Among our waterside gems is Fairhaven, a subset of Bellingham, founded as its own town in the 1880s by an entrepreneur and convicted felon named Daniel Jefferson Harris. Fairhaven embraces “Dirty Dan” with a bronze statue that sits in the middle of the Fairhaven green, where on Saturday nights in the summer, locals and visitors alike gather to watch movies together.
The town’s name is derived from a native term, “see-see-lich-em,” meaning safe port. While Fairhaven is no longer the thriving hub of commercial fishing it once was, it still embodies the atmosphere of a safe haven with its cozy community, welcoming shops and bountiful local parks.
A traveler in Fairhaven will be hard-pressed to look down at their feet, as the architecture and ocean views are nothing short of eye-catching. However, the sidewalks in Fairhaven are littered with historical factoids in the form of plaques reminding travelers of the history of this small division of Bellingham.
The shops in Fairhaven offer wares from books to shoes to housewares, gifts, olive oil and vinegar. Restaurants range from casual cafes and sandwich shops to upscale Italian and sophisticated bistros. The nightlife runs the gamut from dive bars to prohibition-era style bars.
Most businesses in Fairhaven are dog-friendly, so bring your pup along and take in the ocean views at Boulevard Park or Marine Park before settling down for a beer at Bellingham’s only dog-friendly, off-leash tavern, Paws for a Beer.
Fairhaven is a beautiful place to take in some sun, shop, eat and experience some local culture.
For more information, visit Bellingham.org.
Arrive on a Saturday by10 a.m. and head straight over to the Bellingham Farmers Market for a quick breakfast and some tasty snacks for later.
With your hiking boots or mountain bike in hand, head to some of the greatest mount biking or hiking trails in Whatcom County. After a good ride or hike check in to The Chrysalis Inn & Spa Bellingham, Curio Collection by Hilton. There you will be able to enjoy a luxurious bath or spacious shower overlooking Bellingham Bay. Schedule a massage for Sunday morning; your tired muscles will thank you.
But as for Saturday night, take the short walk into Fairhaven and over to Stones Throw Brewery for a nice cold one (their ginger beer is amazing). A food truck will be parked outside, so you can eat dinner under the heated tents while enjoying the Fairhaven summer air or inside the pub.
For those interested in beer, Bellingham has more of breweries per capita than Seattle; and Seattle has the most breweries in the U.S. Bellingham’s Tap Trail will help any beer enthusiasts learn about Bellingham breweries.
For those folks more interested in galleries than brews, Fairhaven has an abundance of wonderful galleries, such as Good Earth Pottery, which is right down the street from Village Books and Paper Dreams, a bookstore/gift shop with a little something to appeal to anyone who walks in. If you get back to The Chrysalis before 9 p.m., head down to their spa to enjoy a steam in their slate steam room.
In the morning after a massage at the spa, have some brunch at Keenan’s at the Pier the restaurant at the Chrysalis.
At noon, head into downtown Bellingham and check out the Whatcom Museum. If the day is just too beautiful to stay inside, you can take lessons or rent canoes, kite surfing equipment, paddle boards or sail boats at Kite Paddle Surf , Community Boating Center, or San Juan Sailing.
After a glorious weekend, grab some coffee at one of Bellingham or Fairhaven’s many coffee houses and head on home.