A College Student’s Summer Guide to Exploring Bellingham

The summer is right around the corner for Whatcom students, and what better way to spend it than enjoying the beautiful places Bellingham has to offer? Many people, especially college students who are unfamiliar with this area, find themselves stuck wondering what to do in Whatcom County. With so many local restaurants, activities, beaches, and lakes right here in the area, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Local reporter Diego Corona explored and selected a few of the best places for people looking to get out of their houses this summer. Listed below there are great freshwater swims, local beaches, hiking activities, and restaurants that are waiting to be explored by new students.

Freshwater Swims

Lake Samish
A perfect day for a swim at Samish! Photograph by Diego Corona

Lake Samish. Off Exit 246 headed southbound, Lake Samish is a smaller lake in Bellingham that offers its beauty to anyone needing to cool off in the summer heat. Surrounded by trees and mountains, Lake Samish feels like an oasis for those looking to get away from the more populated areas in Bellingham.

Lake Samish’s main park entrance has many different swimming spots, benches, docks, and grills. There are many docks to sunbathe on and jump off. Lake Samish is a smaller lake with fewer boats on it. This is a good spot for people who like swimming out far, paddleboarding or just floating and drifting.

Bloedel. Bloedel is arguably the most popular swimming spot in Bellingham for people of any age. The newly added docks for swimmers, the sand volleyball courts, and the sandy beach area make a great spot for anyone who wants to be at the lake.

Bloedel’s sand volleyball courts are a great place to play volleyball with new people and make new friends.

Connor Heuser, an active volleyballer, said, “People out here are constantly running two vs. twos. This allows anyone to get in and play but also rotate out fast enough so that everyone can get a turn.”

Saltwater Beaches

A beautiful day alongside the bay at Squalicum Beach. Photograph by Diego Corona

Squalicum Beach. Located on the shores of the Bay near Locust Beach, Squalicum Beach is a family-friendly beach just remodeled to get rid of dangerous rocks and add to the scenery. The newly added grassy area is perfect for sunbathing or picnicking.

Locust Beach. Locust Beach is a call for those who are looking to enjoy the natural Pacific Northwest. Situated on the shores of Bellingham Bay, Locust Beach offers a view of the coastline of Bellingham and is the ideal location for skimboards at low tide.

Imagine skateboarding but on water. Sliding across the water brings fun for people who want to be outside in the heat but still get some water without jumping in.

Oscar Plum shreds on his skimboard at Locust. Photograph by Diego Corona

Local skimboarder Oscar Plum, who has been skimboarding for about five years, said, “Skimboarding is the best thing to do out on a hot day when the tide is low. Nothing beats hanging out with some friends at the beach and trying to not land on your face while skimboarding.”

Oscar explained how skimboarding is something that anyone can get into without any experience claiming, “As long as you’re okay with getting dirty and falling in some mud then anyone can do it!”

Sometimes there are those windy days in the summer too. Not every day is hot, but that is what brings out the kiteboarders. At Locus Beach, the water stays shallow enough for people to bring out their kiteboards. Kiteboarders embrace the windy days the summer has to offer and surf the water while letting the wind take them on a ride.

Locust Beach has many options for anyone, whether it is relaxing, swimming, skimboarding, or even kiteboarding.

Kite Boarders
Two local kiteboards enjoy the wind at Locust Beach. Photograph by Diego Corona

Hiking and More

North Whatcom Trail. At the end of Northshore Road, the southeast side of Lake Whatcom holds a reclusive trail with many different activities. The trail is covered by a variety of forests, small waterfalls, and a view of Lake Whatcom. There are multiple areas along the trail to swim and jump in the water.

North Whatcom Trail is also a popular destination for mountain biking. Instead of walking down the trail, in the parking lot, a road that goes up, winding around the mountainside; there one will find different downhill and uphill trails for mountain bikers.

Fragrance Lake. Fragrance Lake, located across from Larrabee State Park along Chuckanut, is a hike for someone with any level of experience. The trail begins at a small, designated parking lot on the left-hand side of Chuckanut. Fragrance Lake is a four-mile roundtrip hike, and after about a mile, there is an option for the lookout route, which allows a view of Chuckanut Bay.

Fragrance Lake starts up with a few uphill switchbacks immediately, but then it gets easier, and the view of a luscious forest makes everything worthwhile. At the top, a lake waits for any hiker, with multiple benches and swimming spots as a reward for the hike.

Teddy Bear Cove
Students explore the beauty of Teddy Bear Cove. Photograph by Diego Corona

Teddy Bear Cove.  Located off Chuckanut, Teddy Bear Cove is a great location to enjoy the sun with friends. Teddy Bear Cove has a small parking lot off the side of Chuckanut. Through a short hike down through a dense forest, the trail leads to the cove. The cove is on the south side of Chuckanut Bay and has views of the San Juan Islands and Olympic Mountains.

Numerous hiking trails wind through the surrounding forest, creating places to set up a hammock or to have a picnic. With shells, small animals, and an occasional seal, this is a must-go-to-spot for anyone who loves the great outdoors.


Accomplice’s masked logo beams down State Street. Photograph by Diego Corona

Accomplice. A newly refurbished restaurant, Accomplice claims their food is so good, “It’s criminally delicious.” Located next to Carnal, off State Street, Accomplice offers a variety of chicken sandwiches and burgers at an affordable price for anyone.With its recent remodeling, Accomplice added a bar, but for those who are not looking for an alcoholic beverage, do not worry.With the addition to the bar, Accomplice now offers soft serve in a cup with an abundant number of toppings to put on ­– a perfect way to cool off on a hot day! 

Shweinhaus’s Logo stands tall waiting for new customers to come by. Photograph by Diego Corona

Schweinhaus Biergarten. In the heart of Bellingham, located downtown on the corner of State Street and Magnolia, Schweinhaus Biergarten is a German-inspired brewery for people of all ages. While it is technically a Brewery, anyone can be at the restaurant before 9 p.m.

This restaurant also offers free karaoke during the week and many local artists for live music nights. Schweinhaus has a selection of German wieners, bratwursts, and pretzels with their famous beer cheese and local beer and a few sodas on tap. With many games, including cornhole, Schweinhaus is a perfect location for those who enjoy eating food and playing games.

Trackside Brewery. Trackside Brewery is a new exclusively outdoor venue. Located on the waterfront of Bellingham, Trackside is a new location with multiple food trucks and drinks for people to stay out in the sun. For more information about Trackside Brewery, check out the article by Miles Vander-Vennet.

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