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

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Chuckanut Drive on Sunday

Let’s say you came up to Bellingham from Seattle for a long weekend. Chances are you’re dragging feet to return back to the city - where parking is scarce and the population density is, well, dense.

Or maybe you’re a Bellingham local who needs an adventure. Either way, I’m going to share my favorite way to spend the Sunday brunch hour: an adventure down Chuckanut Drive.

For those outside Whatcom County, Chuckanut Drive is the scenic ~20 mile route from Bellingham to Burlington, WA (and vice versa). The tight and winding road follows Chuckanut Mountain and offers peek-a-boo glimpses of the San Juan Islands.

Work up an appetite. The drive starts in Fairhaven, the historic district of Bellingham, and winds through a covered canopy of evergreens and the occasional madrona. If you feel like exploring and getting a bit of exercise before your 90 minute drive south, check out some of the phenomenal hikes on Chuckanut Mountain (Fragrance Lake is my personal favorite) or explore Larrabee State Park (a great place to have a picnic).


Have an appetizer with a view. My next favorite stop is Taylor Shellfish Farms. Pop in and purchase a fresh bag of oysters, a baguette, some champagne (or beer), and the tiniest and most adorable Tabasco Sauce you’ve ever seen. Then, post up outside overlooking the water and shuck away (shuckers provided). Might I suggest adding a touch of champagne to your oyster? Cheers and bottoms up!

A little afraid of your knife skills? Don’t worry, Taylor Shellfish tells you exactly  how to shuck an oyster .

A little afraid of your knife skills? Don’t worry, Taylor Shellfish tells you exactly how to shuck an oyster.

Take a breath. I love a good garden. Look for The Japanese Gardens Coffeehouse & Zen Lounge on the left hand side as you’re driving south. You can snag a nice hot tea and walk around the bamboo filled gardens complete with diminutive bridges over adorable ponds. Sit on a bench, contemplate life, drink it all in (and your tea, too). Donations suggested.

Explore and savour Edison. For me, Edison is the main event. As you’re nearing the end of Chuckanut Drive, turn right onto West Bow Hill Road and follow the road until you get to the tiny town of Edison. Population: less than 200.

I like to start off with a good meal. If you’re in the mood for sweet pastries, savory tortes, or creative breakfast dishes, for the love of all that is holy, go to Tweets. Or if lunch is calling your name, head to Mariposa Taqueria (same owners as Tweets) and chow down on some of the most delicious tacos you’ve ever had.

Now, it’s time to walk all of those delicious calories off (because you need to make room for two food more places on your way out):

Check out The Lucky Dumpster for locally crafted and very creative pottery pieces, jewelry, clothes, and prints. They sew old maps into little bags for all of your freshly purchased goods (so cute). Pop across the street into Curator and feel like you’re in a shabby chic French botanical sunroom. Aptly named, Curate offers soaps, light fixtures, cards, perfumes, candles, paper-whites, and other delicious oddities.

Next up, Hedgerow. My beloved. I wish Hedgerow could bottle their smell (a mixture of various candles and perfumes) and all the feels it gives me. With a mixture of new and old, local and national, Hedgerow is THE place to pick up that something special for anyone in your life who moderately enjoys design. Think classic and funky jewelry pieces, wabi sabi textiles, and perfect home touches like black candles and marble salt bowls.

Now that you’ve spent your entire life savings at three little shops, check out the art at Smith & Vallee Gallery. This perfect little art gallery is the creation of two local woodworkers and rotates new artists frequently. In fact, Wes Smith and Andrew Vallee are partners at The Heliotrope Hotel and their furniture is featured prominently in each room including the Hub. Bonus Tip: Have a woodworker in your life? Check out their scrap wood for things like live edge maple cuts.

If you’re still not ready to go (and we can’t blame you), head to Slough Foods for a light snack and/or afternoon beverage. Sit outside at their communal table with heat lamps or on the slough with a blanket. Grab a book, doodle, or sit quietly and soak it all in. Fun Fact: Slough Foods and Taylor Shellfish occasionally pair up for an oyster party on the slough - check their respective calendars and kill two birds with one stone.

My final suggestion is Bread Farm. Grab a delicious baked good for the drive home and a loaf of bread to enjoy throughout the week. All of their goods are made from scratch with the highest quality ingredients possible - and it shows.

If you’re headed back to the Seattle area, it should only take you about 60 minutes (depending on traffic, of course) from Edison.

Hope you enjoy The Drive!

About the author: Courtney Rambo is a Bellingham local who lives near The Heliotrope Hotel and supports the city of subdued excitement

Dylan Green