Bellingham has found a new identity over the past few years as a destination full of great craft breweries, but its connection to the outdoors remains as timeless as nature itself. With numerous parks in and around town, and Bellingham Bay on its doorstep, the area is packed with activities for the outdoor enthusiast.
Choose Your Activity. The 3.5 miles of trails in Whatcom Falls Park (Bellingham, 1401 Electric Ave.; 360.778.7000; bellingham.org), just east of downtown, are a draw for hikers. Pathways offer views of the eponymous waterfall from a mossy arched stone bridge, traverse along the creek and through meadows, and plunge into the depths of the forest.
Mountain-biking enthusiasts of every skill level can head to Galbraith Mountain Bike Park (Bellingham, north entrance, 1206 Birch St.; 360.778.7000; wmbcmtb.org/galbraith) for 50 miles of trails spread over 3,000 acres of forest overlooking the city and Bellingham Bay.
Want to get out on the water? Rent a kayak from the Community Boating Center (Bellingham, 555 Harris Ave.; 360.714.8891; boatingcenter.org) or LFS Marine and Outdoor (Bellingham, 851 Coho Way, Bellingham; 360.734.3336; lfsmarineoutdoor.com) and head across Bellingham Bay to nearby Lummi Island. The undeveloped southern half of Lummi contains a campground, accessible only by kayak, which features camp sites, a loop trail and bathrooms. Launch your kayak from anywhere in town and aim for the northern tip of Eliza Island to reach the campground.
Walk on Water. At Taylor Dock, located within Boulevard Park in the South Hill neighborhood (Bellingham, 470 Bayview Drive, Bellingham; 360.778.7000; cob.org), a stunning paved path heads out over the water via an elevated boardwalk. Throw in a line at the fishing dock as you enjoy the view. It’s also the perfect spot for a stroll on the beach and a picnic.
The elevated boardwalk at Taylor Dock
Explore More. Head to breakfast favorite Mount Bakery (Bellingham, 1217 Harris Ave.; 360.778.1261; mountbakery.com) for eggs and crêpes, or stop at Old Town Café (Bellingham, 316 W Holly St.; 360.671.4431; theoldtowncafe.com) for creative sandwiches, such as a tofu Reuben or jalapeño tuna melt. Top it off with a seasonal scoop from legendary Mallard Ice Cream (Bellingham, 1323 Railroad Ave.; 360.734.3884; mallardicecream.com). And because it is a beer town, stop in for a pint at Aslan Brewing Company (Bellingham, 1330 N Forest St.; 360.778.2088; aslanbrewing.com), known for its organic beer.
Photograph by Aslan Brewering Company
Get Cultured. Visit between June 30 and July 20 to catch a Bellingham Festival of Music concert (bellinghamfestival.org). The festival, celebrating its 25th anniversary, features a repertoire of symphonic music with concerts at Western Washington University’s Performing Arts Center, and the Bellingham Cruise Terminal.
Photograph by Sophie Zhai, Bellingham Festival of Music
Or check out the “Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts at 25” exhibit in Whatcom Museum’s spectacular Lightcatcher building (Bellingham, 250 Flora St.; 360.778.8930; whatcommuseum.org), on display through August 19.
Bellingham is 90 miles north of Seattle, easily accessible via I-5.