Visit Bellingham…there is a lot to like!

After being selected by the Port of Bellingham to do the Blaine Harbor Marine Structures Condition Assessment, I setup a meeting to debrief on our win! As the Marketing Coordinator for this proposal, I want to make sure we keep getting it right, and taking the time to debrief on a win is as important as when we lose. On a beautiful autumn day, our Director of Marketing, Diana Badowski, and I headed to the Port of Bellingham to meet with Norman Gilbert, Project Engineer, and Mike Hogan, Public Affairs.

Since we do so much work in the area, we decided to make the most of our trip to Bellingham by exploring the peaceful and nature-loving college town to see what this hidden gem has to offer while touring a few of the projects that our firm completed.

After our meeting, we asked Norm and Mike a few additional questions about their community, including: “What would you do if you were a tourist in your town?” “In five years, would your answers be the same?” and “Where should we go to lunch?” Both agreed that the Central Waterfront Trail, part of which was recently completed, is a must see and would probably be the same answer in five years. Not just the trail but the overall waterfront redevelopment, including Taylor Avenue Dock, Boulevard Park, and the Granary, where an adaptive reuse of the building is being planned. Keep reading for the lunch recommendation!

Central Waterfront Trail (formerly known as ASB Marina Trail)

Public access to the water is an important part of the waterfront redevelopment happening in Bellingham. While we were down at the waterfront, we stopped to check out part of the new central waterfront trail. It was cloudy, but still a gorgeous, warm day with a whisper of crisp fall air. Being there just made us feel good. The Hotel Bellwether is prominent on the peninsula and, for a fleeting moment, I forgot that I was actually working and imagined being a guest at the hotel, thinking how wonderful it would be to spend more time there with that breathtaking view.

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Granary Building & Whatcom Waterway Cleanup Phase I

The Port of Bellingham recently reached an agreement with Harcourt Development to develop a new commercial and residential area on 19 acres of Bellingham’s downtown waterfront. Part of that development is to adapt and reuse the Granary Building (built in 1928). The Granary Building is easy to spot with its iconic cupola structure. Next to it, you can see the Whatcom Waterway Cleanup project that replaces marine infrastructure critical to the working waterfront and supports the marine trades.

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Lunch is Served

Next, we went to lunch at Boundary Bay Brewery, following a recommendation from Norm. What caught our attention was that Boundary Bay sources all of their food locally. The brewery is located in a restored historic 1922 warehouse in Downtown Bellingham. One event that Boundary Bay hosts periodically is BIFT (Beer, Improv, Food Trucks); who wouldn’t love that? I think I might have to go back to Bellingham just for BIFT! The food and staff at Boundary were phenomenal!

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Tour of the Town

After lunch and feeding the meter, we meandered down Railroad Avenue, admiring the local shops (restraining ourselves from going in and shopping), the atmosphere of the small town feel with the fall leaf-lined streets, and the historic architecture. Each district in the City of Bellingham is marked by flags, and beautiful flower baskets hang from the street poles. We knew we were in the Downtown District, as noted by the flags, and headed toward the Arts District. We admired the architecture and historic nature of the buildings, including the Mount Baker Theater, Whatcom Museum, Horseshoe Café sign (since 1886), and the beautiful copper detail on the Federal Building. Then we saw it, the Icing on the Cake! Literally, the Icing on the Cake is a local cupcake shop offering gourmet cupcakes in flavors, such as Balsamic Strawberry, Chocolate Salted Caramel, and Chocolate Peanut Butter. Just one example of how businesses support each other, the cupcake shop owner gave us a recommendation for lunch the next time we are in town. She said Brandywine was her favorite spot.

On the way back to the car, we smelled something so intoxicating that even though we were full from brew pub fare and cupcakes, we could not resist. The aroma was coming from Man Pies. We stopped and each bought dinner for that night, which was homemade pot pies in various flavors, such as steak, bacon & cheddar (seriously how could you say no?), classic chicken, lamb, and braised beef –again, using fresh and local ingredients.

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Fairhaven Historic District & Marine Beach Park

Our last stop was the district of Fairhaven which is about a five-minute drive south of downtown Bellingham. Fairhaven is where you will find a ferry to Ketchikan, Bellingham Cruise Terminal, Fairhaven Station (Amtrak and Greyhound bus), 19th century architecture, artsy shops, cozy restaurants, and waterfront hotels. You will also find one of Reid Middleton’s projects – Marine Park. Our waterfront group permitted, planned, and designed the renovation of this waterfront park that provided an enhanced habitat and safe public access to the beach area. The project received the 2009 Best Restored Beach Award from the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association.

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What Makes Bellingham Special

Bellingham seems to “get it” when it comes to connection to local community, sustainability, and health of the local economy. It is obvious from the countless businesses supporting each other to the myriad of organic and locally sourced food options. There is also so much to see and do in Bellingham from the historic architecture, shops, museums, and brew pubs to the natural beauty, endless outdoor activities, waterfront parks and promenades. Bellingham in the fall is a perfect way to spend the day!