Bellingham is a college town situated close to mountains and water, bordering Bellingham Bay and Mount Baker. With coffee shops, restaurants and outdoor places to explore, new students have many opportunities to find something to fit their specific interests.
Maddie Divelbiss, a senior at Western, said that any incoming Western students check out as many places around town as possible, and they should also start early.
“There’s still a lot of things I want to see and I’m running out of time,” she said.
Coffee shops around the city are popular places for Western students to sit and study. The Woods Coffee is a local coffee house out of Whatcom County with multiple locations around Bellingham, including at Boulevard Park, Barkley Village, Flatiron, Lakeway and Sehome Village.
Divelbiss said she occasionally goes to the Boulevard Park Woods Coffee location for the view.
“I like it there, [because] it’s very scenic,” she said. “You can grab a cup of coffee or some tea, and sit there and study and look out at the view.”
With a valid Western student ID card, Woods offers free drip coffee to any student, Western alumni or employees on what they call “Western Wednesdays,” at most Woods locations on Wednesdays.
Natalie Wetterauer, a Western student going into her senior year, also enjoys the Boulevard location of Woods Coffee.
“If I’m going to go have a cup of coffee I’ll definitely go to Woods,” she said.
In the fall when the weather begins to get colder, The Woods Coffee can be a place to warm up inside and still enjoy the Bellingham Bay view. The distance on foot from Western’s campus to the Boulevard Park location is about 30 minutes, and by car or bus it is about 10 minutes. The park is located in the South Hill Neighborhood and borders the bay.
“I love to go to Boulevard Park,” Wetterauer said. “It’s relaxing if you want to just hangout and bring a blanket.”
Other coffee shops, like The Union Coffee Shop, use locally roasted beans like Tony’s coffee. A new location for The Union Coffee Shop recently opened downtown off of North State Street.
“They have an upstairs area that’s really quiet and nice and hidden,” Western student Victoria Boles said. “I love it.”
Another Bellingham favorite that loves its beans is The Black Drop Coffee House located off of West Champion Street.
Zayd Humsy, a Western student, said The Black Drop Coffee House probably has the best coffee in Bellingham.
“The Black Drop is the place I go everyday for coffee,” Humsy said. “There are a lot of good people working there and it has a great environment,” Humsy said.
The Black Drop Coffee House hosts events such as board game nights; upcoming events for this fall will be coordinated near the end of summer.
In addition to an abundance of coffee shops, Bellingham is also home to many restaurants of varying cuisines.
Divelbiss said the German restaurant Schweinhaus Biergarten on North State Street is a great place to hangout.
“It’s probably one of my favorite places just to go and chill and get away from school,” Divelbiss said.
An outdoor restaurant, Schweinhaus has options of covered or uncovered picnic benches. It’s German-themed menu features sausages, pretzels and German beer, and the Bellingham Transit Center is a short walk from it.
The food menu is moderately priced for the average college student. With a choice of five different sausages, plates range from $6 to $10, or a large soft pretzel for $4.
Divelbiss said she tries to go to Schweinhaus once a week, usually on the weekend.
“I just like the atmosphere and being outside,” she said. “There’s always fun people there.”
Pizza places are also common in Bellingham. Goat Mountain Pizza, located downtown off of West Holly Street, and FatPie Pizza in Fairhaven are both frequently visited by Bellingham residents.
“Goat Mountain Pizza is amazing,” Humsy said. “I like the park outside City Hall. It is a good place to get take-out food and sit and eat.”
Wetterauer said her favorite place to get pizza is FatPie. “It’s like no other pizza you’ve ever made or eaten,” she said.
FatPie Pizza serves Chicago-style and Detroit-style pizza and has plenty of seating, including a large second-floor outdoor patio.
When the weather is warm in the summer and early fall months, Bellingham has plenty of parks and hikes for students to enjoy the outdoors.
“I like Lake Padden a lot,” Divelbiss said. “It’s a nice relaxing place to get away.” “There’s plenty of places to sit but there’s also a nice path that you can walk around.”
Lake Padden Park is located on Samish Way, with amenities that include softball fields, barbecue grills, picnic tables, access to trails and free parking.
“That’s what I like about Bellingham, it’s very outdoorsy,” Divelbiss said.
A relatively unknown and secluded destination spot in town is Locust Beach, which is located off Locust Avenue. To get there, adventurers have to hike down a steep path and stairs, Boles said.
“A lot of people go skim-boarding out there,” Boles said. “There are hammocks hanging from tree to tree for people to hang out.”
For new Bellingham residents who want to explore the hiking options, the area offers many ranges of hikes, from leisure walks to more strenuous and steep hikes.
“Any hikes on Chuckanut Drive are really nice,” Wetterauer said. “Oyster Dome is a go-to. Whenever I have people visit I take them to Oyster Dome.”
Getting outdoors and exploring can be a great way for incoming Western students to discover new things happening in Bellingham.
“I don’t think anything is too far away,” Boles said, adding that everything is mostly walkable or bus-able.
A bus pass is included automatically in the tuition of Western students taking six credits or more, and it provides transportation on all WTA bus routes. Bus routes on campus are available and provide service every 15 minutes. Activities downtown or in Fairhaven can be accessed by bus in under 20 minutes from campus.
Incoming Western students can also be on the lookout for local outdoor events that are hosted around town through summer and fall.