Bellingham has plenty of art to satisfy an aficionado, but it can be enjoyed by anyone. Take to the outdoors, head inside to beat the elements or sit back and enjoy a show. This day trip includes ideas on satisfying your sweet tooth, too!
A good place to start an artsy exploration of Bellingham is the Downtown Arts District with a variety of venues located within walking distance of each other.
Whatcom Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate featuring national-caliber visual art exhibitions, regional culture, and local history in two buildings: the modern Lightcatcher and the vintage Old City Hall. Visual Arts are also the focus at Allied Arts Gallery, and Mindport Gallery.
Downtown Bellingham features a “First Friday Art Walk” each month, with a variety of galleries and shops open to the public for special evening hours with special exhibits.
Performing Arts take the stage at Mount Baker Theatre, which showcases national traveling music, performers and theater acts. Independent and documentary film is the focus of the Sundance-affliated Pickford Film Center. Each weekend the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention features a shocking Electrical Show tracing the history of currents that power our modern world, and culminating in a 4-million volt arc of lightening.
Art has a way of calming the mind and spirit, as does getting outside in the elements. Sunshine, rain or overcast skies compliment Bellingham’s outdoor sculpture art exhibits. The Western Gallery collection of pieces on the Western Washington University campus is one of the top 10 outdoor sculpture collections in the nation, and is highly walkable.
Big Rock Sculpture Garden is a City of Bellingham park featuring 35 permanent works by distinguished international and local artists. Both Big Rock Garden and the Western Gallery’s collection feature exhibits that are great for kids; art feels so much more accessible when you can actually touch it and climb on it!
The Upfront Theatre, established by TV comedian, Ryan Stiles, is a 95-seat cabaret style venue offering live improv comedy every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening. It presents and teaches many different styles of improv including short and long form, musicals, competitive improve and everything in between. Shows are at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., but get there early as lines start to form 30+ minutes before show time. This interactive theatre style takes “thinking on your feet” to a whole new level. Bonus: it’s hysterical.
Stop by Mallard Ice Cream in downtown Bellingham to experience hand-crafted ice cream and inventive flavors like Earl Grey, avocado, and Vanilla Black Pepper. They also serve favorites like Mint Oreo, Super Chocolate and seasonal fruit mixtures like Strawberry or Rhubarb.
Bellingham’s Historic Fairhaven District, is home to numerous art galleries featuring pottery, woodworking, glass, and painting open daily. Fairhaven also features a “Fourth Friday Art Walk” each month in the evening hours.
Nearby by, Whatcom Art Market is composed of over 40 local artists and craftspeople, from watercolor and oil painters to wood and metal workers, photographers, jewelry, glass, knits and textiles.
If you are visiting in October, make a point to experience the Whatcom Artists Studio Tour.
Please note: check with each venue for details on hours.