Blake Walsh

16 Best Things to Do in Whatcom County, WA

  • Published 2023/04/03

The outdoors drives many things to do in Whatcom County in northwestern Washington State.

The Cascade Mountains and the Salish Sea waters are natural landmarks contributing to this county’s visitor appeal.

Whatcom County also has a fascinating past, with several native tribes having inhabited its area for thousands of years.

The influence of one of these tribes, the Nooksack, lives on in the county’s name, which means “noisy water.”

Founded in 1854, Whatcom County comprises 15 towns and cities that once were the domain of fur hunters, miners, and farmers.

Read the list below for the best things to do in Whatcom County, Washington.

Explore North Cascades National Park

Scenic view of North Cascades National Park

Marina Poushkina /

The North Cascades National Park spreads over 505,000 acres on the eastern part of Whatcom County.

It offers you not only scenic vistas but also a range of outdoor adventures and learning opportunities.

You can easily explore this park via a scenic drive through the North Cascades Highway (State Highway 20).

This is the only paved road in the North Cascades National Park, stretching for 30 miles.

A drive along this highway unlocks several scenic overlooks, short hikes, and visits to the park’s lakes.

A lake at North Cascades National Park

SoisudaS /

George Lake overlooks one of the most accessible points, involving just a 400-meter walk.

Fantastic views of the Skagit Gorge and Gorge Dam shall be your reward.

Another easy path comes in the Sterling Munro Trail, a 300-meter boardwalk at the North Cascades Visitor Center in the unincorporated community of Newhalem.

This boardwalk provides a viewpoint of the snow-clad mountains of the Picket Range.

Nooksack falls at North Cascades National Park

David A Peterson /

Have Fun at Bloedel Donovan Park

You can enjoy Lake Whatcom by visiting Bloedel Donovan Park.

This park in Bellingham, the seat of Whatcom County, provides a boat ramp to access the 5,000-acre lake with a 30-mile shoreline.

Other amenities include a swimming beach, playground, picnic sites, and an off-leash dog area.

Access to this park allows fishing on Lake Whatcom, a water source for Bellingham.

Potential fish catch in the lake includes bass, yellow perch, and kokanee.

Climb Mount Baker

Close view of Mount Baker

Bill Perry /

Go on a guided climb of Mount Baker, which can highlight your visit to Whatcom County.

Adventure tours are available for a three-day summit to climb this 10778-foot-tall mountain, an active volcano in the central part of the county.

Snowshoeing at Mount Baker

EB Adventure Photography /

The months most favorable for a climb up Mount Baker are May to August.

The mountain’s peak is the third highest in Washington State, and its route is relatively easy to access with appropriate training and assistance from local guides.

Besides hiking and mountain climbing, Mount Baker is also famous for skiing and snowboarding.

Snowboarders at Mount Baker

Cascade Creatives /

Enjoy the Outdoors at Birch Bay State Park

Gorgeous sunset at Birch Bay State Park

Thye-Wee Gn /

Exciting recreational activities await you at the Birch Bay State Park on Helweg Road in the Whatcom city of Blaine.

This 77-hectare park spreads along the Pacific Coast, and its built-up landscapes deftly combine with mixed forests and small ponds.

At Birch Bay State Park, you can enjoy the majestic views of the Cascade Mountains.

Evergreen tree at Birch Bay State Park

knelson20 /

You can enjoy these vistas plus local wildlife on several viewing platforms along the extensive pedestrian trail of the park.

The sandy coastal area of the Birch Bay State Park is suitable for biking and opens access to boating, sailing, windsurfing, and fishing.

A dog at Birch Bay State Park

knelson20 /

Shop at the Chuckanut Bay Gallery & Sculpture Garden

The Chuckanut Bay Gallery & Sculpture Garden offers a unique shopping experience for visitors to Bellingham.

Its location alone on Chuckanut Drive is worth a stop, given its scenic site along this iconic corridor in Whatcom County.

A visit to the Chuckanut Bay Gallery & Sculpture Garden unveils the creativity of more than 400 artisans.

Your picks in this shop include various handcrafted jewelry, garden art, home décor, sculptures, and glassware.

After browsing the various items in the shop, you can tour its peaceful sculpture gardens, where hummingbirds are likely to keep you company.

Tour the Lynden Pioneer Museum

Exterior of Lynden Pioneer Museum

Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Lynden Pioneer Museum takes back its visitors to some of the highlights of the early settlers of Whatcom County.

This museum on Front Street in Lynden focuses on the city’s pioneers, who eventually formed the largest Dutch community in Washington State.

The Lynden Pioneer Museum also offers insights into how Lynden became the largest US producer of raspberries.

The museum’s exhibits include a replica of a Lynden street scene circa the 1920s.

Also displayed in the museum are a restored 1942 John Deere tractor, a 1911 Model T Ford, antique dolls and toys, and military and firefighting artifacts.

Watch a Dirt Track Race at the Deming Speedway

The Deming Speedway draws aficionados of sprint racing at its dirt track off Denning Road in the Whatcom city of Everson.

The speedway’s course, dubbed as Pacific Northwest’s premier racetrack, runs over 1/6th of a mile on a banked clay oval.

Racers in the Deming Speedway compete in several classes, including 1200 Mini Sprints, Junior Sprints, 600s, 600 Restricteds, and Midgets.

Racing events here are held weekly on Friday nights.

The Deming Speedway is home to the three-day Clay Cup Nationals, traditionally held in July.

Every August, the speedway hosts the two-day Big Al Memorial race.

Marvel at the Waters of Diablo Lake

Aerial view of Diablo Lake

Anna Abramskaya /

A visit to Diablo Lake will take you to the southeast edge of Whatcom County, deep into North Cascade Mountains.

Accessible via the North Cascades Highway, the lake impresses visitors with its stunning crystal-clear turquoise waters.

Diablo Lake is 1,201 feet above sea level and between Ross Lake and Gorge Lake.

The waters of Diablo Lake

Martina Birnbaum /

This location adds to the charm of visiting Diablo Lake, where you can kayak, canoe, and paddle board on its calm waters.

You can also go on guided tours of the lake’s Diablo Dam and learn about its history.

A hiker admiring Diablo Lake

Galyna Andrushko /

Hunt Pheasants at Lake Terrell Wildlife Area Unit

Watch out for the open hunting season at the Lake Terrell Wildlife Area Unit in Whatcom County.

This area, just five miles from Ferndale, is one of the Western Washington Pheasant Release Program sites.

Each fall, pen-bred pheasants are released at the Lake Terrell Wildlife Area Unit for hunting between late September and end-November.

Accessible from Lake Terrell Road, this 500-acre wildlife area features lake, wetlands, and forage fields aside from its trademark lake.

The Lake Terrell Wildlife Area Unit is also one of the prime fishing destinations in North Puget Sound.

Anglers can catch largemouth bass, triploid rainbow trout, sunfish, channel catfish, perch, and bullheads here.

The lake has boat launches, and some artificial islands feature duck blinds for hunters’ use.

Explore the Pacific Northwest at the Whatcom Museum

Exterior of the Whatcom Museum

Ian Dewar Photography /

A visit to the Whatcom Museum on Prospect Street in Bellingham will give you a closer look at the Pacific Northwest region.

This museum occupies a complex of three buildings where you’ll find exhibits on the pioneer settlers and Native American tribes of the region.

The Whatcom Museum also features several galleries showcasing traditional and contemporary artworks in the Northwest.

Interior of Whatcom Museum

Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The museum also boasts a collection of specimens related to the region’s natural history.

In this Pacific Northwest menagerie, fossils, rocks, minerals, and taxidermy animals will be seen.

The museum also features an interactive exhibit for children and thematic art shows.

Taste the Apples of Bellewood Farms

Savor a trip to the fertile agricultural region of Whatcom County with a visit to Bellewood Farms.

This 62-acre farm is located just east of Guide Meridian Road in Lynden.

Bellewood Farms boasts of growing the largest apple orchard in Western Washington.

The farm’s products include the premier Honeycrisp apple, along with 22 varieties of pears and apples.

Bellewood Farms has a specialty market, gift shop, apple distillery, bar, and café.

Its visitors can stroll on the farm’s orchard onward to the nearby forested trail along Ten Mile Creek.

Watch out for the Bellewood Farms’ July and August events featuring a musical evening starring local artists.

Join the Kids at the Birch Bay Waterslides

Aerial view of Birch Bay Waterslides

Cascade Creatives /

Bring the family to the Birch Bay Waterslides, where you and the kids can have a great time in its various facilities.

This family-oriented water park is located on Birch Bay Lynden Road in Blaine.

The trademark facilities of the Birch Bay Waterslides—Snake, Corkscrew, Hairpin, and Twister—all promise an exhilarating experience.

Other slide choices—The Ramp, Black Hole, and River Ride—are as fun in their varying configurations.

For more delights, Birch Bay Water Slides visitors can pick from its Kiddie Pool, Activity Pool, and Hot Tub.

A basketball court and a volleyball court are also among the facilities of this fun water park.

Play a Round at the Shuksan Golf Club

The Shuksan Golf Club is a public course popular among golfers visiting Whatcom County.

A round on the 18 holes of this course offers par 72 play amid the scenic splendor of the North Cascades.

The layout of the Shuksan Golf Club stretches over 6,737 yards from the back tees and traverses a landscape of over 100 feet in elevation.

A driving range, a well-stocked pro shop, and professional instruction are available at the Shuksan Golf Club.

After a round, golfers can enjoy the Southern-inspired, farm-to-table cuisine at the club’s Bistro at the Shuksan.

Camp Out at the Larrabee State Park

The waters of Larrabee State Park

Katie Barnes Photography /

The Larrabee State Park allows its visitors to enjoy an extended stay, with a campground among its facilities.

This camping park, which is accessible via Chuckanut Drive in the city of Bellingham, enjoys a beautiful location next to Samish Bay.

The Larrabee State Park campground provides 77 campsites for RVs, trailers, and tents, all available for reservations.

Nature trail at Larrabee State Park

jwdonley /

Staying in this 2,748-acre park offers boating, paddling, fishing, and diving opportunities.

Hiking is also popular at the Larrabee State Park, with several trails traversing it, like the Fragrance Lake Trail and the Fern Trail.

Picnic shelter at Larrabee State Park

Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bring Your Friends to Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro

Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro is one of the top choices among the 17 breweries in Bellingham.

This brewery’s brewpub is in a century-old historic warehouse on Railroad Avenue.

Among the favorites of patrons of its taproom and beer garden are Scotch Ale and the IPAs Cedar Dust and Northwest Original.

On the other hand, the popular fare from the Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro kitchen includes pub fare of the grilled fish taco, appetizer Devilled Eggs, and Pesto Salmon sandwich.

A rotating art gallery and regular music events add to the delights of a visit to Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro.

Walk the Trails at Sehome Hill Arboretum

Wooden stairs trail at Sehome Hill Arboretum

Jim Feliciano /

Sehome Hill Arboretum spreads over 180 acres off 25th Street in the heart of Bellingham.

Established in 1893, this arboretum features meandering trails around its second-growth forest adjacent to Western Washington University.

The park trails extend about five miles, with a large tunnel hand-carved through rock as one of the paths’ striking features.

A climb up an 80-foot tower on the northern side of the Sehome Hill Arboretum is another highlight of a stroll along its trails.

The overlooking view from this tower is best in early spring or winter when its surrounding trees have fewer leaves.

Final Thoughts

Whatcom County undoubtedly counts among the leading travel destinations in northwestern Washington.

Many of this county’s natural attractions are landmarks that contribute much to the flow of visitors to the region.

Explore the best things to do in Whatcom County, Washington!

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