When I moved to Bellingham I decided I had to do, see, hike, climb, go to, experience everything there was to experience here in Bellingham. I made it my full time job the first few months, but I will admit I didn’t even get close to doing all of the things. Bellingham is a wonderland, and it will take a while to see, do, and experience everything there is to do here. I am always surprised when I hear people say they went somewhere in town for the first time, but if I am being fair, not everyone makes experiencing Bellingham their job like I did. Discovering these places was like finding a magical wonderland, again and again.
I know there are still things that I haven’t done, but here are a list of my favorite things to do here in Bellingham, or a day trip away from Bellingham.
Whatcom Falls Park
It is appropriate for Whatcom Falls to be my first place listed because it was a first place I went when I moved here. Whatcom Falls has a plethora of trails, and off leash trail for dogs, and a beautiful waterfall on a stunning bridge just a hop, skip, and a jump from the parking lot. Whatcom Falls is my favorite place to walk my dog along the off leash trail to Bayview Cemetery, or along any of the many trails in this area. Find out more HERE.
Squalicum beach, or Little Squalicum Park is a wonderful place to go and explore. When tide is out there are lots of critters you can find in the rocks and dogs love this off leash park. Find out more information HERE.
Squalicum Harbor, which is just south of Squalicum Beach, and north of Zuanich Park is another one of my very favorite places. Walking among the commercial fisherman boats, next to the sailboats and yachts of private owners never gets old. There are plaques around the harbor explaining the different fishing boats and how they actually catch the fish, and it is interesting to see these boats up close. The stark opposites of the commercial fisherman next to the high end yachts is great to observe as you walk by these enormous vessels. Find out more HERE.
Who can visit Bellingham and not walk Taylor Dock? Apparently, a lot of you! Taylor dock, with its stunning sunsets thrills me every time I walk it. It is a short jaunt from Boulevard Park to Fairhaven and worth it. Take a jacket because it’s always cooler on the water, buy a coffee at Woods, and take a walk. Bring your dog, but only on leash. Find out more HERE.
Fairhaven is like Bellingham’s bonus down town. Bellingham was originally four towns that merged in the early 1900’s to form the Bellingham we know today. This is why we have the bonus downtown of adorable Fairhaven. Fairhaven is a charming place to walk the streets, shop at the boutique shops, or eat at the locally owned restaurants. Find out more about charming Fairhaven HERE.
Downtown is Bellingham’s edgy, cool part of town. Nothing is better than walking the streets of downtown at night (when it isn’t COVID times) and watch the people. You will see young college students, 30 somethings out on date nights, Women’s groups out for a night, to every age group imaginable dancing at Boundary Bay’s Brewery live bands or summer’s Downtown Sounds. The streets are full all summer long with people enjoying our long days. Downtown has a plethora of bars, restaurants, theaters…there is always something to do. Enjoy Pickford Film Theater for a movie that makes you think, or a great show at Mount Baker Theater, followed by dinner at Bayou on the Bay then dessert at Pure Bliss Desserts. Or enjoy a game night starting with shuffleboard , darts, and dinner at The Local Public House, to pool at Bellingham Bar and Grill, and end the night with pinball at The Racket.
I first discovered Lake Padden when my daughter and I rented an Airbnb close by when we were registering her at Western Washington. What a treat to find this gorgeous lake with a path all around, about 2.3 miles long. There is also a great off leash dog park here and fields for sports. Find out more HERE.
Community Boating Center
Communnity Boating Center is a local non profit located right off the bay in Fairhaven. Here you can rent kayaks, single or double, paddle boards, and even sailboats and other water craft. They offer lessons, both private and group, and for both adult and youth. It is a great opportunity to get on the bay and experience the best of Bellingham. Find out more HERE.
Marine Beach Park
Marine Beach Park is in Fairhaven, down close to the Bellingham Ferry terminal, and the bus and train station. It is a fairly small park but is easy to access and offers fantastic views of the sunset. Bring your kayaks and head out from here, or just come to sit on the beach and enjoy the serenity. Find out more HERE
Hertz Trail is a flat trail alone the north shore of Lake Whatcom. The trail hugs the shoreline the entire time, and stays flat, making it one of my all time favorite trails. It is 3 miles in to the end, then 3 miles back if you go the whole way. It is a stunning walk during sunset, or really any time of the day. If you are a fan of flat trails like I am, this is your best trail just outside of Bellingham. Find out more HERE
Oyster Dome is one of the most iconic hikes you can do in Bellingham, and it is worth it…not that I have a great picture to show you the view from the top. This photo is the only one I got, and let me tell you holding my phone up was almost too hard to do because I was DYING. I did Oyster Dome right after I moved here and didn’t realize how out of shape I was. It was also a hot 85 degree day. I suggest bringing a lot of water, and a snack, because this is a hike. No, I didn’t start at the bottom. I started where you drive most of the way up and only walk the very last part of the hike, and I still died. I hope to do it again some day and enjoy it more. Find out more about this hike HERE
This is one of my favorite pictures of all time. This was when I was new to Bellingham and I had no idea what Tulip Town was, but a group of us from Bellingham Living made a trip out there. It was freezing cold that day and pouring rain, but we had a wonderful time. It is really amazing to see the tulip fields in full bloom. Find out more about it HERE
Peace Arch Park
Peace Arch Park is a stunningly beautiful park right on the border of Canada. The park is actually half in the U.S. and half in Canada, but while in the park you can roam freely moving from one side to the other. There are gorgeous garden of flowers and it is right on the bay. Definitely worth spending a couple of hours there to experience this unique and gorgeous park. Find out more about it HERE.
Elizabeth Park is located in Columbia neighborhood. It features enormous trees, a gazebo, tennis courts, pickle ball courts, picnic tables, and trails throughout. It is a beautiful place to meet a friend for a picnic lunch or just to chat. I actually had my real estate head shots taken at this park it is so lovely. Find out more HERE.
Mount Baker is Bellingham’s iconic snow covered mountain that is visible from many parts of the city on a clear day. About 1.5 hours outside of Bellingham it is a magical wonderland both in the summer and the winter. If you ski you will love having this mountain so close, and in the summer there are tons of trails you can hike around. My son is modeling here for you in the second picture. Find out more HERE
Fort Casey is located on Whidbey Island and about an hour and a half drive from Bellingham. I am not into WWI or WWII at all, but I really loved Fort Casey. It is an amazing piece of history that is really fun to explore. There are large cannons and buildings you can walk through with quite a bit of learning you can do as well. My son, age 18 in the picture, loved it too. Find out more about it HERE.
If you want to WOW your visiting friends and family, take them to Deception Pass. Deception Pass is a strait connecting part of Puget Sound, Skagit Bay with the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Walking across the bridge is both terrifying and stunningly gorgeous. There is a small beach you can hike down to, and many places to pose for pictures like the one below. One time we saw a family of otters and a sea lion playing in the water just below the bridge. Only about 45 minutes outside of Bellingham it is definitely worth the trip. Find out more about it HERE.
Bowman Bay is a special wonderland I didn’t find until I had already lived here for two years. A friend told me about it and my son and I went with her for an amazing day with her family. The water is crystal ice blue and there are so many trails you can take high above the water with stunning views. It is located just BEFORE you get to Deception Pass, which is why you can see Deception Pass’s bridge in some of the photos. Absolutely worth a day trip out here to enjoy the trails and the empty beaches. Find out more about Bowman Bay HERE!
Semiahmoo is a gorgeous place way up north bordering Canada. Not many people know, but you can take a short 25 minute ferry ride from Blaine harbor and the Semiahmoo spit. You might even get me as your ferry captain. Haha, just kidding…the ferry captain is a great guy that will let you drive the boat for a minute. Once on the spit there are gorgeous places to walk along the water and really appreciate how close you are to Canada. Fun place to explore, and definitely worth a day trip as it’s only about 30 minutes north of Bellingham. Find out more about the ferry HERE, and more about Semiahmoo Spit HERE.
Bellingham Farmer’s Market
Bellingham’s Farmer’s Market is held every Saturday April-December, and every 3rd Saturday January-March, 10am-2pm. It is located at 1100 Railroad Ave at Depot Market Square in Downtown Bellingham….just across from Boundary Bay Brewery. It is a wonderful market where you can find fresh vegetables, fresh flowers, fresh breads, honey, hand made crafts, and so much more. Wednesday markets are supposed to start in June 2021 and run every Wednesday in June, July and August from 4-7pm at the historical downtown waterfront. Find out more HERE.
Lummi Island is a quaint island get away from town with quiet beaches and small town feel. I highly recommend visiting Lummi Island, just a short ferry ride from Bellingham, on the first Saturday of every month when Ann Morris opens her sculpture garden to the public. Her sculptures tell a powerful story amid her stunning 15 acre property. Walk the grounds and enjoy the story while appreciating the natural beauty of Lummi Island as well. Find out more HERE
Bow is a charming tiny town about half an hour south of Bellingham. What’s there to do in Bow? Not much but walk around the few shops and eat at one of the restaurants. It is a biker’s stop and often you will see lines of motorcycles outside a restaurant.
Waypoint Park and Bellingham’s Downtown Waterfront
Waypoint park is Bellingham’s newest park down where the pulp mill was located from 1960-2001. The piece of art called Waypoint ( the acid ball) is a relic left over from the pulp mill days. Waypoint park features a playground, waterfront, and an awesome pump track.
I am not going to lie, I have always loved the scary, spooky stories told at campfires and whispered at sleep overs. I have also always loved old cemeteries, and Bayview is my absolute favorite. Bayview cemetery is a Bellingham city park, so it is okay to walk around there, and I do, often. As you can see from my video Bayview is gorgeous, especially in the Fall. The picture of the Angel below is called “Angel Eyes”. The story goes at night she cries. I took a tour of the cemetery once and the docent said boys just painted clear nail polish on her face to look like tears when you shine a flashlight on her. Outside of Angel Eyes, the tombstones are fascinating to read. You can learn a lot about history in a cemetery. Learn more about it HERE
Good Time Girls History Tours
Good Time Girls History tours are just fantastic. Though the docents dress in period costumes, they are like friends that are sharing what they know with you. I have taken many of their tours, some more than once because they are just as fun and interesting the second time through. The Good Time Girls share the facts of history, along with theGood stories that make learning about Bellingham’s history interesting, funny, shocking, and all together fascinating. Find out more HERE
Naked Bike Riding
At the beginning of June Bellingham hosts a body positive naked bike ride across downtown. It is a beautiful group of people of all ages promoting biking safety, respect for the environment and bike riders. It is a wonderful, positive experience to watch and cheer these brave souls on. Learn more about it HERE.
Explore the Neighborhoods
There are so many charming, unique, grand, tiny, and historical homes throughout Bellingham it is downright criminal to not have explored every neighborhood. Take a drive, take a walk, but know what the neighborhoods around you hold. There are homes with unique decorations out front, glorious gardens, and picturesque scenes. I even love to see the neighborhoods in every season. Get out there and explore!
Search Fairhaven Stones
I had been to Fairhaven several times and never noticed these stones until a friend pointed them out to me. Then I became obsessed with them. All throughout Fairhaven, even on the trails, there are stones. Each stone gives a glimpse into Bellingham’s history. Spend a day exploring and see how many you can find, you will get a great walk and have lots of fun too. Here’s a hint: Start on Harris Ave and work your way down to find most of the stones.
Sehome arboretum is a 180 acre park adjacent to Western Washington University. There is a trail that leads to the top of the hill with a view tower and tunnel (built to drive through in the early 1900’s. It is a great hike with some fun stuff to see at the top. Find out more HERE
Cornwall Park is a 65 acre park donated by Bruce and Bertha Cornwall in 1909. It contains a disc golf course, tons of horseshoe courts, pickle ball courts and tennis courts. It only has 1.5 miles of trails, but the park feels huge. Squalicum creek flows through the park and is a great place to watch the salmon spawn in the Fall. Find out more HERE
Big Rock Garden
Big Rock Garden is a hidden treasure up in the hills of Silver Beach above Lake Whatcom. This 2.5 acre park features 37 permanent sculptures that interact with nature perfectly. It is a great place to visit alone, or with a friend. My favorite part about it is it is this beautiful, special park in an unexpected place, and unexpectedly wonderful. Find out more HERE
Lookout Mountain Preserve
Lookout Mountain is on the east side of Galbraith mountain, and whose entrance is right across the street from Sudden Valley’s Gate 9 entrance. There is a waterfall that is fairly easy to reach, and Rufus Trail is one of my favorite up there. You can find me on this trail about once a week since I live in Gate 9 of Sudden Valley. I enjoy it every time I am here!
Am/Pm beaches are found in Sudden Valley and open to the public. They are exactly what they sound like, two beaches, one that is sunny in the mornings, and one that is sunny in the afternoons. These beaches are great for swimming, launching SUP boards, or kayaks. No dogs allowed, so leave your babies at home, but a great place to come on the hot summer days. Find out more HERE
Stimpson Family Nature Preserve
Stimpson Family Nature Preserve is off Lake Louise Dr so I see it every day, usually several times a day. It is a preserve of old growth forest that was donated by the Stimpson family and is mostly untouched. There is a 3 mile loop, or if you go around the pond it is a total of 4.8 miles long. You will see lots of huge old growth trees, ponds, and a stream as you walk. Please note, NO DOGS ALLOWED on this hike. Find out more HERE
Larabee State Park
Located off Chuckanut Drive, Larabee is a stunning state park with lots of trails and beaches to explore. Catch a stunning sunset, climb the rocks, and look for sea stars are activities you will enjoy here. Bring your kayaks and get out on the water. This is a must see, must do, must go so put it in your plans right away! Find out more HERE
Take the Ferry to a San Juan Island
Drive or walk onto a ferry in Anacortes and visit one of the stunning San Juan Islands. I have been both to San Juan Island and Orcas Island. They both have more activities and sights to see to list here, but the days I spent on these islands were some of the best in my life. I drove my car onto the ferry and was able to spend the day exploring, seeing some of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen. If you’ve never done this I highly suggest you take a trip this summer and use our long days to explore everything that you can! Find out more HERE
Hovander Park/Tenant Lake
I lived in Bellingham for some time before I discovered Hovander Park and Tenant Lake, but when I did I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been there before! Hovander Park is a charming 350 acre park that includes the old home of the Hovander family and lots of farm animals and farm equipment for littles to explore. It is a beautiful place to spend a day walking, I even caught a wedding happening there one day. There are beautiful flowers in the spring and summer, and so much to see and learn on Tenant Lake. Find out more HERE
Arroyo Park is on the south side of Bellingham and includes a plethora of trails to explore. One of my favorite things to do there is watch the salmon spawning. I highly recommend making a visit in the fall when the salmon will be there! Find out more HERE
Phew! I sure have done a lot in the time I have lived here in Bellingham, no wonder I think I moved into a fairy tale! I am sure I am missing lots of important things that I may or may not have done, so please leave a comment and share with us what you would have added to this list. Maybe I will learn something and get to discover a new place or thing to do in or around Bellingham!