Bellingham's museums are devoted to an array of topics. The Whatcom Museum of History & Art, located in downtown Bellingham, is comprised of four buildings, each with its own theme: the 1892 Old City Hall, Whatcom Children's Museum, Syre Education Center, and Arco Exhibits Building. The American Museum of Radio and Electricity is the only one of its kind in North America. This museum, which completed an expansion in 2001, houses artifacts and interactive exhibits spanning from the onset of the scientific exploration of electricity in the 17th century to the evolution of broadcast radio and its impact on American culture. The Bellingham Railway Museum chronicles the heritage and operation of railroads in Whatcom and Skagit counties. Mindport Exhibits is a collection of interactive and fine arts exhibits designed to encourage exploration, discovery, and thought. Nearby, the Lynden Pioneer Museum focuses on the heritage of Whatcom County prior to World War II with exhibits covering Front Street, agriculture, rural Victorian lifestyles, transportation, natural resources, veterans, and the military.
The International Peace Arch, located about 20 miles north of Bellingham, is one of the world's few landmarks to be listed on the national historic registries of two countries. The 67-foot-tall arch has one foot in Canada and the other in the United States, and represents the longest undefended boundary—3,000 miles—in the world. It commemorates the signing of the Treaty of the Ghent, which ended the war between Britain and the United States. A number of celebrations take place there each year. From May to September is a sculpture exhibition of both Canadian and American artists that includes festivities each weekend. The Peace Arch Celebration, also known as Hands Across the Border, is held in June. September brings the annual Peace Arch Dedication Days, or "Sam Hill Days," that reenact the anniversary of the arch.
Arts and Culture
The Mt. Baker Theatre has been offering theatrical entertainment since 1927. The Moorish-Spanish style former vaudeville movie palace, which is on the National Historic Register, seats 1,500 people. The theater boasts a 100-foot
The oldest community theater company in the Northwest, the Bellingham Theatre Guild, presents a year-round venue of comedies, dramas, and musicals. Western Washington University offers a wide range of performances including their summer stock season, a theatre arts series of dramas and comedies, and a performing arts series featuring world-renowned musicians and dance companies. Cutting-edge and classic jazz are the focus of the Pacific Northwest Jazz Alliance, which performs at various spots around the city.
Arts and Culture Information: Bellingham/Whatcom County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 904 Potter St., Bellingham, WA 98229; telephone (360)671-3990; fax (360)647-7873; email firstname.lastname@example.org
Festivals and Holidays
The highlight of Memorial Day weekend is Bellingham's annual Sea to Ski Race, an athletic contest dating from the 1800s that is accompanied by parades, carnivals, art and garden shows, house tours, and street fairs. The Bellingham Scottish Highland Games take place in early June. Later that month in nearby Fairhaven is the annual Bowler Hat Bocce Ball Tournament, in which teams are encouraged to dress in 1890s period attire. Aerial acrobatics and fireworks turn the eyes toward the skies above the Port of Bellingham in June for AIRFEST. The Fourth of July is celebrated with the Viewing of the Blast Over Bellingham Bay. Later that month brings the Raspberry Festival at the Bellingham Farmers Market, and cowboys turn out for the International Bull-A-Rama. The Mount Baker Blues Festival in July has been voted the Best Blues Event in the state. The Bellingham Festival of Music, held for two weeks each August, features classical, chamber, jazz, and world music. Families flock to downtown's Chalk Art Festival later in the month.
For hundreds if not thousands of years, Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest have held ceremonies in honor of the salmon. This tradition is carried on at the Salmon and Corn Festival/Oktoberfest. Also in autumn is the Eldridge Area Historical Home Tour. Mount Baker is the site for the Mount Baker Country Christmas and the Western Washington University Department of Music's Messiah production. In December, the Lights of Love is celebrated at Bellingham Public Library.
Sports for the Spectator
The Bellingham Bells, with a season that runs from June through August, is a part of the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League. The Western Washington University Vikings compete in cross country, football, softball, track and field, volleyball, rowing, golf, soccer and men's and women's basketball. Students of Whatcom Community College participate in men's and women's basketball and soccer, and women's volleyball.
Sports for the Participant
In 2001 Outside magazine named Bellingham one of its top 10 "Dream Towns" for outdoor recreation. The city has an extensive network of hiking and biking trails, swimming pools and beaches, picnic grounds, fishing sites, softball and soccer fields, and beautiful gardens. At 10,788 feet, Mt. Baker is the highest peak in the North Cascade mountain range. It not only offers some spectacular views, it has the longest ski season in the state, with runs that curve below Mt. Shuksan. Bellingham ranked number seven of the "Best Golf Cities" by Golf Digest in 2002, and with 14 courses, Whatcom County boasts the largest concentration of public golf courses in the Pacific Northwest. Water sports abound, with sailing, kayaking, rafting, and whale watching among the favorites. Charter trips are available to the San Juan Islands or Victoria, B.C.
More than 110,000 athletes from around the world participate in the annual Sea to Ski Race, an 82.5-mile relay for teams of eight. The race begins with cross-country skiing at Mount Baker, followed by downhill skiing, running, road cycling, canoeing, mountain biking, and kayaking to the finish at Bellingham Bay. The Human Race, held each June, is a 5K/10K walk-run event in which participants raise money for their favorite charities. The course of the Baker's Healthy Start Foundation Triathlon, held each August, begins from the banks of Lake Whatcom and ends at Bloedel Donovan Park. September brings the Bellingham Traverse, a team event involving running, mountain and road biking, and canoeing/kayaking around downtown Bellingham, as well as the Discover Bellingham VolksFest, a three-day event comprised of a variety of walks.
Shopping and Dining
Shopping opportunities in Bellingham encompass both large regional malls and charming boutiques. Downtown Bellingham boasts two million square feet of businesses and shops. The Victorian buildings in the city's Fairhaven District hold a variety of specialty shops and eateries. Bellis Fair, the regional shopping mall, has 150 stores and more than 900,000 square feet of retail space, and is anchored by four major department stores. Outlet centers just a few miles from the town center draw bargain hunters. The Sunset Square Shopping Center houses more than 40 stores and restaurants, as well as a movie theater.
Beer-lovers enjoy the fare at the Boundary Bay Brewery Company, where hand-crafted ales and lagers are served in a historic warehouse, and at the Orchard Street Brewery, which serves gourmet cuisine with its homemade brew. Local eateries range from casual cafes and burger joints to restaurants offering Italian, Mexican, and Chinese cuisine, to an upscale steak house with scenic views. The Silver Reef Casino, located in Ferndale, offers food and drink, live entertainment, and gaming, as does the Skagit Valley Casino Resort.
Visitor Information: Bellingham/Whatcom County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 904 Potter St., Bellingham, WA 98229; telephone (360)671-3990; fax (360)647-7873; email email@example.com
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