Four Years in a Almost Perfect City
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Where I stayed
Population: When I was there people would say between 80-100 thousand people
Closest Big Cities: Seattle is about an hour and a half drive away and Vancouver BC is about 2 hours depending on the border-crossing delays.
Transportation in Bellingham is much easier than in a lot of other west coast cities. It has an excellent bus system due to the student population. I-5 also runs north to south in the city which makes it very easy to get across.
Bellingham is a college town. It has three big schools situated in it; Western Washington University, Whatcom Community College, and Bellingham Technical College. Due to this there is a lot of businesses and infrastructure focused on students. This will also mean that in the summers the population seems to drop drastically. However, not everything is geared for the young and people of any generation can find something to do.
The easiest way to describe Bellingham is to look at the sections of the city. Originally Bellingham was four separate cities; Bellingham, Fairhaven, Whatcom, and Sehome. Due to this history though streets can get confusing where the cities now connect
Located around the streets of Railroad heading northeast to southwest and Holly heading southeast to northwest (for the most part) is where you would find what is called downtown Bellingham. Here is where Bellingham has its largest mix of old and new. The old Whatcom county courthouse, which is now the Whatcom Museum, stands out against the simple shops. There is one tall building in the whole area, but it is far from a skyscraper. Downtown Bellingham is great for a walk and for window shopping, however, its main appeal is for its restaurants and bars. However, beauty can be found in hidden murals and it's relaxing charm (except on the corner of Holly and Railroad).
-Things to see and do
Shop - Mostly its just walking around the few blocks that make up the downtown but its up to you what you want to actually stop for or look at.
Parks and Museums - Downtown offers a couple nice parks along the water and also has a couple of interesting museums if you are interested in the history of the area
- Whatcom Museum: Located in the old court house, this building stands out easily. With its red and white trim and almost Russian like style turrets. This building is worth finding just to look at. Inside you can find interesting photos, artifacts, and information about Bellingham and its surrounding area frontier past. It used to be free and may still be.
- Marina Park: Continue along Holly Street and you eventually will come to the marina area. There is a small park that comes out into the water. It has soft grass, relaxing benches, and stunning views of Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands. It is one of the best places to relax in all of Bellingham. You can also sometimes find boats with fresh seafood for a very low price there.
Places to Eat - There are many places I would suggest, however, I'll limit it to my favorites.
- Boundary Bay Brewery: This is not just a great place to get a beer but a great place to get a meal as well. The food is good and usually different. However, it is the beers that bring in most of the diners
- The Bagelry: If you are a person who thinks bagels are just a cheap breakfast item that should only be bought at the supermarket you would be unfortunate to miss this gem. You can choose from a large variety of bagels and have the simple choice of having it toasted or not. It is the bagel sandwiches that make this a place that should not be missed however. My favorite was the roast beef though I heard all of the sandwiches were great. A couple things to mention is that they do not take credit cards of any kind yet and don't take checks (this may have changed but as of summer 2009 it was still the case). So make sure you have cash on you.
- Jalapeno's: Bellingham has many Mexican restaurants to choose from and each do something better than the last. My favorite was here however. They made great carne asada and had excellent margaritas (ask for the big mama margarita). This used to be a very cheap place to eat, however, the last time I was there prices had gone up but I believe everywhere in America prices have been rising
- Wasabi: If you are a sushi fan this is perfect place for you to grab dinner. The sushi was fresh and cheap. You could fill yourself up on the various kinds of sushi and not make yourself broke. If you don't like sushi you may want to avoid this place due to there not being much else on the menu.
Nightlife - Downtown Bellingham has many bars to choose from. Some are hole in the wall bars but range to full fledged clubs. It's up to what you prefer to be surrounded by. I myself was never much of a night person but did find entertainment every now and then at one of the bars downtown.
- The Nightlight: This is the closest thing to a big city venue Bellingham has. They get some big name bands to stop here on their way between Seattle and Vancouver. If you are a music fan check to see if any artists are preforming while you are there. Otherwise it has a fun vibe and plenty of room for you to spread out.
-Rumors: A fun club located next to Boundary Bay Brewery. It is called the "gay bar" of Bellingham, however, I'm pretty sure that it is now mostly straight people there. They have fun themed nights, play better music for dancing, and aren't too expensive. I always had a fun time there and if you aren't afraid of running into anyone flamboyant it's a great place to check out.
- The Royal: A club I was never a fan of. It was crowded, expensive, and the floors were always very sticky. I also feel this is where people are not afraid to be in your face and where you could find some of the more annoying people of Bellingham. This is strictly opinion but I do know I'm not the only person who feels this way.