Hilary Parker | 04/25/2016 | Family Fun, Insider Blogs |   

Hidden Family Fun in Bellingham: Big Rock Garden


Tucked away on a hill above Lake Whatcom, Big Rock Garden is the perfect family activity to connect kids with nature and art. The 2.5-acre park is a peaceful sanctuary among the evergreens, lovingly landscaped, yet still wild with native plants, and sculptures are carefully sited to harmonize the art with its surroundings.

Girl peering through metal sculpture

My kids, from ages 5 to 12, each found sculptures they connected with.


“Look at this!”


Boy interacts with sculpture

It was fun to see and hear their reactions as they discovered new art around each bend in the path.

Some favorites of the park’s 37 permanent works included the aptly named and adorable Turtle; Kwakiutl Sun Mask, a brightly colored cedar carving; the rocks of Unity; and Swell, metal art suspended between two Douglas firs.

We brought a small picnic lunch with us on our recent visit, sitting beneath the Big Rock Pagoda (a Korean War Memorial), taking in the view and munching on our sandwiches. The kids, at least for a few moments, quietly appreciated their surroundings as we ate.

Spring is an ideal time of year to visit Big Rock Garden as the azaleas and rhododendrons show off their colors. The park sponsors an annual Mother’s Day celebration to take advantage of the landscaping in full bloom. Mother’s Day also marks the opening of a new seasonal display.

sun mask_sm

Autumn in the Garden also makes for a beautiful show as its many Japanese maples show off their brilliant fall colors.

While Big Rock Garden isn’t huge and could easily be breezed through in less than an hour, don’t rush your visit. The grounds’ peaceful atmosphere asks visitors to slow down and indulge themselves in quiet contemplation. (That’s not to say that there isn’t room for kids to run and explore, too.)

How ever you choose to spend your visit to Big Rock Garden, be sure not to miss this hidden sanctuary.



If you go:

The park does have restrooms, and paths are easily ADA/stroller accessible. Pets are not allowed.

Check the City of Bellingham website for information on special events at the park.

Hours: Dusk to dawn year-round

Address: 2900 Sylvan Street in the Silver Beach Neighborhood

Note: Parking is limited. You make need to park on the residential streets outside the park during busy times.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
Visitor Center Located at I-5 Exit 253 - Check Hours
904 Potter Street, Bellingham, WA 98229
Phone: 360-671-3990

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