Bellingham is fortunate to have a university in its midst. Being a college town gives this small city access to intellectual and cultural resources we wouldn’t otherwise have as well as providing a vast campus that in itself offers a wealth of things to see and do.
Whether you’re a local, or visiting Bellingham and Whatcom County, Western Washington University’s campus can be a great place for families to explore and experience. Who knows, it may even inspire your children to think about becoming a college student themselves one day. When I recently visited the campus with my 7-year-old son, he told me just that: “Mom, one day I want to go to school here.” That’s music to a mom’s ears.
Ready to explore? Here are just a few of the many ways you and your children can connect with Western.
Out & About
Outdoor Sculpture Collection – Western’s renowned Outdoor Sculpture Collection brings world-class art to
campus. What’s so neat about sculpture is that it is so accessible – kids to0 can interact with many of the sculptures – and multiple generations can find something of interest when viewing the art.
My kids’ favorite is “Stone Enclosure: Rock Rings,” a labyrinth-like sculpture located on the lawn between the Communication Facility and Fairhaven College. Other favorites include “Log Ramps,” which are great for climbing on or under, and the engaging little turtle-esque people of “Feats of Strength.” Families could easily spend a couple of hours exploring the collection, and when campus eateries are open, you can grab a snack after your adventure.
Sehome Hill Arboretum Trail – Managed cooperatively between Western and the City of Bellingham, the Sehome Hill trails above Western traverse 100 acres that once were home to mining and logging operations. Points of interest along the trails include a tunnel chiseled through sandstone, an old quarry site, and an observation tower. Paved trail and dirt trails and paths allow accessibility for many. Lushly forested, the trails make for a cool and shady place to walk on warm summer days and a great place for collecting gigantic maple leaves for art projects in the fall.
Learning & Exploring
Planetarium – The Spanel Planetarium recently installed a Digistar projection system. Peer into the “stars” under the full domed theater. Check the Planetarium schedule for show dates and times. Stargaze under the real night sky with members of the Physics & Astronomy Department every Wednesday night when class is in session and weather permits.
Grandparents U – Grandparents and kids ages 7-14 have a unique opportunity to explore topics such as chemistry, book making and fossils during at day and a half at Western each summer with Grandparents U. Along with diving in to some fun hands-on projects, participants get a chance to tour the campus, swim at the rec center and picnic on the lawn. Get the full university experience by eating in the dining hall and staying overnight in student housing.
For more information about Western Washington University, visit www.wwu.edu.