If you're interested in art, you shouldn't miss the Western Washington University Outdoor Sculpture Collection, off the Bill McDonald Parkway south of downtown. With more than 20 large sculptures, including one by Isamu Noguchi, this is the largest collection of monumental sculptures on the West Coast. You can pick up a map and guide to the collection at the university's visitor center, or at Western Gallery (tel. 360/650-3900; www.westerngallery.wwu.edu), which is also on the campus and features exhibits of contemporary art. When the university is in session, the gallery is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10am to 4pm, Wednesday from 10am to 8pm, and Saturday from noon to 4pm.
Fairhaven Historic District
Though downtown Bellingham has a fair number of restaurants and a few galleries, the Fairhaven Historic District is the most interesting neighborhood in town (and is also the site of the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, the southern terminus for ferries to Alaska). Fairhaven was once a separate town, and many of its brick buildings, built between 1880 and 1900, have now been restored and house interesting shops, art galleries, and several good restaurants. Around the neighborhood, you'll find more than two dozen historical markers, many of which commemorate the seamier side of life in Fairhaven in the 1890s. Fairhaven Haunts and History Tours (tel. 360/650-9691), offers 1-hour walking tours of the neighborhood. These tours, which cost $4, are a fun way to learn about the neighborhood's history.
Today, Village Books, 1200 11th St. (tel. 360/671-2626; www.villagebooks.com), serves as the cultural anchor for the neighborhood and has readings and book signings. Here in Fairhaven, you'll also find several cafes and bakeries and even an old double-decker British bus that serves fish and chips. Several walking paths begin in Fairhaven. My favorite, the South Bay Trail, heads north along the shore and is actually built over the water on the Taylor Dock for part of its length. You'll find the start of this path near the northwest corner of Fairhaven Common, which is the little park at the center of Fairhaven. In summer, outdoor movies are shown in this little park.
Chuckanut Drive--Chuckanut Drive (Wash. 11), which begins on the southern edge of the Fairhaven Historic District and heads south for almost a dozen miles to the Samish farmlands, is one of the most scenic stretches of road in northwestern Washington. The road clings to the shoreline of Chuckanut and Samish bays as it winds south through the Chuckanut Mountains, which rise straight out of the water. Though most of the way is through dense woods, there are several pull-offs where you can gaze out to the San Juan Islands or up and down the rugged coastline. There are also numerous trailheads that allow you to head down to the shore or up into the Chuckanut Mountains, which are home to an extensive network of hiking and mountain-biking trails. Chuckanut Drive is particularly popular at sunset, and several good restaurants are at the southern end.
At the northern end of the drive, be sure to stop in at the Chuckanut Bay Gallery and Sculpture Garden, 700 Chuckanut Dr. (tel. 877/734-4885 or 360/734-4885; www.chuckanutbaygallery.com), which is full of interesting artworks by Northwest artists and craftspeople. Continuing south, watch for the North Chuckanut Mountain Trailhead, which provides access to Teddy Bear Cove, where you'll find a pair of tiny beaches separated by a small, rocky promontory. It's about a 2-mile round-trip hike to the cove. Although part of the trail is quite steep, part of the route follows the Interurban Trail, a 6-mile-long hiking and mountain-biking trail that follows the route of an old trolley line and extends from Fairhaven Parkway and 20th Street in Fairhaven to Larrabee State Park (tel. 360/ 902-8844). This latter park is the most popular stop along Chuckanut Drive and can be quite crowded in summer. The pretty little beach and access to miles of hiking trails make this park a required stop along the scenic drive. Admission is $5.
Other Attractions & Activities
If you're a fan of riding the rails, check the schedule of the Lake Whatcom Railway (tel. 360/595-2218; www.lakewhatcomrailway.com), which operates a historic excursion train from the town of Wickersham southeast of Bellingham. There are Saturday and Tuesday trips from early July to early September, as well as runs around Valentine's Day, on Easter, and in October and December. Along the route, you'll get occasional glimpses of Mount Baker. The trips last 1 1/2 hours and the fare is $14 for adults and $7 for children under age 18. Railroad buffs will also want to visit the Bellingham Railway Museum, 1320 Commercial St. (tel. 360/393-7540; www.bellinghamrailwaymuseum.org), which has model railroad layouts and is open Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday from noon to 5pm. Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for students.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.