Bellingham, sandwiched between the North Cascades and the San Juan Islands, is an outdoor lover’s paradise. The city offers activities throughout the year ranging from skiing to kayaking to hiking and beyond. It’s also home to one of the most extensive mountain bike trail systems in the US.
Whether you’re visiting Bellingham for a weekend or a week, you’ll find plenty to do to stay active. Here are our 13 favorite things to do in Bellingham.
1. Go Mountain Biking at Galbraith Mountain
Galbraith Mountain is one of the largest mountain biking trail systems in the US, with more than 65 miles of trail to explore. The mountain features everything from rambling green-rated trails to heart-pounding descents, so there’s a trail for riders of all experience levels.
Don’t have your own bike? Don’t worry. You can rent a mountain bike for the day from local shops like Kona, Transition, Fanatic, and Alleycat. Or visit during Bellingham’s NW Tune-up Festival. Tickets include unlimited bike demos and access to beginner-friendly lessons on the mountain.
2. Paddle through Bioluminescence in Bellingham Bay
Bellingham Bay and the surrounding waters are home to a stunning show of bioluminescence each summer. Head out onto the bay after dark and watch as the water lights up around your kayak or paddleboard. The best place to put in is Larrabee State Park, which is just far enough from the lights of the city.
If you need a way to get onto the water, Bellingham Kite Paddle Surf offers 24-hour paddle board rentals. You can also check out Moondance Sea Kayak Adventures to get a guided tour of the bay.
3. Hike to the Top of Oyster Dome
Oyster Dome is a classic Bellingham hike, and for good reason. This 2,000-foot summit overlooks Samish Bay, offering limitless views over the San Juan Islands and Skagit Valley. You can even see Vancouver Island on a clear day. Head up for sunset in the summer months and wait for the sky to put on a show.
The hike is only 5 miles roundtrip, but it’s strenuous. It gains more than 1,000 feet, so leave yourself plenty of time to get up and down.
4. Grab a Pint at a Local Brewery
Bellingham is home to 14 breweries, which is pretty incredible for a city of its size. The best known breweries are Aslan, Kulshan, and Boundary Bay, and you won’t want to miss these. However, if you have some extra time—or want to go for a pub crawl—we’d recommend checking out upstart breweries Stemma, Wander, and Stone’s Throw as well.
Several of the breweries offer full food service, and many of the others have rotating food trucks 7 days a week. At the locations with food trucks, you’re also welcome to bring your own food from any of Bellingham’s terrific restaurants.
5. Visit the Bellingham Farmers Market
The Bellingham Farmers Market is more than just a place to buy fresh veggies. It’s a festive event happening every Saturday morning from April to December. You’ll find stalls from local coffee roasters, bakeries, cheesemakers, and artisans.
Even better, the Farmers Market takes place in the heart of downtown Bellingham. After you grab a bite to eat, you can stroll around to enjoy a leisurely morning and explore the city’s many local shops.
6. Watch the Sunset from Artist Point
Highway 542 leaves from Bellingham and dead-ends 90 minutes later at Artist Point, a stunning overlook just a few miles from the summit of Mt. Baker. The mountain is so close it feels like you can reach out and touch it, and the glaciated northwest face of Mt. Shuksan is just behind you. There’s no better spot to watch the sunset than Artist Point.
The road to Artist Point typically isn’t plowed until late June, so bring snowshoes if you go earlier in the year. In the winter, the hike from the Heather Meadows trailhead to Artist Point (4 miles roundtrip) is a terrific snowshoe adventure.
7. Bike or Drive Chuckanut Drive
Chuckanut Drive is a winding road cut into the steep coastline that runs south from Bellingham to the Skagit Valley. It’s an incredible road to drive or bike, with plenty of pull outs so you can take in the views along the way. The San Juan Islands are just across the water and the hills above the road are draped in evergreen trees.
Be sure to stop at Taylor Shellfish, a local oyster farm that grows oysters in the mud flats below Chuckanut Drive. To extend your trip, continue on to the coastal town of Bow. You’ll find an incredible bakery and coffee shop and a relaxed, small-town vibe.
8. Stroll through Boulevard Park and Fairhaven
Boulevard Park is a waterfront park that’s an extremely popular destination for locals in the summertime. You can set up a picnic in the grass and look across the water at downtown Bellingham or watch the sunset over the bay.
Attached to the park is a boardwalk that puts you out over the bay and exhibits some of Bellingham’s history as a maritime industrial hub. Just beyond the boardwalk is Bellingham’s historic Fairhaven district. It has a unique feel from downtown and is home to some of Bellingham’s best restaurants.
9. Ski at Mount Baker
In the winter, one of the most popular destinations around Bellingham is the Mount Baker Ski Area. It’s about a 75-minute drive up Highway 542, but the skiing is world-class and powder is often bottomless. In fact, Mount Baker Ski Area holds the world record for the most snowfall in a single season: 95 feet during the 1998-1999 winter!
You can rent skis or a snowboard from multiple shops in Bellingham, including Backcountry Essentials and REI, or stop in the town of Glacier on your way up the highway. For apres, check out Chair 9 in Glacier. It’s family-friendly and has great pizza.
10. Go Tidepooling at Teddy Bear Cove
Teddy Bear Cove is a rocky beach just to the south of Bellingham, along Chuckanut Drive. It’s a peaceful spot to set up a hammock and watch sailboats go by along the bay. On a hot summer day, you can jump in the water and go for a swim.
Teddy Bear Cove is also perfect for tidepooling. As the water recedes with the tide, it leaves behind a maze of rocks and pools to explore. You can find starfish, sea anemones, crabs, and more.
11. Join a Ski to Sea Team
Ski to Sea is Bellingham’s biggest event, held on Memorial Day weekend each year. It’s a 7-leg multisport race that starts at the Mt. Baker Ski area and ends in Marine Park in Bellingham. Teams of up to 8 people cross-country ski, ski or snowboard, run, road bike, canoe, mountain bike, and kayak their way over the 92-mile course.
Even if you don’t participate in the race, you can still join the afterparty at Marine Park in Bellingham’s historic Fairhaven district. It’s part awards ceremony, part barbecue, and part beer festival—and open to anyone!
12. Visit Lummi Island
Lummi Island is an island just across Bellingham Bay that’s home to the Lummi Nation, the region’s original inhabitants. It’s a small island that can only be reached by kayak or ferry, and it makes a great half-day trip if you want to explore beyond Bellingham. There are several sandy beaches to explore, an artisan winery, and more than a dozen studios run by indigenous artists that are well worth checking out.
Unfortunately, the best-known attraction on Lummi Island, the Willows Inn, closed its doors in 2022. However, there are several great places to visit for lunch, including the Beach Store Cafe.
13. Go Berry Picking
The Nooksack Valley just north of Bellingham is one of the largest berry-producing regions in the US. There are dozens of U-pick farms where you can harvest blackberries, raspberries, marionberries, and more. Several farms, like Shumway’s along Highway 542, have berry varieties that you can’t find in most stores.
If you’re mainly interested in munching on blackberries, you don’t even have to leave town to get your fill. Many of Bellingham’s bike paths are lined with blackberry bushes that fruit in July and early August. For a leisurely day, bike out along the Interurban Trail and eat your fill as you go.