Our Northwest Community College Initiative students have been in the US almost two months now, so they have figured out how to get around their communities. But there is always more to explore! Malu Marie Jacob, a Brazilian alum who studied at Whatcom Community College in 2013-2014, shares her recommendations on the Bellingham arts and culture scene, plus a few other tips on where to eat and what what to do.
From cultural matters to nightlife, the city of subdued excitement has entertainment for all kind of personalities. According to Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism website, the city is ranked second in the nation for arts businesses per capita. Offering a large range of art galleries, museums and theaters, Bellingham guarantees cultural activities throughout the four seasons. This lovely city also holds, in my humble opinion, many charming parks, terrific scenic drives and an incredible selection of hikes, snow sports and water activities. And last but not least, for the dance floor lovers, as myself, you will find a variety of clubs with great music in downtown!
I spent nine months exploring the city and following in love with B’ham was unavoidable. Last year, I went to great museums and art walks, watched to independent movies at Pickford, hiked several times, had one of the best ice creams at Mallards, shopped locally at the Farmers Market, laughed and dance with friends… Now, reflecting about what I have done and how I enjoyed myself in this city, I would like to share some activities and places. Specially, thinking about the students that will join the NWCCI Program on the coming years, I decided to put a list of fun activities together:
If you want to get to know more about the foundation history, business and people of the city back in the day, this is a great tour. As the name suggests, the tour accounts the bawdy story of early life in Bellingham. This is a very engaging and interactive walking tour. If you get the chance to go on summer time, you will see the guides dressed up in “Good Time Girls” costumes while delivering the tour.
For those passionate about arts the First Friday Art Walk is a good call. Originally known as Gallery Walk, which began back in the 80’s, the event, shifted to the first Friday of every month in 2009, happens all over downtown from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The art galleries and different venues will remain open for the visitors delight and appreciation of creativeness of Bellingham’s artists.
Whatcom Museum – The Lightcatcher
The Whatcom Museum is another great option if you enjoy art. Besides the amazing exhibitions The Lighcatcher building in itself worth the visit. Designed by Olson Kundig Architects, the building is named for its focal point and most innovative feature, which is a translucent wall 37 feet high and 180 feet long, that captures the sunlight providing both energy savings and a spectacular and well designed construction from out and inside. The museum also offers a Family Interactive Gallery (FIG) which is a hands on museum for children of all ages and their families.
Whatcom Falls Park
Would you imagine that Bellingham has a gorgeous waterfall park in town? The Whatcom Falls Park is an excellent alternative for a 5 1/2 miles hike if you cannot make it to Mount Baker. The hike begins right in downtown on the Whatcom Creek Trail in Maritime Heritage Park. The trail features a waterfall and old stone bridge and connects with Bloedel Donovan Park at Whatcom Lake. Beautiful!
The Vital Climbing will fit you perfectly if you’re into sports. This is 24-hour climbing gym in downtown has a great infrastructure and facilities such as an espresso machine, projector, WiFi, music controls, and drafting table. Other assets of this lively place are the friendly environment and helpful members. Vital Climbing is a wonderful place to make friends, exercise and have lots of fun.
With a diversity of clubs, Bellingham has a very animated nightlife. If you know me, you might recognize that I’m a big fan of the dance floor. So, I took no time to gather friends and went explore the clubs in B’ham. In this list I’ll rank my top 4: #1 Glow, # 2 Rumors, #3 Underground and # 4 Wild Buffalo. Go with your friends, make new ones and dance! Each and everyone of them will offer distinct music and public. Remember this tip is valid only if you’re 21+
Pickford Film Center – Independent Movie Theater
Pickford has made a commitment to the Bellingham community to bring high-quality independent movies to town. And PFC has made it gracefully since 1998. I have been there several times and I had the opportunity to watch Oscar-nominated films such as “Her”, “Nebraska”, “Dallas Buyers Club”, “Philomena”. It is worth taking a break and checking out what is going on at Pickford.
Finding a variety of cuisines is not a problem since good and exotic food is one of the passions of Bellingham’s citizens. You will find great Asian, African, Mexican and many local restaurants which are just amazing. Bellingham is also well known for the local brewing, which reinforces the ideal of many restaurants and citizens to keep shopping, food, clothes, and so on as local as possible. I’ll list my five favorite restaurants: #1 Boundary Bay & Brewery, #2 Anthony’s Hearthfire Grill, #3 Goat Mountain Pizza, #4 Taco Lobo and #5 AB Crepes.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S.Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.