An aerial view of Bellingham, Washington
travel guide

A local's guide to visiting Bellingham, Washington

Planning a trip to Bellingham? Here are our top picks...

Stay: Hotel Bellwether

Brewery tour: Chuckanut Bay Distillery Tour

Day trip: Mt Baker

Bellingham is a coastal city in northwest Washington. Located about an hour and a half north of Seattle and 45 minutes south of Vancouver, Canada, it is literally in the northwest corner of the USA.

Nicknamed the "City of Subdued Excitement" by locals, Bellingham is the thirteenth largest city in the state of Washington with about 84,000 people who call it home, including me!

Bellingham is known for its hiking trails, interurban pathways, lakes and rivers. The city often finds itself on national "Best Of" lists for outdoor activities, earning it names like the Outdoorsman's Paradise. If you want a comfortable base for exploring the outdoors, Bellingham is the perfect destination.

Whatcom Falls, Bellingham, Washington

When to go to Bellingham

Spring and Autumn are good times to visit Bellingham as you can enjoy the outdoor activities without it being too hot. Saying that, if you visit in summer, you can enjoy boating in the bay. The North Lake Whatcom Trail is also great on hot days as there are plenty of spots where you can take a dip in the lake.

Bellingham's winters are often long and rainy, and it's the northernmost city of its size in the lower 48 states. If you visit between the months of October and May be prepared for a good deal of wind and precipitation.

If you want to see Bellingham at its most festive, consider timing your visit with a large event. Beer lovers will enjoy Brews Day, Bellingham's biggest party, which takes place on the last Saturday in April. Another big event on Bellingham's calendar is the Mt. Baker Blues Festival, which takes place in late July.

Mud Bay Beach Fairhaven Neighborhood Bellingham, Washington State

Things to do in Bellingham

With Bellingham Bay on one side of town and Mount Baker on the other, Bellingham is more than just home to the students of Western Washington University. Locals and frequent visitors would agree that there are plenty of fun things to see, do and eat in this city by the sea.

Spark Museum of Electrical Invention

The SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention is an interactive museum located downtown. People of all ages will enjoy the galleries and exhibits that demonstrate the development and use of electricity, radio and the related inventions that changed the course of human history. This family friendly museum features one of the largest Tesla coils in the US as well as an impressive collection of radio and telephone artifacts.

Interurban Trail

The former Interurban Railway has been reborn as a route connecting urban greenways in Bellingham's historic Fairhaven with Larrabee State Park. The trail is popular with walkers, runners, bicyclists and even equestrians. Enjoy views of the mountains and the San Juan Islands as you make your way along the trail.

Pickford Film Center

Catch a flick at the Pickford Film Center. The only independent theater between Vancouver Canada and Seattle Washington, the Pickford Film Center is situated at the epicenter of the Arts District in downtown Bellingham. Check out an independent film or one of the summer’s blockbusters.

Mindport Exhibits

Just around the corner from the Spark museum you’ll find Mindport Exhibits. Mindport offers a blend of fine art and hand-built interactive exhibits to make you think while you have fun. The Interactive Exhibits are designed to be touched and manually manipulated. This is another great family friendly excursion.

Neko Cat Cafe

If you like cats then you’ll love Neko! Neko Cat Cafe is a fun and unique space that brings cats and humans together. Inspired by the Cat Cafe culture in Japan, Neko is a sanctuary for cats and humans to kick back and relax. Enjoy a drink and some snacks as you play and cuddle with kitties from Whatcom Humane Society. Neko gives hard-to-place cats a place to find their forever home at this modern and stylish lounge!

Bellington city in winter

Where to stay in Bellingham

Bellingham has all the usual chain hotels that you can usually find in small cities. But here are a few local favorites:

Hotel Bellwether

Hotel Bellwether is a luxury Bellingham hotel on the waterfront, located on Bellingham Bay. This upscale waterfront hotel overlooking Bellingham Marina and Bay is 1 mile from the shops and restaurants of Bellingham and 5 miles from Bellingham International Airport.

Chrysalis Inn

Located near the beach, Chrysalis Inn & Spa Bellingham, Curio Collection by Hilton is in the Fairhaven neighborhood. Take time to check out Fairhaven Park and Cornwall Beach during your stay.

Silver Reef Casino

If gambling is your thing then you will want to consider a stay at the Silver Reef. Within a 15-minute car trip of Bellingham International Airport, the Silver Reef Hotel Casino Spa provides a sauna, Jacuzzi, indoor pool and free Wi-Fi. This Casino is a popular spot for touring musical acts and comedians so be sure to check out what entertainers are rolling through town while you’re there.

Hotel Leo

Originally the site of the Leopold Hotel built in 1883, Hotel Leo has been the social center of Bellingham throughout the eras. Hints of the building’s history are everywhere, restored to their original beauty.

Boulevard Park Pier on the shore of Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Washington, USA.

Where to eat in Bellingham

Foodies rejoice! Bellingham has lots of dining options no matter what kind of diet you follow. There are tons of vegetarian and vegan options in town and most restaurants have gluten free options.

Consider yourself a beer aficionado There are more than a dozen breweries in the city, producing award-winning beer, including Aslan Brewing Company, Boundary Bay Brewery and Twin Sisters Brewing Company.

D’Anna’s Cafe Italiano

If you like Italian food then a visit to D’Anna’s is a must! Fresh handmade pasta, gnocchi, ravioli, homemade bread and many other favorites are prepared from scratch daily in their kitchen.


This quirky diner serves breakfast all day everyday and everything is cooked from scratch by one man, Kirby. Locals love this colorful and fun restaurant for it’s great tasting food and cheerful ambiance.

White yachts in a rocky cove in Bellingham, Washington

Old Town Cafe

Located in the heart of historic downtown, Old Town uses as many natural, local, and organic products as possible and makes all its pastries on-site with whole-wheat flour and unrefined sweeteners. You’ll find plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options on the menu.


Fiamma Burger is a classic, known for its clean style burgers made with exotic meats. Have you ever had the option to eat an elk burger, salmon burger, buffalo burger, or lamb burger at the same spot? I didn’t think so.

Along with Fiammia burger there’s its counterpart, La Fiamma Woodfire Grill Pizza. Again, the offer interesting and tasty pizza toppings like pulled pork, baked potato and smoked salmon.

Mallard Ice Cream

Have you ever had olive oil ice cream? How about beetroot flavored? They have these and many more crazy flavors (as well as traditional ones) at Mallard Ice Cream. You can expect intense, pure, and sometimes unusual flavors.

Share this article

Adrienne Carrie-Hubbard

Author - Adrienne Carrie-Hubbard

Adrienne Carrie-Hubbard is a blogger and influencer located in Bellingham Washington. When she isn’t writing for Hubbard Family Travels you can find her working on home and garden projects with her husband and daughter on their farm.

Last Updated 4 September 2023

Grand Canyon landscape

United States

Home to wide variety of popular tourist destinations, the United States is known for its sprawling cities, spectacular natural beauty and some world-famous monuments.