in Bellingham is the Waterfront District, home to Waypoint Park, the Waterfront Pump Park, and the Granary Building, which is home to a few local shops and cafés. Check out the Northwest Tune-Up bike and music festival July 12-14.

For outdoor activities, take in a Bellingham Bells baseball game, or head to Lake Padden for paddle boarding. Ride the interurban trail on a bike or stroll through Whatcom Falls and wade in the cool, shaded water. Muse in shades of green while exploring the sculptures in the wooded glens of the Big Rock Garden on Sylvan Street. Beauty in Bellingham is around every corner, so come and seek it out.

For more information, visit Bellingham.org.

Bellingham Kids Corner

Fun and Free: Marine Life Center

Waterfront access: Zuanich Point Park

Playground: Waypoint Park

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