Bellingham hosts a small collection of truly unusual and fascinating museums you just won’t find elsewhere in the Northwest, along with charming Victorian-era neighborhoods, scores of independently owned restaurants and shops, and a culture that equally prizes culture and landscape. Home to Western Washington University, the town is a great weekend escape for couples or families ready for all of the above, and more.
Most of Bellingham’s museums are in the downtown Cultural Arts District, where parking is plentiful. Park and walk from museum to museum for the best experience.
Mindport is perhaps one of the most aesthetically soothing museum experiences in the world. Within the light-filled room, each interactive exhibit is handcrafted, often out of wood, metal, glass or other materials, and offers opportunities to explore the senses — sight, sound, touch — alongside science. Examples include a handsome wooden Morse code machine, mirrors allowing visitors to create giant kaleidoscopic images, and a curious musical instrument or two that literally anyone can play.
The SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention is dedicated to the energy source, from Edison bulbs to a static electricity lab to a nine-foot-tall, 4.5-million-volt Tesla coil. The latter, nicknamed the MegaZapper, is showcased in the weekend’s “MegaZapper Electrical Show,” featuring 12-foot lightning bolts.
The Whatcom Museum plays host to a variety of exhibits for all ages, including the Family Interactive Gallery, and the Lightcatcher Building, so named for its sunlight-infused 37-foot-tall translucent wall running 180 feet long. Right now, the Lightcatcher Building is showing Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women; an exhibit from 57 glass artists, and photographs from Duwamish Tribe member Jac Trautman.
If in town on Saturday, visitors can find fresh produce and prepared foods at the Bellingham Farmers Market, including Caribbean dishes, Chinese dumplings, Filipino, barbecue (meat and vegan), wood-fired pizza and tamales, among others. For dessert, head to local favorite Mallard Ice Cream for cones of intense flavor, including root beer, rhubarb, peanut butter whiskey and “Super Vanilla” with the pop of Madagascar and Tahitian extracts.
Read full feature article here: Explore Bellingham’s beauty and culture