Bellingham is known colloquially 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 that makes visitors 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, which is incidentally the course for their annual Ski to Sea race. The 94-mile multisport team race brings crowds to Bellingham every May.
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 the throngs of 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 your chest.
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 a particularly iconic tie-dye stand. Info on Bellingham farmers markets can be found on page 40.
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, especially if they bring their pup. 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 may be speckled with IPA-drinking hipsters loading up on oatmeal stouts and vegetarian appetizers, but there truly is something for everyone. Dietary restrictions are rarely a problem in Bellingham, as most 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 niche. An artful town, even the coffee places 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 some more science-minded history can get their fix at the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention or Mindport Exhibits. More information on museums can be found on page 58.
The newest development in Bellingham is the Waterfront District, home to the brand-new Waypoint Park, the Waterfront Pump Park, and the Granary Building, which is home to a few shops already with more to come in the near future.
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 Whatcom County Tourism
Mount Baker Experience
Bellingham Farmers Market
Barkley Village Market
Spark Museum of Electrical Invention
Western Washington University
Bellingham Bells baseball game
Big Rock Garden
Rick Lawler Photography
Bellingham Cruise Terminal
San Juan Cruises
Best Western Bellingham
Wonderland Herbs, Teas & Spices
Windermere: Ron Deboer
Windermere: Brooke Stremler
San Juan Sailing
Kite Paddle Surf
LFS Marine & Outdoor
Tour de Whatcom
Historic Pioneer Village
Holiday Inn Express