The Lummi, Nooksack, Samish, and Semiahmoo were coastal, Salish-speaking tribes primarily living around the Nooksack and Lummi Rivers. They inhabited Bellingham and its vicinity for thousands of years.
The city of Bellingham, incorporated in 1903, consolidated four European settlements: Bellingham, Whatcom, Fairhaven, and Sehome. It takes its name from Bellingham Bay, named by George Vancouver in 1792, for Sir William Bellingham, the Controller of Storekeeper Accounts of the Royal Navy during the Vancouver Expedition.
Meet your neighbors
In the contiguous United States, Bellingham is the northernmost city with a population of more than 90,000 people. A little less than half of Bellingham's population are families while the other half lives alone or with unrelated individuals. The median age for the city is 31 years, with a relatively equal distribution of ages for adults under the age of 65.
Pictured above: Woman purchasing flowers at the Bellingham Farmers Market
Things you’ll love
In addition to their rotating exhibits, Whatcom Museum of History's and Art offers history and art lessons to all ages! Visit the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention to see their collection of rare artifacts from 1580 into the 1950s and learn the history of electronics and radio broadcasting. Bellingham's theater culture is boosted by the performing arts department at Western Washington University. There are several theaters and productions in Bellingham including Bellingham Theatre Guild, Historic Mount Baker Theatre, Upfront Theatre, Northwest Ballet, and more.
If you love music then Bellingham is for you! Many notable music groups call the city home including Death Cab for Cutie, Odesza, The Posies, Crayon, Idiot Pilot, Mono Men, and No-Fi Soul Rebellion. You will also find an active classical music scene which includes the Bellingham Symphony Orchestra, North Sound Youth Symphony, numerous community music groups and choirs, and the internationally recognized Bellingham Festival of Music.
Enjoy the popular Whatcom Falls Park for swimming, fishing, and strolling along the numerous walking trails. If the great outdoors are still calling. adventure to Chuckanut Drive (south of the city), Lake Whatcom (to the east), or plan a day trip to Mount Baker Ski Area. Another amazing seasonal activity is whale watching. In the waters of the Georgia Strait and Puget Sound it is possible to see several pods of orcas.
Pictured above: Historic Mount Baker Theatre
Bellingham is bisected by Interstate 5 (I-5), which connects it to Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland, Oregon. The city also has three state highways: State Route 11, a scenic byway through the Chuckanut Mountains; State Route 539, which connects to Lynden and the Canadian border; and State Route 542, which travels east to the Mount Baker Ski Area. The Whatcom Transportation Authority operates fixed bus service within Bellingham and its neighboring cities. Several corridors have frequent service that is branded as "GO Lines", with service every 15 minutes. Catch a Boltbus at Cordata Station, an intercity express bus to Seattle and Vancouver.
The Bellingham International Airport offers scheduled commuter flights to and from Seattle and Friday Harbor, Washington, and regularly scheduled jet service to various West Coast airports via Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, and Southwest Airlines. The city's main train station, Fairhaven Station, is served by scheduled Amtrak Cascades service to Vancouver and Seattle twice a day. Amtrak also operates one Thruway bus trip to supplement its train service on the corridor.
The Bellingham Cruise Terminal is adjacent to the Amtrak station and serves as the southern terminus of the Alaska Marine Highway, a state-run ferry for passengers and vehicles. The ferries provide service to Ketchikan, Juneau, and Haines.The terminal is also served by San Juan Cruises, which provides seasonal passenger ferry service to the San Juan Islands and Friday Harbor.
Pictured above: A local bus in the Fairhaven District
Bellingham School District is the local school district. There are four public high schools in Bellingham: Bellingham High School, Options High School, Sehome High School, and Squalicum High School. Bellingham has four public middle schools: Kulshan Middle School, Shuksan Middle School, Fairhaven Middle School, and Whatcom Middle School. A larger number of public schools in this district are rated below average in school quality according to GreatSchools.org but these schools still rank top 50% in Washington State overall.
Private schools in Bellingham include Whatcom Hills Waldorf School (Prekindergarten through 8th grade), Whatcom Day Academy (Prekindergarten to 8th grade), St. Paul's Academy (Prekindergarten to 12th grade), and Assumption Catholic School (Kindergarten to 9th grade).
Western Washington University is located in Bellingham. It has more than 16,000 students. The Northwest Film School is a private, non-profit educational institution specializing in digital media production. It operates in a partnership with Western Washington University to offer a one-year certificate in Video Production.
Bellingham also has two community colleges, Whatcom Community College and Bellingham Technical College. For-profit schools include Charter College, Lean Leadership Institute, Washington Engineering Institute and Washington Technology Institute.
Pictured above: Old Main, Western Washington University in winter