Bellingham International Airport (BLI) has scheduled flights to Seattle and Portland through Horizon Air as well as service to Las Vegas on Allegiant Air . A few small carriers offer flights to the San Juan Islands.
The Amtrak Cascades offers service to Seattle, Portland, Eugene and Vancouver (Canada).
Access to Bellingham is primarily from the seven exits off Interstate 5, although travelers using the Lynden/Aldergrove border crossing will arrive via State Route 539, a.k.a Guide Meridian. Fairhaven is served by Exit 250, and downtown is served by Exit 253 (Lakeway Drive).
A scenic alternative when coming from the south is Chuckanut Drive, a winding road that follows the side of Chuckanut Mountain along the water. Turn off I-5 at Exit 231 and expect to take an extra twenty minutes to reach downtown.
Greyhound and Amtrak-operated buses arrive at the Fairhaven Transportation Center at the south end of town. Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) buses provide service to the Bellingham bus station, which in turn provides service to most of the city as well as a number of towns in Whatcom County.
Passenger-only service is available to Victoria.
Visit the Farmers' Market, downtown at the corner of Railroad and Chestnut. Saturdays from April through October, 10AM-3PM. Pick up local fruits, vegetables, and meats (many organics) for a barbeque. Try any of the prepared food stalls for a quick and easy lunch. Though still called a farmers' market, there are several craft and souvenir tables as well.
Baker's Healthy Start Foundation Triathlon is a major stop on the triathlon circuit. Held each August, this event brings people to Bellingham from all over. Even if you are not interested in the triathlon, check for schedule information, as almost all local accommodation fills up quickly for the event.
A major retail center is the Guide-Meridian Street, off I-5 in the North end of town. This includes Bellis Fair Mall and a variety of strip malls and major retail outlets. For those in search of something authentic, downtown Bellingham and the historic district of Fairhaven offer a number of small one-of-a-kind shops, restaurants, bakeries and unique services.
Nearby communities like Lynden and Ferndale are smaller, but have some interesting retail and dining options. Throughout the region there are seasonal produce stands and orchards that offer locally grown items.
If you're eligible to work in the U.S. it may be a challenge finding something other than minimum-wage employment in Bellingham. The natural beauty of the area tends to attract more residents than the local economy can support, but positions do become available from time to time.
The City of Bellingham formed in 1903 when the cities of New Whatcom and Fairhaven consolidated from what were once four separate settlements (Fairhaven, Whatcom, Sehome, and Bellingham). The local economy got its start in resource extraction, notably coal and timber. The Georgia-Pacific mill on the waterfront, whose site is now being redeveloped into a dynamic mixed-use neighborhood, sustained the local economy for many years. Recently employment has diversified from heavy industry to education, services, tourism, and retail.
Outdoor adventure has also become a big part of the reasons why people live and visit here. From skiing at nearby Mt. Baker to whale watching near the San Juan Islands, the region offers many attractions. While the community is growing, it still retains much of its authentic self and commitment to its laid back, progressive style.
Downtown thrives with a variety of locally owned businesses, fine dining and nightlife options. It is also the cultural core of the city, with an eclectic mix of museums and performance venues all within blocks of each other. The historic Mt. Baker Theatre hosts a variety of live performances year-round. The Nearby Whatcom Museum of History & Art showcases exhibitions of contemporary art and regional history in four buildings.
Down on Bay Street is the American Museum of Radio and Electricity. It links the scientific exploration of the phenomenon called "electricity" with the development of radio into its Golden Age. Compelling, interactive exhibits spanning three centuries feature a world-class collection of unique electrical objects and radios.
Nearby on Commercial Street is the Bellingham Railway Museum. This facility traces the history of the railway in Bellingham through a variety of hands on exhibits and simulators. The Museum's Lionel and tinplate exhibit features a collection of pre- and post-war Lionel, Marx and Ives toy trains and the accessories that went with them.
Western Washington University attracts students from across the region to Bellingham. This keeps the city relatively young and vibrant, and contributes to a unusually rich (for its size) local cultural scene.
Bellingham Mt. Baker Tourism is the central resource for community information. 800-487-2032 toll free in US and Canada. They have an info center at Interstate 5, Exit 253 City Center. Open daily 8:30 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.
You can get around on foot within the Fairhaven district, downtown, and the University, but transportation between these areas is best by bicycle, car, or bus.
Parking is .50 per hour downtown, and notably more expensive at the University. On-street parking is plentiful at most hours, and a number of free lots are available. Downtown Bellingham, though small, is something of a maze, with many odd angles and one-way streets. It may be helpful to have a detailed map handy when navigating this area.
There is a comprehensive network of bicycle and pedestrian paths throughout the city. A free bicycle map can be downloaded from the city's Web site . Because of the relative lack of traffic and parking difficulties, most locals get around by car (though many students and ecologically-minded souls travel on foot or on a bicycle).
Whatcom County roads outside of Bellingham are referred to by locals with a preceding the. Guide Meridian is "The Guide," Hannegan Road is "The Hannegan," and so on.
• The historic Fairhaven District at the south end of the city is probably the most tourist-oriented area, with a number of nice shops and restaurants. Many beautiful historic homes overlook the bay from the South Hill neighborhood, just north of Fairhaven.
• Western Washington University, on the flank of Sehome Hill boasts an outdoor sculpture garden and adjoins the Sehome Hill Arboretum, with a number of trails and a lookout tower at the top.
• Downtown lies to the north of the University. Although less touristy than Fairhaven, it is still vibrant during regular business hours, and caters to college revelers at night. The American Museum of Radio and Electricity is on Bay Street. The main performance venues are downtown: A number of night clubs host live music, and the Mount Baker Theatre hosts theatrical productions as well as musicians and comedians.
• North of downtown is mostly residential, gradually tapering off to the big-box retail and strip-mall area north of I-5.
• To the east of the city is Lake Whatcom, a 9.2-mile long lake that also serves as a drinking water reservoir for about 88,000 local residents. Bloedel-Donovan park offers a swimming area, and the North Lake Whatcom trail offers a good view of the less-developed half of the lake.
• Whatcom Falls Park (part if which was the site of a massive pipeline explosion in 1999) is a beautiful park at the center of the city with a depression-era sandstone bridge overlooking the falls, with numerous paths connecting to the city's system of bicycle and pedestrian trails.
• Lake Padden, 4882 Samish Way (A couple miles southeast of town), 676-6985. 6AM-10PM daily. Motor boats are banned on this smaller lake, so it is ideal for relaxed kayaking, rowing, or swimming. The lake can be circled on shady paths in an hour or so of easy walking.
• Jacci's Fish and Chips, 1020 Harris Ave., 733-5021. Tu-Th, 11AM-7PM, F Sa, 11AM-6PM, Sunday, 12-5 PM. You can't miss this red double Decker bus with a few picnic tables out front. Select fresh fish such as cod, halibut or salmon for truly delicious fish and chips. $6-$10.
• Dos Padres, 1111 Harris Ave., 733-9900. Su-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-10PM, Bar until midnight daily. Standard Mexican food such as fajitas, burritos, and so on. The restaurant side is comfortable and relaxed. Note the separate bar entrance to the right if you are mainly interested in the margaritas.
• Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro, 1107 Railroad Ave., 647-5593. Opens 11AM daily. Fax 671-5897. Web . This brewery, bar, and restaurant is a good place for a drink or food. Minors are welcome in the restaurant. Seafood, steaks, and Mexican food on the menu from $8-$25. Try the beer sampler with a friend to get an idea of all the brews they produce.
• Mallard's located in downtown. Serves a wide variety of ice cream and other deserts. Favorite of locals, and the servers are very friendly.
• Rhododendron Cafe, located South of Chuckanut Mountain in the country town of Bow, features exquisitely prepared combinations of Northwest and ethnic food in a casual setting. Drive down Chuckanut Drive (Highway 11), 25 minutes from Fairhaven, for a visual treat. Location: 5521 Chuckanut Drive, Bow, Washington 98232. Tel +1-360-766-6667. Web . Open for Lunch & Dinner, Wednesday - Sunday, 11:30 am - 9:00 pm; Saturday - Sunday brunch, 9 am. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Reservations for parties of 5 or more only. Entrees $9-20; complete meals with wine and tax $30-$40 per person.
• The Horseshoe Cafe, located on Holly Street since 1886, is an old-fashioned diner with breakfast most of the day and burgers for lunch and dinner, enough modern sensibility to offer free wireless internet access, and wait staff that call you "honey" and/or sport the latest piercings. Reasonably priced. Location: 113 E. Holly Street, Bellingham, WA 98225. tel +1-360-734 - 0380. Web .
• The Pacific Cafe, in the Mount Baker Theatre building, is one of Bellingham's top gastronomic experiences. It offers fresh food skillfully prepared, with Asian and Northwest accents. Lunch entrees $10-15, dinner entrees $18-30. Open for Lunch: M-F 11:30am - 2:00pm; dinner Monday-Saturday starting at 5:30 pm. Reservations accepted. Location: 100 N. Commercial St., Bellingham WA 98225. tel +1-360-647-0800. Web .
• Schnauzer Crossing, 4421 Lakeway Dr., 800 562-2808, 360 734-2808, 360 733-0055, (, fax: 360 734-2808). Check in daily 4PM-6PM or by arrangement, check out 11AM. Enjoy lake views from the veranda as you eat a truly amazing breakfast cooked fresh with local ingredients. This small B and B has one double room, one suite, one detached cottage, and an outdoor hot tub jacuzzi. The owners have taken great care in furnishing the rooms in this long established inn. As the name implies, be prepared to be greeted by a schnauzer or two on arrival. The dogs are trained and very well behaved around guests. $140-$225 ($30 extra for a third guest in rooms).
There are few areas of the city that couldn't be considered safe at all hours of the day and night. The corner of Railroad Ave and Holly St often attracts a drunk and rowdy crowd at night, and the Old Town area (along W Holly St.) attracts some ne'er-do-wells. Other than that no unusual precautions need to be taken.
Mount Baker is a major ski and snowboarding area east of Bellingham. It has seven lifts, covering 1500' (455m) elevation gain. The area claims typical snowfall of 647 inches (1,638 cm) per year. Adult lift tickets are approximately USD $40 per day, while an adult season pass is about $660 (as of December 2005; various discounts available). There are two day lodges with parking and full amenities (White Salmon and Heather Meadows), and a third ski-in lodge ("Raven Hot Cafe") with food. Tip: bring US Dollar cash; while MasterCard and Visa are accepted for lift tickets and gear rentals, cash gets you a discount, and only cash is accepted at some food counters. Heather Meadows lodge is a better starting point for new visitors, since it has a wider range of gear rental and good access to the slopes. To get there, take I-5 to exit 255, take Sunset Drive east until it becomes state highway 542, and follow that highway 56 miles to the ski area. This drive takes about 90 minutes in good weather conditions. The road is plowed regularly, so it should be passable to regular cars except during storms. Note, however, that all vehicles are required to carry chains from November 1 to April 1. The detailed Mount Baker web site has further information about the ski trails, current conditions, amenities, and local lodging.
Numerous hiking trails exist south of the city in the Chuckanut Mountains. Lookout (Galbraith) Mountain offers some of the best mountain biking in the area.
The North Lake Whatcom Trail (Follow North Shore Drive nearly to the end and follow the signs to the trailhead) is a treat on hot summer days, as it has numerous spots to take a dip in the lake or just take in the scenery. Come early, as the insects can be a bit overwhelming in the evening.
Adapted from WikiTravel under the Wiki License
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