Bellingham makes outdoor activities easy to locate, with coastal access to the San Juan Islands, and is only a short distance from North Cascades National Park. Within the municipal limits, parks such as Whatcom Falls Park provide a wealth of multi-use paths and opportunities to get outside.
Whether it’s the friendly faces in the streets or the abundance of trailheads to explore, Bellingham is one city in Washington worth more than just a weekend getaway. Discover the best things in Bellingham in the list below.
21 Best Things to Do in Bellingham all Year Round
Bellingham is a small town with a big heart, and it’s one of the most unique places in Washington State to live. We have beautiful mountain views and a waterfront that looks out over the San Juan Islands.
With all of our natural beauty, it’s no surprise that there are so many things to do in Bellingham all year round.
1. Visit Whatcom Falls Park
Visiting Whatcom Falls Park is possibly one of the best things to do in Bellingham. Whatcom Falls Park is a 240-acre city park in Bellingham’s eastern outskirts. Modern park amenities, well-maintained hiking trails, and plenty of open areas to explore are all available on this public site. However, the four separate waterfalls created by the falling Whatcom Creek that flows through the park are perhaps the most remarkable feature of this city park.
Picnic tables, basketball courts, and covered shelters are available. In addition, hiking trails that explore the falls, such as the four-mile Whatcom Creek Trail Loop are also available. The Stone Bridge, which is located near the Whatcom Falls State Park parking lot, gives a spectacular sight. This monument commemorates the park’s century-plus history in the city.
2. Take a Trip to SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention
Let’s face it; electricity has radically altered our lives. Do we, however, appreciate it sufficiently? Do we pay enough attention to the reality that living would be nearly impossible now if we didn’t have electricity? The capacity to harness and use electricity forever altered the direction of human history. The SPARK Museum honors that discovery, as well as the innovations that followed. The museum covers 400 years of electrical history.
The SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention was formerly known as the Museum of Radio and Electricity. It proudly shows some of the most significant technologies that have created the modern world as we know it. SPARK Museum is a family-friendly, fully interactive attraction that takes guests on a journey through four decades of electrifying accomplishments. From the Birth of Electricity to the Golden Age of Radio, the museum has five permanent collections.
The museum has replicas of Edison’s first light bulbs on display. In addition, thousands of radios have been designed during their history. A nine-foot Tesla Coil, known as the “MegaZapper,” is one of the many attractions that keep the whole family interested and involved. Throughout the year, the “MegaZapper Electrical Show” takes place every Saturday and Sunday.
3. Bike at Galbraith Mountain Park
Galbraith Mountain is one of Bellingham’s most popular tourist attractions. It provides a plethora of options for various activities. Adventurers primarily recommend this location because it has numerous hiking and biking trails. The Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition manages it, which includes more than 50 miles of paved, safe biking paths. Members of the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition frequent the area, although they encourage newbies to try out the routes.
The north entrance on Birch Street and the south entrance on Samish Way provide access to these historic Bellingham bike paths. To gain access to these bike paths, riders and visitors will have to take it easy and pack out anything they bring in.
4. Spend a day at Fairhaven Historic District
Fairhaven the town, or Fairhaven the village, sprang to existence in 1889 as a result of its maritime location and the forestry industry’s boom. It merged with three other towns in the area to form what is now known as Bellingham after two decades of fast growth.
Fairhaven has grown several unique shopping and dining destinations that add to the Bellingham experience and its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Village Books or Skylark’s Hidden Cafe can satisfy your shopping and dining appetites, whether you’re seeking small boutiques or comfortable settings to spend a meal.
5. Visit Boulevard Park
Boulevard Park is a waterfront community park on the eastern beaches of Bellingham Bay that was established in 1980. Because of its waterfront location, it is a favorite spot for watching spectacular sunsets across the sea. Hiking trails abound throughout the park, including the 2.5-mile South Bay Trail. Boulevard Park is a lovely bay-side gathering spot. The park includes a performance platform for local concerts, open space for frisbee throwing, and some of the nicest views of Bellingham Bay in the city. Boulevard Park includes fantastic riding and walking trails along the shore, connecting the Fairhaven Historic District to the south and downtown Bellingham to the north.
Woods Coffee is located in the heart of the park and gives a caffeine boost throughout the day. Boulevard Park is a popular picnic spot due to its public BBQ pits and sandy beaches. Fishing is another enjoyable sport, and the park has various coastline fishing areas as well as a boardwalk where visitors can cast their lines. There are various hiking trails with panoramic views where you can try out hiking. Want to see Bellingham’s most beautiful sunset? The finest site to see the beautiful sunset is Boulevard Park.
6. Shop at Bellingham Farmers Market
The Depot Market Square in downtown Bellingham holds the Bellingham Farmers Market every Saturday from April through December. The rows of local shopping choices at these marketplaces feature over 100 sellers. Many of the stalls sell fresh food, handcrafted confections, and local artisan crafts. This exciting public event is also accompanied by live local music. Throughout the months of January, February, and March, there are Third Saturday Markets. Similar fare is available at these winter markets, which are held in a huge indoor pavilion.
The farmer’s market supports local organic farms that offer their products to the market. You can also sample a variety of foods such as confectionery and snacks. In addition, there are numerous events taking place in the square. As soon as you enter the market, you will hear the sound of live music.
7. Take a Hike at Lake Padden Park
Lake Padden Park is a popular recreation area along Interstate 5 in Bellingham’s southeastern outskirts. The most popular seasons to visit are spring, summer, and fall. With scores of hiking routes winding through the woods and tough mountain bike tracks, there’s never a dull moment at Lake Padden. In Bellingham, Lake Padden is a picturesque beauty that is somewhat of a nature lover’s paradise. At Lake Padden, you can see mountains, lakes, forests, and oceans.
Lake Padden Park is a 147-acre park located just a short drive from Bellingham. Because the lake is home to a diverse range of fish, there are several fishing opportunities. Other than fishing, there are a variety of activities available. There are paddle boats as well as motorboats available.
They offer picnic spots for an afternoon meal outside of the adrenaline-pumping activities. Visitors to Lake Padden Park can also let their dogs run free at the off-leash dog park or play a round of golf at the nearby Lake Padden Public Golf Course.
8. Watch a Movie at Mount Baker Theatre
In downtown Bellingham’s Arts District, this historic theatre takes up half a city block. Throughout the year, the Mount Baker Theatre hosts national and local acts in three separate venues. The Mount Baker Theatre, which dates from 1927, was renovated in 1996, and much of its past beauty can still be found in elements like the beautiful Main Stage auditorium.
This is the largest performing arts centre north of Seattle, and it presents a variety of events throughout the year, including movies, musicals, ballet, concerts, plays, comedians, and more. The theatre also participates in a number of community events. For example, It holds the popular Missoula Children’s Theatre camp at the building.
9. Visit Larrabee State Park
The name Larrabee State Park conjures up images of natural beauty and historical significance. The well-known Larrabee State Park was also Washington’s first state park. It provides some breathtaking vistas of the Chuckanut Mountains in terms of aesthetics.
Great views of Samish Bay and the neighbouring San Juan Islands can be found on scenic paths like the Oyster Dome Trail in Larrabee State Park. Larrabee has around 50 electric campsites as well as a boat launch for exploring Puget Sound. The region is also noted for its excellent mountain bike tracks.
10. Learn about the History of Bellingham at Whatcom Museum
The Whatcom Museum, which was founded in 1941 and covers three buildings, is a haven for history, art, and culture in Bellingham. In the Victorian-style Old City Hall building, visitors will find displays on the city’s history and growth. The Whatcom Museum, which the American Association of Museums accredits, recently celebrated 75 years as a regional showcase of arts and culture in the northwest. The Whatcom Museum has more than 200,000 objects in its collection, so there’s more to see than you can see in a single weekend.
The museum’s collection is housed in three buildings in the Arts District, including the renowned and historic Old City Hall as well as the futuristic Lightcatcher Building. The exhibits at Whatcom change throughout the year, but they all focus on regional art, antiquities, and a vast photographic archive vault. In addition, the museum hosts a variety of activities and educational opportunities for both adults and children. Workshops, lecture series, and summer camps are all part of the regular agenda.
11. Visit Lake Whatcom
The city of Bellingham gets its drinking water from Lake Whatcom, which is located directly east of the city. This 10-mile lake serves approximately 100,000 people in Whatcom County and offers a variety of recreational opportunities. On the water, boating, swimming, and fishing are all popular activities.
When visiting Lake Whatcom, some restrictions and watercraft laws apply due to its critical function as a source of drinking water. Around the lake, there are various hiking trails. These routes are particularly appealing to hikers since some of them follow the outline of the lake, providing some of the best vistas. The Hertz Trail is one of Lake Whatcom’s most popular trails.
Around the lake, there are various hiking trails. These routes are particularly appealing to hikers since some of them follow the outline of the lake, providing some of the best vistas. The Hertz Trail is one of Lake Whatcom’s most popular trails. Unfortunately, there are no campgrounds near the coast right now, but the lakefront is dotted with private homes and cottages for rent.
12. Go Skiing at Mt. Baker Ski Area
Mt. Baker Ski Area, lying just over 50 miles east of downtown Bellingham, is one of Washington’s best ski resorts. The spectacular backdrop and tremendous slopes of Mount Baker lure travellers from all over the world, and it’s not just a snow destination for Bellingham residents. Mt. Baker Ski Area has something for every level of winter athlete, with more than 1,000 acres to explore, ranging from bunny hills to expert-only cliff zones. The royal slopes of Mount Baker are particularly snowy and powdery, earning it the nickname “skier’s paradise” by locals. The visitors, on the other hand, can’t get enough of the snow.
Fresh tracks are prevalent at this Cascade Mountain ski resort, which receives an average of more than 600 inches of snow each year. The community also holds yearly events such as the famous Mt. Baker Film Fest and the Legendary Banked Slalom race in February within the limits of Mt. Baker Ski Area. This well-known winter event is one of the world’s largest snowboarding competitions.
13. Visit Lairmont Manor
For almost a century, Lairmont Manor has served as a landmark and gathering spot in Bellingham. The city’s founder, Charles X. Larrabee, commissioned Seattle architect Carl Gould, Sr. to design this majestic 25-room Italian Renaissance home. It has stood there for almost a century, and it has become a gathering point for the town’s residents whenever a major council meeting or event discussion is held.
Throughout its history, the mansion has held numerous social, musical, and political events and served as a nursing school and hospital. Lairmont Manor is now a renowned wedding venue in the area. In addition, parties, business meetings, family getaways, auctions, seminars, concerts, and recitals are all held at home.
14. Visit Lummi Island
Lummi Island is home to a thriving population of artists of all kinds. It is located in the Salish Sea and is only a short ferry ride away from the US and Canadian mainlands. Paintings, photos, sculptures, furniture, jewellery, and other works by brilliant local artisans can be found in shops and galleries on Lummi Island.
The Willows Inn offers fine meals and nice accommodations. The Beach Store Café provides casual dining. Guests can also take a peaceful spa treatment at the local resort or stroll around the island’s beaches.
15. Learn about history at Sehome Hill Area
Sehome Hill has a long and illustrious cultural past. Are you aware that it houses an excessive number of Bellingham activities? Local residents have worked in coal mining and logging. It can also be called a Bellingham educational centre. However, exploitation of the area resulted in its degradation, and 100 acres of this fertile terrain are now designated as Bellingham’s conserved property. If you enjoy rocks, you must pay a visit to this location to see the region’s various rock formations.
Visitors to this woodland preserve can see old rock strata and steep rock walls at the Old Quarry or climb to the top of the watchtower for a spectacular view of the entire preserve. The Quiet Rocks and the outdoor classroom are great places to relax and meditate in the great outdoors. The arboretum is open from 6 a.m till dark every day.
16. Pick Berries at BelleWood Acres in the summer
It’s not too late to get your hands on some fresh berries, and BelleWood Acres is a great place to go. They have pick-your-own strawberries from June through September, as well as many varieties of blueberries and raspberries.
These are perfect for making desserts, smoothies and jams. Or if you prefer a more adult way of enjoying them (like me), try making wine or syrup with what you pick.
17. Paddle board at Lake Padden
Whether you want to see a beautiful lake, go for a jog, or paddleboard across the water, Lake Padden offers activity options for everyone. The lake is located in north Bellingham and is open year-round. In addition to being one of the most popular places to walk in Bellingham, it also has several trails that are great for running and biking.
The park has picnic tables, a dog park, tennis courts, and a basketball court. You can also fish at the lake or spend some time looking for the perfect gift at one of the many speciality stores in Bellingham.
18. Walk across the Fairhaven Bridge at sunset during the summer
Fairhaven Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that connects Fairhaven District and Downtown Bellingham, making it an ideal spot to spend time in both areas.
The bridge offers great views of Bellingham Bay, including the San Juan Islands and Mount Baker. As an added bonus, you’ll also be able to see orcas in Puget Sound if you’re lucky enough.
19. Go Snowshoeing at Mt Baker Ski Resort during the winter
Mt Baker Ski Resort is one of the best places for snowshoeing in Bellingham. It has a variety of trails that range from easy to difficult, so you can find something that matches your skill level. There are also opportunities to cross-country ski, but the main draw here is definitely their downhill skiing – which means there’s an opportunity for some pretty incredible views.
To get there by bus: You can take either of these buses from downtown Bellingham. The ride takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes depending on traffic conditions on Chuckanut Drive, the road leading up to Mt Baker Ski Resort.
To get there by car: Drive north on WA-542 until you reach I-5 Northbound at Exit 232B. Take that exit and follow signs toward Mount Vernon/Meridian Street until they merge together into one road. Follow this road as it bends left toward Chuckanut Drive where many businesses like REI are located before turning right onto Glacier Highway N which leads directly up into Mount Baker Ski Area parking lots.
To get there by train: Amtrak trains stop just outside of downtown at Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Station which connects via footpaths through woods with Evergreen Line Trailhead near Albertsons supermarket off 104th Street.
20. Go to a Bellingham Bells Baseball Game in the Summer
If you’re looking for a fun way to spend an evening this summer, consider going to a Bellingham Bells baseball game. The team plays in the West Coast League, where they compete against other teams from around the Pacific Northwest, including the Portland Pickles and Corvallis Knights.
It’s also worth noting that visiting teams include the Victoria HarbourCats and Wenatchee AppleSox, whose stadium is named after its own unique fruit.
The Sam McDonald Field is home to all Bellingham Bells games during their season from June through August.
21. See a Bellingham Symphony Orchestra Concert in Fall through Spring
A great way to spend an evening at the symphony is by attending a concert of the Bellingham Symphony Orchestra, which performs classical music in Bellingham and throughout Whatcom County. The orchestra has been performing for over 65 years, bringing music from all over the world to audiences near and far.
The Bellingham Symphony Orchestra performs in several venues around town including the Mount Baker Theater, Whatcom Pavilion Park and Bayview Opera House. Concerts typically run from October through May with a break during the summer months, but you can still enjoy other musical events like SummerFest.
Tickets are available online or at any of the ticket venues listed above. Prices range from $13-$40 depending on where you want to sit; there are also student discounts available so make sure you ask when purchasing.
We hope we’ve inspired you to plan a trip to Bellingham and explore this great city. It’s easy to get around, everything is close by and there are so many things to do.
Whether it’s biking through the trails at Whatcom Falls Park or picking berries at BelleWood Acres, there is something for everyone here in Bellingham.