14 Things To Do In Bellingham

Bellingham is a gorgeous little coastal city in Washington state, about two hours north of Seattle, and about half an hour south of the Canadian border. Bellingham is the homeland of Coast Salish peoples of the Lummi and the neighboring Nooksack tribe. People of Lummi and Nooksack ancestry continue to live in and around Bellingham Bay, particularly on the nearby Lummi Nation reservation. Surrounded by an abundance of nature, with easy access to the mountains and the nearby San Juan Islands, the city is a hidden gem of a tourist destination. Whether you’re visiting for a day, weekend, month, or you’ve become a Bellinghamster yourself, there’s no lack of things to do! This is truly a special city, and not just because we at Greenhouse call it home. Whether you’re an outdoorsy type, in search of live music, a show, or just a good meal, Bellingham has a little something for everyone. 

Amendment 21 Bar and Fare + Stay At The Historic Hotel Leo

Located in the heart of downtown Bellingham, the Hotel Leo was originally the site of the Leopold Hotel built in 1883. The hotel has been the social center of Bellingham throughout the eras. Clark Gable stayed here during the filming of Call of the Wild in the 1930’s and countless parties, weddings, and concerts were hosted in the ballroom, dining rooms, and bars. Of course, the rooms and common areas have been renovated and restored to accommodate modern comforts, but the hotel, especially since the opening of its prohibition era bar + pub, remains the social hub of the city. Amendment 21 is primarily a cocktail bar, with a particular emphasis on gin, though they have a wine list that includes both new and old-world vintages, local beers, and bar fare that celebrates the pacific northwest and our abundant local food sources.

Visit Our Local Parks

Looking for a good hike? You don’t even need to leave the city! We take pride in our local parks and rarely do you find them empty. Our parks + recreation department works hard to not only maintain but to continually improve our parks.

Waypoint Park

A five-minute walk away from downtown Bellingham, Waypoint Park features one of the best views of Bellingham’s unique skyline, showing off the beauty of the Whatcom Waterway, Lummi Island, and cityscape. Just a few steps away a quaint playground awaits providing a natural play experience, with a nod to the site’s history. Wander down to the beach to enjoy the waterfront, and notice the hundreds of plants, shrubs, and trees planted throughout the park helping restore the natural habitat. 

Whatcom Falls Park

Whatcom Falls Park known for its namesake waterfall, the park’s main attraction can swell to 40 feet wide during the rainiest months. Loud from the crashing water, Whatcom, a native word meaning “noisy water” is an appropriate name. There’s so much more to discover beyond the falls. You could spend hours wandering the park’s 241 acres, and you’ll find everything from miles of serene, forested trails to a 100-year-old railroad trestle standing silently over Whatcom Creek.

Lake Padden Park

There is so much to do at Lake Padden Park, I almost don’t know where to begin! With a dog park, 18-hole golf course, boat rentals, playgrounds, mountain bike trails, equestrian trails, various ball courts and fields, BBQ grills, picnic shelters, and public restrooms, it’s no wonder this is one of our most enjoyed parks!

Larrabee State Park

Set on the seaward side of Chuckanut Mountain near Bellingham, Larrabee State Park is known for its postcard views of Samish Bay and the San Juan Islands. It is also Washington's first state park. This unique camping park on famed Chuckanut Drive offers boating, paddling, fishing, shellfish harvesting, diving, teeming tide pools, and perfect spots for quiet contemplation, child play, or a romantic date. Though the shore is the main draw at Larrabee, freshwater Fragrance and Lost lakes provide excellent trout fishing. Hiking and mountain bike trails wind through a forest of Douglas-fir and salal.

Spark Museum of Electrical Invention

The Spark Museum of Electrical Invention offers visitors a first-hand introduction to the wonderful world of electricity and the radio, providing every opportunity to discover, test, and be amazed. In addition to the six galleries, the museum features other popular interactive displays, including various Tesla Coils (featuring a nine-foot tall “MegaZapper”), which create dazzling bursts of lightning on command. Adventurous visitors are invited to experience hair-raising activities in the Museum’s static electricity lab, or even create other-worldly sounds from the Theremin (the first electronic musical instrument), and much more. When we say this is an interactive, hands-on museum, we mean it!

Pickford Film Center

Founded in 1998 by a small group of local film fans dedicated to making high-quality cinema available in Bellingham and the entire Whatcom County region, the mission of Pickford Film Center is to provide a forum and resource for independent cinema, strengthening community through education, dialogue and the celebration of film. PFC offers year-round, independent, foreign, and documentary film, world class performing arts, and related special events. Pickford Film Center program selections are tailored to Bellingham by staff who are invested in growing Whatcom County with hearts and minds intact: entertainment, conversation, and understanding go hand in hand at Pickford Film Center. Visit soon and experience Pickford Film Center – much, much more than movies!

Mount Baker Theatre

Built in 1927, Mount Baker Theatre was one of the last grand vaudeville movie palaces to be built in the Pacific Northwest. From silent films to live performing arts, MBT has preserved history while also serving the demands of the modern, continuously changing economy, technology, and society. Today the historic Mount Baker Theater continues its dedication to enriching the culture of our corner of the PNW through dynamic performances, arts education, inspiring community participation, and the stewardship of a historic monument. Whether you’re looking to catch a local ballet production, listen to the magic of our local orchestra, or catching a touring band, the Mount Baker Theater offers something for everyone.

Bellingham Game Bars 

From Viking gatherings to Olympic games, from friends in the backyard to competitive leagues in specialized bars, axe throwing has crossed centuries and cultures to become Bellingham’s new favorite pastime. Bellingham AXE is the premier indoor axe-throwing venue based in Bellingham, Washington. This relatively new competitive sport has grown in popularity since it arrived in North America in 2011. Similar in concept to darts or bowling, axe throwing is a sport played with and against other members of a group. Individuals throw hatchets at wooden targets marked with a bullseye and score points based on where the hatchet sticks. Stop by tonight and play a round!

The Racket

Get your quarter out; it’s time for pinball! The Racket is a fun + upbeat bar that serves great Mediterranean food, local brews, and cocktails. Hoping to cater to downtown’s businesses, residents, and patrons, the 21 and over establishment offers a full menu, featuring in demand local favorites, Philly cheesesteaks and falafel pitas. A rotating lineup of 14 machines, as well as a ‘claw machine’ stocked with locally made stuffed animals and counter-culture ephemera, give the upstairs the feel of a boardwalk arcade from a bygone time.

Arne Hanna Aquatic Center

Calling all wannabe mermaids; the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center is heaven on earth for you! The aquatic center has four swimming pools, which include a beach-entry instructional pool with a 135-foot water slide ending in it, a 25 yard, eight-lane lap pool, a dive tank with a one-meter springboard, and a hydrotherapy pool (aka hot tub) for those 16 years of age and older. The Arne Hanna Aquatic Center offers a variety of programs, including lap swims, American Red Cross swim lessons and training courses, shallow water aerobics, deep water running, deep water aerobics, kayaking, as well as preschool, family, and open swims.​

Shopping In Bellingham – What kind of listicle would this be without shopping?

Greenhouse Home

Greenhouse is located in historic downtown Bellingham and has called the city home since its inception in 1972. We believe in serving the community as one of the only local home goods + decor stores in Bellingham. We believe that home is truly where the heart is. From home decor and furniture to cookware and kitchen accessories, we have everything you need for your home and even more for your life. Your home is an expression of your personality, and we want to help give your home the intention it deserves. We pride ourselves on forming intimate relationships with our customers to make sure every purchase is made with confidence; knowing we stand behind all our products. 

Quinn + Foster

Quinn + Foster is a contemporary clothing boutique for women and men situated in the heart of downtown Bellingham and founded on a passion for style, design, and building strong relationships with our community. 

Baby Greens

Baby Greens is the name, and plants are their game! Also, coffee, a selection of wine, local tapped brews, and mimosas on weekends. Baby Greens plant shop & cafe was designed to facilitate delightful experiences for the Bellingham community and beyond. They love plants and believe in the power of bringing the outdoors in. Their goal is to share this joy through their own well-loved space, serving an expansive selection of air plants, snake plants, and so much more! 

WinkWink

WinkWink proudly exclaims that pleasure is our revolution. The store is a woman-owned, all-ages, inclusive, not creepy sex shop in Bellingham, WA. that celebrates sexual expression and exploration, banishes shame, and helps customers to better love themselves and others. WinkWink is sex-positive, body-positive, and gender-affirming. We welcome all people–including those of all genders, expressions, and sexual orientations–to our shop. Aiming to help make sexual pleasure, wellness, and health available and accessible to everyone, WinkWink sees normalizing, accepting, and affirming all bodies, identities, and gender experiences as inherently political. Their motto: pleasure is our revolution. Come one, come all!  

Neko Cat Café

As they proclaim on their website “get ready to be whiskered away to a kitty purrradise!” Partnered with Whatcom Humane Society (WHS), Neko Cat Café exists to bring you 30 adoptable kitties! (And maybe serve a drink or two) Whether you are looking to adopt, or just spend some quality time with the fluff balls, Neko Cat Cafe is here for you! Come visit for drinks, snacks and adoptable cats! Just be sure to book ahead.

Hiking & Mountain Biking

Galbraith Mountain

Galbraith Mountain is a world class mountain destination located within riding distance of downtown Bellingham. Over 65 miles of singletrack that winds through 3,000 acres overlooking the city and Bellingham Bay. The mountain is accessible to all non-motorized use, but all the trails are built and maintained by the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition.  Because of the number of trails, the mountain can handle 100’s hikers, runners, equestrians, and bikers during the day without trail users feeling like the trails are busy!

Chuckanut Mountain

A short run, bike, or drive south of Bellingham will take you to a labyrinth of foot, bike, and horse trails in the Chuckanut Mountains. Trails access old forests, lakes, streams, waterfalls, and have great views of Mount Baker, Bellingham Bay, the San Juan Islands, and the Olympic Peninsula. Whatcom County Parks & Recreation, Larrabee State Park, City of Bellingham Parks, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife jointly manage interconnecting trails on more than 4,000 acres of publicly owned land. Come experience why the Chuckanuts are the heart of Bellingham's year-round recreation lifestyle.

Bloedel Boat Rentals

Family friendly, safe, and affordable, Bloedel Boat Rentals, working in co-operation with the City of Bellingham Parks and Recreation, offers non-motorized boat + paddleboard rentals on Lake Whatcom, in beautiful Bloedel Donovan Park. They also have a concession stand with sweet treats, cold drinks, snacks for boaters and non-boaters alike at the park.

The Whatcom Museum

The Whatcom Museum holds close to 30,000 objects of art, history, and ethnography in its collection and more than 200,000 images and related ephemera in its photo archives. Throughout our more than 75-year history, they have predominately relied upon donations from the public to add to and strengthen their collection and are a beloved institution and resource. With so many artifacts, art, and history in its collection, the Whatcom Museum is constantly rotating their displays so there’s always something new to see!

Bellingham Farmers Market

Created with the mission of supporting local and sustainable agriculture by connecting the public with local farmers, artisans, and other producers in an economically viable marketplace, the Bellingham Farmers Market is fulfilling its goals! The ultimate reason to wake up early on a Saturday morning, the Bellingham Farmers Market brings in the best local coffee brewers, food trucks, artisans, and of course, produce from local farmers. A veritable cornucopia of delights, the Bellingham Farmers Market is a must see!

Local Sweet Shops Saving the best for last, it’s time for dessert!

Saltadena

A bakery started in a kitchen at home, Saltadena is Bellingham’s newest Bakery! Featuring made to order cakes, lil’ scrappies, cupcakes, cookies, and macarons, these sweet treats will delight your tastebuds! Saltadena’s mission is to bring nothing but joy through food and positive interactions with their customers.

Chocolate Necessities

Chocolate Necessities stands tall among few original, discerning artisan chocolate companies in the U.S., founded in 1986 by Kevin Buck. He pursued a chocolate education (the Callebaut factory in Belgium with internationally-renowned instructor Jean-Pierre Wybau) to learn how to work with chocolate, then applied his own ingenuity and became a self-made chocolatier with top-tier, uncompromising products. The ideal amounts of cocoa butter ensure that the chocolate melts properly, as only the highest quality couveture chocolate does. That’s a hallmark of Chocolate Necessities–presenting you taste after taste of chocolate products you can’t find anywhere else this side of Europe!

Mallards Ice Cream

Mallards Ice Cream is the best ice cream shop in Bellingham and beyond. While they serve amazing espresso, chocolate, vanilla, and other standard ice cream flavors, their best work lies in their ingenuity and seasonal menu. These flavors are where much of the fun happens in the kitchen. Their ice cream makers are always exploring new flavor combinations and pushing the boundaries of ice cream flavor conventions. This is also where you will find all of their limited time-only seasonal flavors, often created with all locally sourced ingredients.

 

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