The beautiful and vibrant town of Bellingham is a hidden gem in Washington State. Nestled in Bellingham Bay, the town offers scenic views — from snow-capped Mt. Baker to the stunning San Juan Islands.
It was so overwhelming for us to visit this picturesque little city located close to the Canadian province of British Columbia, because there was so much to see and do! Whether you adore natural beauty or are looking for adventurous activities, you’ll find both in Bellingham.
Catch a show at the Mount Baker Theatre, visit a museum, get farm-fresh produce at the farmers market, take a scenic drive, visit a park, or make time for the annual Tulip Festival. No matter when you visit, you’ll see that this amazing Washington State town has plenty to offer.
Here we are listing some of the best attractions and awesome things to do in Bellingham, WA.
LAKE WHATCOM PARK
Lake Whatcom is the source of drinking water for people living in Bellingham and Whatcom County. Around 10 miles long and 1 mile wide, this amazing lake is vast and offers great locations for people to enjoy diving into the water and swimming. You can also enjoy rental boat rides.
What we enjoyed the most at Lake Whatcom Park was the Hertz Trail. The Hertz Trail is an easy hike along the shore of Lake Whatcom, and you can enjoy views of Lake Whatcom and Lookout Mountain from here.
For kids, there is a park where they can spend the entire day running and playing. The famous bird sanctuary, Lake Louise Bird Sanctuary, is also accessible from Lake Whatcom.
SPARK MUSEUM OF ELECTRICAL INVENTION
Often things that we use the most go unnoticed and are underappreciated — electricity is one of them. Have you ever wondered how our lives would be without electricity? Dark and dull, right? If you are curious about electricity and its invention, Spark Museum is for you.
Spark Museum pays due respect and appreciates the invention of electricity with its artifacts. For all the physics geeks out there, Spark Museum is heaven.
Visitors can go through the events that lead to the invention of electricity and see collections and artifacts from the earliest days of electrical experiments through the 1940s and the Golden Age of Radio.
This museum is electrifying! You and your kiddos will love it.
WHATCOM FALLS PARK
Something that you cannot miss while visiting Bellingham is Whatcom Falls Park. It is the most popular tourist destination in town. Covering more than 241 acres, the park later turned into a community.
We were mesmerized by the stunning beauty of woodlands, waterfalls, and extraordinary scenery found here. An old stone bridge, that is now covered with moss, grabs all the attention when you enter the park. Once inside the park, you will find plenty of spots to take pictures for your Instagram fam.
From hiking trails and fish hatchery to BBQ grills and Whatcom Creek, this park offers everything.
WHATCOM MUSEUM AND ART DISTRICT
For all those enthusiastic about the lifestyle and culture of Bellingham, WA, Whatcom Museum and Art District is the right place. It is sponsored by the American Association of Museums, and it’s so big, that it is not possible to visit the entire place in one day.
The amazing art galleries displaying more than 200,000 artifacts are a wonder in itself. You can check out all the hype about the town by looking at these amazing art pieces.
Since one building cannot hold the entire collection, there are three buildings that help showcase the art. The Lightcatcher building and the Old City Hall are part of the Whatcom Museum.
FAIRHAVEN HISTORIC DISTRICT
Fairhaven is a pretty popular destination of Bellingham as it is near a seaport. We thoroughly enjoyed the astonishing views of Bellingham Bay from Fairhaven. We were told that the village was not very popular before 1889, but, with time, it gained popularity due to its amazing location.
It was so amazing to see the buildings and streets that were built in Victorian-era style. The streets were made of bricks, and buildings were all styled like the old era.
You’ll find plenty of dining, shopping, and activities in this National Historic District.
Boulevard Park is located on the east of the town, offering views of both Canada and the United States. You can easily spot locals strolling in Boulevard Park.
We went for a hike on one of the hiking trails that this park offers to visitors. Enjoying the panoramic views while hiking is one of the best memories we had of our visit to Bellingham.
Tip: This park is the perfect place to watch the sunset!
LAKE PADDEN PARK
For all nature lovers, Lake Padden is heaven. It is one of the places where you can witness all the best things nature offers. From mountains and lakes to forests and oceans, it’s a wonderful place to visit.
Lake Padden Park covers around 147 acres of land, making it large enough to enjoy a whole day here. For all fishing enthusiasts, the park offers a lot of fishing options. You will find rainbow trout, largemouth bass, cutthroat trout, and more.
We thoroughly enjoyed paddle boating for an hour — rentals are available here, and make for a unique way to take in the scenery. Motorboats are also available for rent.
For kids, there are many picnic spots, playgrounds, and fun activities to enjoy.
When we talk about the most exciting route into Whatcom County, Chuckanut Drive is what comes to mind. Chuckanut Drive is a premier byway offering scenic views down to Bellingham.
Driving around on this 20-mile journey north of the town, you will enjoy some of the most picturesque views the area has to offer.
This is also the route you will take if you want to visit Larrabee State Park. At this state park, you can enjoy hiking trails, tide pools, beaches, and a lot more.
LARRABEE STATE PARK
The first state park of Washington, Larrabee State Park is the place where you can enjoy the most breathtaking views of the Chuckanut Mountains.
With multiple hiking trails and gorgeous locations, you will surely fall in love with this state park. Although it was a little tough, the Oyster Dome Trail at the park gave us striking views of San Juan Island and Samish Bay. We highly recommend it!
Train-spotting is also part of the Larrabee experience. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and Amtrak run trains up to 16 times a day! Boating, crabbing, fishing, diving, and camping are also popular activities here.
BIG ROCK GARDEN
Big Rock Garden is an amazing sculpture garden in Bellingham’s Silver Beach district. If you are into sculptures and love to enjoy art, the big rock garden is just for you. What mesmerized us the most was the more than 400 azalea and rhododendron species. For all botanists and nature lovers, this place is worth exploring.
There are story-telling pieces, pottery, minimalism, abstract geometry, symbolic items, and found art at Big Rock Garden. Each piece tells a story that takes you down the lane to the history of the country.
If you are visiting Bellingham in April, consider yourself lucky as you can witness the famous Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Our spring trip was all fun and flowery because of the beauty of the tulips. The gorgeous field of flowers made the journey unforgettable.
Skagit Valley welcomes innumerable tourists in the spring season that especially come just to visit the Tulip Festival. After enjoying the tulips, you can enjoy the Chuckanut Drive for a breathtaking Pacific Northwest experience.
OVERGROWN SHIP HULK
True to its name, the Overgrown Ship Hulk was built in 1917 during World War I and used as a cannery in Alaska. What makes it worth a visit is its name is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, you can see the Overgrown Ship Hulk from the road. It is now covered with wildlife and trees, making it look more historical. You can access the place from the marina parking lot or just take pictures from the adjacent beach.
Samish Park is a small park nestled in the Chuckanut mountains, just a few minutes from Bellingham. Surrounded by densely forested slopes and the Samish Lake Shore, you can enjoy all sorts of different water activities here.
Samish Park has a small beach with a designated swimming area — making it a great place to visit in the summer.
Apart from water play, you can go out for a short and easy stroll at Lakeshore Trail, which is open year-round. If you are lucky, you will catch a glimpse of the seasonal waterfall. Hillside Trail is also a fascinating trail that takes you up through the forest to get an amazing lake view.
STIMPSON FAMILY NATURE RESERVE
Offering over 4 miles of hiking trails, Stimpson Family Nature Reserve will take you to a beautiful forest setting. Ponds, wetlands, and varieties of flora and fauna can be enjoyed here.
You can also see Douglas Fir trees that are over 400 years old and different types of trees species at Stimpson Family Nature Reserve. There are decaying logs, understory, a tapestry of forest floor, complex architecture of canopy, and a lot more for ecologists and nature lovers.
WESTERN WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY OUTDOOR SCULPTURES
Visit the Western Washington University campus and take a look at their public sculpture collection, that’s made up of over 36 sculptures. The collection covers 190 acres, and displays the beauty of the wonderful sculptures made with stones.
The notion behind outdoor sculptures was to encourage public art on the campus. It was founded in 1957, and since then, it has made a huge difference.
Rock Rings is fascinating from a historical point of view. They were added to the Western Washington University campus in 1978, as part of its Public Sculpture Collection. Rock Rings is the 16th piece of the collection.
Rock Rings is 10-feet tall and has a 2-foot inner ring wrapped with a 40-foot outer ring. The entire sculpture is made from local stone. Six holes and two arched entryways in each ring make it look very interesting.
BELLINGHAM FARMERS MARKET
The Bellingham Farmers Market is located at the Depot Market Square in downtown Bellingham and should not be missed. It’s open the third Saturday of the month in Jan, Feb and March & every Saturday, April through December. In June, July, August and September, the market is open on Wednesdays too.
The Bellingham Farmers Market is a great place to find fresh produce or souvenirs. You can find local crafts, artwork, apparel, jewelry, flowers, and local, farm-fresh produce too.
The 100 stall market is a favorite among locals and tourists alike, and is the perfect way to learn more about what Bellingham has to offer.
DAY TRIP ALONG MOUNT BAKER HIGHWAY
Mt. Baker Highway was built in the 1800s, and it stretches from Bellingham towards Mount Baker. Once you are on the highway, you are going to thoroughly enjoy the ride to the snow-clad mountains. There are two major destinations that can be explored — the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and the National Forest Scenic Byway.
En-route we got the spectacular views of Nooksack Falls that made the trip memorable. If you are visiting this place in winter, be ready with your skiing gear as the Mt. Baker Ski Area experiences heavy snowfall. This place is also known as the birthplace of snowboarding.
WEEKEND GETAWAY TO SAN JUAN ISLANDS
Visiting the San Juan Islands makes is the perfect weekend getaway when visiting Bellingham. Once you’re at the islands, you’ll experience the glory of the Pacific Northwest. From lush landscapes and wildlife, to stunning water views and friendly fishing villages, there is something for everyone on the San Juan Islands.
When we visited the area, we took a ferry to San Juan Island. It was so much fun, we ended up staying an extra day so we could see more. We found peaceful beaches, awesome meadows, bike riding opportunities, and multiple art galleries to explore.
You’ll never regret taking a trip to these amazing islands.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO WASHINGTON
- TACOMA: 20 Super Fun Things To Do In Tacoma, Washington
- ALL THINGS WASHINGTON: 36 Phenomenal Things To Do In Washington State
- LEAVENWORTH: 15 Things To Do In Leavenworth For Year-Round Fun
- SAN JUAN ISLANDS: 18 Sensational Things To Do In San Juan Islands, Washington
- SEATTLE: 34 Amazing Things To Do In Seattle You’ll Love
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WHERE TO STAY IN BELLINGHAM
Best Budget Hotel. Holiday Inn Express Bellingham is a great low budget option and only ten minutes from downtown. This is also a fantastic family option.
Best Luxury Option. The Chrysalis Inn & Spa Bellingham luxury property boasts a waterfront restaurant and bar (with views of Bellingham Bay and San Juan Islands), an on-site spa, and a fireplace in every room.
Best Downtown. Hotel Leo is a half mile from city center and a host of quaint restaurants. It’s also a popular accommodation for hikers and skiers, where you can have the best of both worlds with downtown and active experiences.
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