Your Guide to the Best Things To Do in Bellingham

Are you searching for an unforgettable and thrilling escape in the Pacific Northwest? Bellingham, Washington, is your ideal destination! Perfectly positioned between the majestic Mount Baker and the serene Bellingham Bay, this lively city boasts an abundance of activities and sights that will enchant visitors of all tastes.

A Guide to the Best Things To Do in Bellingham

Outdoor enthusiasts will revel in the natural splendors, while those passionate about culture can delve into the quaint downtown areas. In our guide, we’ll unveil the best of Bellingham, from trekking along picturesque trails to exploring intriguing museums and savoring the local culinary delights. Prepare to be captivated by the allure and beauty of this Pacific Northwest (PNW) treasure on your upcoming trip!

Enjoy the Breweries

Bellingham’s craft beer scene is thriving, with many local breweries dotting the city. Each brewery offers a unique experience, from cozy taprooms to expansive beer gardens. Sample a range of artisanal brews, from classic IPAs to experimental ales, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere that each establishment brings.

As of December 2023, there are 17 breweries in the Bellingham area, making it one of the leaders in quantity and quality throughout the PNW. 

Go Kayaking

The calm waters around Bellingham are perfect for kayaking. Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or a beginner, the serene bays and inlets provide a peaceful setting to glide across the water, offering a unique perspective of the city’s stunning natural scenery.

If you’re lucky, you might even see some sea life, including whales, seals, and otters. 

multi day kayaking trip san juan islands

See Whales and Wildlife

Embark on a whale-watching adventure to witness the majestic beauty of orcas, humpback whales, and other marine wildlife in their natural habitat. These tours provide an opportunity to see these magnificent creatures up close and offer educational insights into their lives and the local ecosystem.

You can leave right from the Bellingham harbor on a trip that will likely take you to the San Juan Islands—though the animals will ultimately choose your trip’s final direction and destination. If you embark on a sightseeing trip, remember to bring your binoculars, camera, light jacket, and snacks for this full day of adventure! 

Take a Ferry

Experience the beauty of the Pacific Northwest from the water by taking a ferry ride. These trips offer breathtaking views of the surrounding islands and coastlines and, often, glimpses of marine life. It’s a relaxing way to explore the area and enjoy the scenic beauty.

Getting out onto the water offers the chance to see some beautiful things and experience new adventures that few people take on. It’s something you’ll remember forever. 

Explore Mount Baker

Mount Baker, a towering mountain of glaciers and snow, offers a range of outdoor activities throughout the year. In winter, it’s a haven for winter hiking, skiing, and snowboarding, as it is one of the snowiest places on Earth. Meanwhile, the warmer months provide excellent hiking, backpacking, and stunning viewpoints. 

mount baker close up
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

After living in Washington for 18 months, I’ve found this to be one of my favorite areas to explore. The top trails in the area are Yellow Aster Butte, Chain Lakes Loop, Lake Ann, Winchester Lookout, and Park Butte Look. Alternatively, drive through the mountains to Artist Point and get the best bang for your buck views in Washington! 

Hike in Whatcom Falls City Park

This park is a haven for hikers and runners, with trails winding through lush forests, alongside flowing streams, and past the iconic Whatcom Falls. It’s a perfect place for a family outing, a peaceful solo hike, or a picturesque picnic. While the trails are not paved, they are in good enough condition for strollers and little kids. If you only have a short time, this is one of the best things to do in Bellingham. 

Take the Chuckanut Drive

Chuckanut Drive is a scenic route that offers some of the most spectacular coastal views in the Pacific Northwest. The drive takes you through dense forests and along the coastline, with several spots to stop, explore, and take in the vistas. If you take this gorgeous drive, consider stopping for the Oyster Dome hike or enjoying the views at Larrabee State Park. 

Boat or Recreate on Lake Whatcom

Lake Whatcom is a hub for recreational activities, including boating, fishing, swimming, and picnicking. The lake’s tranquil waters and beautiful surroundings make it an ideal spot for a day of relaxation or adventure. There are also a lot of Airbnb and VRBOs in the Sudden Valley area that offer excellent lodging for couples or larger groups! 

Drive Into the North Cascades

The North Cascades offer breathtaking mountain scenery, with hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing opportunities. The drive through this rugged landscape is an experience with dramatic vistas and unspoiled wilderness.

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

It’s a 90-minute drive from Bellingham but a must-do day trip to see one of the least visited mountain ranges in the United States. I recommend Cascade Pass, Maple Pass, Cutthroat Pass, Blue Lake, and Diablo Lake Overlook. 

Check Out the Marine Life Center

The Marine Life Center is a must-visit for anyone interested in marine biology and conservation. It offers interactive exhibits, educational programs, and a close-up look at the diverse marine species that inhabit the local waters.

Drive Into Canada

If you plan to stay in Bellingham for an extended period, check out Canada.  Only 35 minutes from downtown Bellingham, the Canadian border is your gateway into a new country. From here, you can explore Vancouver—only another hour away or keep driving up the stunning Sea to Sky Highway towards Squamish and Whistler. 

There is much to do in this region—recreationally and culturally. There is no doubt you will have a fantastic time! 

FAQ About Bellingham

When Is The Best Time To Visit Bellingham? 

Unless you plan to hit the ski slopes on Mt. Baker, the best time to visit Bellingham is during the summer. The weather is perfect, and you can hike, boat, kayak, paddleboard, and more each day. Plus, you’ll be able to maximize the long PNW summer days, which start around 5 am and end at 10 pm. 

Does Bellingham Get Snow? 

Bellingham can see snow, but it’s uncommon considering its proximity to the water in Bellingham Bay. On average, they receive around nine inches a year. Like Seattle, the water makes the climate more moderate and keeps the temperatures warmer than other places further from the water. 

How Far Away Is Bellingham From Seattle? 

The drive from Bellingham to Seattle is super easy and quick. It’s about a 90-minute drive without traffic and is entirely on the I-5. You can set your cruise control and sit back and enjoy the beautiful views of the cascades to your east and the Puget Sound and Olympics to your west. 

Best Things To Do in Bellingham

Bellingham is a vibrant and diverse city with many activities for visitors. Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast looking for adventure in the beautiful surrounding nature, a history buff exploring the city’s rich heritage, or simply seeking a weekend getaway filled with delicious food and unique shopping experiences, Bellingham has something to offer everyone.

With its stunning landscapes, welcoming community, and endless opportunities for exploration, it is no wonder that Bellingham has become a beloved destination for travelers from all over.

Are you searching for an unforgettable and thrilling escape in the Pacific Northwest? Bellingham, Washington, is your ideal destination! Perfectly positioned between the majestic Mount Baker and the serene Bellingham Bay, this lively city boasts an abundance of activities and sights that will enchant visitors of all tastes.

A Guide to the Best Things To Do in Bellingham

Outdoor enthusiasts will revel in the natural splendors, while those passionate about culture can delve into the quaint downtown areas. In our guide, we’ll unveil the best of Bellingham, from trekking along picturesque trails to exploring intriguing museums and savoring the local culinary delights. Prepare to be captivated by the allure and beauty of this Pacific Northwest (PNW) treasure on your upcoming trip!

Enjoy the Breweries

Bellingham’s craft beer scene is thriving, with many local breweries dotting the city. Each brewery offers a unique experience, from cozy taprooms to expansive beer gardens. Sample a range of artisanal brews, from classic IPAs to experimental ales, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere that each establishment brings. As of December 2023, there are 17 breweries in the Bellingham area, making it one of the leaders in quantity and quality throughout the PNW. 

Go Kayaking

The calm waters around Bellingham are perfect for kayaking. Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or a beginner, the serene bays and inlets provide a peaceful setting to glide across the water, offering a unique perspective of the city’s stunning natural scenery. If you’re lucky, you might even see some sea life, including whales, seals, and otters. 

See Whales and Wildlife

Embark on a whale-watching adventure to witness the majestic beauty of orcas, humpback whales, and other marine wildlife in their natural habitat. These tours provide an opportunity to see these magnificent creatures up close and offer educational insights into their lives and the local ecosystem.

You can leave right from the Bellingham harbor on a trip that will likely take you to the San Juan Islands—though the animals will ultimately choose your trip’s final direction and destination. If you embark on a sightseeing trip, remember to bring your binoculars, camera, light jacket, and snacks for this full day of adventure! 

Take a Ferry

Experience the beauty of the Pacific Northwest from the water by taking a ferry ride. These trips offer breathtaking views of the surrounding islands and coastlines and, often, glimpses of marine life. It’s a relaxing way to explore the area and enjoy the scenic beauty. Getting out onto the water offers the chance to see some beautiful things and experience new adventures that few people take on. It’s something you’ll remember forever. 

Explore Mount Baker

Mount Baker, a towering mountain of glaciers and snow, offers a range of outdoor activities throughout the year. In winter, it’s a haven for winter hiking, skiing, and snowboarding, as it is one of the snowiest places on Earth. Meanwhile, the warmer months provide excellent hiking, backpacking, and stunning viewpoints. 

After living in Washington for 18 months, I’ve found this to be one of my favorite areas to explore. The top trails in the area are Yellow Aster Butte, Chain Lakes Loop, Lake Ann, Winchester Lookout, and Park Butte Look.

Alternatively, drive through the mountains to Artist Point and get the best bang for your buck views in Washington! 

Hike in Whatcom Falls City Park

This park is a haven for hikers and runners, with trails winding through lush forests, alongside flowing streams, and past the iconic Whatcom Falls. It’s a perfect place for a family outing, a peaceful solo hike, or a picturesque picnic.

While the trails are not paved, they are in good enough condition for strollers and little kids. If you only have a short time, this is one of the best things to do in Bellingham. 

Take the Chuckanut Drive

Chuckanut Drive is a scenic route that offers some of the most spectacular coastal views in the Pacific Northwest. The drive takes you through dense forests and along the coastline, with several spots to stop, explore, and take in the vistas.

If you take this gorgeous drive, consider stopping for the Oyster Dome hike or enjoying the views at Larrabee State Park. 

Boat or Recreate on Lake Whatcom

Lake Whatcom is a hub for recreational activities, including boating, fishing, swimming, and picnicking. The lake’s tranquil waters and beautiful surroundings make it an ideal spot for a day of relaxation or adventure. There are also a lot of Airbnb and VRBOs in the Sudden Valley area that offer excellent lodging for couples or larger groups! 

Drive Into the North Cascades

The North Cascades offer breathtaking mountain scenery, with hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing opportunities. The drive through this rugged landscape is an experience with dramatic vistas and unspoiled wilderness. It’s a 90-minute drive from Bellingham but a must-do day trip to see one of the least visited mountain ranges in the United States.

I recommend Cascade Pass, Maple Pass, Cutthroat Pass, Blue Lake, and Diablo Lake Overlook. 

Check Out the Marine Life Center

The Marine Life Center is a must-visit for anyone interested in marine biology and conservation. It offers interactive exhibits, educational programs, and a close-up look at the diverse marine species that inhabit the local waters.

Drive Into Canada

If you plan to stay in Bellingham for an extended period, check out Canada.  Only 35 minutes from downtown Bellingham, the Canadian border is your gateway into a new country. From here, you can explore Vancouver—only another hour away or keep driving up the stunning Sea to Sky Highway towards Squamish and Whistler. 

There is much to do in this region—recreationally and culturally. There is no doubt you will have a fantastic time! 

Where to stay in Bellingham?

Hotels Downtown

Downtown Bellingham is incredibly cute and offers a ton of places to stay. Check out the link below for your options.

Check out hotels in the area.

VRBO’s in Sudden Valley and elsewhere

There are a lot of houses to be rented if you’re looking to for a larger group setting.

Check out VRBO’s

FAQ: Best Things to do in Bellingham

When Is The Best Time To Visit Bellingham? 

Unless you plan to hit the ski slopes on Mt. Baker, the best time to visit Bellingham is during the summer. The weather is perfect, and you can hike, boat, kayak, paddleboard, and more each day. Plus, you’ll be able to maximize the long PNW summer days, which start around 5 am and end at 10 pm. 

Does Bellingham Get Snow? 

Bellingham can see snow, but it’s uncommon considering its proximity to the water in Bellingham Bay. On average, they receive around nine inches a year. Like Seattle, the water makes the climate more moderate and keeps the temperatures warmer than other places further from the water. 

How Far Away Is Bellingham From Seattle? 

The drive from Bellingham to Seattle is super easy and quick. It’s about a 90-minute drive without traffic and is entirely on the I-5. You can set your cruise control and sit back and enjoy the beautiful views of the cascades to your east and the Puget Sound and Olympics to your west. 

Best Things To Do in Bellingham

Bellingham is a vibrant and diverse city with many activities for visitors. Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast looking for adventure in the beautiful surrounding nature, a history buff exploring the city’s rich heritage, or simply seeking a weekend getaway filled with delicious food and unique shopping experiences, Bellingham has something to offer everyone.

With its stunning landscapes, welcoming community, and endless opportunities for exploration, it is no wonder that Bellingham has become a beloved destination for travelers from all over.

This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks

Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Bio:

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on ExploreWithAlec.com. Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside