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Immerse Yourself in Bellingham’s Local Scene With These Amazing Experiences

Bellingham is a vibrant city nestled in the heart of Washington state. A 90-minute drive from both Vancouver and Seattle, it is centrally located for those looking to escape the city. Even closer to the border is Lynden, a small town just outside of Bellingham that offers plenty of charm on its own. I recently had the pleasure of spending 3 days in the area and I’m excited to share these top things to do in and around Bellingham with you.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a food enthusiast, or a culture seeker, Bellingham and its surrounding areas have something for everyone. From epic skiing to picturesque hikes in the nearby Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest to discovering the thriving local craft beer scene, this charming city has it all.

Bellingham is a city that offers a truly immersive experience. It’s time to come and discover the best that this Pacific Northwest city has to offer. Here are the top things I did during my 3 days in Bellingham.

Bellewood Farms Distillery
You’ll definitely want to plan to stop at Bellewood Farms and Distillery!

Exploring Bellingham’s vibrant arts and culture

Bellingham is a hub of creativity and artistic expression. The city is home to a thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries showcasing the work of local artists. Start your exploration by touring The Jansen Art Center, affectionately called The J by locals.

Exhibits and classes rotate seasonally, with new programs starting every three months. Whether it’s ceramics, dance, painting, jewelry, music, textiles, gallery exhibits or live performances, there’s something for everyone at The J.

The Jansen Art Center hosts regular events and workshops, providing an opportunity to engage with the local creative community.

Art wall at the J in Bellingham
Gallery wall at The Jansen Art Center.

For a taste of the performing arts, head to the Mount Baker Theatre. This beautifully restored historic theatre hosts a variety of shows, including Broadway performances, concerts, and dance recitals. Immerse yourself in the magic of live theatre and experience the incredible talent that Bellingham has to offer.

If you’re interested in getting hands-on with your creativity, be sure to check out the Allied Arts of Whatcom County. This community arts organization offers classes, workshops, and exhibitions, allowing you to unleash your artistic side. From painting and pottery to photography and sculpture, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Indulging in Bellingham’s culinary delights

Bellingham is a food lover’s paradise, with a vibrant culinary scene celebrating local and sustainable ingredients. Start your gastronomic journey by dining at one of the many farm-to-fork restaurants in the city. These establishments prioritize fresh, seasonal produce sourced from local farms, ensuring that every bite is bursting with flavour.

I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner at the Newsroom Pub in downtown Lynden. This restaurant is aptly named because it resides in the former space where the Lynden Tribune printed newspapers for 41 years.

The menu at The Newsroom Pub reads like a black-and-white newspaper.
Eating a burger at Newsroom Pub is a great thing to do in Bellingham, Washington
I thoroughly enjoyed the Smash Burger and fries at The Newsroom Pub.

Owner Ron wanted to keep the history of the building alive and he certainly has. In keeping with the theme, their ice cream shop is called The Daily Scoop. Their ice cream is locally sourced from nearby dairy farm Edaleen Dairy in Blaine.

For a unique and very local dining experience, visit the Bellingham Farmers Market. Open every Saturday from April to December, this bustling market is a feast for the senses.

Browse through stalls filled with locally grown fruits and vegetables, artisanal cheeses, freshly baked bread, and much more. Be sure to grab a bite from one of the food vendors serving up delicious street food inspired by global cuisines.

If you’re a craft beer enthusiast, Bellingham won’t disappoint. The city is home to a thriving craft beer scene, with numerous breweries offering a wide selection of innovative and delicious brews.

Take a brewery tour and sample some of the local favourites, or simply relax with a pint at one of the many beer bars scattered throughout the city, which is what I opted to do.

Grabbing a beer at North Fork Brewing is one of the best things to do in Bellingham

My absolute favourite pint was the one I enjoyed at North Fork Brewery. I stopped in for a quick bite to refuel after snowboarding at Mt. Baker and I ended up staying for almost 3 hours! When I arrived, it was very quiet and I was the only person at the bar.

As I grabbed a stool to sit down the server cautioned me that it was about to get very busy because Thursday nights are local’s night. She wasn’t kidding! Within 10 minutes I was sitting with my 15 new best friends.

I ordered a pint of local beer and a pizza and engaged in conversation with the locals for hours. They were the friendliest bunch! I can’t wait to go back and visit again.

Pizza and beer at North. Fork Brewing is one of the best things to do in Belingham
My delicious pizza and beer dinner at North Fork Brewery.

Outdoor adventures in and around Bellingham

Bellingham is surrounded by natural beauty, making it the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts. If you’re looking to explore outside the city, these are some of the best things to do around Bellingham, Washington.

Winter adventures

When visiting in the winter months like I was, if you ski or snowboard, I highly recommend planning a visit to Mt. Baker Ski Resort. With 8 quad chairs and 1000 skiable acres, it’s a great mountain to spend the day riding the slopes.

Pro tip: Mt. Baker is an excellent option for Vancouverites who want to avoid the crowds and high prices at Whistler Blackcomb. Even better, plan your visit for mid-week for easier parking and fewer lines. I rode all day on a Thursday without waiting in a single line-up!

Riding the chairlift at Mt. Baker
Enjoying the empty lift lines and slopes at Mt. Baker.

Fun fact – Mt. Baker made Condé Nast Traveler’s list of The Best Ski Resorts in the US and Canada last year! Check out the article here.

Spring, summer and fall

For my hikers, lace up your boots and explore the nearby Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, home to breathtaking landscapes and an extensive network of trails. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, there are trails suitable for all skill levels.

Be prepared to be awed by stunning mountain views, pristine lakes, and lush forests. It’s hard to beat the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

If you prefer to explore on two wheels, Bellingham is a haven for cyclists. The city has an extensive network of bike lanes and trails, making it easy to explore the area on a bike. Rent a bike and ride along the scenic Interurban Trail or challenge yourself with a mountain biking adventure in the Chuckanut Mountains.

🚴 Check out these top bike tours in Bellingham 🚴

For water lovers, Bellingham Bay offers a variety of activities, from kayaking and paddleboarding to sailing and fishing. Rent a kayak and paddle along the shoreline, taking in the stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains.

Connecting with the community through local events and festivals

Bellingham is a city that thrives on community spirit, and there’s no better way to connect with the locals than by attending one of the many events and festivals held throughout the year.

From music festivals and art walks to food fairs and cultural celebrations, there’s always something happening in Bellingham.

One of the highlights of the Bellingham event calendar is the Bellingham SeaFeast, a celebration of the city’s maritime heritage and seafood industry. Taking place in early October, this event is free.

This two-day festival features live music, cooking demonstrations, seafood tastings, and a wide range of family-friendly activities. It’s a great opportunity to sample the local seafood and experience the vibrant atmosphere of the city.

If you’re a music lover, don’t miss the Downtown Sounds concert series, held every Wednesday evening during the summer. Grab a picnic blanket, bring some friends, and enjoy the lively atmosphere.

This free outdoor concert series showcases local and regional bands, providing the perfect soundtrack for a summer evening.

One of the top things to do in Bellingham is visit Bellewood Farms

Since I was visiting in the winter, there weren’t any festivals taking place, but that doesn’t mean that I missed out on the local culture. Instead, I headed to Bellewood Farms & Distillery for an indoor market visit.

Their 14,000-square-foot building offers an expanded farmers market, distillery, gift shop, bistro and bakery. I saw more apple varietals than I knew existed, including a pink flesh one.

Bellewood Farms’ apple orchard is the largest in Western Washington, growing 23 varieties of apples and pears. Visitors are welcome to stroll their 62-acre orchard, including their forested trail located along Ten Mile Creek. Pets are welcome, just so long as they are on a leash.

Owner Eric Abel showed me around the expansive market and then treated me to a tasting at the Distillery. They are Washington’s first farm-to-glass apple distillery.

The owner of Bellewood Farms, Eric Abel pouring a drink

Did you know you can make vodka with apples? You can! I sampled their brandy, vodka and gin. I even brought home a bottle of their Raspberry Vodka to enjoy later.

Hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path attractions

While Bellingham has plenty of well-known attractions, some hidden gems are worth exploring. One such gem is the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention, which houses one of the largest collections of electrical artifacts in the world.

Discover the history of electricity and marvel at the interactive exhibits that bring this fascinating subject to life. This is a great place to explore if you’re travelling with kids as there’s something for all ages.

Another hidden gem is the Mindport Exhibits, a unique museum that combines art, science, and imagination. Explore the hands-on exhibits and let your curiosity guide you through interactive installations. From optical illusions to mechanical contraptions, Mindport is a place where creativity and learning go hand in hand.

For a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, head to Whatcom Falls Park. This serene park features a series of beautiful waterfalls, tranquil walking trails, and picnic areas. It’s the perfect spot to relax, unwind, and soak up the natural beauty that surrounds Bellingham.

Charcuterie board lunch at Flow Motion Spa
My delicious charcuterie board lunch at Flow Motion Spa.

And finally, my favourite hidden gem is the recently opened spa, Flow Motion. I had the pleasure of spending a magical five hours at Flow Motion and I didn’t want to leave! I think it’s the best spa in Bellingham.

I experienced every room in the spa and even enjoyed a Halotherapy session in their Himalayan Salt Cave. My day finished with a Vibrational Sound Therapy session and I was so relaxed when I left.

Salt Sauna at Flow Motion Spa
Enjoying the soothing infrared salt sauna at Flow Motion Spa.

Flow Motion Spa offers the ultimate in luxury and relaxation with their Spa Pass. This includes access to their relaxation lounge with a complimentary hot tea bar and aromatherapy bar, Himalayan salt cave, library, amethyst cave, the infrared salt sauna, and zero gravity massage lounge.

Flow Motion Spa is located in Ferndale, just outside of Bellingham. Reservations are required so be sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment.

Where to stay in Bellingham

Bellingham offers a range of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. Whether you’re looking for a cozy bed and breakfast, a boutique hotel, or a budget-friendly motel, you’ll find it all here.

The Inn at Lynden is where I stayed and I loved it! Located in the heart of downtown in the nearby town of Lynden, it’s close to everything. This beautifully restored hotel offers a unique blend of modern amenities and old-world charm.

The Inn at Lynden lobby

Check rates and availabilities for The Inn at Lynden 🏨

Another popular option is the Fairhaven Village Inn, located in the historic Fairhaven district. This charming inn offers comfortable rooms and is within walking distance of the waterfront, shops, and restaurants.

If you are visiting in the summer months and prefer a more rustic experience, consider camping at one of the many campgrounds in the area. Larrabee State Park, located just south of Bellingham, offers stunning views of the Puget Sound and has campsites available year-round.

No matter where you choose to stay, you’ll be sure to immerse yourself in the local culture and be surrounded by the natural beauty of Bellingham.

Book your Bellingham stay now to avoid disappointment

Transportation options in and around Bellingham

Getting around Bellingham is easy, thanks to its well-connected transportation system. If you’re arriving by air, Bellingham International Airport is conveniently located just a short drive from downtown. This airport offers both domestic and international flights, making it a convenient option for travellers from around the world.

Pro tip: as a Vancouverite, I often choose to fly out of Bellingham if I’m headed to Las Vegas or another short-distance flight in the United States. It’s often way cheaper than flying out of Vancouver.

Once you’re in Bellingham, there are several transportation options to help you explore the city and its surrounding areas. The Whatcom Transportation Authority operates a comprehensive bus system that serves Bellingham and its neighbouring communities. With frequent routes and affordable fares, taking the bus is a convenient and eco-friendly way to get around.

Renting a bike to explore Bellingham
If you stay at The Inn at Lynden, they have bikes you can use for free.

If you prefer to explore on two wheels, Bellingham is a bike-friendly city with plenty of bike lanes and trails. You can rent a bike from one of the many bike shops in town and pedal your way through the city, taking in the sights at your own pace.

For those looking to venture further afield like I did, driving is your best bet. If you’re flying in, then renting a car is a great option. Bellingham is conveniently located near several major highways, making it easy to explore the beautiful surrounding areas, such as Mt. Baker, the San Juan Islands and the North Cascades National Park.

Whether you choose to walk, cycle, take the bus, or rent a car, getting around Bellingham and its surrounding areas is a breeze.

When is the best time to visit Bellingham, WA?

There is no simple answer to this question because it depends on what type of activities you wish to do. I visited in the winter because I wanted to go snowboarding at Mt. Baker. If you prefer to hike, you may wish to visit in the spring or fall months.

If you wish to immerse yourself in the arts scene, then any season is the best time to visit Bellingham, WA. No matter what time of year you choose, there is always something going on in this city.

Conclusion – Best things to do in Bellingham Washington

And there you have it – the best things to do in Bellingham. I only had three days here and I know there is so much more waiting to be discovered.

I can’t wait to go back again in the warmer spring and summer months to check out some of the other outdoor activities this city offers.

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Top things to do in Bellingham Washington
The best things to do in Bellingham WA

Press Trip Disclosure: Note that some of my travel to and around Bellingham was paid for by Bellingham Tourism. All opinions expressed are my own and were not swayed by this Press Trip visit. I was not monetarily compensated in any way for this post.