The Many Feels and Flavors of Bellingham

There is nowhere quite like Bellingham. This eclectic town feels old-fashioned yet modern, comfortable yet unusual, intimate yet immense. In Bellingham, you are never far from the sea, the forest, the mountains, or the city. This urban oasis is on the rise, and has much to be explored and experienced.

Bellingham Bay from Taylor Avenue Dock. ©2010 iwona_kellie via Creative Commons

Where to stay

Two stunning picks

Hotel Bellwether is, without a doubt, one of the most gorgeous places to stay in the Bellingham area. It is only feet away from the water’s edge on Bellingham Bay, which you can view from the private balcony attached to your room. If you’re so inclined, upgrade your experience and stay in the hotel’s lighthouse suite and get the stunning, 900-square-foot lighthouse replica all to yourself with 360-degree views at the top. But the stunning suites are only the tip of the iceberg.

Within the hotel, there is fine dining, entertainment, and excellent hospitality. Just off the property, you’ll find scenic parks, salons, spas, float therapy services, and a number of restaurants. hotelbellwether.com

If you’re looking for a place to stay thats a little further from the hustle of the college town, check out Semiahmoo Resort about 25 miles northeast of Bellingham. It’s an ideal escape with or without kids. Recline on an Adirondack chair in front of the water while your kiddos play on the lawn, or refresh on the golf course or in the spa. semiahmoo.com

Bellingham Hotel Bellwether

Hotel Bellwether boasts amazing views of the water, as well as a suite that functions as a private lighthouse. Photo courtesy Hotel Bellwether

Where to eat

The Fork at Agate Bay

When you arrive at The Fork at Agate Bay, you may think the name is a little too on-the-nose. It is located on a fork on the road, one side leading along Agate Bay and the other into the forested beyond (hence the name, The Fork). But where the owners lack in wordplay, they excel in fine dining.

This locale is uniquely Bellingham. The seasonally rotating menu pulls inspiration and ingredients from the nearby surroundings. With elegant plating and complex flavor profiles, The Fork would have every right to be pompous and patronizing. But instead, it is welcoming with smiles and a small-town charm.

The setting is romantic, located on the edge of Lake Whatcom. With low lighting and rustic décor, you’ll forgive the pun and enjoy the atmosphere. theforkatagatebay.com

Where to play

Catch a show

Bellingham is a strong proponent of the arts. There are frequently new and interesting shows at the historic Mount Baker Theatre. Here, you can enjoy performing arts, film, speakers, community events, and more.

The historic building first opened more than 90 years ago as a movie palace to enjoy vaudeville-style shows and silent movies. It has since been designated as a national historic landmark and is the heart of Bellingham’s Downtown Arts District.

We also recommend stopping by the Pickford Film Center to see what’s playing. This independent movie theater often features films you can’t find elsewhere, and it hosts special events with local talent. mountbakertheatre.com, pickfordfilmcenter.org

Grab a drink

Sure, you could go to one of the million breweries in town — seriously, that’s only a slight exaggeration. Bellingham Tap Trail, the local publication dedicated to all things beer, reported that Bellingham has more breweries per capita than both Seattle and Portland. And you should visit them, but don’t limit yourself to the brews.

The Temple Bar in downtown Bellingham is a great spot to grab a specialty cocktail. The atmosphere is chic, sporting velvet walls and low-hanging chandeliers. It also serves wine, beer, and bites, but we come here for the cocktails. Everything is made in-house, and there always are new and interesting mixtures on the menu. templebarbellingham.com

Bellingham, Chrysalis Inn & Spa

Chrysalis Inn & Spa features a cozy environment and a no-screens policy that’s sure to give you (and the iPad) a break. Photo by Diane Padys.

Rest and relaxation

Why not pamper yourself a bit during your staycation? The Chrysalis Inn & Spa is a great place to unwind. The spa has a digital detox policy: No screens during your visit to allow for maximum relaxation. You can enjoy your sauna in the eucalyptus steam room, your Dead Sea salt soak, and your hot-stone massage free of electronic interference.

Another spot to get some much needed “me time” is 13 Nails & Spa in Fairhaven. This nail salon has excellent service and great results, but the best part is that you can enjoy a raspberry mimosa while you’re getting your toes done. This business has a bar with wine, beer, and Champagne. The goal is for visitors to not only have an excellent nail care experience, but create a social atmosphere as well. thechrysalisinn.com, 13nails.com

Get outside

Winter is just around the corner, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay inside during your visit. Bellingham is about an hour away from Mount Baker, and we suggest you take advantage of that proximity with a snowshoeing excursion at Artist Point.

The hike is about 4 miles long and great for beginner snowshoers. At the overlook, you’ll find views of Mount Baker seemingly in arms’ reach, as well as Mount Shuksan and the Cascades.

If you’re not up for the trek, stroll along Boulevard Park in Bellingham instead. Bundle up with some layers, and grab a hot cocoa from the park’s Woods Coffee before moseying down the scenic boardwalk connecting Bellingham and Fairhaven. The views of Bellingham Bay are unbeatable from this vantage point, especially at sunset.

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