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

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A Millennial’s Guide to Bellingham

I’m a millennial. It’s true what they say - we love brunch, we love avocado toast, we love beautiful boutique bars and restaurants. What better way to celebrate our love of all things hipster by spending it in Bellingham. Check out my favorite Bellingham staples for a hot date night or a long weekend getaway. Cheers!

How to navigate this list and create a flexible agenda:

  1. Check when the tide is out to visit Locust Beach (more on that below, including a lovely photograph)

  2. Figure out where you want to eat and when they’re open

  3. Make a list of things you want to do and note whether they’re downtown or in the historical neighborhood of Fairhaven (D=downtown, F=Fairhaven, O=Other)

Locust Beach at Low Tide


I will be honest. My day revolves around food. I’m already thinking about lunch as I finish my last bite of breakfast. That said, it only seems fitting to start this list with good eats.

  • D Bellingham Cider Company: Think salads and vegetables aren’t exciting? Well, The Bellingham Cider Company is ready to prove you wrong. Balance out your meal with other exciting classics like spaghetti, braised short ribs, and more. Wash it down with delicious ciders from the super dry to the super sweet or a fresh cocktail. Perfect for lunch on the weekend or dinner Wednesday through Sunday.

  • F Keenan’s: If you’re visiting, you have to have at least one meal on the water. Keenan’s is an excellent choice, especially with their killer happy hour deals. Best of all, walk off that meal towards Fairhaven or towards the water along the boardwalk. Pop in for weekend brunch, or any other day for lunch, happy hour, or dinner.

  • O La Gloria’s: Authentic Mexican food can be hard to find. This is your quick meal on the go that will leave you satiated yet still wanting more. Sometimes their food truck can be found at local brewery Menace. Open 7 days a week from 6am to 9pm.

  • D Rock and Rye: Named for their selection of oysters and rye whiskey, this downtown restaurant offers a rotating menu of dishes based on seasonal availability. This place is a dream for any lover of oysters or cocktails. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 3-11pm.

  • D Saltine: This new spot is a delicious collaboration between the former owners of Crow Restaurant & Bar and Betty Restaurant & Bar, both located in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. Saltine showcases “New American comfort food with an international flair.” It’s delicious. It’s fun. It has class. Open Tuesday - Sunday, 4pm to close.

  • O The Fork at Agate Bay: Feel like a beautiful drive along Lake Whatcom through a tunnel of evergreens? Who doesn’t. The Fork is the treasure at the end of the adventure. Their menu boasts rich breakfast favorites like the lovely croque madame, the lunch menu has “sandos,” “greens,” and “firebreads,” and dinner adds some flair with fish and meat classics. Drive down for breakfast or lunch on the weekend, or hit them for dinner Wednesday through Sunday.

Bellingham is a drinkers paradise. You love cocktails? We got you. You love beer? Ya, we have 15 breweries (and counting - humble brag).

Cocktail Bars

  • D Black Sheep: This little hole in the wall combines my two favorite things: mix and match tacos and alcoholic beverages, from margaritas to cervezas with lots of fun surprises in between. Nice vibe, super close to The Upfront and The Wild Buffalo if you need to pre- or after-funk a show.

  • D Camber: This spot falls somewhere between food, coffee, and libations. Grab a solid breakfast, lunch, or dinner and pair any meal with a truly good cup of coffee and/or libation. But I include this one in bars because their list of wines is truly spectacular. Bonus: great place to people watch and right next door to Blake Sheep.

  • F Gainsbarre: Afraid of sulfates? Partial to organic wines? Gainsbarre is your answer. To that, and everything else. It’s beautiful, their wines are delicious, and their food is pretty great, too. This little gem is located in the historic district of Fairhaven and open 7 lovely days a week. Happy hours is from 3-5 and they offer a wine tasting on Fridays from 2-4.

  • F Swim Club: The same lovely owners of Gainsbarre bring you Swim Club - a French Riviera style cocktail bar right next door. I have a few favorite things about this bar: their team wears adorable matching jeans with white button ups and bandanas for flair and they do a bar wide cheers everyday at 7pm with a $4 mini cocktail.

  • D Temple Bar: “Temple” is aptly named for the amount of regulars (myself included), who visit this sultry and romantic bar. This beloved bar boasts dark lighting, steamy windows, red velvet wallpaper, and a seasonal and always delicious menu of drinks and plates on the smaller side. Plus, on Saturdays you can usually find Bar Tabac, an adorable group of live musicians who bring some added style and sexiness to the place.

  • D Redrum: Did you know at redrum spelled backwards is “murder”?  The owners of Redrum “murdered” it when they put this tiki bar together. Their drinks are on point (think floral accouterments and the occasional drink on fire) and their decor is insane - you feel like you’ve been transported into a dark paradise as soon as you enter the place.


I’ll be honest, I’m more of a cocktail drinker so my beer list is a little on the shorter side - some might say, easier to digest?

  • D Aslan & Aslan Depot: These are two different spots from the same great creators. Pop into Aslan for that hip brewery feel with delicious beer and grub. Head to The Depot for a bit more style - think classy men’s club complete with leather chairs (all genders welcome).

  • O Elizabeth Station: This Columbia neighborhood delight offers beers from around the world in bottles and on tap. Plus, snacks and rotating food trucks. Kids welcome, too.

  • D Gruff Brewing: Dogs are allowed. Enough said.

  • F Stone’s Throw Brewery: This place is rad. Their small brewery is accompanied by two covered outdoor spaces with firepits. They also have occasional live music and delicious food trucks.

Outdoor Activities

You have to work off those calories somehow.

  • O Bellwood Acres: Gin slushies, live music, beautiful scenery. Check out their tasting room complete with gin, vodka, whisky, and probably something else you’ve never heard of before. The distillery utilizes apples from their own orchard. Delicious.

  • D Beer Crawl: Ok this one is kind of indoor/outdoor. With so many breweries around, you can pick a neighborhood and map out your own afternoon. We’ve done Elizabeth Station to Chuckanut Brewery to Aslan Depot to Aslan to Wander to bed. And you can, too!

  • F Boulevard Park: This is a tried and true Bellingham classic. A beautiful park nestled on the bay accessible from trails to and from downtown and Fairhaven. Slackline, picnic, grab a coffee at Woods Coffee, throw your kids on the playground, or just walk around.

  • O Locust Beach: Besides food, this the second thing I’d wrap your weekend around. Check out the tide and note when it’s out. Then, be there. Drop your shoes on the beach, feel the mud between your toes, and chase the tide.

  • O Hike Chuckanut: So many hikes to choose from, so little time. Start making a checklist and knocking them off - they’re all lovely.

Indoor Activities

Because we all know it rains occasionally and drinking all day isn’t good for your liver.

  • F CreativiTea: Haven’t you always wanted to paint your own mug (or bowl, or picture frame, or something you never even thought of)? Select your ceramic medium, grab some paints, and try your freehand if you’re bold or go the safe route with stencils and other fun tools. Warning: it takes a few days to fire so make sure you have time to pick it up.

  • D Mindport: I’m not entirely sure what it is about MindPort that I adore so much - perhaps it’s the hands-on wooden experiments reminiscent of Montessori school or the fact that I loved The Pacific Science Center so much growing up. This is an entertaining and affordable 60 minutes of your afternoon. Warning: children and their parental units flock in droves but don’t let that scare you.

  • D Ormolu: I love looking at curated collections of oddities to spruce up my home. Pop in here and see the genius that is French-industrial-shabby-chic. If you’re partial to the antique scene, there are a few other great shops just around the corner including Penny Lane and Vintage 360.

  • D The Eureka Room: I love bonding with friends over a mental challenge. Pay a few dollars for your own personal, 60-minute puzzle. Grab a beer afterwards to unpack your success or defeat.

  • D Vital Climbing Gym: Put on some loose pants and rent some climbing shoes for an afternoon of pulling yourself up and hopping down. So much. So tiring, especially if you’re new to climbing.

  • D Yoga: Even if you don’t think you like yoga, you have to try Chip’s power yoga fusion class at 3Oms (he’s covered in tattoos, he’s part of the Bellingham circus, and he occasionally swears during class - all things that scream authentic to me) or Tawni’s class at Elements (she curates each class making every session unique powered by refreshing playlists and interesting, creative transitions). Both classes range from 75 to 90 minutes depending on the days they’re offered.

If you’re visiting Bellingham (or showing friends around), I highly suggest capping the weekend off with a trip down Chuckanut Drive. It’s a great way to cap off the weekend with another little adventure and cuts your drive south shorter by about 30 minutes.

Also, don’t forget to check out our hotel specials so you can stay and play a little longer.


Dylan Green