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The Best Things to Do in Bellingham

Rick Kennedy / Flickr

Surrounding Seattle, there are plenty of small cities and towns with rich activity calendars that are out of your routine. Roughly an hour and a half outside the city, you’ll find plenty of cool places in Bellingham, WA for outdoor enthusiasts, art lovers, and foodies. Among the loads of interesting things to do in Bellingham, be sure to soak in hot springs and stroll along the downtown art walk. To get started, catch a bus from Seattle to Bellingham from downtown and take a short bus ride up the coast. Read on to learn about more of our must-do’s in Bellingham.

Ian Roberts / Flickr

Outdoor Paradise

Whatcom Falls Park

In the Pacific Northwest, waterfalls are waiting around every corner. At Whatcom Falls Park, you can walk through 24 acres of trails and catch sight of four sets of waterfalls leading from Whatcom Creek to Lake Whatcom. Walk across an old stone bridge that looks like something out of a fairytale and watch the water pour into Whirlpool Falls. Grab the 525 Bus on Railroad Ave and E Holly Street and take it to Whatcom Falls Park, where you’ll be dropped off right at the edge of the lake. Or start your hiking adventure from downtown Bellingham, where the park is only a 2 mile walk away.

1401 Electric Avenue, Bellingham, WA 98229.

Lookout Mountain Preserve

Looking for free fun things to do in Bellingham? As part of the Whatcom County Park System, Lookout Mountain Preserve has almost 370 acres of hiking trails. This is perfect if you’re looking for a less strenuous hike, as the longest loop stretches 2.2 miles. Don’t let the short distance of the trail fool you though, at the top of this loop is a lookout that provides a breathtaking, panorama view of Lake Whatcom and the valley below. There is an additional 8-mile trail that will take you higher up the mountain, where you’ll be able to see two 12-foot waterfalls. During the spring, you’ll find local flowers, like Queen Anne’s lace and bleeding hearts, blooming along the trail. Take the 512 Bus from Bellingham Station and get dropped off right at the entrance to the park!

Birch Street, Bellingham, WA 98229.

Tennant Lake Park Interpretative Dance Center and Fragrance Garden

With a name like Interpretative Dance Center and Fragrance Garden, what’s not to love about this Bellingham destination? The 624-acre site includes a shallow lake, wetlands, fields, and beautiful everglade forests. Aside from hiking around the natural preserve, you can also observe wildlife and enjoy over 200 plants in the fragrance garden. You’ll need to rent a Zipcar to get to this destination, as it’s a little outside of the Bellingham city limits.

Ferndale, WA 98249.

Euclid Park

You don’t have to travel far outside of Bellingham to enjoy nature! Euclid Park is located along the shore of Lake Whatcom, where you’ll find plenty of hiking trails to enjoy. Aside from hiking trails, you’ll also have access to the water where you can swim, fish, or canoe.

7620 Euclid Avenue, Bellingham, WA.

Larrabee State Park

After setting up base in Bellingham, where you’ll have access to some of the best local foods and the innovative art scene, rent a ZipCar and make your way down to Larrabee State Park. This 2,683-acre camping park with 8,100 feet of saltwater shoreline also features freshwater lakes, coves, and tidelands. Hike along the trails that wrap around this Northwest state park and watch the sun go down on the water. With 15 miles of biking trails, you’ll have plenty of space to shake off the city and explore nature.

245 Chuckanut Dr., Bellingham, WA, 98229.

Ruth Hartnup / Instagram

Local Art Hub


Nothing is more representative of the local art scene than cooperatively owned spaces. One of our favorite Bellingham destinations, Artwood is a fine woodworking gallery in the heart of the city with eight active woodworking members and 90 other artists and craftspeople. These handmade pieces include everything from furniture to guitars. 

1000 Harris Avenue, Bellingham, WA 98225.

Whatcom Artist Studios

Since 1995, Whatcom Artist Studio has connected both locals and visitors to the artists and sculptors in the Bellingham area. Whether you’re looking for new sources of inspiration or want to bring handmade ceramics back with you to Seattle, Whatcom Artist Studio is the place to visit. The studio boasts more than 40 local artists in 30 unique studios, so you definitely won’t run out of things to see. The studios are located throughout downtown, so you can make your own Bellingham walking tour while hopping between different artists’ studios.

Visit Whatcom Artist Studios to find a full map, including addresses, for each location!

Western Gallery

Western Washington University is located in Bellingham and has student artists who are producing contemporary works of art that you won’t want to miss while visiting town. With 4,380 square feet of exhibition space and 250-500 ft. walls, the gallery includes both a collection of contemporary art pieces and students works. The gallery boasts a large collection of 19 and 20 century art pieces, as well as Northwest Art and outdoor sculptures. Admission is free and you can either walk or take the bus from Bellingham Station.

516 High Street, Bellingham, WA, 98225.

Big Rock Garden Park

Beyond contemporary and fine art, you’ll also find unique public sculptures in the Northwest. You can create a walking tour out of all the public sculptures that are in Whatcom County or just stick to downtown Bellingham. Big Rock Park is an amazing balance of nature and outdoor sculpture. Nestled in the evergreens, this 2.7-acre garden includes 35 sculptural works from international and local artists. The park is beautiful to visit during every season, especially with rhododendrons and azaleas blooming in spring and the rich maple of the fall. Catch a bus from Bellingham Station that will drop you off right at the edge of the park!

2900 Sylvan Street, Bellingham, WA, 98226.

Lucia Douglas Art Gallery

An authentic Bellingham art experience wouldn’t be complete without stopping by the Lucia Douglas Art Gallery. This particular gallery represents northwest artists and specializes in fine art paintings, prints, and sculpture. Past exhibitions include the landscape work of Lisa McShane, featuring oil paintings of Washington favorites. The gallery also includes watercolor and mixed media art that represents the unique northwest cultural heritage.

1415 13th St., Bellingham, WA 98225.

For Foodies & Nightlife

Café Rumba Sangucheria

Founded by Marco Mallet and Antoni0 Díaz, who grew up in Lima, Peru, the Café Rumba includes inspiration from their parents’ cooking. The Peruvian sandwiches that you’ll have at this local Bellingham restaurant encapsulate the flavors of the Andean highlands, coast, and jungle. Some of the beverages made in-house include chicha morada, a mixture of purple corn juice, cloves, cinnamon, and pineapple. Pair this delicious Peruvian drink with a sanguche that’s stuffed with yam, avocado, and aji amarillo.

1140 N. State St., Bellingham, WA 98225.

The Shakedown

Looking for thing to do in Bellingham at night? With different events going on almost every night of the week, The Shakedown is a great place to start. Enjoy live music, cabaret or comedy acts with a pretty solid Philly cheesesteak or falafel in hand. With ongoing events, as well as special holidays, you’ll always have a good time dancing the night away in Bellingham.

202 E Holly St, Bellingham, WA 98225.

Boundary Bay Brewery

As Bellingham’s original craft beer destination, located in a historical warehouse in the heart of downtown, Boundary Bay Brewery offers handcrafted beer and fresh, local eats. It’s just across the street from the Saturday Farmers Market, so you can enjoy a pint and shop around for goods from local farmers and makers during the spring, summer, and fall. Aside from brewery tours and local eats, you can also enjoy events like Irish dancing and live music.

1107 Railroad Ave, Bellingham, WA 98225.

The Underground

With a mix of hip-hop and electronic music, The Underground stands out from other Bellingham nightlife. Aside from the weekend light show, this club features comedy shows and special nights that are open to 18+. On the weekend, The Underground is packed with people across the wide open dance floor. If you’re looking to dance and meet new people, then this is the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night!

211 Chestnut Street, Bellingham, WA 98225.

Explore nature, art, music, and food by taking a day trip from Seattle to Bellingham. On Wanderu, you can book cheap bus tickets from Seattle to Bellingham to start exploring this local city!

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About the author
Kate Sedrowski

Kate Sedrowski

Kate Sedrowski is on a mission to spread delight while inspiring and encouraging people to travel. Her favorite travel companion is her teddy bear, and her favorite souvenir is the scar from the broken nose she got in a snowball fight in Québec City.

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