Gorgeous Northwest views, nestled in between Seattle and Vancouver BC, and home of the most legit hippies. I was lucky enough to call this charming city ‘home’ for 20 years, and after all that time I have a modest idea of what to see when you are passing through!
Visit Historic Fairhaven
Fairhaven was once its own small town but was combined with others in the area to create the modern day city of Bellingham. It has excellent views of Bellingham Bay and is the endpoint for the famous annual Ski to Sea relay race. The Fairhaven district maintains a 1900’s brick-dominated appearance, and all modern construction mimics these old features. Aside from cozy shops, cafes, restaurants, and museums, it is simply a beautiful area to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere. Every Wednesday there is a Farmers Market, and in the same space during the summer are weekly outdoor films. It also has trails to nearby Boulevard Park, which you can read more about below!
Have a Beer
Since 1995 at the opening of Boundary Bay Brewery, Bellingham has become a scene for award-winning craft brews. There is an abundance of breweries for this modest-sized town, and the demand is raging since there are even more scheduled to open doors in the next few years. Here are a few of my personal favorites!
- Boundary Bay Brewery is a long-time favorite, and considered the grandfather of the Bellingham beer scene, winning yearly awards and continuing to brew beers that the locals know and love. The downtown location has both indoor and outdoor seating, and space to host local music groups on a weekly basis. The food is excellent as well!
- Aslan Brewery is fairly new to the area, opening in 2014 and is a completely organic brewery. They have already made quite a splash, particularly with the college-aged crowd, due to its proximity to the university. The interior is spacious and hip, with large local photography and art adorning the walls. The food is also fantastic, with a limited but absolutely stellar menu. This one is a must visit!
- Kulshan Brewery is a smaller but cozy brewery in the Sunnyland neighborhood, with rotating guest taps and their own brews. They do not have their own kitchen, but allow a food truck to park on the property to satisfy any food cravings. They have recently opened a new location named K2, but unfortunately I have not had the chance to visit this one yet!
- Wander Brewing is located out of the way in a former warehouse, and are known for their Belgian-style beers. They also support a rotation of food trucks on site, and dogs are a welcome guest inside or out. This is a particular favorite of mine after a day of skiing, and I am never the only one sporting my bulky ski-pants and some fantastically-touseled hair.
- Stones Throw is brand new in Fairhaven but does not disappoint! The beers are delicious. Although the inside seating is limited, the expansive outdoor seating is bursting with beautifully crafted wooden tables, seats, fireplaces, and benches, with an inviting Northwest vibe.
Visit Mt. Baker
Bellingham is built right on the Puget Sound, but only about an hour drive to the West lies Mt Baker, a world-famous ski area with excellent yearly snowfall. In the summer it is also used as mountain bike terrain, and with two lodges and 9 lifts, it can hold quite a few visitors. The ski slopes range from true beginner to expert and usually has at least one operating terrain park. The downhill ski season generally starts in late November or December and lasts until March or April. (Sorry I don’t have a nice snapshot, but it is quite beautiful. Check out these photos!)
Take a Hike
A popular local pastime is hiking on one of the hundreds of trails in the Bellingham area. There are trails throughout the city, as well as tracks snaking up and down the hills and mountains all around the county. Some popular trails are Artists Point, Heliotrope Ridge, and Oyster Dome, but there are many more at all levels of difficulty. A full list of trails and distances can be seen here!
Try the Local Food
As an environmentally conscious community, many restaurants actively support local farmers and business in their menus. Washington State is known for it’s apple, grape, and hops agriculture, but local farmers also support a lot of other produce alongside their livestock. There is a largely popular Saturday market in downtown Bellingham which sells just as much local art and jewelry as it does produce and food. Particularly in the Summer, the market is packed full of people arriving with empty baskets and leaving with mounds of local produce. The atmosphere is friendly, welcome, and certainly worth checking out!
Grab some Coffee
With the original Starbucks only 90 miles south of Bellingham, the coffee culture is taken quite seriously. Aside from dozens of Starbucks, Bellingham also supports local chains and coffee roasters aplenty. We Washingtonians drink coffee like water, and you can expect to fight for a place to sit amongst the visitors, students, and work-at-home individuals. Two of my favorite local cafés are Espresso Avellino, and Caffe Adagio, located on Railroad Avenue downtown. Both places have talented latte artists, a full range of dairy-free milks, as well as all sorts of baked goods with sugar free, vegan, and gluten free options.
Visit Boulevard Park
This park is an absolutely gorgeous stretch of water between downtown Bellingham and Historic Fairhaven. People come to read, sunbathe, walk their dogs, and watch some of the most beautiful sunsets you could possibly imagine. Bellingham does not get warm often, but on a hot day this park is bustling in every corner. It is not really a swimming area since the park is on Bellingham Bay, but that will not stop people wearing bikini’s and playing a game of frisbee.
I hope I have done my beautiful hometown some justice! I had a lot of fun walking through my favorite spots and trying to get the essence of the town. Let me know if you have ever been in that area, I would love to hear about it!