For many folks, shopping is a chore: just another thing you have to get done. So why not make it fun? That’s the philosophy behind “sip and shop” — one of my newfound favorite ways to experience Bellingham. Next time you need to buy a gift or product, consider supporting local Bellingham businesses — beer (or wine, cider, spirits, you name it) in-hand!
Here are a few of my favorite sip and shop spots in Bellingham and Whatcom County.
1. Baby Greens
Perhaps my favorite place for year-round sipping and shopping in Bellingham is Babygreens. This tiny plant shop and cafe in downtown Bellingham is the trendiest place in town to peruse houseplants while enjoying coffee, wine, cider, or beer. Yet as trendy as it may seem on Instagram, there’s nothing unapproachable or pretentious about Babygreens. And that’s exactly why I sip and shop there.
Babygreens is equally enjoyable as a cafe and plant shop — there’s never any pressure to purchase plants. You can sip a local beer (they usually have Aslan Batch 15 on tap) and browse at will. Or, settle in at one of the small tables for happy hour. If you have a question, the friendly folks behind the counter are more than happy to assist you.
I visited a few times before making a purchase. Chill tunes (like Ray Lamontagne, Phosphorescent, and Phoebe Bridgers) fueled the laid-back vibe, making me feel right at home. Though I’d intended to purchase a fiddle leaf fig tree for my sister’s birthday, there were far too many greens to choose from. Babygreens carries an impressive array of indoor plants — from small succulents to large tropical palms.
I opted for a gift card. When my sister and I eventually returned to pick out her perfect houseplant, I realized why (beyond the beer and coffee) I keep coming back. Being surrounded by living, breathing plants is something that grows on you. Spending time at Babygreens is an experience.
2. Makeworth Market
For a similar aesthetic to Babygreens in a much larger space, Makeworth Market is another new (opened May 2019) cafe and retail shop in downtown Bellingham. And while you’ll find decorative plants in Makeworth’s interior, the retail focus here is a little different. For sale, you’ll find prints from local artists, a curated apparel collection, and an assortment of self-care products. Peruse the offerings online, or stop in and browse a bit.
Because part of Makeworth Market’s ownership team is from southern California, the lofty space gives off “SoCal meets Pacific Northwest vibes”. They serve colorful food plates alongside lattes and London Fog teas. If you’re here for the beer, check out the rotating tap list featuring west coast beers from Bellingham to San Diego. Sip, shop, and sit awhile. You just might find the perfect gift at Makeworth Market.
Read more about Makeworth Market here: Bellingham’s Makeworth Market a Welcoming Place to Chill.
3. Evolve Chocolate + Cafe at Village Books
Read. Eat. Repeat. That’s the slogan behind Evolve Chocolate and Cafe, a wonderful coffee shop located inside Village Books. Enjoy rich sipping chocolate (so thick it’s served with a tiny spoon) while overlooking the Fairhaven Village Green from this 3rd-floor perch. Evolve also serves craft cocktails along with regional wine, beer, and cider. Check out their list of rotating provisions next time you’re in Fairhaven!
While I won’t encourage you to walk around Village Books with a beer in-hand, you can enjoy a beverage before or after shopping in Bellingham’s favorite bookstore. Village Books and neighboring business Paper Dreams feature thousands of new and used books and gifts. It’s one of my favorite local shops for gift shopping. You’ll find books by local authors on the shelf, too (perhaps you’ll even spot a copy of my book, Beer Hiking Pacific Northwest)!
4. Goods Local Brews, Nursery and Produce
A nursery and produce stand-turned taproom, Goods Local Brews serves up the goods in an open-air establishment northwest of downtown Bellingham. You’ll always find Kulshan Brewing beers on tap here along with a rotating list of offerings. This is one of my favorite spots to sit outside in the summer, where you can enjoy cheap and delicious A Que Tacos with your brews.
With Produce & Nursery items available March thru October, Goods is a seasonal shopping spot with a year-round beer garden. Christmas Tree sales are available from the end of November through December. Whenever you decide to go, it’s all good at Goods.
5. BelleWood Distilling
If you’re looking for a place to sip and shop north of Bellingham, look no further than Bellewood Distilling in Lynden. Located at Bellewood Farms — an apple orchard and farm — Bellewood Distilling makes their own “farm to glass” vodka, brandy, gin, and liqueurs. Take a distillery tour, browse the farm store and bakery, and stay for a farm-fresh meal (and fine cocktails) in the bistro overlooking Mount Baker.
You’ll find all kinds of apple-themed gifts and products at the Bellewood gift store. Shop for fresh-squeezed cider, pies, and apple cider doughnuts in season. Open year-round, Fall Harvest is perhaps the best time to visit.
In addition to the year-round sip and shop stops above, several holiday markets and festivals pop up around Bellingham each season. Here are a few to check out in 2019.
December 7, 2019 – Downtown Holiday Festival
Formerly known as the Tree Lighting Ceremony, this expanded and reimagined gathering will feature a variety of attractions, including a new, sustainable, 28-ft holiday tree gifted by the City of Bellingham! Other festivities include the lighting of the tree, an artisan market, photo opportunities with Santa, hot cocoa, cider & cookies provided by Woods Coffee, a 21+ bevy garden featuring Boundary Bay Brewery and Chuckanut Bay Distillery, food trucks, holiday sounds with Boombox Kid, take-and-make craft tables with Gabriels Art Kids, dance performances by students at Harper&I Dance Center, caroling with The Mount Baker Toppers and more!
December 14, 2019 – Wander Brewing Bottle Sale & Holiday Pop-Up Market
Join us at Wander for our Annual Bottle Sale and Holiday Pop-Up Market! Our annual bottle sale starts at noon, and local artists and crafters will join us from 2 p.m. – 7 p.m. in the back brewery production area for a holiday pop-up market.
December 21, 2019 – Arts & Ales: Annual Holiday Market at Aslan Depot
Join us at the Aslan Depot for our second annual Arts & Ales holiday market! A gathering of local vendors including jewelers, potters, artists, and other skilled artisans! Enjoy a beer and do your holiday shopping all in one place. The market will also feature live music and food vendors.