Bellingham, Washington, is the northernmost city of the contiguous United States. Located on Bellingham Bay in the northwestern corner of Washington State, Bellingham offers beautiful water and mountain views, as well as lovely historical homes and buildings. It is close to both Seattle-Tacoma and Vancouver. Here are the best things to do in Bellingham, WA.
1.Bellingham Railway Museum
© Bellingham Railway Museum
The railroad was an important tool in the early settlement of the western United States, and throughout the years, trains have fascinated both children and adults. The Bellingham Railway Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of both train travel and model trains in the US. The museum contains several exhibits of miniature Lionel trains.
Push a button and watch the trains travel through forests, mountains, and more. Other exhibits contain railway lanterns, timetables, communication devices, and artifacts from passenger trains. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12 noon to 5 pm. Admission is very affordable at only $10 for a family of four.
1320 Commercial St, Bellingham, WA 98225, Phone: 360-393-7540
© Courtesy of trac1 - Fotolia.com
Established in 1980, Boulevard Park is a waterfront community park on the eastern shores of Bellingham Bay. Its waterfront location makes it a popular place to view beautiful sunsets over the water. The park contains hiking trails, including access to the 2.5-mile South Bay Trail.
Hikers who travel south along this trail will venture out over the water on the historical Taylor Dock. To the north, there are views of the Canadian Border Peak. Other park facilities include picnic areas, playgrounds, restrooms, and a fishing dock. Coffee and snacks are available at Woods Coffee, located right on the water.
470 Bayview Dr, Bellingham, WA 98225, Phone: 360-778-7100
© Lairmont Manor
Lairmont Manor has been a Bellingham landmark and gathering place for over 100 years. This grand 25-room Italian Renaissance mansion was commissioned by Charles X. Larrabee, the founder of the city, and designed by Seattle architect Carl Gould, Sr.
The home has hosted many social, musical, and political events throughout its history and even served as a nursing school and hospital for a time. Today, Lairmont Manor is a popular place for local weddings. The home also hosts private events such as parties, business meetings, family retreats, auctions, seminars, concerts, and recitals.
405 Fieldston Road, Bellingham, WA 98225, Phone: 360-647-1444
© Courtesy of Alberto Masnovo - Fotolia.com
With its mountains, forests, lakes, and ocean, Washington State is a nature lover’s dream. Lake Padden is a 147-acre lake located near Interstate 5 just south of Bellingham and is surrounded by Lake Padden Par. The lake is stocked with many species of fish, including rainbow trout, largemouth bass, and coastal cutthroat trout.
Non-motorized and electric motor boats are allowed on the lake, and fishing is easily available from the shoreline. The surrounding park is open from 6 am to 10 pm daily and contains picnic and barbeque areas, walking trails, shelters, playgrounds, restrooms, a basketball court, and a golf course.
4882 Sammish Way, Bellingham, WA 98229
© Lummi Island
Lummi Island is a vibrant community of artists of every kind. Located in the Salish Sea, it is accessible from the US and Canadian mainlands by a short ferry ride. Visitors to Lummi Island will find shops and galleries featuring paintings, photographs, sculpture, furniture, jewelry, and more made by talented local artisans.
Fine dining and comfortable accommodations can be found at The Willows Inn. Casual dining is available at the Sause Burger Stand and the Beach Store Café. Guests can also stroll along the island’s beaches or get a relaxing spa treatment at the local spa.
6.Village Books and Paper Dreams
© Village Books and Paper Dreams
Village Books and Paper Dreams is an independent community bookstore in Bellingham's Historic Fairhaven Village, founded in 1990 by Dee and Chuck Robinson. The beautiful bookstore, which expanded from its original location into a newly-constructed three-story location in 2004, strives to build community one book at a time, offering expansive collections of new, used, and bargain books. Titles are all chosen by in-house staff, taking local interest and community requests in mind. A collection of digital audiobooks and ebooks are also sold, along with gifts and home decor at sister store Paper Dreams. Delicious cafe drinks are sold at Evolve Chocolate and Cafe, located on the bookstore's mezzanine floor.
200 11th St, Bellingham, WA 98225, Phone: 360-671-2626
7.Sehome Hill Arboretum
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The Sehome Hill area of Bellingham has a rich and storied history. At various times, it has served as a center for coal mining, logging, and education. Today, 100 acres of Sehome Hill have been preserved as an arboretum and park.
Visitors to this wooded preserve can view the ancient rock layers at the Old Quarry and the vertical rock walls or climb to the top of the watch tower for a spectacular view of the entire preserve. The Quiet Rocks and the outdoor classroom provide excellent places for relaxation and meditation in a natural setting. The arboretum is open daily from 6 am to dusk.
600 25th Street, Bellingham, WA 98225
8.SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention
© SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention
The ability to harness and utilize electricity radically changed the course of life on Earth. The SPARK Museum celebrates that discovery and the inventions that followed it. The museum covers 400 years of the history of electricity.
Exhibits include early artifacts from the study of static electricity, telegraphs and radios from the 1800’s, and equipment from the ‘golden age of radio’ in the 1950’s. And every weekend, the museum presents a live show featuring the ‘Mega Zapper’, a 9-foot Tesla coil that produces lightning bolts up to 9 feet long! The SPARK Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday 11 am to 5 pm.
1312 Bay Street, Bellingham, WA 98225, Phone: 360-738-3886
9.Whatcom Falls Park
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Nestled on the eastern side of Bellingham is Whatcom Falls Park. This 241-acre community park features breathtaking wooded and water scenery, including four waterfalls. Near the entrance to the park is a mossy old stone bridge that provides a great view of the main falls.
Three and a half miles of hiking trails wind through the park, making it a great destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. The park also contains picnic areas and barbeque grills, restrooms, playgrounds, tennis courts, and a fish hatchery. The park is open from 6 am to 10 pm daily.
1401 Electric Avenue, Bellingham, WA 98229, Phone: 360-778-7000
© Whatcom Museum
Established in 1941, the Whatcom Museum spans three buildings and is a haven for history, art, and culture in Bellingham. Guests will find exhibits about the history and growth of the city in the Victorian-influenced Old City Hall building.
The Lightcatcher is an architectural masterpiece designed to catch and display sunlight, and is home to the museum’s fine art exhibits and interactive gallery. The Syre Education Center is home to historical and photo archives that can be viewed for research purposes. On-going special events, such as classes, camps, tours, and speakers, mean there is always something happening at the Whatcom Museum!
121 Prospect Street, Bellingham, WA 98225, Phone: 360-778-8930
More Bellingham Resources:
Western Washington University
The Bellingham Herald
More Vacation Ideas:
11.Mount Baker Theatre
© Courtesy of Gianfranco Bella - Fotolia.com
Originally built in 1927, the Mount Baker Theatre has been restored to its original splendor and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. The building’s architecture and rich detail is truly stunning. It was originally built to accommodate silent films and vaudeville shows, but today, the theatre is dedicated to bringing a variety of performances to the Pacific Northwest.
This venue is the largest performing arts facility north of Seattle and hosts movies, musicals, ballet, concerts, plays, comedians, and more throughout the year. Tickets are available at the theatre box office, by phone, or at the theatre’s website.
104 North Commercial Street, Bellingham, WA 98225, Phone: 360-733-5793
11 Best Things to Do in Bellingham, Washington
- Bellingham Railway Museum, Photo: Bellingham Railway Museum
- Boulevard Park, Photo: Courtesy of trac1 - Fotolia.com
- Lairmont Manor, Photo: Lairmont Manor
- Lake Padden, Photo: Courtesy of Alberto Masnovo - Fotolia.com
- Lummi Island, Photo: Lummi Island
- Village Books and Paper Dreams, Photo: Village Books and Paper Dreams
- Sehome Hill Arboretum, Photo: Courtesy of khomlyak- Fotolia.com
- SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention, Photo: SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention
- Whatcom Falls Park, Photo: Courtesy of vanpeltj 87 - Fotolia.com
- Whatcom Museum, Photo: Whatcom Museum
- Mount Baker Theatre, Photo: Courtesy of Gianfranco Bella - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Jdubsvideo - Fotolia.com