If you love great food, boutique shopping, an amazing art scene and getting outside in a small town, you will love Bellingham’s Historic Fairhaven District. One of my favorite things about the Village is the fact that everything is local and can only be found here in Whatcom County, making it the perfect day trip from Seattle.
In 2020 it is important to start your holiday shopping early! Boutique shops are open, but are required to limit the number of guests who enter at any given time. Don’t wait until the last minute when there may be crowds and lines. Shop now and enjoy lots of space.
Travel Tip: Check out enjoyfairhaven.com for more Fairhaven based itineraries!
Travel Advisory: Bellingham and Whatcom County are currently in Phase 2, of the Washington State Safe Start plan to reopen during the pandemic, which limits non-essential travel to the activities that are open in this Phase. Visitation to Bellingham is allowed, with a limit on gatherings outside your household of 5 people or less. Face coverings are required in all public spaces, hotels and lodging are open, restaurants and retail are operating at limited capacity. For more information on travel, visit our Travel Advisory and Visitor Safety Guidelines page.
Chuckanut Drive is Washington State’s original scenic byway. Better known as WA State Highway 11, Chuckanut Drive begins at 1-5 exit 231 in Burlington and features 20 miles of incredible views looking out to the San Juan Islands, Olympic Mountains and Lummi Island.
Chuckanut Drive ends in the Historic Fairhaven District. Fairhaven is loved for it’s Victorian-era red-brick architecture, quaint shops, amazing restaurants and breath-taking galleries.
Travel Tip: During the Covid-19 pandemic most of Washington State’s public land is open. On Chuckanut Drive that includes Larrabee State Park and Samish Overlook. Please #RecreateResponsibly, which means:
- Know Before You Go: Check the status of the place you want to visit in advance. If it is closed, don’t go. If it’s crowded, have a plan.
- Plan Ahead: Prepare for facilities (such as restrooms) to be closed, pack your own lunch and bring essentials like hand sanitizer and face coverings.
- Practice Physical Distancing and wear a face covering when within 6 feet of others.
- Leave No Trace: Respect public lands and communities and take all your garbage with you.
As a creative solution to Washington State’s Phase 2 restrictions, the City of Bellingham is allowing street closures in the Historic Fairhaven district to provide restaurants with expanded outdoor eating areas. Fairhaven has currently closed off 10th Street between Mill Street and Harris for outdoor dining at Magdalena’s Creperie, Edaleen Dairy, Iron Rooster and Galloways.
I’ll start with the most important meal of the day, breakfast! You could spend a whole week in Fairhaven and still wouldn’t have time to visit all the delcious breakfast spots. You should know about all of them but I’ll only get in-depth with my three favorites.
Magdalena’s Creperie is not only known for its fresh and delicious food, but also for creating edible artistic masterpieces.
Magdalena Theisen wanted to create a European-style restaurant with food that reflected her Polish roots. Six months after moving to Bellingham she achieved her dream and opened Magdalena’s Creperie in the heart of Historic Fairhaven.
Over the past ten years, Magdalena’s has evolved to offer a variety of sweet and savory crepes, Polish pierogi and unique Eastern European soups all made with fresh local ingredients. It’s the perfect spot for breakfast or brunch.
Lunch and dinner in Fairhaven includes Evolves Chocolate & Cafe, Fairhaven Poke, Fat Pie Pizza, Filling Station, Galloway’s Cocktail Bar, OVN Wood Fired Pizza, Skylark Hidden Cafe, Jalapenos and The Black Cat.
Since 1985, Colophon has been serving up award-winning food made from local ingredients. With their patio on the edge of the Village Green, this is the perfect place to take in the excitement of Historic Fairhaven. Stop by Colophon Cafe to soak up some sun on their patio and enjoy a delicious local meal.
Stones Throw Brewery is a Fairhaven favorite. With the motto “the closest pint to adventure, ” Stones Throw keeps the taproom bright with skylights and the atmosphere upbeat. Owners, Tony and Jack have been brewing for decades and won’t disappoint you. Stop by for a beer and enjoy Stones Throw’s unique roof access and fire pit.
Fun Fact: Fairhaven was once home to “Devil’s Row” and the famous brothel “The Palace.” Stones Throw now stands where Miss Annie’s brothel was.
Travel Tip: Check out our Insider Blogs “Restaurants Offering Take Out Food, Curbside Pickup and Delivery in Whatcom County” and “Restaurants Currently Open with In-Person Dining in Whatcom County” for a list of open restaurants around the County.
3. Ice Cream
If you’re a butter pecan, fudge brownie, dark chocolate or expresso fan, then you need to visit Acme Ice Cream. Acme is not only made from local Whatcom County cows, their ice cream menu includes rotating flavors based on seasonal fruits and flavors.
Founded in 2005, Sirena Gelato is a family-owned business serving delicious local gelato. Just around the corner is Edaleen Dairy, another local favorite. Edaleen Dairy opened it’s sixth shop in February 2019 and is now bringing over 24 delicious flavors to Fairhaven. All of Edaleen’s ice cream is made from locally produced milk from their farm up in Lynden, Washington. Cones to sundaes and ice cream cakes to banana splits, Edaleen has all your ice cream needs.
Edaleen Dairy can be found across the street from Fairhaven Village Green. Grab yourself an ice cream cone and make your way down the South Bay Trail towards Taylor Dock and Boulevard Park.
Bonus Activity: Taylor Dock / Boulevard Park
After enjoying a delicious ice cream treat, you will want to stroll to Taylor Dock. As you walk over the open waters of Bellingham Bay to Boulevard Park it is easy to understand why this is one of Bellingham’s most popular trails.
In Boulevard Park, you will find open fields and a play structure for kids. Take in the breathtaking views of Downtown Bellingham and Bellingham Bay as you walk, run or bike along the waterfront.
Fun Fact: The original town of Bellingham was located in the area that is now Boulevard Park.
Fairhaven is the perfect place to shop local and directly support small merchants in Bellingham. Even through a mask, you are sure to be greeted warmly and offered a unique selection of gift items, clothing, shoes, housewares, garden ware and yes – books!
Since 1980, Village Books has been “building a community one book at a time.” Today, this three-story dog friendly bookstore is the heart of Fairhaven village. Explore their huge selection of best sellers, children’s books, periodicals, puzzles, and gift items.
After Village Books, head next door to Paper Dreams. This locally owned greeting card and gift store is a must stop shop. Explore rows of knick-knacks, cards, jewelry, notebooks and more. Their selections change weekly so you never know what you’ll find this time around.
A personal favorite and a great place to get a locally made, functional, yet stylish mask is Posh Upscale Resale, located in McKenzie Alley.
This high-end consignment store is full of great finds, but you don’t have to be in Fairhaven to shop. You can now shop online or heck out their Facebook to see what this week’s new arrivals. Everything that comes into Posh receive a UV-C treatment and are quarantined for 36-72 hours before processing and adding to the store.
Travel Tip: For a list of all shops currently open in Fairhaven see EnjoyFairhaven.com.
The Whatcom Art Market (WAM) is a co-op featuring over 44 local Whtcom and Skagit County artists. WAM features paintings, photography, glasswork, ceramics, sculpture, jewelry, cards and more. As Whatcom’s largest cooperative gallery, we are able to provide a large selection of art and gifts.
This non-profit Art Market has been in Fairhaven for almost 11 years and is known for it’s rotating art displays, meaning you’ll never see the same work twice. Each week features one of WAM’s artists and each month highlights a different theme and aticity, demonstrated by the artist (or artists) or the week.
Currently, open 4 days a week, the Market will be open 6 days a week starting in November. You can also access the Market online! Check out their website for info on the Market’s artists and displays or visit their Facebook and virtually explore.
After checking out the Whatcom Art Market, walk to Peter James Studio to see more art by local artists. Peter James wants to take you on a tour of Washington State without having to leave his studio. All of Peter’s photos are printed on metal prints, some up to 8 feet tall, and includes scenic views from the Olympic Peninsula to the Cascade Mountains and Mount Baker.
One of the best ways to soak up Bellingham and Whatcom County is with San Juan Cruises, May through October. Departing from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven, spend the day exploring Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands on one of San Juan Cruises Whale Watching Lunch Cruise or their Chuckanut Cracked Crab Dinner Cruise. Many special safety protocols have been put in place. Passengers are asked to wear masks and social distance throughout the trip.
Travel Tip: “Head out on a Whale Watch for a Spectacular Staycation“
Spend the day on Bellingham Bay with the Community Boating Center! Visitors can rent out kayaks, paddleboards, rowboats, and sailboats or sign up for one of their youth camps or adult classes happening through October.
The CBC has implemented a code of conduct that everyone must follow in order to participate. That code includes signing an agreement online before entering the CBC property, practicing social distancing of at least six feet, and filling out a daily health questionnaire whenever coming to the facility. Their code also requires a face mask or covering be worn at all times, except when swimming in the water and while practicing recovery from capsizing.
Travel Tip: Check out our blog “Get on the Water with the Community Boating Center” to learn more about the CBC’s 2020-2021 camps, and classes.
Fun Fact: The CBC is typically open May – October. For any Whatcom locals, be sure to check out the CBC’s fall programs. They are now offering after-school classes for Elementary, Middle, and High Schoolers in the Bellingham area and 50% off a season’s passes for students with a valid ID from any university, community college, or technical college.
Bonus Activity: Schooner Zodiac & Gato Verde Adventure Sailing
Gato Verde and Schooner Zodiac offer sailing excursions of Bellingham Bay and San Juan Islands. The Schooner is a 160-foot classic tall ship while Gato is the first plug-in diesel-electric hybrid catamaran on the West Coast!
When it comes to getting in shape, no one knows health and wellness like the Bellingham Training and Tennis Club. Established at the end of 1973, the Club has remained one of the only places in Whatcom County with indoor tennis courts.
Visit their website to register for a guest pass and spend the day on the court!
Safety is the number one concern at the Club and they have implemented a number of practices and procedures to ensure everyone has a safe workout. In addition to social distancing, hand sanitizer stations, mask-wearing, and regular gym cleanings, all classes have been limited to a maximum of 5 people with reservations required prior to the session.
Travel Tip: Check out our blog Get in Shape at the Bellingham Training and Tennis Club.
Fairhaven’s annual holiday activity, Winterfest, will be a little different this year, but still sure to be fun. From Thanksgiving through December, the village will be filled with twinkling lights. Shops will hold a window decorating contest with voting by QR code this year. And kids can see Father Christmas through the window of Current & Furbish. The goal is to keep the holiday magic alive while social distancing and staying safe.
For more information on Winterfest, check out our blog “Holiday Happenings in Whatcom County!“
As you get ready to end your perfect day, it is time to find that ideal hotel. Most Whatcom County hotels are open with reservations required. For a full list of hotels, resorts and lodges open, check out our Places to Stay page.
Travel Tip: For more information on the cleaning standards and hotel policies in Whatcom County, check out our blog “High Cleaning Standards at Bellingham and Whatcom County Hotels and Businesses.”
Located on the edge of the Historic Fairhaven District, is the Chrysalis Inn & Spa Bellingham, a Curio Collection by Hilton. This waterfront luxury hotel has rooms that overlook Bellingham Bay, with a spa. For dinner, you’ll want a seat at Keenan’s at the Pier. They are currently open for take-out with in-person dining available on their porch.
Another nearby personal favorite is Hotel Leo located in Downtown Bellingham. This historic hotel, originally built in 1889 as the Bryon Hotel, is the perfect place to stay and explore what else Bellingham has to offer.