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Bellingham Bay
Peter James

Located about an hour and a half north of Seattle and just a stone’s throw from Vancouver, British Columbia, this little town is nothing short of spectacular. (Just wait until you taste the berries.)

THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST, WITH ITS cool temperatures and lush landscape, is an ideal summer playground for outdoor enthusiasts, especially when it comes to a town like Bellingham. The quaint city boasts miles of coastline; lakes, rivers and waterfalls; and some of the biggest, juiciest berries you’ll ever eat. Don’t blame us if you decide not to leave.

If You Go

Axton Road Bed & Breakfast
5775 Schickler Lane
(360) 398-9196
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Boulevard Park, Whatcom Falls Park and other area attractions and parks
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Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro
1107 Railroad Ave.
(360) 647-5593
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D’Anna’s Cafe Italiano
1317 N. State St.
(360) 714-0188
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Hotel Bellwether
One Bellwether Way
(877) 411-1200
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Kayak Rentals and ClassesCommunity Boating Center
555 Harris Ave.
(360) 714-8891
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Local Trails
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Prospect Street Cafe (CLOSED)
114 Prospect St.
(360) 714-8262

Taylor Shellfish Farms
2182 Chuckanut Drive
(360) 766-6002
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Yacht RentalsNW Explorations
2623 S. Harbor Loop Dr.
(800) 826-1430
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Bellingham is seriously green: One in every seven acres is a park or other verdant space. While locals tout Whatcom Falls Park’s miles of trails, two waterfalls, large playground and fish hatchery, the city’s true glory is the calm waters of its eponymous bay. Picnic on Boulevard Park’s sweeping lawn before strolling the waterfront path for glimpses of the San Juan Islands.

Locals pile into Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro for the popular Fish Fry Frydays and a pint of the award-winning Dunkles Bock. Bellingham native Susie Coberly recommends family-friendly D’Anna’s Cafe Italiano for its friendly service and handmade roasted red pepper ravioli in a portobello cream sauce. Across the street from the Whatcom Museum sits Prospect Street Cafe; its red-brick walls house fresh fare (seriously, try the Dungeness crab) and some of Washington’s finest wines.

In between navigating the adrenaline-pumping Class III rapids of the glacier-fed Nooksack River, take in views of Mount Baker, Washington’s second-most-active volcano. More sedate adventure seekers can tour Bellingham Bay by yacht, sailboat or kayak, keeping an eye out for spouting orcas.

Both Coberly and Carrie Markle of Hotel Bellwether recommend the hourlong ferry ride to the San Juan Islands, where visitors can spend the day cycling the backcountry, fishing, whale watching or wandering through the artsy villages, a cup of rich Northwest-brewed coffee in hand. “All the San Juan Islands offer their own unique charm,” Markle says. “I’m a fan of Friday Harbor [for shopping and dining] … . Of course, there’s always Roche Harbor for a romantic, relaxing getaway.”

When the sun shines — which is a rare occurrence — hit one of the mountain biking or hiking trails (the National Park Service and the American Hiking Society have named Bellingham as Trail Town U.S.A. in the past). Coberly also recommends a car ride down Chuckanut Drive. “Be sure to stop at Taylor Shellfish Farms for fresh oysters and clams,” she says.

Because of the town’s proximity to Canada, many Bellingham visitors make day trips to Vancouver; adults need passports, and kids must show their birth certificates.

Hotel Bellwether (from $197) is an award-winning 65-room boutique hotel that backs up to Bellingham Bay and affords panoramic views of the San Juan Islands. Think king-size beds and European flair; other amenities include a private dock for guests sailing into town, as well as doggie beds for those travels with Charley.
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Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands
Russell Illig/Getty Images

Located eight miles north of downtown and surrounded by an orchard and a vineyard, Axton Road Bed & Breakfast (from $125) offers breathtaking vistas of the Cascades and the Canadian Rockies. The three-room property boasts queen beds, a dark-paneled library, cashmere goats and a breakfast of homegrown peaches and French toast.