After spending much of the last several months in hibernation, I’m pleased to announce that summer has finally arrived. And for my fellow Bellinghamsters, that means pairing two of our favorite things: sunshine and suds. Bring on the beer gardens!
I managed to visit several local watering holes during May. (Was that Memorial Day Weekend weather stellar, or what?) Here are six of the best summertime beer gardens in Bellingham and Whatcom County.
Just a 25-minute drive and 10-minute ferry ride from Bellingham, Lummi Island is one of my favorite nearby escapes. In addition to its chill island culture, hiking opportunities, and public beaches, Lummi offers up some unique dining-and-drinking opportunities. Closest to the ferry dock and boasting a solid brew menu, Beach Store Cafe gets my vote for beer garden glory.
Enjoy your (reasonably priced — especially for an island) local brews on the deck for sit-down service and a head-on view of Mount Baker over Bellingham Bay. Or, soak up the sun out back in the grassy picnic tabled-out beer garden. If you choose to sit out back, order at the bar and the friendly staff will bring your beer out. The Artichoke Puree/Mushroom pizza with thyme and truffle oil is mouth-watering. For more info, check out our Beach Store Cafe blog.
Bellingham’s oldest brewery is also home to our town’s longest-loved beer garden. Every summer, Boundary Bay kicks off summer festivities with their Ski to Sea Block Party at the end of May. I stopped by for the Ski to Sea after party with Hot Damn Scandal, and the place was hoppin’.
Boundary’s beer garden offers lots of seating, but is often standing room only with the sheer volume of people it draws. This is due in equal parts to the excellent beer (which you can order from the outdoor bar) and the entertainment. There’s always something going on. From live Irish and Folk music Mondays to Fish Frydays, there’s an event nearly every day of the week during the brewery’s Summer Beer Garden Series. Check the schedule to find out what’s happening next.
Right across the street from Boundary Bay, Gruff operates one of the more laid-back beer gardens on this list. Come here to escape the crowds of Boundary and catch a breath of fresh air near Bellingham Bay. While the view is somewhat obstructed by waterfront buildings, this is one of the few beer gardens in town where you can sip a beer with a view of Lummi Island. And it comes with ample afternoon sun exposure.
With Gruff’s beer lineup ever-changing, I suggest trying whatever version of IPA they have on tap. I recently dropped in for a pint of IPA 008 and was not disappointed. We watched a group of friends play cornhole as we sipped our brews and chowed down on a tasty quesadilla from Tacos el Tule — the resident weekend taco truck. For more info on Gruff, check out our review.
Admittedly, Hopz N Headz was not on my radar until just this year. It has since become a regular haunt for me when the family is in town, due to its large and kid-friendly restaurant. But it’s even better when the sun comes out.
My colleague Teresa describes Hops N Headz as a beer garden oasis, and she’s not wrong. The place is just that: a Japanese garden-turned-beer garden come summer. When they announced that Led Zeppelin cover band The Best of Fools would be playing this year’s beer garden opening, I rounded up the family and headed on down. The kiddos enjoyed their kids meals as always, and we adults were walking the Stairway to Heaven with beer, sunrays, and sweet sounds of the Hammer of the Gods.
This one is simply a given. Bellingham’s best year-round beer garden award goes to Schweinhaus Biergarten, for they truly have it figured out. During the colder months the heaters come out. But summer is when Schweinhaus shines brightest, with its long picnic tables, sunny seating areas, and German brews. Grab a Bavarian pretzel or bratwurst, and be sure to pop in when they host live music. For more info, we’ve got you covered.
Stone’s Throw has been a boon to Fairhaven. Not only does it fill the long-perplexing southside brewery void — it does so with one of the best beer gardens in all of Bellingham. As if the shipping container structure wasn’t cool enough, they had to go and create a cozy, backyard bonfire environment for all to enjoy. Well played, Stone’s Throw. I’ll be stopping in for a pint of Pacific Crest Pale very soon. Read more in our Stone’s Throw writeup.
Seeking further inspiration? Check out Where to Enjoy Drinks Outdoors in Bellingham and Whatcom County.