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Why Bellingham’s Waterfront is Worth a Visit: A Guide to The Waterfront

Bellingham wears many hats as a town, and more and more seem to be added each year as we grow. In case you haven’t noticed, we have loudly and proudly become a beer and coffee town as the local offerings expand and accolades spread. But what we’ve always been, is a port town.

 Fisherman dives into Bellingham Bay at the Annual Bellingham SeaFeast

Fisherman dives into Bellingham Bay at the Annual Bellingham SeaFeast

If you’re not sure where to start, or only have one weekend a year to take our waterfront tour, you’re in luck. This week, the waterfront will host its 3rd annual Bellingham SeaFeast, a festival celebrating the working waterfront: its seafood, its industry, and its people. The festival promises that attendees:

“...will leave with a lasting impression and inside knowledge of the potent historical, community-building, and economic impact (and tastes!) of the maritime and commercial fishing commerce that distinguishes our little corner of the Pacific Northwest.”

IMG_8879_SeaFeast_2017.jpg

Join the many local folks who make their homes, living, and plates on the water during the 3rd week in September each year.

If you can’t make it for this close-out summer weekend or crowds simply aren’t your thing, there are quite a few ways to get to know Bellingham’s coastline on your own.

Explore the Waterfront

  1. Follow our advice and get yourself to Locust Beach.

  2. If hurrying back south, do it on the go and take Chuckanut Drive home, pulling over at the lookouts and with a stop at Taylor Shellfish.

  3. Returning north to Vancouver? Swing through Blaine to get your seafood tastes on at Semiahmoo or Drayton Harbor Oysters.

If you have some time beginning at the Heliotrope or Downtown Bellingham, there are a few more waterfront spots within walking distance worth the hour it takes to stretch your legs.

Through the Food

First, it’s important that you eat while you’re here. Home to the unique Reefent Fishery, and as one of the first stops on Alaska’s seafood supply chain, Bellingham is no stranger to quality seafood. The salmon life-cycle fills many local classrooms and murals across town, and these beloved creatures also provide sustenance for many. Stop in just about anywhere in town and ask about their local seafood offerings.

Downtown  

Start at the Whatcom Museum which includes extensive history of the native peoples who first passed through from Alaska’s Inside Passage and beyond to live off the Salish Sea’s abundance.

Next, head down to Maritime Heritage Park, once a hub of boats, trading, and coastal activity. I recommend taking a pause at the top of the stairs to look out into Bellingham Bay across to the San Juan archipelago.

Continue your journey across Roeder Avenue and to the new Waypoint Park! Never before have we been able to watch the ducks or dip our toes in the downtown’s Bellingham Bay. The new beach is family friendly and waiting to be broken in by visitors and locals alike.

The Historic Fairhaven District

The classic Bellingham visit would take you to Fairhaven, home to the beautiful Boulevard Park with Taylor Dock, and the Community Boating Center. However, might I recommend taking the road less traveled and heading north towards Zuanich Point Park.

Squalicum Harbor

The Marine Life Center is a great place to explore, no matter your age (can you spot the octopus?!). During the walk along Gate 8, you can pick out your retirement boat and build out a good ‘ole daydream. Make your way down past the docks, welcome boats home and wave at fishermen tying their nets together to ready them for next year until you end up at the beautiful Zuanich Point Park -- a great green space to watch the world go by and fly a kite (and the home of SeaFeast)! You can also pop into the Bellwether or Hearthfire for some guaranteed solid seafood.  

Yes, Bellingham is siren for beer and coffee lovers - but don’t forget to explore the natural beauty that enticed people to originally call it their home: the waterfront. Check out mid-week deals and explore the waterfront on your own time.




Peter Frazier