Whatcom County’s Great Outdoors Offers Recreation Options For Everyone



By Stacee Sledge

Many of us patiently (or not-so-patiently) wait out the gray fall/winter days in hopes of exactly what eventually comes around: sun, sun and more sun! Warmer temperatures, a few fluffy clouds floating among all that vibrant blue sky, and longer days that start early and end late.

And here in Whatcom County, the wait is certainly worth it. Our area is bursting with outdoor recreation options, from down by the water on up to the mountains—and everywhere in between.

Check out our list of things to do in the great outdoors—and please email us with any of your favorites that we might not have mentioned.

Surf and Shore

boating whatcom county
Even if you don’t have your own boat, there are many ways to get out and enjoy time on the water in Whatcom County.

So many favorite Whatcom County activities revolve around water. Stroll the beaches along our coastline, from Larrabee State Park south of Bellingham stretching all the way up to Birch Bay State Park in Blaine—pick a beach, any beach, and then comb it.

If you’d rather be on the water rather than right next to it, Salish Sea Kayak School offers classes to prep beginner or intermediate paddlers for any kayaking adventure.

The Community Boating Center also offers classes, from sailing to rowing, as well as youth camps for sailing, kayaking, stand-up-paddleboarding, and more.

You don’t need to own your own boat to get out on the Salish Sea. Let Schooner Zodiac take you out on one of their many cruise offerings. Gato Verde also offers customized boat tours on its catamaran for groups of 12, for day tours, and nine for overnight trips.

You probably already know that San Juan Cruises can take you on a spectacular whale-watching trip. But what about bird watching? July 4th fireworks? Beer- and wine-themed cruises? They offer these and more.

Have a boat but are looking for a group adventure? Let NW Explorations lead you on one of their flotillas. For example, you can cruise from Bellingham to Ketchikan, Alaska with a group of other cruisers while enjoying the comfort of a lead vessel.

Whatcom County is chock full of lovely lakes. Move inland to enjoy Lake Whatcom, Lake Samish, Fragrance Lake, Diablo Lake…the list goes on and on.

Just 40 minutes east of Bellingham, Silver Lake Park is ideal for a variety of outdoor fun from camping, horseback riding, fishing, boating, and more.

Woods and Prairie

hiking whatcom county
Hiking options abound in our area – from easy family-friendly jaunts to serious up-in-the-mountains treks.

Check out WhatcomTalk’s article detailing 12 family-friendly hikes for some ideas to get you outside and moving. Hiking, biking, trail running and horseback riding opportunities are everywhere here in Whatcom County.

If your idea of a fabulous time is a day hike up on the mountain, head east on the Mount Baker Highway (SR 542) and take in the gorgeous scenery on your way to the trailhead. Which trailhead? Well, there are so many to choose from. This detailed list from the Washington Trails Association will get you started.

And who doesn’t love camping? Especially when some of the best in the region is right in our own back yard. Camping options are plentiful in Whatcom County, from Washington State Parks to County Parks, as well as National Forest land.

Larrabee State Park, Birch Bay State Park and Lighthouse Marine Park offer camping very close to the Sound. Looking to camp in the shadow of Mount Baker—or actually atop it?

The aforementioned Silver Lake Park lets you pitch your tent in the Mount Baker foothills. A long list of campgrounds available in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest can be found at this Forest Service website page, and include several campgrounds near Baker Lake (Horseshoe Cove, Panorama Point, Shannon Creek, Park Creek and Boulder Creek, and Swift Creek Campgrounds).

Maybe a day of golf in the great outdoors is really what gets you going. Bellingham and Whatcom County offer many golf options, including:

Farms and Animals

u-pick farms bellingham
U-pick farms around Whatcom County offer both a fun family activity and delicious local eats!

Outdoor recreation doesn’t always have to include specialized gear and major exertion. It can also simply mean connecting to nature and our agricultural history.

U-pick farms are a great opportunity to head out with the family and gather some of the most delicious produce our area provides. For a full list of Whatcom u-pick places—think berries and apples, but also beans and lavender—visit www.pickyourown.org. Always call to confirm u-pick availability before visiting any of our area u-pick farms, as crops can change rapidly.

A stop at Hovander Homestead Park promises a trip back in time to our pioneer farming roots and also offers recreational fun for everyone, including historical tours, barnyard and farm animals, outdoor exploration, a playground area and more.

Visit Moonshadow Alpaca Ranch to learn more about these mild-tempered, gregarious animals. If you like the alpacas—a member of the camel family—you might also enjoy seeing and riding the camels at Camel Safari.

And last but certainly not least is the incredibly popular Bellingham Farmers Market, which brings together our amazing abundance of area farmers and their delicious, nutritious bounties. Shop for produce and flowers, eat at one of the fantastic food stands, and peruse amazing, imaginative hand-made crafts and wares.

Whatcom County offers a plethora of ideas for anyone seeking to reconnect with our great outdoors—from out amongst the lapping waves to deep in a woodland hike, or even a little closer to civilization.


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