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San Juan Island
A college town where students never want to leave.
With bellingham bay spread out in its front yard and Mount Baker looming in the background, Bellingham’s attractions run the gamut from mountain to city to ocean. Everywhere you look, people are outdoors – walking, biking, hiking or kayaking – you name it, they’re doing it.
Roughly 30 miles of walking and hiking trails spread out over nine trail systems wind across the city. The trails offer everything from gentle inclines to steep, winding switchbacks that will challenge even the most experienced hiker.
Whatcom Falls Park offers 240 acres of beautiful greenery, with Whatcom Falls Creek running through it. The falls are spectacular, as are the miles of trails for hiking or biking. For something a bit easier, head to Lake Padden, where you can walk the 2.6 mile loop around the lake, take a freshwater swim, enjoy a picnic lunch and let your dog play in the dog park.
Rather be under the water? Stop by a dive shop and ask what trips they’ve got coming up. The waters of the Pacific Northwest contain some of the most stunning marine life in the world. You’ll want a dry suit, though – the water is downright chilly. For action above water, check out the paddleboarding and kite surfing stores in town. Most offer rentals, and it’s a neat way to discover the city’s waterfront.
If you want a cerebral experience, Bellingham is also home to theaters, museums and art galleries. The Mt. Baker Theatre, first opened in 1927, is a beautifully restored, old-style theater that hosts orchestral concerts, contemporary shows, and silent movies. Another popular venue is the Pickford Film Center (PFC). Housed in a newly restored historic building, the PFC is dedicated to independent cinema. Beginning in May, nine operas will be featured in the Summer Opera Series, held each Sunday until August 8.
A visit to Western Washington University is also in order for lovers of public art. Major sculptures are spread throughout the campus. Start with the Bigger Big Chair by David Ireland on the southern end of campus and head north. You can’t miss Bigger Big Chair since it looks like, well, a big chair.
For food lovers eating their way through Bellingham, the downtown area hosts many restaurants that offer their own take on a tried-and-true genre of food. Try Case Que Pasa for Mexican with an attitude, La Fiamma Wood Fire Pizza for one-of-a-kind offerings and Mallard Ice Cream for truly inspired ice cream flavors. Grab a microbrew at Chuckanut Brewery, Boundary Bay or Kulshan Brewery.
Once the sun goes down, Bellingham gets exciting as its numerous downtown bars and dance clubs come to life. Downtown Bellingham has developed a thriving independent music scene with clubs, such as the Wild Buffalo, offering regular music performances, sometimes nightly.
For more info, visit bellingham.org.
Things to do in Bellingham:
Fly a Kite: The winds at Zuanich Point are ideal for kite flying, and you’ll
get exquisite views of the bay.
Enjoy a Performance: Experience a concert or play at Mt. Baker Theatre.
Sample a Frozen Treat: Try one of many unusual homemade ice cream
flavors at Mallard.
Listen to Music: Take in an outdoor summer concert at Elizabeth Park or
Big Rock Garden Park.
Graze the Market: Grab some fresh food at the Bellingham Farmers Market
Visit a Museum: Spark, Mindport, Whatcom and Railway Museums are perfect
for rainy days.