The Pacific Northwest has a reputation for being an outdoor lover's paradise for a good reason: Just look! Lush temperate rainforests, misty waterfalls, rugged cliffs, bays and inlets dotted with islands, endless trails... it sounds like heaven, doesn't it? The best part? You don't even have to leave your car to experience the best of the Pacific Northwest! Chuckanut Drive, which hugs the coast as it makes its way south from Bellingham, offers some of the most unique views in the country. Plus, along with those views, you get to see small, quaint fishing towns, beaches, and more!
Big Rock Garden Park
Big Rock Garden Park is one of the best-kept secrets of Bellingham, Washington, and is perfect for both the nature enthusiast and anyone who loves art. The 2.5-acre park houses over 37 sculptures and pieces of art by world-renowned artists. Each work is embedded within the garden to perfectly complement and enhance already-beautiful views of nature. The park can be accessed year-round, and has seasonal exhibits, so feel free to come back time and time again. Each season offers a completely unique natural view, so you can visit Big Rock Garden Park multiple times and never have the same exact experience.
When arriving at Whatcom Falls, the first thing you'll notice is the stone bridge that is covered in a thick blanket of colorful moss, which makes for some great photo opportunities. The park offers close to four miles of trails suitable for a wide range of hiking levels. Whether you wish to take a route that winds through the forest and overlooks the creek gorge, or prefer to remain lost in the thick but beautiful forest, there's a little something for everyone. Right next door is Bloedel Donovan Park, which offers a unique and fun one-mile loop on the "Railroad Trail," if you're looking for something simple. However, there's more than enough to explore in Whatcom Falls Park, making it the perfect spot for a day trip.
The classic Whatcom Museum, built in 1892, is an opulent Victorian building, and it remains one of the most popular museum destinations in all of Washington state. What once was a functioning city hall was turned into a museum in 1941. Inside, you'll find dozens of exhibits tying the unique art, history, and nature of the Northwest region together, as well as some special displays that rotate year-round. Be sure to check out the Lightcatcher, a translucent wall 37 feet high and 180 feet long that is designed to capture the soft Washington sunlight. The gift shop is also one of the better one's we've seen, offering a wide range of memories for purchase.
Travel back in history and experience the luxury of the Lairmont Manor, also known as the Larrabee House. It was built in 1914 to satisfy affluent businessman Charles Larrabee's desire to own one of the finest homes in North America. Though Charles Larrabee passed away before it was completed, Fairmont Manor remains a cultural icon. Currently, Lairmont Manor is reserved for weddings and special events, but making the drive out to see the incredible home is a fun activity for a quick change of pace. The drive out is easily accessible from the highway and offers some incredible views on your way there.
Larrabee State Park
Larrabee State Park, named after the successful businessman Charles Larrabee, is a publicly-owned park area located on the Samish Bay, just outside Bellingham, Washington. The 2,683-acre park offers dozens of fun activities for the entire family, with easy trails and fun rocks to climb on. You can also venture to a beautiful pebble beach right off Samish Bay with just a short walk. The two freshwater mountain lakes, Lost Lake and Fragrance Lake, host a wide range of fish waiting to be caught, in addition to endlessly beautiful views. If you're looking for an extra excuse to take in more of the park's beauty, there are plenty fantastic campgrounds here as well!
Rich in history, the 21-mile Chuckanut Drive is a great way to see everything Washington has to offer, with incredible views, swooping cliffs, and, hopefully, a sunrise or sunset. It's a wonderfully scenic trip for any time of the year, and the gorgeous drive offers plenty of opportunities to stop the car and take in the views or grab a delicious bite to eat. The road hugs the cliffs along the shore, so don't let the incredible views distract you from the road! That being said, the Chuckanut Drive is a fantastic alternative to highway I-5. The famous scenery is well worth the detour.
Don't let the tongue-twister name fool you! The Rhododendron Cafe offers a warm and pleasant dining experience just off an old country road. The cafe focuses on using high-quality local ingredients, and is very active and involved with the local community, offering a wide range of tasty food for all palates. With delicious brunch, lunch, and dinner menus, the cafe is inviting any part of day. The friendly staff goes out of their way to ensure you'll come back the next time you're in town, and the food is to die for. Might we suggest the East Edison Burger?
Bay View State Park
Bay View State Park is a 25-acre Washington gem located on Padilla Bay. This quiet park gives you plenty of options to stay busy and entertained, and offers instant access to a beautiful shoreline, which makes for a great walk. Whether you want to picnic, hike, fish, or go for a swim, the park has it all. The campgrounds are very well maintained. If hiking is your thing, you'll definitely want to check out the park's world famous stretch of the Pacific Northwest Trail. After visiting Bay View State Park, you'll want it to become a yearly tradition whether you're with family or friends.
Cruise along the coastal cliffs by driving through the Chuckanut Drive Scenic Byway and prepare to be blown away by all it has to offer. In addition to incredible views, there is plenty for the whole family to do, with stops rich in Pacific Northwest history. Whether you're looking for a quick getaway or need a little more time for R&R, the Pacific Northwest has it all.
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