90 minutes north of Seattle, 45 minutes south of Vancouver, BC, in the shadow of snow-capped Mount Baker, Bellingham is the beautiful and wild barefoot little sister of Seattle. With all the fantastic parks and trails to explore in the area, expect to spend a lot of time outdoors when you visit Bellingham with kids.
Bellingham is the largest city in Whatcom County, and 13th largest in the state, but it doesn’t have a big city vibe and I nearly left it off my list of family friendly US cities because I never think of it as a city. We visit frequently to shop at Target and Trader Joe’s, get lunch and try a new beer at Aslan Brewing Co. Their roasted yam tacos are to die for. We’re also frequent fliers out of Bellingham International Airport, and at a fraction of the price of the airfares out of Vancouver.
Outdoor Fun in Bellingham With Kids
Lake Padden Park – make your way around the lake on a 2.6 mile smooth gravel loop path, and explore the shorter trails at the east end of the park. There are kayak and paddle boat rentals available, and there are no motorboats allowed, so it’s safe for kids to swim. Bring your inflatable rafts, or pick some up at Target. There’s also a nice playground and good washrooms/showers.
Cornwall Park – We met up here with friends who were visiting from the desert and the kids had a terrific time at the spray park and on the playground. We didn’t get to explore the rest of the park but there are trails, a creek to explore, tennis courts, disc golf, horseshoes,
Whatcom Falls Park – a 241-acre park with falls on Whatcom Creek, which leads from Lake Whatcom to Bellingham Bay. The park has four sets of waterfalls and several miles of well maintained walking trails. There’s also a fishing pond for kids 14 and under.
Fairhaven Historic District – Bellingham’s historic south side at the north end of scenic Chuckanut Drive. We go for ice cream, toy stores, and sometimes live music in Boulevard Park. If you’re in town Nov. 23 – Dec. 22 check out Fairhaven Winterfest which culminates in a district-wide caroling competition!
Whale Watching Trip – take a boat ride out into the Salish Sea to view family groups of orcas. You may also see minke, gray and humpback whales, Dall’s and harbor porpoises, harbor seals and Steller’s sea lions.
Other Bellingham Attractions:
The Marine Life Center – This Port Of Bellingham owned attraction is small (and free) and showcases local Washington Coast marine life and habitat – Bellingham Bay, Puget Sound. Kids will love the touch pool for an up close and personal experience. Since you’re here, check out the marina at Squalicum Harbor and Zuanich Point Park, a great place for kite flying.
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The #FIG makes a great place to camp out from the summer heat. Thanks @jessieroos for discovering our space! Repost from @jessieroos I can’t believe we’ve lived here for 4 years and this was our first trip to the children’s museum. It certainly won’t be our last! We spent 3 hours there and still didn’t get to do everything we wanted to. Such a fun place! #FIG #ilovebellingham #whatcommuseum
Spark Museum of Electrical Invention – an amazing interactive museum offering fun and educational experiences for all ages. Their galleries and public programs illustrate the development electricity, it’s use, radio and other related inventions that brought in the modern age. The museum’s collection showcases four centuries of human innovation from 1580 into the 1950s!
Mindport – a unique blend of fine art and hand-built interactive exhibits designed to spark your awareness and stimulate your imagination.
Bellingham Railway Museum – features model trail layouts, artifacts and displays that chronicle the history of Whatcom County through its railroads.