Need a little color and flair in your life? What about a tour through history, or a chance to see birds up close? Maybe, you are like me and after a dreary winter need a serious jolt of some mind-blowing electricity? If so, plan to cruise to Bellingham, WA. On my recent trip to the Hotel Bellwether, I visited a few places that are must-sees on your Bellingham (B-ham, as the locals call it) itinerary.
Art, History and a Whole Lot of Spark in Bellingham, WA
The Whatcom Museum consists of three buildings – Old City Hall, The Lightcatcher and a research facility. If you are an admirer of art, visit The Lightcatcher. The building itself, with its contemporary sun-catching translucent 37-foot high and 180-foot long wall, also begs to be admired.
The museum has rotating galleries, and through May the exhibits are Images of Resilience: Chicana/o Art and its Mexican Roots and The Katrina Decade: Images of an Altered City.
Fun fact: Inside the museum, Artifacts Cafe & Wine Bar has Happy Hour every day from 4-6. On Mondays, they have a two-hour wine class, that includes paired charcuterie and cheeses.
Museum Admission: $10 adults, Seniors/Youth $8, Children 2-5 $5 (Admission price includes Old City Hall.)
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
History and Bird Lovers
History buffs and bird lovers will want to visit Old City Hall (circa 1892), which used to house the courtroom, the jail, meeting spaces, offices, and more. In the museum, there is the original wall-inn safe for the treasurer’s office, the original staircase with mahogany inlays, the city council chambers and the gallery above.
There is also a great video about Bellingham’s early days, historical photographs, a rotating exhibit, permanent galleries that include photographs, the newer Maritime History Gallery, and the brand new John M. Edson Hall of Birds.
Through May 31st, the rotating exhibit is “Focus on 50,” which celebrates Whatcom Community Colleges 50-year history.
Fun fact: Old City Hall was the first building in Washington State to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Museum Admission: $10 adults, Seniors/Youth $8, Children 2-5 $5 (Admission price includes The Lightcatcher.)
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
If you like very old things, visit the Pickett House (circa 1865), which is the “oldest documented wooden structure in its original location” in Washington State! The donated artifacts, many of which are donated, including items from the last owner Hattie Strother, like her sewing materials, and an organ by Ella Higginson, who was a Washington State poet laureate.
Another neat part of the tour is that they are given by “Daughters of the Pioneers” who have strong ties to this part of the country and Washington State. Some even wear old-fashioned dresses for the tour.
Fun facts: Captain Pickett built his house with planks from the local Roeder-Peabody lumber mill.
Pickett House Admission: Free, donations gladly accepted.
Hours: The house is open for tours on the second Sunday of the month, from 1 to 4 p.m.
Down the street from the Pickett House, about a block and a half, is the oldest brick building in Washington State – the T.B. Richards and Company Store. Many of the docents at the Pickett House known about its history, so feel free to ask them questions about it.
If history or art isn’t your thing, you are certain to love the MegaZapper Electrical Show at the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention. Who doesn’t like a little music set to electricity, cool electricity facts, and the option to get inside a Faraday Cage?
The 60-minute show happens every Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The show is full of fun facts, electric displays, and music. (If you are sensitive to noise, the show might not be for you.) Afterward, you can tour the museum and learn about how electricity was discovered along with a collection of artifacts, like Tesla coils, Edison lightbulbs, and Leyden Jars.
The Red Dots, note an item of great importance. Being a writer, one of my favorites was seeing the QWERTY keyboard – the first typewriter!
The items marked with a Green Dot are hands-on. So if you’ve ever wanted to play the Theremin – here is your chance!
Spark Museum Show: $12 adult, and you can tour the museum afterward. It costs $20 to go inside the Faraday Cage.
Spark Museum: $9 adult, $7 under age 11
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Now, you are probably wondering. How do I get there?
During the summer months, you can hop on the courtesy shuttle at Port of Bellingham’s Squalicum Harbor. The shuttle is available on a fairly consistent basis from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from mid-May to the end of August. Throughout the rest of the year, it is highly dependent on staff availability. You can also walk, catch an Uber, or take public transportation.
Lara Dunning is a member of the Waggoner Cruising Guide team and has made one trip up the Inside Passage to Ketchikan, AK. She is enthusiastic about small town living, and you can read more about her discoveries at Small Town Washington. She has been published in Bainbridge Island Magazine, Northwest Travel & Life Magazine, Wander With Wonder, and Whidbey Life Magazine.