When people talk about Bellingham, WA – Seattle's quieter northern neighbor – they often talk about the access: the trails, the water, the world class biking right on the edge of town. It's all there – along with one of the busiest brewery scenes in the country – and you can take in a ton of it within a single weekend trip.
Bellingham is equidistant between the PNW’s biggest cities. It's one and a half hours north of Seattle (and SeaTac airport), and the same amount south of Vancouver on I-5. You can fly into either, and then take an easy drive. If you don't want to drive, you can take your bike on the Bolt Bus from either city.
Where to Stay
The Heliotrope Hotel is an old 1950s motel revamped into a stylish modern basecamp. The rooms are basic but beautiful, and the courtyard firepit is a good place to hang out and plan adventures. If you don't want to spring for a hotel room, you can camp at scenic, nearby Larabee State Park.
What to Do
5:30-6:30 p.m.:Started by the owners of popular local pizza place La Fiamma, Fiamma Burger serves up burgers made from locally-sourced beef, on buns made at a bakery down the street. Happy Hour runs from 3-6 p.m., and then 8 p.m.-close, so even if you get stuck in traffic getting to town, you can probably still time it right to get $3 cans of local microbrews.
7-9 p.m.: Then, start your Bellingham Beer Tour (the city is on track to have some of the most breweries per capita in the country) by heading around the corner to Structures Brewing, where you can sample unique small batch beers.
8-8:30 a.m.: Grab coffee and a quick breakfast at Trove Coffee, which has locally-roasted coffee along with burritos and baked goods from local bakeries like the Wake 'n' Bakery.
9 a.m.-12 p.m.: Head to Galbraith Mountain where the looping network of mountain bike trails offers up limitless options including rolling cross-country flow, huge directional jump lines and techy downhills, all with easy access and linkability. You can ride for years there and never get bored. It's no wonder that a gaggle of pro riders make their home here.
1-2:30 p.m.: Hey, after all the riding you probably want some food. And a beer? Aslan Brewery is basically on your way back into town. They make great beer – their Batch 15 IPA has won a bunch of awards, and they rotate through interesting seasonal brews -- but they also serve tacos, bowls, poutine and churros (and salads, I guess).
3-5 p.m.: Bellingham is a water city, but not just because of the shipping lanes that cut through the sound. There's tons of lake swimming and paddling to be had. Lake Padden feels like being immersed in wilderness, while Whatcom Falls Park, at the north end of Lake Whatcom, has hiking and swimming.
Probably time for another brewery. Boundary Bay, one of B-hams original breweries, serves delicious food right downtown. If you're vegetarian, get the yam enchiladas. They have music most nights of the week, so stick around to see what's on tap, or wander down Railroad Ave to see what else is happening. You can also hit Gruff Brewing right across the street.
8:30-9:30 a.m.: Drive down Chuckanut Drive to one of the best breakfast places on the planet. Tweets Café, in the picturesque one-block town of Edison, is only open three mornings a week, but it's worth the wait for their torta rustica, or rotating specials, like duck confit French toast and salmon latkes. On your way out, pick up a loaf of bread and some cookies from neighboring Breadfarm.
10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.: Head back up to the road to Oyster Dome, a 5-mile hike that gives you sweeping views of the San Juan Islands and all of Bellingham Bay. It's popular, especially on weekends, so parking along the road can be competitive.
1-2 p.m.: Taylor Shellfish Farms serves up some of the best shellfish in the area in their oyster bars in Seattle, but you can go right to the source and pick them up at the Samish Farm, just up the road from aptly named Oyster Dome. Grab a picnic table, rip into that Breadfarm Loaf, and shuck your own fresh oysters, clams or mussels.
3-4:30 p.m.: Larabee State Park, which covers parts of the coastline south of town has tons of options for kayaking, and lots of coves and inlets to explore. If you need renal gear, try Basecamp Bellingham. You can also boulder and pick blackberries at Clayton Beach, a seaside cove with overhanging cliffs.
5-7 p.m.: The patio at Stone's Throw Brewing in Fairhaven is one of the best in the area, and you can hit it up on your way back into town. The beers are worth a stop of their own.
7:30-9 p.m.: Homeskillet, a perennially popular brunch place, just started serving dinner. Pop in there for a quick and easy breakfast for dinner to fight the Sunday scaries.
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