If you sat around and wondered, "Where should we go?" a trip to Bellingham wouldn't be at the top of the list. But once you started looking, you'd be amazed how many hidden (or not so hidden) gems are available for the casual traveling family. We decided to take a full long weekend to explore a few ideas, and still had plenty of things left for "next time." Read on, fellow traveler!
For starters, the city of Bellingham has plenty of lodging options, but we opted to stay a bit further north in Lynden at an AirBNB. It looked very cute in the photos – a tiny house on a large property – but in reality it was even tinier than tiny (if that's possible) and had zero ventilation and no cooling system. We spent as little time there as possible and even dropped in to Walmart to buy a fan. We were NOT impressed, so I'm not going to bother posting a link to it. Find another place!
Day 1: Driving northbound from Seattle
• First stop: Outback Kangaroo Farm in Arlington. $11 kids/$13 adults. Pros: lots of hands-on animal opportunities. Cons: far too many people allowed on each tour. They are definitely making a lot of money, but it was so uncomfortable we dropped to the back of the group and eventually made our way back to the car.
• Lunch at Big Scoop Sundae Palace in Mount Vernon. Old fashioned parlor, yummy food, lots of ice cream, family owned since forever. Limited seating though.
• Last stop was at Twin Sisters Creamery in Ferndale. They offer occasional kids' classes, but we weren't visiting at the right time. I called ahead and they graciously offered to host us for a mini-tasting which included about a dozen cheeses from local shops (including their own) and international favorites. We turned around and bought several of those cheeses to snack on during the weekend.
• The weather was extremely warm, so this is when we stopped at Walmart to buy a fan and some supplies for the trip. Lots of stores were available we don't usually see in Seattle, including Sierra Trading Post, WinCo, and Woods Coffee (which we love).
Day 2: Exploring Lynden
• Bellewood Acres Apple Farm and Distillery offers great farm tours during the harvest season, but we were (again) not in the area at the right time. So through a bit of mild begging I was able to secure a mini-farm tour! We golf-carted around the orchards and explored the packing lines, press, and other tucked away buildings, then sampled awesome cider and other goodies. Definitely worth a stop.
• I can't say enough good things about Marissa at Marie's Bees. If there's only one thing you do – this needs to be it. Her "beekeeper for a day" tour is our best memory of this trip. We suited up in full beekeeper gear and learned SO MUCH about bees and hives, then sampled several types of honey from different seasons. Go. Right now. Sign up for a tour. $45pp.
Day 3: Bellingham
• There are many parks in Bellingham, and we sampled a few, such as Whatcom Falls Park. I wasn't impressed by much, but with a bit more time I'm sure we could discover some gems.
• We used a bit of spare time to see the MegaZapper Electric Show at SPARK Museum. It was a lot of fun, and the museum was worth the extra hour we spent there. Younger kids may not "get" a lot of the stuff, like rotary phones, telegraphs, etc, but older kids will appreciate it. A bonus was the world's largest Tesla coil and the opportunity to selfie zap yourself, but for an extra $10pp we declined that experience.
• The main event this last day was Moondance Sea Kayaks' Bioluminescence Tour. We took off just after sunset on a night with a new moon and rowed about a mile or so to a small lagoon cove. From the Moondance website: Generally we do these trips by request during a new moon phase. The less light on the outside world provides a better opportunity for us to see these glowing wonders in the water. You will learn about these magical living organisms while having the opportunity to paddle Bellingham Bay at night. All trips include a guided instruction and are great for beginners and experienced paddlers alike! To be honest, we didn't see much and I was a bit disappointed. It's true that if you agitated the water hard enough you'd see a glow in the wake, and we were plenty awed by it, but it wasn't at all what you see in pictures of glowing unearthly beaches. And of course, with a new moon, it was too dark to take pictures. These tours are popular so book early. They sell out. $65pp.