From the Chuckanut foothills to the bay, Bellingham is popular with outdoor enthusiasts. But this medium-size college town is also bursting with indie culture offerings that rival those of big cities.
Start by exploring the Arts District with an exhibit at Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, which features a 180-foot-long translucent wall that reflects sunlight by day and glows by night. Or get charged about science and electricity at the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention, where the MegaZapper releases four million volts of purple lightning each day.
From April to December, peruse artisan wares at the lively Saturday Farmers Market, housed under a roof of soaring steel whose beams and arches were salvaged from an old Highway 99 bridge. Catch a flick at the Pickford Film Center, which features two screening rooms—including one that allows libations—and a cafe for post-film discussions. Or laugh yourself silly at the Upfront Theatre, established by local Ryan Stiles of Whose Line Is It Anyway? fame.
Find more live performance at the intimate iDiOM Theater, known for producing smart, original productions. Then head to charming Fairhaven on the south side of the city for boutique shopping—every store is locally owned and managed—and mingling on the Fairhaven Village Green. End your sojourn by hitting Chuckanut Drive for one of the most scenic tours in Washington.