The new Waypoint Park in Bellingham is one of the first tangible signs of the city’s waterfront redevelopment of the former Georgia-Pacific paper mill site, and an exciting harbinger of things to come for the property. It also adds to the already long list of parks available to kids.
Redevelopment of the downtown Bellingham waterfront has been a long time in the making. My son was in diapers when the redevelopment plan was first introduced. (No complaints here, the reclamation of a former industrial site takes time.) In the last couple of years I’ve eagerly watched its progress, including the transformation of the “acid ball” from the old GP site into a sculptural piece called “Waypoint” that serves as an iconic beacon to the redevelopment.
As the Waypoint artwork was finished and a playground was added, naturally my kids and I had been itching to check out the new Waypoint Park.
Exploring Waypoint Park
The park is not huge, but still has plenty to explore. Of course, we were immediately drawn to check out the huge metallic globe / Waypoint Sculpture. It’s a gigantic piece of steel, and standing next to it makes you feel small!
Alongside the sculpture is grassy area to run and play, as well as a beach where you can skip rocks or look for sea life. Landscaping includes benches and well-placed rocks for perching upon and enjoying the sun and the scenery. Recently the park has won two awards for its design: 2019 Local Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award from the Seattle section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and a 2019 Best Restored Beach award from the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA).
The playground is unique in its design. It has a working waterfront vibe with tall logs sunk into a spongy cyan play surface, making it look like pilings rising up out of the water. And it got my kids’ seal of approval as a place to play. The toddler joining us on the playground seemed to agree.
Adjacent to the playground is the historic Granary building, which has been refurbished and is beginning to fill with retail and other businesses. My kids and I highly suggest ice cream be part of the mix!
Since it was our first visit to the park, we arrived via minivan, turning onto Granary Avenue from Roeder Avenue, but I would suggest this would be a great place for biking. Plenty of bike racks are available, and the port is reportedly working on designs for walking and biking trails, as well as bike pump track.
Adventure Starts Here
Our good friends at Wikipedia describe a waypoint as “an intermediate point or place on a route or line of travel, a stopping point or point at which course is changed.” Fittingly, Waypoint Park is an excellent spot to plan into a larger adventure of downtown or the waterfront.
In fact, you could start at Waypoint and bike along Roeder Avenue and head toward the Bellwether and Zuanich Point Park. Along the way, stop near the Coast Guard station to explore the Waterfront Trail and maybe take a break at the small pocket beach before pedaling down to Zuanich Point Park to watch some kite flying, play on the playground or check out the boats in the marina.
On the return trip, make a stop at one of my favorite hidden gems, the Marine Life Center, to explore the touch tank and peek in on the marine creatures in residence there. If you’re lucky, they’ll have a Giant Pacific Octopus among their “guests.”
Hungry? Grab lunch at Latitude 47, right next door to the Marine Life Center. It’s kids menu made my family’s list of Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants.
If you’re not up for a bike ride, Waypoint Park is in easy walking distance of the Old Town antique shops and Rocket Donuts, which could nicely round out the afternoon – all in keeping with the park as a waypoint on your day’s adventure.