Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019
My Ideal Day in Bellingham – 10 Must Do’s

10 “must do’s” in Bellingham if you love great tasting food, beautiful views and more. You can complete this list in any order and go home feeling like you’ve truly experienced Bellingham.

(Warning: if you don’t mind getting a little dirty and sweaty, eating really awesome food, taking in gorgeous views, arts and books, you may just have to take my advice. A love of beer is a bonus, too.)

1. Chuckanut Drive

Photo credit: Daniel Broker-Bulling

If you’re a sucker for gorgeous views, epic sunsets and easy-to-get-to trailheads then you must try Chuckanut Drive. Built as Washington State’s first scenic byway, Chuckanut Drive connects Skagit County to Bellingham along the rugged shoreline, with views of the San Juan Islands in the distance, and the oyster beds of the Samish flats in the water just below. Both Taylor Shellfish and The Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive make great stops for lunch. (Perfect for heading to or from the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival!)

For outdoor adventure, the Chuckanuts often seem to be overlooked – Galbraith Mountain gets all the mountain bike love, Mount Baker gets the skiing and snow sports. But the Chuckanuts are the easiest to access and offer perfect year-round trails for hiking and biking.

Check out some of our hiking recommendations here. 

2. Taylor Dock and Boulevard Park

Photo credit: Dale Montgomery

This is the perfect place for strolling, photos, and catching the sunset. And the best part is, it’s a beautiful location for a walk for every season of the year. But of course, the park is more lively during the summer with Frisbees, puppies and more. During the cooler months, you especially enjoy a hot latte from Wood Coffee while sitting in the sun.

3. Village Books in Fairhaven

Village Books in Downtown Fairhaven.

Bellingham is home to several independent bookstores. The most well-known is Village Books in Historic Fairhaven. This dog-friendly 3-story staple is a great place to find popular and hard-to-find books, relax and peruse magazines or children’s books, attend an author event, or grab soup, coffee or a sandwich. You must give yourself at least an hour to pour over their staff favorites, huge display of coffee table books, inviting kids’ section, travel and cooking books, and old/used selections.

And when you’re done, you have the chance to walk around the rest of Historic Fairhaven. We promise you won’t be disappointed.

4. Artwood

You will be amazed what our local artists and carpenters can do with wood! The smell alone is worth the journey. Sit in gorgeously hand-crafted chairs or play with wooden musical instruments. It’s a perfect place to gift shop or treat yourself. Artwood is one of the many fun-to-browse and buy shopping spots in the Historic Fairhaven District.

Check out what else Fairhaven has to offer, here. 

5. Bellingham Farmers Market

Large crowds flock to the Farmers Market for fresh produce, plants, and numerous locally made goods. Credit: Robin Crowder

The Farmer’s Market is a local and visitor’s must-do, for sure. The Market is open every Saturday from April-December, located at the Depot Market Square in Downtown Bellingham. This weekly gathering place has quickly become an ideal place for lunch during the weekends. There are tons of carts, booths and caterers offering ethnic, local and amazing cuisine. And of course, lots of fresh produce, locally-made food (like cheese), goods and crafts.

6. Mallard Ice Cream

Mallard Ice Cream / Credit: Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism

You don’t have to be a sweet tooth to love small-batch ice cream, especially with this place. Mallard is more than your traditional ice cream shop, they tout funky flavors like Avocado, Vanilla Black Pepper, Rose, Cardamom, Rhubarb and Basil that are all made from (wait for it) real food – most of which is from our own Whatcom County farms!

This is truly a stop you have to put on the top or the bottom of your list when you’re in town.

7. Lake Padden

Braving the crisp early morning chill, anglers set out for a day of extraordinary fishing on Lake Padden. Credit: Jenny Chatterton

Lake Padden is a scenic beauty, that offers outstanding recreational opportunities for everybody.  The park is located on the south end of Bellingham, with a 2.6-mile trail around the lake. The views are stunning, especially if you push yourself to make a lap or two. Great for an adventurous walk, hardy jog or quick off-road bike ride. It has beaches for those lovely (but rare) hot days.

You can also bring your “best friend” Fido. There is a fenced-in dog park at the south end of the lake. From the back gate of the spacious dog-designated area, you (and your dog) can enter the off-leash area and venture out into the network of trails adjacent to the golf course. These are popular running and biking trails- especially for dog-owners!

Check out more about Lake Padden, here. 

8. Avenue Bread

With multiple locations, including their flagship store in Downtown Bellingham, Avenue Bread continues to bake and make exceptional food and bakery products. Each café has its own flare – downtown now serves beer, James Street offers full breakfasts, and Fairhaven is perfectly quaint.  Each spot is special in its own way, matching their locations – but all of them have mouth-watering sandwiches to die for.

9. Chrysalis Spa

As a waterfront luxury hotel, the Chrysalis Inn and Spa is located in the Historic Fairhaven District. Chrysalis Inn & Spa offers massage, facials, manicures, pedicures, hydrotherapy, energy healing, waxing, mud baths and customized treatments. Located at the Chrysalis Inn with views of Bellingham Bay.

If you’re looking for more ways to pamper yourself while you’re in town, here’s more suggestions.

10. Beer, beer and more beer 

Beer in Bellingham at Aslan Brewery / Photo by Katheryn Moran / Credit: Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism

It’s difficult for us to recommend just one place in Bellingham for an amazing beer, so I’ll tell you to create your own pub crawl: Aslan Brewing Co., Boundary Bay Brewery, Chuckanut Brewery, Kulshan Brewery, Elizabeth Station, Melvin Brew Pub, Stones Throw Brew Co., North Fork Brewery, and Wander Brewing are among my favorites.


Photo credit: Nick Kelly

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  1. thank you much for this fabulous entry. my young family, hubby and I are considering moving out to Bellingham. I have never visited but my husband speaks greatness about the place.
    do you know about the school system there? is there enough for kids to do indoors?

    Comment by luci kidd — August 17, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

  2. Thanks for such a great description of Bellingham and what it has to offer. You changed my Sunday plans and I can’t wait.

    Comment by Bruce Levine — October 20, 2018 @ 10:22 pm

  3. A few to add”

    1) Brunch sitting at the bar so you can watch the chef at work at Homeskillet.

    2) A drive up the dirt road to Samish Overlook. A better view than you can get from the top of the legendary Oyster Dome on Chuckanut drive without the 8 mile hike. (You can get there in a car – but you’ll need to wash it afterward.)

    3) A walk through Whatcom Falls Park. (A city park – but amazingly pretty.)

    Comment by John Williams — April 4, 2019 @ 5:05 pm

  4. Thank you for your thorough post. I hope readers click on the links!

    Comment by Barb Kehl — April 4, 2019 @ 8:02 pm

  5. Considering living in Bellingham.
    Please send info on condo and rental prices and cost of living.
    Thank you.

    Comment by Lina — April 26, 2019 @ 5:26 pm

  6. Please email your address to to receive information

    Comment by Lorin Lindell — April 29, 2019 @ 8:47 am

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