Hotel Bellwether's Lighthouse dining room with view of Lummi Island and Bellingham Bay

Hotel Bellwether’s Lighthouse dining room with view of Lummi Island and Bellingham Bay

Shopping, Dining & Entertainment

Bellingham’s historic downtown is truly charming, and is the center of activity year-round. The cafés and waterfront shops add a unique flair to Bellingham, making it the perfect mix of rural beauty and lively urban energy. The amenities in the city are one of a kind; offering a multitude of specialty shops, boutique clothing stores, bohemian art galleries, and haute cuisine.

A taste for everyone

Keenans - Blackened Fish Tacos (c) Diane Padys

Keenans – Blackened Fish Tacos (c) Diane Padys

From farm to table, gluten free and non-gmo, to chain restaurants, and critically acclaimed chefs, Whatcom County has something for everyone. If you’re looking for fine dining with views of the bay, you’ll find it all at one of the many oceanfront restaurants across Bellingham, such as Anthony’s at Squalicum Harbor, Keenan’s a the Pier and many more.

If you venture a few miles north of Bellingham to Lummi Island, you’ll find the critically acclaimed resturant at The Willows Inn, which offers the finest dining experience in the Pacific Northwest.

Aslan Brewery's mascot - Harvey

Aslan Brewery’s mascot – Harvey

Whatcom County is home to a multitude of microbreweries, wineries and distilleries. Craft brewing and microbrews are so popular that there is a 10-day Bellingham Beer Week festival each year to celebrate.

You won’t find a shortage of coffee around Bellingham. The town was ranked among the top 10 small cities for the best coffee fix by National Geographic Travel 2018. Locally-founded chain, Woods Coffee has 19 locations around Whatcom, Skagit and King counties, and British Columbia.

Make sure to check out the list of amazing Chamber restaurants, food and beverages.

A shopper’s delight

Bellis Fair Mall

Bellis Fair Mall

Bellingham’s wide range of boutiques, handcrafted wares and big-box stores attract shoppers of all kinds. If you’re looking for department stores, Bellis Fair Mall has what you need, while the smaller shops in Fairhaven and downtown Bellingham offer as much charm as variety. 

Tucked away next to the Fairhaven Village Green is the popular tourist attraction, Village Books. The bookstore features a cafe on the top floor with views of Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands. You can also pick up a copy of Bellinghamopoly that features local businesses, events and parks and where the Boardwalk is WWU and the Railroad is Port of Bellingham properties.

Have a Seat, Tomas Calderon. Photo provided courtesy of the City of Bellingham.

Have a Seat, Tomas Calderon. Photo provided courtesy of the City of Bellingham.

In historic downtown, specialty shops line the shopping strip along Railroad Avenue. Downtown Bellingham is home to clothing & jewelry stores, art galleries, record shops, cafes and more. 

You can check out the rest of the Chamber’s shopping and specialty retail members here.

Entertainment:  We have something for everyone

Museums and Galleries

A Smithsonian affiliate, the Whatcom Museum boasts two locations in Bellingham’s downtown cultural arts district. The state-of-the-art Lightcatcher Building features a compelling schedule of contemporary art exhibitions, as well as a Family Interactive Gallery, museum store, and popular café. Nearby, the landmark 1892 Old City Hall Building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971, and the Syre Education Center hold vast collections of historical significance, spanning more than century.

Spark Museum of Electrical Invention displays the inventions and innovations that changed the course of human history, spanning four centuries from Issac Newton and Benjamin Franklin to Thomas Edison and Nicola Tesla. Many are drawn to see the 4-million volt force of the MegaZapper – one of the largest existing Tesla coils in the nation.

Drawn by the beauty of the region, artists of nearly every medium find creative inspiration in Bellingham. Many local galleries are open year-round with exhibitions and works for sale. Evening gallery walks take place on First Fridays in downtown Bellingham and on the Summer Solstice and Thanksgiving Weekend in the Fairhaven Historic District. Artists throughout the county open their studios to the public the first two weekends in October for the Whatcom Artist Studio Tour.

Theater and Music

The historic Mount Baker Theatre.

The historic Mount Baker Theatre.

The Mount Baker Theater was built in 1927 and is home to the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra, a variety of professional touring companies and local performances. The 1,500-seat theater hosts more than 100 live performances each year. 

The Pickford Film Center brings the latest in independent, foreign and documentary films to the heart of Bellingham. The theater’s lively schedule shows movies daily on three screens in two locations.

If you’re looking for laughs, The Upfront Theatre live improv comedy shows every Thursday through Saturday. If you’re lucky, you might get a chance to see Upfront Founder Ryan Stiles perform. 

Each summer, the Bellingham Festival of Music brings together principal players from major American and European orchestras and to present concerts of classical music at the highest caliber of artistic excellence at the Western Washington University Performing Arts Center.

Click here to see more Chamber art, culture and entertainment members.

Western Washington University

One of the advantages of having a major university smack in the middle of a city is the opportunity for community members to plumb the talents of “those on the hill.” Western Washington University boasts a highly acclaimed outdoor sculpture exhibit thanks to the foresight and efforts of the 1957 Board of Trustees who decided to include the acquisition of art in the budget of any new construction. Consequently, the sculpture collection features major international, national and regional artists representing sculpture from 1960 to the present.