Sidewalking Bellingham

Life has been busy and I have been ignoring Sidewalking for a bit. Some of the busyness has been fun however. A few weeks ago my girlfriend and I took a weekend trip to Bellingham, Washington. Bellingham often gets ignored as a potential getaway especially for us Islanders, however, that is really unfortunate because it is such a cool little city. It feels like it is a little bit Portland, Seattle and Victoria all mixed together. A true Pacific Northwest town.

Getting to Bellingham requires taking the ferry to Tsawwassen. I suppose you could take the Anacortes ferry too, but that is a much longer sailing. I know once us islanders have paid for the ferry we want to make the most of it and are likely to head to Vancouver or Seattle, but trust me Bellingham won't disappoint you. It is a little surprising that there are no sea or air links direct to Bellingham from Victoria. It is a city of 85000 people and also likely the closest city, as the crow flies to us, but we still have to take the long way round. 

Once we got to Bellingham we settled into our hotel, the Four Points Sheraton, which is right on the I5. Strangely enough there are few options for accommodations in the downtown area of Bellingham, still the Sheraton was only about a twenty minute walk from downtown and perfectly manageable.   
Bar and Taps at the Aslan Brewing Co.

The downtown of Bellingham is fairly compact and easy to walk around. Both on the Friday and Saturday nights it seemed fairly lively for a smaller city. The people out on the town also seemed quite young and while I have no confirmation of this, my guess was that this was due to having Western Washington University right next to the downtown core. 

What many Victorians will appreciate about Bellingham is the great selection of craft beer. Like Victoria, Seattle and Portland, Bellingham is home to a large selection of breweries, especially for a city this size. The first night we went out to Boundary Bay Brewery, a huge brewery with a pub side and a restaurant. It also seemed to have a ton of patios that would be open when the weather was a little nicer. Over the course of the weekend managed to try two others and also had a stop in at a really cool outdoor beer garden
The awesome beer garden!

But beer is not all! There seemed to be a really great selection of good restaurants. The highlights for us were The Mount Bakery Downtown and Eat Restaurant and Bar. Both were very popular, eclectic and delicious places. 

The other great thing about Bellingham, and certainly what give it lots of charm is the architecture. The city is full of great early to mid 20th century architecture as well as quite a few that are older than that. Walking around downtown you really feel like you are in a movie set of what a small american city should be like. There are cool old bowling alleys, cobblestone crosswalks. A big neon sign with the name of the newspaper on it and lots and lots of bars, restaurants and cafes tucked into these buildings. 

There is definitely a lot to do around Bellingham as well. There is the nearby Lake Samish that is apparently quite nice for swimming, however as it was springtime and lake swimming was still a few weeks off so we drove south to the small town of Fairhaven which in about six city blocks has a great collection of Victorian buildings. At one time developers had hoped that Fairhaven would beat out Seattle to be the Terminus of the
Great Northern Railway, which is why though very small it feels like the downtown of a much larger city. Fairhaven is also the terminal for the Alaskan Ferry to Whittier, Alaska (Really! You can take a ferry from here to Alaska!). 

Near Fairhaven is the the start of the Chuckanut Drive which is a beautiful and somewhat hair-raising coastal highway that terminates in Burlington. If you like a twisting highway next to a cliff with great views than you should definitely go for it. 

If you are tired of Vancouver, Seattle and Portland for weekend getaways, I would highly recommend trying Bellingham for your next one. 

I have added a few more pics from around Bellingham at the end for your enjoyment!