Ben and I were in Bellingham, Washington two weeks ago to marry off one of my oldest friends in a surprise wedding and took the opportunity to have a mini vacation. We got a cat sitter, committed to the long-haul to Bellingham (4.5 hours from Portland), booked a nice hotel, and left our computers behind. Because of Ben's current schedule with rotations, we haven't had the opportunity to get away this summer (he has a lot of on-call weekends) and this was a great "sorry, I have to go!" excuse to ditch some responsibilities. I definitely regretted leaving my calligraphy desk for two full days, as I came back to madness, but the rest and relaxation that just one night in a nice hotel bed can provide was phenomenal. I've been to Bellingham twice in my life - once to look at Western Washington University my junior year of high school, and this past trip - but naturally I already have some recommendations. Read on if you're considering a trip up to one of the last real cities before the Washington-Canada border.
Hotel Bellweather - We loved this hotel. The rooms were gorgeous and beautifully furnished in more ornate decor (dark woods and brass), there was a jetted tub, a sizable balcony and the staff was awesome. The hotel is located down on Bellingham Bay so has some awesome bay views from many of the rooms, and looks out across an inlet and into the city from the other side of the hotel. We took advantage of the jetted tub, the fireplace, and the giant, comfortable bed.
For dinner/drinks, we went to Boundary Bay Brewery, recommended by the locals, and had a sampler tray and a flatbread pizza. I wasn't super impressed by the service and the food was a bit spendy for pub fare, but the restaurant itself was bustling, had some fun nautical decor, and I suspect that had we gone for a full dinner, we would have been impressed. The beer was passable but not worth writing home about. More on beer later.
Mount Bakery for brunch was a two thumbs up and definitely recommended. We got their early (8:30 a.m.) and didn't have to wait for a table. By 10 a.m. there was a line outside. Ben had the mushroom benedict (see above), and I had a lemon curd crepe that was amazing. We were stuffed by the time we headed back to the hotel. Mount Bakery has multiple locations and definitely is up to par with Portland's famous brunches.
Boundary Bay didn't quite satisfy our beer desires, and we didn't have enough time to taste beer at a few other local breweries, so on our way out of town we stopped at a Haggens and picked up a six pack from Kulshan Brewing Company. Their IPA got a 93 on rate beer and even though it's a canned beer, we loved it! I wish we'd had time to stop and try some other beers. We were also pointed to Aslan Brewing Co., a newer brewery in Bellingham offering all organic beers.
Bellingham has very cute stores covering the downtown and Fairhaven district (recommended for wandering around and perusing old buildings and stores), but be warned - they all open at about noon on Sundays. We had to head out of town at about 10 a.m. on Sunday and didn't get to do anything but peer in closed windows. If you can, shop on Saturday before 5 or 6 p.m.!