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.
In the thriving heart of Bellingham, you can go from window shopping to walking along the water within minutes. Explore the eclectic mix of shops and cafés or hop on a bus to anywhere in the city. Go for a walk by the marina or meet the latest litter of kittens at Clark Feed and Seed. Ranked as the 5th hottest boomtown with a population under 150,000 and voted #2 in the nation for vitality of small locally owned retail businesses, Bellingham is a happening place.
Stroll through Boulevard Park into the Fairhaven area located on the south side of Bellingham. 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 camp out and eat gelato. When you’re ready to head downtown, take the boardwalk into the city-center.
Boardwalks, Trails and Boulevards
From the waterfront boardwalk that ties Bellingham together to the roaring majesty of Whatcom Falls, Western students have a lot to explore. Within the city limits, which cover 28 square miles, there are more than 40 parks and trails, each with their own unique character. From campus, head into the Sehome Arboretum above Western or go down to the bay and take in the spectacular views at Boulevard Park, where you can watch the sunset, grab a coffee, barbecue, play Frisbee, slackline, or dip your toes in the water.
Take a Saturday morning or afternoon walk to the Depot Market Square in downtown Bellingham for fresh produce, local eats, live music and crafts, from screen-printed hoodies to pottery. Thanks to Bellingham's temperate climate, the downtown market operates year-round, with a special Wednesday summer market in historic Fairhaven. Ranked #1 in Sunset Magazine’s top ten Farmer’s Markets in the country, this colorful, aromatic, music-filled festival is a beloved destination for students and Bellinghamsters alike.
Step into any of Bellingham’s bookstores for a wide-selection of brand new, gently used and rare books – you never know what you’ll find. For the ultimate book browsing experience, Village Books, Fairhaven’s three-story bookstore, has new and used books and is complete with a café overlooking the bay, weekly live literature events, and frequent author signings. Village Books was recently named a top-five finalist for the title of best bookstore in the nation by Publisher Weekly.
Exploring Bellingham is easy and free. Buses take Western students from campus to all of Bellingham’s hot spots — Fairhaven, downtown, the Bellis Fair Mall, movies at 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 Hub downtown or Western’s on-campus Outdoor Center.