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01/18/2023
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Top 10 Things to Do in Bellingham

Top 10 Things to Do in Bellingham

Wondering what to do in Bellingham? Come as you are but stay like we do when you hit our top 10 list for Bellingham fun. Sightsee, savor, unwind, and smile! Spend two or three days exploring: marvel at two scenic byways, hike breathtaking trails, and make memories with access to world-class fun (with small town easy).  

1.  Wander in Whatcom Falls Park

Outdoor recreation is the number one reason that so many adventurous folks choose to visit Bellingham and Whatcom County. Situated between the Salish Sea and the North Cascades mountains, Whatcom is a land of towering peaks, serene forests, world-class trails, and endless outdoor opportunities. Whether you’re interested in hiking, exploring public parks, paddling, snow sports, or simply taking a scenic drive, there’s something for everyone here.  

Start your visit to Bellingham with a trip to Whatcom Falls Park. Located in the heart of the city with convenient parking options, you can check the park's namesake waterfall off your Bellingham bucket list in as little as 15 minutes. But there’s so much more to discover beyond the falls. Spend an hour or two wandering the park's 241 acres, finding everything from miles of serene, forested trails to a 100-year-old railroad trestle standing silently over Whatcom Creek.  

2. Cruise Down Scenic Chuckanut Drive

If you’re a sucker for gorgeous views, epic sunsets, and easy-to-get-to trailheads, then Chuckanut Drive is the route for you! Built as Washington State’s first scenic byway, Chuckanut Drive is a 24-mile scenic drive that connects Skagit County to Bellingham and Whatcom County. Enjoy stunning views of the San Juan Islands in the distance and the oyster beds of the Samish flats below. Need to stretch your legs? Pull off at trailheads for Teddy Bear Cove or Fragrance Lake.     

3. Visit Larrabee State Park

Washington's first state park, Larrabee State Park has been a local favorite since its opening in 1915. Over 100 years later, this 2,748-acre camping park offers 8,100 feet of saltwater shoreline on Samish Bay. 

Larrabee is also a great spot to kayak! Whatcom County’s 100+ miles of saltwater shoreline and freshwater lakes offer plenty of kayaking opportunities and thanks to the Port of Bellingham, we now have the Whatcom Water Trails Map 

4. Explore & Shop in Charming Fairhaven Village

If you love great food, boutique shopping, an amazing art scene, and getting outside in a small town, you will love Bellingham’s historic Fairhaven Village. One of the best things about Fairhaven Village is that everything is local and can only be found here in Whatcom County, making it the perfect day trip from Seattle.

5. Enjoy Outdoor Art

Bellingham and Whatcom County are full of unique art and artists. Journey to the Big Rock Sculpture Garden, featuring more than 37 pieces tucked away above Lake Whatcom. Or experience Western Washington University’s outdoor sculptures, one of the top ten university collections in the U.S.

Bonus Activity: Become a Fan of Mural Artist Gretchen Leggitt

From small designs in Downtown Bellingham to the largest mural in Washington State (painted across Puget Sound Energy’s building and spanning the length of two football fields), artist Gretchen Leggitt is leaving her mark on Bellingham and Washington State. Explore her art virtually or see for yourself at the following locations:

6. Experience Downtown Bellingham's Arts District

There is so much to do and see in Bellingham’s downtown arts district! Spend time at the Whatcom Museum, which holds close to 30,000 objects of art, history, and ethnography in its collection and more than 200,000 images and related ephemera in its photo archives. 

On Bay Street, get electrified at the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention, one of Whatcom County’s most popular indoor attractions. The SPARK Museum's signature demonstration involves the biggest lightning machine in the country, a Tesla coil called The MegaZapper. 

On East Holly is Mindport Exhibits, offering an inspiring blend of fine art and hand-built interactive exhibits to spark your awareness and stimulate your thinking. 

7. Eat, Drink, & Be Merry

Start your day with a hot cup of coffee from one of our local coffee shops, enjoy yummy meals throughout the day, and end your evening with a craft beverage! Whatcom County's famous agriculture scene means there are tons of farm-to-table restaurants to experience during your visit to Bellingham.

Travel Tip: Our corner of the PNW is kind of famous for its beer. Bellingham alone boasts nearly 20 unique craft breweries, many of them award-winning. Several are family-friendly and dog-friendly, so you can bring the whole crew. 

8. Drive Scenic Mount Baker Highway

Mount Baker Highway (SR 542), connects Bellingham to snow-capped Mt. Baker. The highway was built gradually in the late 1800s as an access road for the lucrative logging industry and its rich history is well documented. 

At Glacier, the road passes into the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and is a designated National Forest Scenic Byway. Towering evergreens and leaf maples line the route, with skirts of the Nooksack River peeking out at several points. 

In the summer months, the highway ends at milepost 58 in a parking lot, which gives visitors access to Artist Point and its spectacular views of Mt. Baker’s 10,781-foot peak. The area is a great jumping-off-point for Mt. Baker hiking

In the winter months, the road ends at milepost 55, which is the Mount Baker Ski Area – holder of the world record for snowfall in a single season and birthplace of snowboarding. 

9. Sightsee on Local Trails

When you visit Bellingham and Whatcom County, it's hard not to end up on a trail. Whether you're looking to hike, run, bike, or amble, there's a trail for you, and it's probably just around the corner. (There are tons of trails, but these 10 are our favorite.) Whatever way you choose to wander, just remember to look up and enjoy the scenery. Please also #RecreateResponsibly while you are here! 

10. Stay Overnight

Whether you prefer a luxurious waterfront resort, a rustic camp spot or an experience right in the heart of downtown, immerse yourself in Bellingham’s “laid back, lovely” feel!