Category Archives: Outdoor Fun

bellingFAM’s Guide to School Playgrounds in Bellingham

Bellingham School Playgrounds

Welcome to bellingFAM’s Guide to School Playgrounds in Bellingham!

We love playing at the school playgrounds on the weekends and during the summer — they are some of our favorites. Here are all of the need-to-know details about the elementary school playgrounds in Bellingham.

There are 15 elementary school playgrounds in Bellingham (including Larrabee!) and we’ll add them as we visit… including other school playgrounds in Whatcom County (we hear Ferndale has some great ones!).

Get out there and play!

Geneva Bellingham

Happy Valley Playground

Larrabee Bellingham

Silver Beach Bellingham

 TO VISIT:
Alderwood
Birchwood
Carl Cozier
Columbia
Cordata
Lowell
Northern Heights
Parkview
Roosevelt
Sunnyland
Wade King

Bellingham Bucket List: Strawberry picking

Strawberry Picking

Strawberry season is in full swing, so we took advantage of a quiet morning (and because we needed to bring dessert to a family dinner that evening!) and headed out to Boxx Berry Farm to do some picking.

This is the first time we’d been berry picking — for both the kids and I — so we didn’t really know what to expect. Here’s what we learned:

1. Don’t wear flip-flops: Janie and I both did and even though the dirt was dry, our feet were filthy by the time we were done.

2. Go first thing in the morning: It was cool and overcast when we got there at about 10 a.m., making for perfect picking. There was only one other person picking when we got there, but as we were leaving, at least six more cars arrived.

3. Don’t wear white: Or anything that you care about getting strawberry stains on. Your kids will wipe their hands on their clothes as they pick. You might too. Just make it easy and dress in dark clothes or clothes you don’t care much about.

4. Drive all the way out to the fields: We made the mistake of parking in the little parking lot behind the shop, up front, but quickly realized that the u-pick fields were way out there. You can drive back there (slowly) and it’s fun to catch a glimpse of what else is growing along the drive.

5. It doesn’t take forever: We picked for about 30-minutes and had enough strawberries to make a huge batch of strawberry shortcake for dessert that night. I think about six-pounds. Unless you’re really going for it, intending to pick buckets and buckets of berries, I’d consider this a morning or afternoon activity, rather than an all-day affair.

6. Learn to pick the right berries: The gal running the stand gave us a few pointers, including that the dark strawberries were probably too mushy to pick (she was right) and that the strawberries that came off with their stem should be eaten today.

7. Get in there for the best berries: You really have to dig into the plants to get the best berries. The ones along the border of the plants were often yucky, with the gems tucked away under the protective leaves. Don’t be afraid to get in there… and to let your kids get in there. I didn’t seem like you could hurt them very easily.

8. Make plans: Our plan was to make shortcake with our berries, but if we hadn’t, we still would have needed to eat or freeze the berries that we picked, pretty quickly, as I don’t think they would have lasted more than a couple of days on their own.

9. Head straight home: We made the mistake of running a couple of errands after we picked our strawberries and I think that they were pretty ripe by the time we got home!

10. Wash as you eat: Did you know that you shouldn’t pre-wash strawberries? It makes them go bad quicker. Wash them as you’re eating them, in smaller batches, to prevent gross, squishy strawberries.

Strawberry Picking

Like I said, we picked our strawberries at Boxx Berry Farm (6211 Northwest Road, Ferndale) and we loved it there. They were nice and helpful and the strawberries were gorgeous. For that half-full crate of strawberries, it was about $10, FYI.

Autumn of Playing House Full Time suggested we check out Barbie’s Berries (7655 Melody Lane, Ferndale). She said she appreciates their spray practices and that their berries are delicious, as well. I think we’ll give them a try! (Thanks for the tip, Autumn!)

Any berry picking tips to share?
What’s your favorite u-pick strawberry farm in Whatcom County?

Bellingham Bucket List

The spray parks are open (and they’re cold!)

spray park

I thought we’d hit the jackpot when I realized that the spray parks opened on the first day of summer vacation.

The weather wasn’t great when we got to Fairhaven Park, but it wasn’t cold either. We could sense the rain hovering in the thick clouds overhead, but it was otherwise calm, and nearly balmy.

The kids ran right into the water… and lasted about 10-minutes before they all ran back to us with chattering teeth and goosebumps. We tried to convince them that if they stayed in the water, they’d be warmer, but the damage was already done.

Eventually, Ev did head back into the water… in his fleece and swim trunks. And, of course I didn’t bring an extra pair of clothes with us, so he rode home in his underwear. It was basically his dream come true.

Long story short, the spray parks are open for (chilly) summer fun at both Fairhaven Park and Cornwall Park. The water is on from 1-7 p.m. daily through Labor Day.

And, as they make very clear on the Parks Department website, the water used in the spray parks is not recycled, but fresh. Which is great, because sometimes your kid is the kid who pees. Not that I’d know anything about that.

Did you brave the spray parks yesterday?

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Bellingham Bucket List - Exploring at WWU

Bellingham Bucket List #5: Explore the outdoor art on the WWU campus

You can find the entire Bellingham Bucket List on bellingFAM.

Explore

One of our favorite outdoor spaces to explore in Bellingham is the Western Washington University campus. Best for weekend adventures or during campus breaks, when there are fewer students around, the highlight is their awesome interactive outdoor art sculptures that you can climb on, climb up, scooter through, hunt for and play hide-and-seek in.

There are nearly 30 sculptures on campus, some are obvious and some aren’t, and I’m pretty sure that even with all of our exploring, we’ve only seen half of them. Some of our favorites are the Stadium Piece, which looks like a huge staircase, the Stone Enclosure/Rock Rings and the Steam Work for Bellingham (all pictured here).

WWU Campus

Take

It can be surprisingly windy on campus, even on a sunny day, so be sure to take a layer or two more than you think you’ll need. If you have little ones, bring a stroller — the campus is sprawling and with so many cool sculptures to explore, from one end to the other, you’ll be on your feet a lot. If you visit during the weekend, don’t hesitate to bring scooters or bikes (and helmets!). The campus is wheel-friendly, especially when there are fewer students around. If the weather is calm, it wouldn’t hurt to bring along a Frisbee for the big, open grassy areas on campus (just stay off of their pretty sports fields!). As always, throw a few snacks and some water in your bag — you’re guaranteed to have some hungry kids by the time you leave!

WWU Campus

Leave

You shouldn’t need anything else to entertain your kids when you’re on campus, so leave anything extra at home. You’ll need all of the hands you can get to help your kids climb and explore the art and sculptures. If you can, leave your purse at home (rather than in the car) or bring one that’s easy to carry.

WWU Campus

Eat

There are a few places to grab a quick bite to eat on campus, if you end up needing more than just a snack. Head to Viking Union for the best options that are also open on the weekends. We’d recommend brown bagging it, as your first option, since there are so many pretty outdoor spots to pull up a patch of grass to eat.

WWU Campus

FYI

Be aware that there are often events happening on campus during the weekends, including sports events, prospective student tours and even the impromptu music video shoot. Make sure you and your kiddos are respectful of campus activities, students, faculty and staff.

WWU Campus

Park

Guess what? Parking is FREE on campus on the weekends… in some lots. We suggest the big gravel lots on the south end of campus. They are easy to find (directions below) and there are always plenty of spots to choose from.

Reminder: Be sure to lock your car doors and leave all valuables at home.

WWU Campus

Find

To get to the parking lots:
From I-5, northbound or southbound, take Exit 252 onto Samish Way. Turn left onto Bill McDonald Parkway and continue up the hill towards campus. Take a right at the stoplight onto South College Drive. The gravel parking lots are on both sides of the street, past the sports fields.

After you’ve parked, walk across the street towards the flagpoles to start exploring.

WWU Campus

Online

You can find detailed information about the WWU Outdoor Sculpture Collection online, as well as a map of campus that includes all of the outdoor art. You can find general details about Western and the campus on the WWU website.

You can also follow Western Washington University’s official Instagram account and Facebook page.

Do you take your kids up to the Western campus to play? What is their favorite spot to explore?

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