Explore the City
Discover The City of Subdued Excitement
Bellingham is a place students love to call home. A vibrant downtown, thriving arts and music scenes, and an easy drive to Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. all make Bellingham an ideal college town. Whether you're a bike rider, bus rider, or a pedestrian, the city is never more than fifteen minutes away from campus. Bellingham is host to an endless number of activities to discover, so get exploring!
Concerts and Block Parties
There's a lot to do in Bellingham all year round, but town comes alive during the summer for Downtown Sounds. These weekly summer block parties feature concerts and a laid back festival atmosphere. It's the perfect place to dance, snack, and hang out with friends.
Photo by Downtown Bellingham Partnership
Wander into any café and you'll find other students hanging out and studying together or alone.
The most popular spots are all right downtown, just a short walk from campus. Several of them offer both food and merch, so you can pick up local goods or plants while you're out.
Photo courtesy of Makeworth Coffee + Roastery
Food and Fun on Every Corner
If you ask ten Western students where the best coffee or food in town is, you'll probably get ten different answers.
Part of Bellingham's charm is the wealth of local, one-of-a-kind restaurants, not corporate chains. We also have a thriving food truck scene.
More Than a Market
Ranked #1 in Sunset magazine's top ten Farmers' Markets in the West, this colorful, aromatic, music-filled festival is a beloved destination for students and lifelong residents alike.
Take a Saturday morning walk to the Depot Market Square in downtown Bellingham for fresh produce, local eats, live music and crafts, from screen-printed hoodies to pottery.
So Much Variety
Within a ten-minute bus ride, students can order steaming Thai noodles, gourmet burgers, natural food at the co-op, drive-through classics, fresh sushi, Peruvian sandwiches, Vietnamese phở, Ethiopian stews, wood-fired pizza, and so many more excellent dishes that it will take at least four years to explore them all.
Historic Fairhaven functions like a small-scale second downtown. Alongside the beautiful brick buildings and ample views of Bellingham Bay, you’ll find hidden cafés, labyrinthine bookstores, delicious pastries, even a double-decker bus serving fish and chips! When the sun shines, the village green is the perfect place to relax and eat gelato. When you’re ready to head downtown, take a stroll on the boardwalk through Boulevard Park which offers the best waterfront views in town.
You'll find this vibrant neighborhood that's popular with art lovers just a quick bus ride from campus. In addition to one of the strangest (but best) restaurants you'll find in town, this area offers a park, creek, trail, and many other places to play indoors and out.
Sunnyland is also home to the annual Sunnyland Stomp. It's not Bellingham's only block party, but it is the only one that includes a chicken race.
Take the Bus, It's Free!
Your Western ID is your bus pass in Bellingham; students travel for free! Local bus drivers are friendly and always willing to help students find their way.
There are also regional buses to get you to the ski slopes, up to Vancouver, or down to Seattle and Portland for a small fee.
With bicycle lanes throughout the city and more than 30 miles of bike-friendly trails, Bellingham is easy to navigate by bike. There are bike shops all over town, including one on campus!
You can always put your bike on the bus, too.
Buses take Western students from campus to all of Bellingham's hot spots: Fairhaven, downtown, Bellis Fair Mall, Barkley Village, the shores of Lake Whatcom and much more. Students love to bike, and you'll find lanes for pedal traffic everywhere in Bellingham. Bellingham has tons of bike shops and repair places like the Outdoor Center, located on campus.
Make Things Together
If you like to build, fix, play, make, or create, you'll find a collaborative nonprofit space to do it in. Whether you'd rather sew or build bicycles, Bellingham's unique makerspaces offer the upcycled materials and tool shares you need for your next project.
Bellingham's best all-ages concert venue is also its most collaborative makerspace. Check out our nonprofit arts scene for workshops, studio tours, and an award-winning gallery.
Photo by Make.Shift Art Space
From furniture to art supplies to textiles, using upcycled materials is part of the culture in Bellingham. If you like to sew, you'll find your community (and all the tools you need to borrow) at the Ragfinery.
Photo by the Ragfinery
If you'd rather build or maintain your bicycle yourself, you can do that with Bellingham's cycling community at the Hub. Borrow a tool, pick a part out of the scrapyard, and make new friends while you tinker.
Photo by the Hub
Arts & Entertainment
Whether you’re here to laugh, play, or be inspired, Bellingham is a nationally recognized hotspot for music, theater and art. With one of the highest number of arts organizations per capita anywhere in the nation, there’s something for everyone. Get involved with an artistic community that thrives on student participation.
The Music Scene
Music is the heartbeat of Bellingham, the city that inspired bands like Death Cab for Cutie and ODESZA. Dozens of venues both on and off-campus boast live performances seven days a week. There's local music everywhere, and bigger acts stop by on their way from Seattle to Vancouver.
Theatre and Film
Do you like theater, improv, or indie films? Check out what our local theaters—Western's Performing Arts Center, Sylvia Center for the Arts, Mt. Baker Theatre, The Upfront Theatre, and Pickford Independent Film Center—have to offer. You can also get involved with fantastic communities like the Circus Guild, where you can take drop-in classes from Bellingham's best jugglers, acrobats, and storytellers. Want to see the latest Hollywood release? The Barkley Regal Cinemas has a 16-theater complex and IMAX where you can see the latest big-screen productions.
Experience the Boardwalk
Trails aren't just for nature lovers here; they connect urban hotspot to urban hotspot as well. Don't miss the stroll from downtown to Fairhaven via the Boulevard Park boardwalk.
Explore Parks and Lakes
Bellingham is home to more than 50 parks, each offering their own unique character. From playgrounds to giant chess sets to outdoor concert venues, there's something for everyone.
Wander the Trails
With trails ranging from rigorous hikes to fully-paved pathways, it's easy to traverse Bellingham by trails and greenways.