It won’t take you long to get to Bellingham from Seattle — only about 90 minutes — but you’ll swear that the city is a lifetime away! From gorgeous parks to ways to explore the Bellingham Bay waterfront to family-friendly places to stroll around, Bellingham is sure to be your family’s new favorite Seattle escape!
If you live in the Seattle area and have yet to make the trip to Bellingham, then you’re missing out! This quick day trip is great any time of year — the weather is generally milder than Seattle, although you’ll still want to throw a raincoat in the car for one of those lovely unexpected Northwest showers.
To get to Bellingham from the Seattle area, jump on I-5 Northbound. Bellingham is a straight shot on the freeway, approximately 90 miles away. When you get into town, take the Iowa Street/State Street exit and then a left at the stoplight. Follow State Street into downtown Bellingham to get started with your adventure!
The to-do list for Bellingham could go on for miles and miles! Thankfully, Bellingham is small enough that you can squeeze in more than one of these fun family activities without having to spend a lot of time traveling around the city.
Start out the day with a trip to the Whatcom Museum’s Family Interactive Gallery or FIG, for short — as one of the newest children’s museums in the state, this place will keep everyone in your family entertained — adults, teenagers and toddlers alike. This isn’t your ordinary children’s museum, which is what makes it so cool — the exhibits are engaging and have specific art-based intentions behind them. Favorites include the light wall and the set of huge, oversized building pieces. Located at 250 Flora Street. Open Tuesday through Sunday from noon until 5:00 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults/$8 for students/$4.50 for children ages 5 and under.
Next, head to the Bellingham waterfront to do some exploring — Boulevard Park is a family favorite. It’s located right along the waterfront in Bellingham, right between downtown and the historic Fairhaven district. Take a stroll on the nicely paved path that trails along the water, let little ones climb around on the nautical-themed playground and grab something to drink at one of Bellingham’s favorite local coffee spots — Woods Coffee. If the tide is low, Boulevard Park will reveal a huge bed of rocks for exploring and searching for marine creatures!
Keep your car at Boulevard Park and take a leisurely stroll (or bike ride, if you brought them!) on the boardwalk (pictured) into Fairhaven. This is definitely a favorite spot for Bellingham locals! The boardwalk goes over the water and offers some of the best views of downtown and Bellingham Bay, which is often filled with gorgeous sailboats. Even the littlest visitors to Bellingham will love peeking over the boardwalk into the water and running up and down the huge ramp at the opposite end from the park.
If your family wants to do some strolling around, check out the Historic Fairhaven district on Bellingham’s south side — filled with shops, galleries, places to eat, bookstores, grassy areas and more, Fairhaven is a must-stop location. Not to be missed in Fairhaven are Village Books, the Bead Bazaar and Katie’s Cupcakes. Also, be sure to swing by the Village Green, located on the north side of Harris Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets — there are always fun events happening, such as outdoor movies and concerts!
There are so many delicious family-friendly spots to eat around Bellingham that it’s hard to pick only a few! For pizza, visit La Fiamma Wood Fire Pizza, where they’ll give your kids fresh pizza dough to play with while you wait for your meal (200 East Chestnut). For a Bellingham lunch staple, visit The Bagelry where you will be treated to fresh, delicious New York-style bagels and sandwiches (1319 Railroad Avenue — cash only). For the famous Bellingham potato burrito, grab a casual meal at Casa Que Pasa (1415 Railroad Avenue) — little ones will love their cheese quesadilla. Want to see all of Bellingham’s splendor over a delicious meal? Have dinner at The Cliff House where you can watch the sun set over the Bay (331 North State Street). Trust us when we say that the Whiskey Crab Soup is a must.
Bellingham is also bursting with parks! The top three on our must-explore list are —
Fairhaven Park — 107 Chuckanut Drive
Fairhaven Park is a favorite for south-side families — it features an awesome playground and fun spray park (open during the summer only). Kids will love discovering all of the hidden trails in the overgrown bushes that surround the playground — they’ve been tromped down by kids for generations now! Parents will love the clean bathrooms nearby and the trees that offer some shade while the kids play.
Cornwall Park — 3424 Meridian Street
On the north side of Bellingham, near the mall and big box shopping stores is the oasis of Cornwall Park. The more you explore Cornwall Park, the more you’ll discover — splash in the river from the smooth rocks, play on one of multiple playgrounds, tiptoe through the rose garden or just get some energy out running around in the great open grass areas. There’s also a spray park here, so don’t forget to pack swimsuits and towels during the summer!
Whatcom Falls Park — 1401 Electric Avenue
This creek-front wooded park is almost a full-days’ activity within itself. Enter at the upper entrance and get started on the playground, which was recently upgraded. Then, head down the trail to the lower park which will take you to the fish hatchery and creek. If you’re feeling up to it, there are plenty of spots where you can dip your toes in the creek — an activity that’s best with older children who can handle being in flowing water without falling down. For families with little ones, bring the stroller and hit the groomed trails that wind through Whatcom Falls Park!