20 Things To Do In Bellingham WA

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The city of Bellingham in northwest Washington State is a coastal city with a population of about 100,000 people that’s a popular destination for outdoorsy types as well as summer holidaymakers from across the state and neighbouring Canada’s British Columbia province. Bellingham lies just 53 miles (86 km) south of downtown Vancouver and about the same distance from Seattle, making Bellingham a busy stopping point during road trips between the two major cities. Apart from its proximity to two major metros, Bellingham offers skiing in winter and has some of the best museums and art galleries north of the Emerald City. Here are the top things to do in Bellingham, WA.

Bellingham, WA

Top Tours

Bellingham to Deception Pass Tour
One of the things to do from Bellingham is to visit Deception Pass State Park.

20 Things To Do In Bellingham

Period Architecture
Admiring vintage architecture is one of the things to do in Bellingham, Washington.

1- Explore The Fairhaven Historic District

A few miles south of downtown Bellingham, the Fairhaven Historic District, or Fairhaven Village as many like to call it, is one of Bellingham’s oldest neighbourhoods and was first settled by Dan Jefferson Harris back in 1883.

The district seamlessly mixes contemporary with history to create an eclectic tourist attraction that boasts one of Bellingham’s premier art and shopping scenes.

Easy to reach and seamless to navigate, travellers are bound to end up exploring the Fairhaven Historic District one way or another since many of Bellingham’s most popular bars, restaurants and landmarks can be found within the district.

Recommended tour: Ultimate Scavenger Bellingham

2- Take A Road Trip Along Chuckanut Drive

Wildcat Cove In Washington State At Sunset
A road trip along Chuckanut Drive is one of the things to do from Bellingham Washington.

Chuckanut Drive is a popular scenic byway that stretches for over 24 miles (39 km) along the shores of Bellingham and Samish Bay connecting Bellingham with the nearby city of Burlington.

Completed back in 1896, the roadway is free to enjoy and passes along a series of lush evergreen forests and the Larrabee State Park, perfect for planning a road trip down south to Seattle.

3- Get Some Tickets To Mount Baker Theatre

One of the last great vaudeville venues built in the Pacific Northwest, Bellingham’s Mount Baker Theatre is a historic venue with decades of preserved history on display.

The theatre opened to the Bellingham public in 1927 and initially screened silent films and live performances before being remodelled and upgraded throughout the following decades to keep the theatre up to modern standards.

Today, the venue is the largest performing arts venue in Washington State north of Seattle and is capable of accommodating up to 1,517 patrons in complete comfort and peak 20th-century opulence.

Mount Baker Theatre is at 104 N Commercial St, Bellingham, WA 98225.

4- Whoosh Down The Slopes At Mt. Baker Ski Area

Tour from Bellingham to 10,781 ft Mt Baker
A trip to Mt Baker is one of the things to do near Bellingham for fans of skiing.

Deep within the North Cascades of Washington State, the Mt. Baker Ski Area is one of the busiest skiing destinations in the Pacific Northwest and was first opened during the 1920s.

The area consists of more than 1,000 acres (405 ha) of total skiable space and features some 31 different runs accessed by 8 ski lifts and two rope tows.

Mt. Baker averages more than 600 inches (1,524 cm) of snowfall annually and comes complete with two state-of-the-art day lodges, all within a 57-mile (91 km) drive from downtown Bellingham.

Recommended tour: Tour from Bellingham to 10,781 ft Mt Baker

5- Wander Around Sehome Hill Arboretum

Bordering the leafy campus of Western Washington University, the Sehome Hill Arboretum is a sprawling 175.5-acre (71 ha) outdoor attraction that was first opened to the public in 1967.

The site of the modern-day arboretum was initially a coal mining site for the Bellingham Bay Coal Company, which carved out several subterranean tunnels in what is today the arboretum between the 1850s and the late 1800s.

Today, the park/arboretum is an important historic and outdoor landmark to the residents of Bellingham, who like to frequent the arboretum’s scenic hiking trails and magical fir and maple forests.

The Sehome Hill Arboretum is at 600 25th St, Bellingham, WA 98225.

6- Shop And Eat At Bellingham Farmers Market

Close Up Of A Woman Choosing Fruits And Vegetables At Farmers Market
Shopping in the Farmer’s Market is one of the fun things to do in Bellingham this weekend.

Attracting more than 100 vendors and Bellingham natives every Saturday morning between April and December, the Bellingham Farmers Market is the go-to destination in the city for fresh produce and tasty homemade delicacies.

The Saturday market was first organised and held back in 1992 and has since grown into a popular community gathering that serves up everything from live music to special holiday-themed celebrations throughout the year.

The market also organises wintertime gatherings every 3rd Saturday between January and March, making this an all-year-long shopping extravaganza.

The Bellingham Farmers Market is hosted at 1100 Railroad Ave, Bellingham, WA 98225.

7- Visit SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention

The SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention, formerly known as the American Museum of Radio and Electricity, is a state-of-the-art educational venue dedicated to teaching visitors of all ages about how various electricity and radio-related innovations shaped our modern world.

The venue first opened back in 1985 and was initially a fairly informal set-up which featured a couple of schematics, radio sets and recordings owned by local collector Johnathan Winter.

As Winter’s collection expanded, so did the museum, and today the museum occupies a 23,000-square-foot (2,100 m2) facility in the centre of downtown Bellingham.

The SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention is at 1312 Bay St, Bellingham, WA 98225.

8- Get Outdoors At Larrabee State Park

Situated along Chuckanut Drive roughly 7 miles (11 km) south of downtown Bellingham lies Larrabee State Park, a 2,748-acre (1,112 ha) outdoor recreational space overlooking the scenic Samish Bay.

The park is a popular destination among campers thanks to its top-notch amenities and ease of access, as well as with day-trippers who enjoy soaking up the sun along the park’s 8,100 feet long (2,469 m) shoreline.

Established back in 1915, Larrabee is the oldest state park in Washington and provides visitors with endless amounts of hiking trails, biking pathways and uninterrupted coastal vistas.

Larrabee State Park is at 245 Chuckanut Dr, Bellingham, WA 98229.

9- Admire Nooksack Falls

Nooksack Falls, Mount Baker National Forest Whatcom County
Visiting Nooksack Falls on a day trip is one of the things to do in Bellingham for nature lovers.

Along the Nooksack River’s North Fork, Nooksack Falls is a powerful segmented waterfall that tumbles more than 88 feet (27 m) into a deep rocky canyon.

The falls were used as a backdrop during a scene of the film “The Deer Hunter” and can be admired up close thanks to a short 176-yard (161 m) trail. 

Nooksack Falls is 45 miles from Bellingham and can be visited on a day trip. 

10- See The Sculptures At Big Rock Garden Park

The Big Rock Garden Park is a carefully curated, 2.5-acre (1 ha) sculpture garden situated in downtown Bellingham that boasts a collection of 39 sculptures on permanent display to the public.

All the park’s sculptures are crafted by some of the most talented local and international artists around and are completely free to visit.

Tucked away behind a grove of pine trees near Lake Whatcom, the sculpture garden is littered with a variety of hiking paths, park amenities and majestic views to take in.

The Big Rock Garden Park is at 2900 Sylvan St, Bellingham, WA 98226.

11- Enjoy Whatcom Falls Park

Under The Waterfall In Whatcom Falls Park
Visiting Whatcom Falls Park is one of things to do in Bellingham today.

Within Bellingham’s Whatcom Falls neighbourhood, Whatcom Falls Park is a large and verdant outdoor recreational space that’s renowned for its panoramic vistas and several thundering waterfalls.

The park covers a total area of more than 241 acres (97 ha) and was established in 1908 by the Young Men’s Commercial Club, which raised the money necessary to purchase the park’s first 40 acres (16 ha).

Whatcom Falls Park serves as an ideal natural landmark to visit thanks to the park’s series of well-maintained hiking trails, lush greenery, playgrounds, picnic tables, sports facilities and popular cascading waterfalls.

Whatcom Falls Park is at 1401 Electric Ave, Bellingham, WA 98229.

12- Bend Your Mind At Mindport Exhibits

Mindport Exhibits is a one-of-a-kind science museum in downtown Bellingham that specialises in teaching and inspiring visitors of all ages about art, science and everything in between.

The venue first opened its doors back in 1995 and features an extensive collection of exhibits for visitors to peek at, most of which are hand-made by the centre’s staff.

Mindport Exhibits does an excellent job at blending science with the arts, creating a pretty unique attraction suited to visitors of all backgrounds and interests.

Mindport Exhibits is at 210 W Holly St, Bellingham, WA 98225.

13- See The Exhibits At Whatcom Museum

Jointly managed by the Whatcom Museum Foundation and the City of Bellingham, the Whatcom Museum is a non-profit organisation dedicated to collecting, preserving and exhibiting items that tell the story of Bellingham’s past.

The museum is home to more than 200,000 historically significant artefacts and artworks, as well as one of the region’s most extensive collections of photographs, with some of the museum’s exhibits dating back to the 1880s.

This self-described natural history and art museum has been a mainstay on Bellingham’s list of attractions for decades and is housed inside the National Register of Historic Places-listed Old City Hall building.

The Whatcom Museum is at Lightcatcher, 250 Flora Street Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St, Bellingham, WA 98225.

14- Visit Lummi Island

In Whatcom County’s southwest corner just a few miles off the coast of mainland Washington is Lummi Island, an inhabited 5,930-acre (2,400 ha) island that’s only accessible via a ferry.

The island is home to a permanent population of about 1,000 people, which nearly doubles over the summer months when holidaymakers flock from across Washington and Canada’s British Columbia province to Lummi Island for its low-key feel and remoteness.

Inhabited by the native Lummi People before the Spanish arrived on the island in 1792, Lummi Island has idyllic beaches to enjoy, ideal for a day-trip excursion from downtown Bellingham.

15- Enjoy The View From Boulevard Park

Straddling the coast between downtown Bellingham to the north and the Fairhaven Historic District to the south, Boulevard Park is a popular outdoor recreation space among the local community.

The park is crisscrossed by bike lanes and walking paths and treats visitors to unrivalled panoramic views across Bellingham Bay.

Boulevard Park comes complete with a performance stage for hosting live outdoor events and concerts, an on-site café and an array of picnic areas and fishing spots.

16- Learn Something New At Bellingham Marine Life Center

The free-to-visit Bellingham Marine Life Center is a museum and aquarium rolled into one that prides itself on educating its visitors about the critters and life forms calling Bellingham Bay home.

The venue is a popular destination for school field trips and features several touch tanks where visitors are welcome to feel and observe certain life forms from up close.

The Bellingham Marine Life Center is at 1801 Roeder Ave STE 100, Bellingham, WA 98225.

17- Go Hiking Along Oyster Dome Trail

The Oyster Dome Trail is a scenic 6-mile-long (10 km) round-trip hiking trail along the Chuckanut Mountains south of downtown Bellingham that is renowned for its stunning vantage points and moderate difficulty.

Passing by a series of thick forests and a couple of bat caves, the Oyster Dome Trail gazes out over the entire Olympic Peninsula, providing hikers with unbridled views across the city of Bellingham and Samish Bay down below.

Easy to reach and named after Samish Bay’s rich oyster fishing roots, the trailhead is a must if you’re planning on packing your hiking gear as it’s widely regarded as one of Bellingham’s top nature trails. 

18- Enjoy Fresh Air At Lake Padden Park

Covering an area of roughly 745 acres (301 ha) Lake Padden Park is a favourite outdoor recreational space for many Bellingham residents, providing nature lovers with access to a range of hiking, biking, horseback riding and kayaking opportunities.

The park is four miles (6 km) south of downtown Bellingham and is centred around Lake Padden, a large freshwater lake that was named in honour of homesteader Michael Padden who purchased the land surrounding the lake.

Free to enjoy and featuring several designated picnic areas and playgrounds, the park can accommodate a variety of events and outdoor activities and has something in store for all ages and interests to enjoy.

Lake Padden Park is at 4882 S Samish Way, Bellingham, WA 98229.

19- Take A Day Trip to Vancouver

With just 53 miles (85 km) separating Bellingham from Vancouver across the Canadian border, it’s the ideal place from which to plan a star-studded day trip to British Columbia’s largest city.

Vancouver has its fair share of world-class attractions and cultural institutions worth visiting and, as one of Canada’s largest metros, it’s also home to a range of top restaurants and shopping districts.

No matter what you’re looking for, Vancouver’s bound to have something up its sleeve to entertain and amaze you, all within a 90-minute drive from downtown Bellingham.

Recommended tours:

20- Go Kayaking On Lake Whatcom

Lake Whatcom
Exploring around Lake Whatcom is one of the things to do in Bellingham WA.

In Washington’s Whatcom County, Lake Whatcom is a large freshwater lake that doubles as a recreational space and as a source of drinking water for more than 80,000 Bellingham residents.

The 10-mile-long (16 km), 1-mile-wide (1.6 km) lake is suitable for boating, fishing and kayaking, and is a popular picnic and hiking destination for Bellingham’s outdoor-loving population.

Formerly inhabited by members of the Saquantch tribe and the Lummi People, Lake Whatcom is today a popular outdoor landmark that’s free for all to enjoy. 

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Mark Westwood is a Seattle-based writer who writes for various online blogs and travel websites. In 2017, he went on a 12-month road trip across the USA visiting many iconic landmarks and small towns along the way. Having explored over 20 countries, his favourite places to date are along the west coast of the USA but he is happiest anywhere where there are mountains and ocean.