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Blog - The Best Things to Do in Bellingham | Heliotrope Hotel

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7 Best Dive Bars in Bellingham


THE WATERFRONT Why? Because it should be on the historic register for being: 1) frequented by serial killers (look it up), 2) perched on pilings over the tide flats, 3) a certified den of iniquity, 4) fragrant like a dirty fryer, old beer, and desperation. These are good things, and they own it. Best dive bar.


HORSESHOE Why? Because you’ve been living too pure a life & the Shoe is the antidote. Since 1886, they’ve served generations of Bellinghamhamsters their first drink of the day & their last before closing time. And in between there’s three questionable, classic middle American diner meals to be eaten. 


STATE STREET BAR Why? Because when The Beaver left this spot a decade ago, they just reopened this place with no changes and a new, lousy name. Rough and ready for pool, air hockey, beer drinking, and the worst fried menu in town. Go ask for a fried pickle & Rainier in the can & live a little, will ya?


VILLAGE INN Why? North side’s best dive bar in a crappy old strip mall. After drinking here you’ll feel like a million bucks...in debt. Great place to cry into your beer, reconsider your life, and choose to go to India to help the poor. On the other hand, for dive bar hopping, these qualities are winners. Bingo!


CAP HANSEN’S Why? Cap Hansen likely went down with the ship after driving it into a reef. The bar is narrow but you can use the alley behind it to smoke cigs and slur things to your friend like, “Love ya, man, I take a bullet, dude.” Then, back inside, feel warm & fuzzy. Next morn: Not so much.


COCOANUT GROVE Why? Jack Kerouac & Allen Ginsberg drank here before ascending some nearby peak, drunk most likely. If it’s good enough for them & generations of north side cement plant & mill workers it’s good enough for you. Contrary to what the name implies, it ain’t a tropic paradise.


GRAND AVE ALE HOUSE Why? Because Pootie’s the best. Who’s Pootie? She’s the most famous barmaid in Bellingham. Why not just stay all day & all night like the regulars do? Beer, food, restrooms, TV, pool. What more do you need? A life? Forget it. Pull up a chair. It’s gonna be a long night.