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Bellingham Bucket List: 100 Things to do in and around Bellingham… with kids

You’re going to find out, very quickly, that I’m a list maker. I can’t help myself.

One of my first breaks as a writer was writing lists like this one for Red Tricycle. It started with a long list of 50 things to do with your kids in Seattle during the summer and quickly evolved into my seasonal must-have list for families, giving them an easy-to-reference list to grab an idea from on those days that call for an adventure. They were my signature series on Red Tricycle Seattle and Portland for a couple of years and I absolutely loved writing them… and checking the adventures off of the list with my own family.

Now that we’re in Bellingham, with so many new places to explore, a list seems like the best place to start.

I’d love for you to bookmark this page to use as a reference or pin it to your Pinterest boards (That’s where I keep half of my mind! I’ve pinned it here for you to find easily.). We’ll be adding more items to the list as we discover more fun things to do and places to visit in and around Bellingham and as we check them off, I’ll include details of our adventures for you to see and read. There will always be a little Bellingham Bucket List button on the right side of bellingFAM too. (Do you see it over there?)

First things first… I need your suggestions! Leave them for me in the comments section below, on our Facebook page or send me an email. I want to hear what you love to do with your kids in and around Bellingham (the big and the small!) and what’s on your local bucket list.

Let’s make this list grow!

NOTE: This list has been updated with THINGS TO DO and PLACES TO VISIT and EVENTS TO ATTEND with kids in and around Bellingham. If you’re looking for a great place to eat with kids, please stay tuned for a bellingFAM KID-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT GUIDE.

Check back often! Details on our adventures are coming this week! And, keep those suggestions coming…

** On our Summer 2014 adventures list
Bold items ones that are complete. 

1. Explore the tide flats at Birch Bay. **
2. Finish the summer reading program at the library. **
3. Visit the Whatcom Museum.
4. Explore the arboretum at WWU. **
5. Explore the WWU campus and outdoor art.
6. Visit the Bellingham Railway Museum.
7. A beach day at Larrabee. **
8. Camp at Silver Lake. ** (Note to self: Reservations, ASAP!)
9. Go sledding/play in the snow at Mt. Baker.
10. Hike at Mt. Baker in the summer. **
11. Have beers while the kids play at Perch & Play.
12. Ride that little train in the mall.
13. Walk from downtown to Fairhaven on the trails. **
14. Throw rocks in the water at Boulevard Park. **
15. Take the trail at the end of Lake Whatcom as far as it will go. **
16. Ice cream at the dairy. **
17. Walk in the Junior Ski-to-Sea parade.
18. Check out Semiahmoo. **
19. Explore the Interurban Trail. **
20. Watch the sunset from Clark’s Point. **
21. Play on every elementary school playground in Bellingham. **
22. Spend an afternoon on the patio at Kulshan Brewery.
23. Summer concerts and dinner picnics at Elizabeth Park. **
24. The Fair. Enough said. Worthy of a list of its own. 
25. Watch football games for all three Bellingham high schools.
26. Hike to Fragrance Lake. **
27. Participate in the All Comer Track Meets at Civic Field. ** (Every Monday night!)
28. Check out the Old Settlers celebrations in Ferndale. **
29. Hit the ice at the Sportsplex.
30. Spend 4th of July in Blaine.
31. Find Nooksack Falls. **
32. Hit up all of the u-pick berry farms: strawberry picking at Boxx Berry Farm. **
33. Find a sweet spot to watch the Ski-to-Sea Parade. (we did this! post coming soon!)
34. Visit the Jansen Art Center in Lynden.
35. Spend more than 5 minutes at the touch tanks (Marine Life Center).
36. Follow that trail that goes along the stream at Million Smiles Park. **
37. Discover all of the little public beaches along Lake Whatcom. **
38. Visit Pioneer Park. **
39. Check out Back to Bellingham weekend. (we did this! post coming soon!)
40. A day visiting all of the best spots in Fairhaven. By foot. **
41. A day visiting all of the best spots downtown. By foot. **
42. Take bikes around Lake Padden. **
43. Paint the big rock on I-5 Northbound.
44. Spend a rainy afternoon at CreativiTea.
45. Catch the outdoor movies in Fairhaven. **
46. Get our buzz on at SPARK.
47. Watch the sunset from the top of the Parkade. **
48. Visit the Big Rock Garden. **
49. Visit the Fairhaven Spray Park and the Cornwall Spray Park, all in one day. ** (Now open!)
50. Explore Tenant Lake in Ferndale, including the boardwalk and viewing tower. **
51. Get some fresh and local goodies at the Bellingham Farmer’s Market. **
52. Go rollerskating in Lynden.
53. Watch the ferry depart for Alaska. **
54. Jump and slide our hearts out at Jump Around Fun Zone.
55. Cross the border at the Peace Arch.
56. Find Locust Beach. **
57. Take the ferry to Lummi Island for a day of exploring. **
58. Explore Hovander and visit the animals. **
59. Fly kites at Zuanich Park.
60. Take the kids geocaching. **
61. Hula hoop at Boundary Bay.
62. Visit Bellewood Acres for cider and pie.
63. Freeze our toes off at a polar bear plunge.
64. Get dinner ingredients at Joe’s Garden. **
65. Find a favorite trail off of Chuckanut. **
66. Cheer on the Bellingham Bells. **
67. Head to the Birch Bay Waterslides. **
68. Find somewhere to go mini golfing. **
69. Hit up the bowling alley.
70. Watch an IMAX movie at the theater. **

Have a suggestion of something to add to this list?
Leave a comment or email us at

72 thoughts on “Bellingham Bucket List: 100 Things to do in and around Bellingham… with kids

  1. Molly

    I love lists too :) Here are some of our favorite things to do:
    Go to menchies!
    Concert in the park series at Elizabeth park- we bring dinner for a picnic but there are vendors too, including mallards!
    Ice-cream dates at mallards followed by looking at the fish at Clarks & the bunnies, rats, chicks, etc, at Hole’s Feed & Seed.
    Summer evening in the beer garden at Boundary Bay- music, beer & hula hoops for the kids.
    Explore Fairhaven- read books in the kids section at Village Books and play at Fairhaven Toy Garden (char loves the bucket on a rope pulley).
    Tide flats at Locust Beach.
    Lynden Lighted Parade in December.
    Drive through James St. Estates with coco to see the Christmas lights.
    Bellewood Acres for lunch and apples/pumpkins- the kids can play on the tire playground while you sip cocktails made from their delicious spirits!
    Bellingham Farmers Market.

    I could go on but I won’t! Can’t wait to see the list develop and hopefully discover new fun things to do!


  2. Jenna

    Walk around Lake Padden and then picnic by the playground
    Daughter dates at the Bagelry
    Spend lots of summer days playing at Hovander Park and checking out the farm animals
    Buy delicious produce, especially berries, at Boxx Berry Farm
    Go to the farmers market!!!
    Visit the trout at Whatcom Falls, hike around the park
    Fly kites at Zuanich park
    Take the fam to Dirty Dan’s for dinner

    (PS I recommend avoiding OCB in the mall, it’s a bit….ew, as Jimmy Fallon would say. Something a bit better? Super Buffet on Cordata across from the co-op. It’s only Asian food but it’s normally quite good. Including sushi.)


  3. Katie Kavulla Post author

    Is it really horrible? That’s kind of why I want to go! Take one for the team and get the truth out there… :) Same goes with that little train. It has to be done. With pictures.


  4. Michelle

    Bellingham Railway Museum. Kids can run the trains on their own. My boys LOVE it on rainy days!


  5. Nick

    Eat at the Horseshoe Cafe, go to Mallards Ice Cream, Coffee at the Black Drop, swim at Whatcom Falls,


  6. Chelle

    Wickersham Santa train ride, c shop ice cream in birch bay, check out a book from the bookmobile, birch bay water slides, tide pools at larrabee state park, walk through the arch into canada without a passport at peace arch state park, million smiles park in lynden, pioneer park Christmas festival, a play at mt baker theater.


  7. Anonymous

    Watching fireworks at Birch Bay on 4th of July (better than in town) and peanut butter yum yums at the C shop! Waterslides??


  8. Kelly

    Visit the Marine Life Center!‎
    Enjoy hand-crafted ice cream at Mallard’s!
    Visit the Farmer’s Market! Last Saturday of every month is Kid’s Market day!
    Train Museum‎
    Mind Port
    Spark Museum‎
    Play at the FIG
    Walk the boardwalk between Boulevard Park and Fairhaven!
    Hike one of the many trails off Chuckanut Drive! Lost Lake, Fragrance Lake, Oyster Dome, Woodstock Farm
    Explore the Big Rock Garden on Alabama hill
    Hike around Lake Padden
    Explore the Interurban Trail all over the city!


  9. Kelly

    One last thing – Please take Old Country Buffet OFF the list! EW! Why would you visit a generic chain restaurant at the mall, when Bellingham has DOZENS of one-of-a-kind eateries?!? Boundary Bay, La Fiamma, Elizabeth Station, Chuckanut Brewery, Copper Hog, On Rice, Thai House, Pho 99, Little Cheerful, Dos Padres, Black Pearl, I could go on and on. SO Much amazing food here, that does NOT come from a generic & corporatized chain restaurant that will serve the same food here or in North Carolina.


  10. Katie Kavulla Post author

    I hear you, Kelly! And trust me, I can’t imagine it will become a favorite (or even somewhere we’ll go more than once). Part of bellingFAM is telling the whole story of being a family in Bellingham and checking out some of those places where many of us would dare not go. An exposé, of sorts, if you will. (wink!)

    Local businesses always have and will come first for us, but as someone who worked in corporate retail for years, I also urge people to remember that there are locals working at those chain stores and restaurants to support themselves and their families in our own community.

    I’m so glad you commented and loved your suggestions!


  11. Kelly

    I definitely see your point, but if this is a Bellingham Bucket List, then it should be about things you should do in Bellingham – Things you CAN’T do in other places. There are 11 Old Country Buffets in WA State, and how many in the entire US? Why would it be on a Bellingham Bucket List? I am no stranger to taking my daughter to Red Robin or Chuck E Cheese down in Mt Vernon, so I’m not against “supporting” chain restaurants. But I wouldn’t suggest you put them on a bucket list. :)


  12. Georgina

    One of my favorite things to do growing up was watching the Alaska cruise ships depart from te ferry terminal, so cool. Also, taking a ferry ride to the islands and going crabbing off of the ferry dock.


  13. Brittany

    We enjoy riding the city bus. Gelato at Chocolate Necssities, Jump Around Fun Zone. Good to Go Meat Pies in Everson.


  14. Katie Kavulla Post author

    For me, it’s on the list simply because my kids will think it’s fun. I remember going to Sizzler as a kid (do they even exist anymore? i’m probably dating myself!) and thinking it was amazing (which I realize the reality of now!). I think they’ll get a kick out of it and I think that other parents will be curious to get the inside scoop of a family who survived going… I have a stockpile of hand sanitizer waiting in the wings for our visit.

    Hope you have a nice weekend, Kelly! I’m glad to have you here!


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  16. Jam

    Great list so far! But to anyone reading this, do not, I repeat, DO NOT under any circumstances eat at the buffet in the mall. I’ve been a Bellingham resident for over 20 years and can’t imagine why anyone would suggest such a thing. There are so many other great restaurants to try in and around this town.


  17. Jam

    A few I would add:

    -Watch a movie at the outdoor summer cinema in Fairhaven.

    -Peruse The Bellingham Farmer’s Market

    -Catch a show at Mt. Baker Theater

    -Visit Spark (the electrical museum)

    -Watch a football game at Civic Field

    -Go ice skating at the Sportplex

    -Drink a dirty martini at Daphne’s :)


  18. staci


    You might want to keep your snarky and seemingly snobby comments to yourself. She said thank you MANY times and was completely gracious, over and over again, even while reading and re-reading your same rude comments which you clearly couldn’t stop yourself from writing!


  19. Amber

    Love this growing list! You may have these ones suggested already, but eating donuts at LaFeens is a Bellingham MUST as is eating “Gas Station Pizza” also known as Pizzazza.


  20. Laurie K

    Donuts from LaFeens
    Gelato at Sirenas
    Explore the grounds at Lairmont Manor (and if you can explore inside, do that too!)
    Enjoy a concert at WWU
    Explore Village Books (last summer they had Lavender Lemonade in the cafe – yum!)
    Crepes (and perogies!) at Magdalena’s Creperie
    Check out Whatcom Falls
    Outdoor movies in Fairhaven


  21. Anonymous

    Its her list if she wants the buffet so be it. We love the touch tanks, and floating on the nooksack.


  22. Anonymous

    1) Breakfast at Skylark’s Cafe (Fairhaven), if the weather is nice – sit outside on the back patio,
    2) Walk the boardwalk at Tenant Lake (Ferndale),
    3) Go kayaking, swimming, boating while camping at Silver Lake,
    4) Attend the Old Settlers Picnic/Parade in Ferndale, then go to Pioneer Park, register & get your ribbon, then go explore the buildings there,
    5) Learn to ski at Mt. Baker
    6) Attend a concert at WWU
    7) Attend a play at WWU


  23. Jess

    Great list!
    A couple of additions:
    Summer splash park at fairhaven park
    Fragrance garden/boardwalk/climb the tower at Tenant lake
    Visit Nooksack falls and then stop for pizza/beer at North Fork brewery


  24. Kelley Moreno

    Can’t forget breakfast and lunch at Daisy Cafe in downtown,,, after all, it is where Ryan Styles has been known to drop in:)


  25. Ally

    Don’t forget to go up to the Jansen Art Museum in Lynden, with art classes for children and adults and new exhibits every month! There’s also a little cafe.


  26. Anonymous

    1.Ride bikes on the inner urban trails
    2.go to Mt Baker’s kids performances
    3.walk trails in many parks
    4.inner tube the river in the summer


  27. Anonymous

    Old Settlers Parade and park activities, Lynden Strawberry festival, Blaine 4th of July parade and street fair Sumas fireworks and rodeo, Ski to Sea and don’t forget the NW WA Fair.


  28. Anonymous

    Setting out a tarp on Cornwall the day before the Ski to Sea parade is a favorite tradition for my family (don’t you dare take “our” spot!)
    Hunting for crabs under the rocks at Boulevard
    Painting plates at Creativitea is great for a rainy day
    Watching the sun set from the top level of the parkade downtown
    I fully support the Railway museum suggestion! My brother would spend hours there when he was younger
    Spending time at the touchtank and then wandering around the marina is always fun
    Elizabeth Park concerts are a MUST
    Raspberry, blueberry and strawberry picking in the summer. Followed by Edaleens Milkshakes
    Pioneer park
    La Fiama’s
    Bagelry followed by Mallard’s


  29. Amber Pullen

    Watch/ participate in Procession of the Species Parade.
    Go to Bellingham Farmers Market in late summer (best time to go)
    24 flavors of softserv at the double decker bus in Fairhaven.
    Picnic at Woodstock Farm off Chuckanut Dr.
    Fragrance Garden and Wetlands Boardwalk at Tenant Lake Hovander.
    Get donuts at LaFines.
    Rent a bicycle Surrey in Birch Bay.
    Watch people pull in crab pots at Boulevard Park.
    Fourth of July at Zuanich Park.


  30. Anonymous

    More if you are interested. Even life long residents like us need this list! Thanks, Katie.
    My family likes to do these:
    -Volunteer at a Ski to Sea station
    -Form your own team for Jr Ski to Sea. They have a family division that races after the ‘competitive’ kids race in the morning.
    -Watch or volunteer at the Bellingham Bay Marathon in the fall. (you will see so many people you know!)
    -Watch the local semi-pro soccer teams, Bellingham United plays outdoor in the summer at Civic Field and the Rapids play indoor at the Sportsplex during the winter months.


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