Bellingham is situated just 1.5 hours North of Seattle in the Evergreen State of Washington, and just 30 minutes South of the Canadian border, making it an excellent stopover town to visit the North Cascades or Vancouver, B.C. Bellingham is a small town, but there’s lots of nature and breweries to explore! So whether you’re just stopping for a few hours to break up a longer drive and need some delicious tacos, or you’re spending a a few days, here is how to spend a weekend in Bellingham including where to eat in Bellingham!
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1) Visit Chuckanut Drive
- Rhododendron Cafe & Farm to Market Bakery – food
- Oyster Dome Trail – hike
- Taylor Shellfish Farms – food & scenic views
- Larrabee State Park – hike / walk
- Fragrance Lake Trail (5 miles RT, 950′ elevation gain) – hike
- Teddy Bear Cove – scenic views / beach / swimming
2) Take a Walk or Refreshing Dip at Whatcom Falls
- Beach Volleyball at Whatcom Lake
3) Visit Whatcom Museum
4) Have a Picnic at Maritime Heritage Park
5) Stop in Skagit Valley to See the Tulip Festival (April)
6) Best Places to Eat in Bellingham
Scenic Chuckanut Drive & Points of Interest
Chuckanut Drive is not only a cute word to say, it’s a beautiful and short 21-mile scenic drive along the coast overlooking Chuckanut Bay, lined with tall dark evergreens and neon emerald mossy trees with the occasional waterfall. Here is a Googlemaps screenshot with all five stops listed in the order of driving South to North. As a driver, please be very mindful of bikers along the narrow winding roads!
Rhododendron Cafe (AKA “Rhody Cafe”) is a delightful restaurant at the very start of Chuckanut Drive where you can find cuisine that highlights the area’s specialties such as oysters, mussels and whatever is currently in season. You can find their menu here. Be sure to walk next door to their bakery, Farm to Market to pick up some pastries for takeaway; they’re great fuel for the many hikes you’re about to discover!
The next point of interest on Chuckanut Drive is only if you’re ready for a great hike with rewarding views over looking the water. If so, Oyster Dome is your next stop! This hike is gorgeous any time of the year; the below photos are from when I hiked it on Christmas Day. Because the elevation isn’t too high, you’ll be able to hike without snow gear.
Length (round trip): 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,050′
Discover Pass required (unless you park alongside the road, in which case, be sure that you are parked within the lines and not sticking out into the road)
After your hike, you’ll have earned a nice cold beer and oysters, freshly shucked and served to you outside right on the water, overlooking a beautiful lighthouse (not operational, just for looks), constructed purely out of oyster shells at Taylor Shellfish Farms.
Once your belly is satiated with fresh seafood, head on over for a nice nature walk through Larrabee State Park. There are a few trailheads here, but the most popular is Fragrance Lake Trail.
Length (round trip): 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 950′
Discover Pass required (you can purchase a day pass for $10 or an annual pass for $30 upon entry)
If you’re on a longer road trip or visiting from out of state, this is a great place to relax and enjoy a picnic.
Your last stop along Chuckanut Drive is Teddy Bear Cove, which is already enticing enough by the name itself! Here you can explore along the coastline over rocks and overhanging boulders that form half-caves, or get up close and personal with a purple sea star!
Take A Walk or Refreshing Dip at Whatcom Falls
This park is Bellingham’s equivalent of Discovery Park in Seattle with miles of trails for both dirt biking and walking, as well as swimming coves to jump in for a refreshing dip on a hot day (BYOIT – bring your own inner tube). 🙂 There’s even wild deer roaming about tamely! If you’re into beach volleyball, there are two sand courts right on the lake.
Visit Whatcom Museum or Photograph it From Maritime Park
This beautiful building is right in the heart of Bellingham, and looks like a mini replica of the Moscow History Museum. Maritime Heritage Park is a great place to sit and watch the clouds go by or see blooming flowers during Spring time. This is also where the Old Village Urban Trail begins. Check out the Bellingham Trail Guide for more information, including maps and stops for each trail.
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival (April)
Skagit sees a mass influx of tourists in the month of April when the tulips bloom and visitors flock to the area to see rows upon rows of vibrant tulips in front of an impressive mountain backdrop. If you’re heading North to Bellingham from Seattle, Skagit is on the way.
Where to Eat in Bellingham
- Ambo Ethiopian Cuisine
- Aslan Brewing Company (locally sourced)
- Bellingham Cider Company
- Black Sheep on Holly (tacos!) Sometimes Sasha and I joke that we would be willing to drive 1.5 hours all the way from Ballard to Bellingham JUST for these delicious tacos and cocktails!) On a nice day, get them for takeaway and enjoy them at Maritime Heritage Park
- Cafe Rumba (Peruvian / sandwiches)
- Camber (coffee / breakfast / brunch)
- Gandolfo’s NY Style Deli (sandwiches)
- Home Skillet (breakfast / brunch)
- La Chapina (Mexican)
- Leaf & Ladle (vegan / sandwiches / soup)
- Mallard Ice Cream
- Mount Bakery Fairhaven
- Muto (Japanese / ramen)
- Naan & Brew (Indian)
- Pel’ Meni (Russian dumplings)
- Rhododendron Cafe (at the Southern end of Chuckanut Drive)
- Thousand Acre Cider House (over 24 options on tap)
- Birch Door Cafe (breakfast / brunch / cocktails). A beautiful interior and such a gem – a surprising delight in the location where it’s surrounded by mini shopping centers and chain restaurants. Order the lemon blueberry cobbler French toast and the corned beef hash omelette – they make their own corned beef and also their own chai)
I hope this post provided you with some good inspiration for your next getaway in Washington State!
For more ideas on road trips, foodie highlights and weekend getaways in the State of Washington, check out my WASHINGTON STATE ARCHIVES.
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