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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Bellingham: The belle of the Bay

Courtesy Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism

Where is Bellingham, Wash.?
With Mount Baker rising in the background, Bellingham is the northernmost major city along Bellingham Bay. The city is 85 miles north of Seattle and an hour south of Vancouver, B.C.

How do I get there?
Alaskan Airlines, Horizon Air, San Juan Airlines and Allegiant Air fly into Bellingham International Airport. Interstate 5 connects Bellingham with California and Canada; Amtrak makes stops on its daily route from Seattle to Vancouver. Ferries travel to the San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island.

What types of meetings best suit Bellingham?
Accommodations in the city of 80,000 range from a luxury waterfront resort to a rustic forest retreat. With more than 2,200 guest rooms and 175,000 square feet of meeting space, Bellingham is best for small and medium-size meetings.

Did you know?

  • Mount Baker is a glacier-covered volcano that set the world record for the most annual snowfall during the 1998-1999 season: 1,140 inches. There are 38 ski and snowboard trails in the Mount Baker Recreation Area.
  • In August, the Natural Resources Defense Council ranked Bellingham the Most Sustainable Small City in the United States for air quality and green space. The city also is one of National Geographic’s 100 Best Adventure Towns in America.
Courtesy Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism

What’s new?
A 204-room full-service Marriott hotel is scheduled to open in 2011. It will join TownePlace Suites and SpringHill Suites as one hotel complex with more rooms than any other hotel in Whatcom County. One-third of the 3.8-acre property will remain wetlands and wetland buffers.

Tell me about Bellingham’s main meeting sites.

  • Groups of 50 to 350 can meet in Northwood Hall’s elegant 4,000-square-foot meeting room, whose large windows face the woods.
  • Whatcom Community College’s 7,000-student campus has eight meeting venues. The largest are the 18,400-square-foot Pavilion Gym and the 5,450-square-foot Syre Auditorium.
  • A number of Bellingham’s hotels have meeting space, including the 132-room Best Western Lakeway Inn Hotel and Conference Center with 11,000 square feet of meeting space, the 66-room Hotel Bellwether with 7,134 square feet of meeting space and the 132-room Hampton Inn and Fox Hall with 3,700 square feet of meeting space.

Tell me about some interesting off-site venues.

  • Possible poltergeists, Spanish Moorish architecture and a Wurlitzer pipe organ make the 1927 Mount Baker Theatre in downtown Bellingham a setting for many special events. Rental options at the National Historic Landmark include the 1,509-seat Main Stage and a 200-seat theater.
  • The Whatcom Museum of History and Arts recently opened a new $18.3 building that is attached to its original home in the Old City Hall. The museum’s 1,200-square-foot Rotunda Room can be booked for meetings and events.

Tell me about some sights worth seeing?

  • Many small cruises venture into the Haro Strait to spy on the orca whales that live around the San Juan Islands. Minke whales, gray whales and bald eagles are also seen on narrated boat cruises, or kayak or canoe trips.
  • The American Museum of Radio and Electricity chronicles four centuries of scientific achievements with rare artifacts from the 1600s through the 1940s.  l Two scenic drives pass waterfalls, beaches and Cascade Mountain peaks: the 58-mile Mount Baker Highway and the 20-mile Chuckanut Drive.

For a true taste of Bellingham…

  • In a historic warehouse, Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro brews handcrafted ales and lagers to compliment its Northwest cuisine.
  • The Big Fat Fish Company prepares fresh seafood with the slogan “seafood with an attitude.” The stylish Fairhaven restaurant’s Pacific Rim cuisine includes seafood bacchanalia, clam chowder, seafood tacos and white truffle gnocchi.

Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
(800) 487-2032