Despite having visited Fairhaven multiple times, both on our own as well as with family and friends who have come to visit, we haven’t spent much time exploring Bellingham. Our one experience included popping in a couple of breweries our friends recommended at the conclusion of our journey up Chuckanut Drive, but it had been a couple of years since that trip.
When my friend and former work colleague who has since moved to Bellingham texted and asked if we wanted to meet them at a new brewery opening in the area it seemed like a perfect excuse to finally spend a little more time in the town. We booked a cheap hotel room downtown and decided to take the motorcycles, making a loop up Chuckanut Drive on the way there and coming back around via Whidbey Island on our return.
I had some homework to finish in the morning so we were a little late setting out on Saturday. The weather was beautiful as was our ride, which Brian had mapped on some lovely side roads so we could enjoy the ride without fighting the traffic or boring landscape along I-5.
We caught Chuckanut Drive from Bow Edison and pulled into Chuckanut Manor for lunch on the patio. The tide was out and we had lovely views over the water as we ate oysters and seafood sandwiches before once again heading north.
The views and food were great but the prices were a little high for lunch. We had the same experience up the road at the Oyster Bar as well– I guess you’re paying for the overall experience, which I would say is worth it.
We arrived in Bellingham in the early afternoon, checked into our hotel and set off to explore. It’s definitely a college town with tons of breweries, restaurants and shops, and a very walkable downtown. We headed for the water and then circled back to meet my friend and her husband and son at Aslan Brewery once we learned that the new brewery we were hoping to visit wasn’t yet open.
It was fun catching up and sampling some of their beers but given our late lunch, we weren’t really ready for dinner just yet. Our waiter was phenomenal and told us the new best place to get food in town was actually Bellingham Cider Co. so we made a note to find that later on for our dinner.
Our friends needed to get their kiddo home so we parted ways and headed to Mallard Ice Cream for a dessert appetizer. The place was packed but it ended up being worth the wait. We sampled a couple of flavors and I landed on half scoops of the avocado ice cream, which was super creamy and amazing, as well as the fig ice cream, which might be my new favorite. Brian was pretty happy with his mint Oreo and cookies and cream as well.
After our snack we continued our walk around town, heading to Maritime Heritage Park where none other than Jules the Juggler was performing while a band was getting set up. We first encountered Jules during the Tulip Festival while we were wandering around downtown Mt. Vernon with my parents. My dad and Brian were completely taken with Jules and Brian was once again delighted to see him perform for a few minutes!
Up the hill from the park is the Whatcom Museum, housed in the beautiful historic brick building featured at the beginning of this post. We had been admiring it from a distance– it’s quite a landmark and was built in 1892 as the city hall for what was then the city of Whatcom. It was closed when we arrived, but we’d love to go back and see if the inside is as impressive as the outside!
A block down the road was Bellingham Cider Co., which was also packed with people. We check in about a table and it was quite a wait, but the hostess said we could grab some of the bar stools along the kitchen, which were open on a first-come, first-served basis. It was the perfect spot—we were near the door where there was a cool breeze and you could just hear the music wafting up from the band performing below, and we could see into the kitchen where all of the food was being prepared.
It took a little while for our cider sampler to arrive and we weren’t completely blown away by any of the ciders—they were good just nothing that really stood out—however our food was another story. It was absolutely amazing! We ordered the asparagus toast and the pork belly and both were phenomenal. Everything coming out of the kitchen—from salads to starters to mains to desserts looked delicious—I would go back in a heartbeat and highly recommend it!
After dinner we made our way back to our hotel by way of Boundary Bay Brewery, which had a couple of women performing in their beer garden. They were very talented but their music was a little slow and sad for the mood I was in and the mood I would think a brewery would be cultivating on a Saturday night—there weren’t very many people there. We wanted to leave at a decent time in the morning so we decided to turn in early and headed to our hotel.
Our ride home via Whidbey Island was fun and relatively uneventful. Deception Pass was busy—like usual—and enveloped in a mystical, low-hanging fog. We pulled over to take a few photos and then headed south, taking some lesser traveled roads Brian had mapped so we could avoid traffic and discover some new areas of the island.
It was a bit cloudy so we couldn’t really see the Olympics, but the shoreline houses and views were still interesting to see.
We stopped in Coupeville for brunch and quickly discovered that the couple of places that were open had lengthy waits. I was getting a headache and becoming cranky– I guess I rely on coffee and breakfast to start my day more than I like to admit– so we decided to look for some place else.
Brian found a lesser known spot just a few blocks from the main street called the Sunshine Drip Coffee Lounge that was super cute—it was part café and part store. We ordered some brunch and took a short break before heading to the ferry and home.
There is a lot more to see and do in Bellingham’s many neighborhoods, and it’s a good jumping off place for the Mount Baker area and the islands—you can even catch a ferry to Alaska!
I’m glad our friends invited us—we’ve been looking for an excuse to return and it was a great reminder that it’s simply not that far away!