10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Bellingham
Not far from the Canadian border, Bellingham is not only a Northwest gem of a city, it represents everything the region has to offer. With seaside access to the San Juan Islands and only a stone's throw from North Cascades National Park, outdoor recreation is easy to find in Bellingham and so is Pacific Northwest culture. With many museums and numerous local storefronts, Bellingham is also home to Western Washington University, putting a notable college town twist on this city of 82,000. Whether it's the friendly faces in the streets or the abundance of trailheads to explore, it's clear that Bellingham is one city in Washington worth more than just a simple weekend visit.
1 Whatcom Falls Park
On the eastern edge of Bellingham, Whatcom Falls Park is a 240-acre city park that features modern park amenities, well-maintained hiking trails, and plenty of open spaces to explore. Perhaps most notable about this city park are the four different waterfalls created by the cascading Whatcom Creek that meanders throughout the area. Alongside hiking trails like the 4.1-mile Whatcom Creek Trail Loop that explore these falls, visitors can find picnic tables, basketball courts, and covered shelters. The Stone Bridge constructed near the parking lot of Whatcom Falls State Park provides a scenic viewpoint that you really can't miss on your visit, and serves as a monument for the lasting legacy that Whatcom Falls Park holds in Bellingham.
Address: 1401 Electric Avenue, Bellingham, Washington
2 SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention
Formally known as the Museum of Radio and Electricity, the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention proudly displays some of the biggest innovations that have shaped the modern world as we know it. A family-friendly, fully-interactive establishment, SPARK Museum guides visitors through four decades of electric milestones and five permanent collections ranging from the Birth of Electricity to the Golden Age of Radio. Replicas of Edison's first light bulbs, thousands of radios from throughout their history of design, and even a nine-foot Tesla Coil known as the "MegaZapper," are just some of the attractions to keep the whole family interested and engaged.
Address: 1312 Bay Street, Bellingham, Washington
3 Fairhaven Historic District
Fairhaven the town, or Fairhaven the village, sparked to life in 1889 through its seaport location and the booming impacts of the surrounding logging industry. After two decades of rapid growth, Fairhaven joined with three other towns in the area to form what is today considered Bellingham. Fast forward to the present time, and the streets of the Fairhaven Historic District still ring to life with bustling sidewalks, red-brick Victorian architecture, and the same beautiful views provided by the Bellingham Bay. Alongside its placement on the National Register of Historic Places, Fairhaven has sprouted many unique shopping and dining attractions that really add to the Bellingham experience.
Whether you are looking for local shops or cozy spots to enjoy a meal, places like Village Books or Skylark's Hidden Cafe can satisfy your shopping and dining appetite. For some of the most scenic lodging in Bellingham, the Fairhaven Historic District also offers seaside accommodations like The Chrysalis Inn and Spa or the Hotel Bellwether that can't be beat. Throw in the Bellingham Cruise Terminal found in Fairhaven, catering towards whale-watching tours and San Juan Island explorations, and there is little to no limit for all you can explore in the Fairhaven Historic District.
4 Galbraith Mountain Bike Park
Galbraith Mountain is a defining feature of Bellingham recreation, and while the outdoor space and hiking trails lend towards many activities, most people visit Galbraith Mountain for the mountain biking. Maintained and operated by the WHIMPS Mountain Bike Coalition (WMBC), Galbraith mountain provides more than 50 miles of groomed mountain bike trails ranging from flowy and friendly to fast and frightening, making Galbraith Mountain a self-touted, world-class mountain biking destination.
All the trails on Galbraith Mountain cross private land, and access to these trails is reliant on rider stewardship and the efforts of the WMBC. So, whether you access these iconic Bellingham biking trails from the north entrance on Birch Street or the south entrance on Samish Way, be sure to tread lightly as you navigate your way up, down, and across Galbraith Mountain, and consider donating to or becoming a member of the MWBC.
Address: Birch Street, Bellingham, Washington
5 Boulevard Park
Boulevard park is a charming bay-side community space featuring a performance stage for local concerts, open space for throwing a frisbee, and some of the best views of Bellingham Bay found anywhere else in the city. Connecting the Fairhaven Historic District to the south and downtown Bellingham to the north, Boulevard Park provides great walking and biking trails along the shore, and with Woods Coffee centrally located in the middle of it all, you can boost your espresso intake while exploring the scenery and community that Boulevard Park provides.
Address: 470 Bayview Drive, Bellingham, Washington
6 Mount Baker Theatre
Occupying half a city block in downtown Bellingham's Arts District, the Mount Baker Theatre features three different venues that host national and local performances throughout the year. Dating back to 1927, the Mount Baker Theatre experienced renovations in 1996, and much of its former elegance remains today in features such as the decorative Main Stage auditorium, which is the highlight of the whole facility. Whether you are into musicals, magicians, or just want to be involved with community events, the Mount Baker Theatre has the right admission ticket for you.
Address: 104 N. Commercial Street, Bellingham, Washington
7 Lake Padden Park
On the southeastern tip of Bellingham, next to Interstate 5, Lake Padden Park is a popular place for recreation in the area, particularly in the spring, summer, and fall. With dozens of hiking trails weaving in and out of the woodlands, as well as challenging mountain biking trails, your fun at Lake Padden can always be in forward motion, and you'll find plenty of things to do. Outside of the blood-pumping recreation here, you can use the picnic shelters for an afternoon meal, let your furry friend run free at the off-leash dog park, and maybe catch a quick 18 holes at the adjacent Lake Padden Public Golf Course. Lake Padden itself is also a top attraction. This 160-acre lake provides the perfect opportunity for paddling your SUP around the water, fishing off the dock, or enjoying the sights and sounds of a Pacific Northwest sunset.
Address: 4882 Samish Way, Bellingham, Washington
8 Whatcom Museum
Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Whatcom Museum recently celebrated 75 years of being a regional showcase of arts and culture in the northwest. With more than 200,000 artifacts in their collection, spread across the three Arts District buildings the museum occupies, including the iconic and historic Old City Hall, as well as the modern Lightcatcher Building, the Whatcom Museum has more to explore than you can find in a single weekend. Whatcom rotates its exhibits throughout the year, but the collections all focus on regional art, relics, and an impressive vault of photographic archives. Whether you come from the Pacific Northwest or you're just visiting the area, the Whatcom Museum can perhaps give you one of the best perspectives of where you are at now.
- Address: 250 Flora Street, Bellingham, Washington
Old City Hall
- Address: 121 Prospect Street, Bellingham, Washington
9 Larrabee State Park
As the only portion of the Cascade Mountains to reach the West Coast, the Chuckanut Mountains are another central theme behind the recreation and culture found in Bellingham. In the middle of this majestic mountain range, Washington's first State Park, Larrabee State Park, stands proudly for all the Chuckanuts have to offer. Whether it's world-class mountain biking or exploring scenic trails like the Oyster Dome Trail that lends to views of the adjoining Samish Bay and surrounding San Juan Islands, there is plenty of fun to be had at Larrabee State Park, not to mention the two photogenic alpine lakes within its boundaries. Larrabee offers more than 50 electric campsites and a boat launch to explore down into the Puget Sound. Whether you stick to the land or explore the sea, the recreation options reach far in Washington's first designated state park.
Address: 245 Chuckanut Drive, Bellingham, Washington
10 Mt. Baker Ski Area
Just over 50 miles east of downtown Bellingham, Mt. Baker Ski Area is not only a powder destination for residents of Bellingham, but the dramatic backdrop and impressive slopes of Mount Baker draw tourists from around the world. Featuring more than 1,000 acres to explore, ranging from bunny hills to expert-only cliff areas, Mt. Baker Ski Area has something for every level of winter athlete, and with an average of more than 600 inches of snowfall each year, fresh tracks are common at this Cascade Mountain ski mecca. Within the boundaries of Mt. Baker Ski Area, the community also hosts annual events including the acclaimed Mt. Baker Film Fest and the Legendary Banked Slalom race in February, one of the largest snowboarding races in the world. When the cold weather comes through Bellingham, Mount Baker is one of the biggest attractions in all of Washington.
Address: Mt. Baker Hwy, Deming, Washington