Life under COVID-19 continues, but by now we’ve learned there’s still plenty to do in a pandemic. To help you map out some fall fun and adventures, we’ve created a day-by-day guide of socially distant fun. Don’t forget to mask up in public, and keep six feet away from others.
Monday: Movies, movies, movies
With the sun setting earlier and earlier, movie nights at home are a perfect treat. The closer you can get to a movie-theater-feel, the more you’ll feel like everything is normal. At the beginning of the pandemic, my roommates bought an Epson projector off Craigslist. I was skeptical at first — did we really need a fancy projector? — but I now worship this little machine. We have a large white wall in our living room, which creates the perfect neutral background for the image, but you can hang a white sheet over any wall, indoor or outdoor, to achieve the same effect. All you have to do is hook it up to your computer and you’re set for Netflix, DVDs, or a virtual screening from the Pickford Film Center. If you’re really itching to get out of the house, head to the new drive-in theater at Birch Bay Waterslides in Blaine or to the Blue Fox Drive-In Theatre in Oak Harbor.
Photo courtesy of Blue Fox Drive-In Theatre
Tuesday: Take a Drive
Head to Blaine and cruise down Semiahmoo Spit, where water reaches out in all directions. The spit also boasts great walking and biking trails, with plenty of birds and wildlife to view. If you’re craving mountains, drive east on Highway 20, also known as North Cascades Scenic Highway. On the way, stop at the Diablo Lake Overlook to catch views of the lake’s hyper-turquoise waters. Keep going east toward Washington Pass to catch some incredible fall colors. Closer to home is the famous Chuckanut Drive Scenic Byway, with views of Bellingham Bay and curves that hug the Chuckanut Mountains. If you want to feel like the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae mountain, follow Mount Baker Highway to the end of the line at Artist Point. The views will take your breath away, and there’s plenty of trail access if you want to stretch your legs.
Wednesday: Get Picky
This month’s feature is all about hard cider, so it’s only fitting to include a day of gathering your own local produce. Head to Bellewood Farms, where Honeycrisp apples arrive in mid-September, ripe for picking. While you’re there, check out the farm store and snap some Instagram-worthy photos in the picturesque orchard. For more ideas on where to pick, check out our cider feature. If you gather enough apples to make your own cider, consider renting an apple press from Ideal Rent-All in Mount Vernon. You can also buy pre-made bulk juice from Bellewood Farms. For yeast and other cider-making supplies, head to Northwest Corner Brewing Supply. They can also answer any cider-making questions.
Thursday: Get to know the neighborhood
Bellingham has so much to offer, but, if you’re like me, there’s always something you’ve never quite managed to check off the list. Why not dedicate a day to doing something you’ve never done, or exploring an area you’ve never explored? Rent a kayak on Lake Whatcom or ride your bike down the Interurban Trail. Walk around Lake Padden or read the historic markers in downtown Fairhaven. Climb the Lookout Tower at Sehome Hill Arboretum or pack a picnic and head to Hovander Homestead Park. Hike to Fragrance Lake in Larrabee State Park or stroll along the railroad tracks near Marine Park. When you’re done, grab a beer from whatever brewery you still haven’t tried — ever been to Twin Sisters, or 122 West, or FrinGe?
Friday: Cocktail Tour de Bellingham
Restaurants and bars are partially open during phase two, but if you’d rather enjoy your drinks at home, pick up one of several DIY cocktail kits around town and get crafty. Swim Club, Mambo Italiano Cafe, and Redlight Kitchen & Bar are just a few places serving up cocktail kits so you can mix up drinks from the comfort of your own kitchen. You can also get a to-go cocktail from places like Bayou on Bay, where they’ll mix up one of their signature Bayou Bloody Marys and send you on your way. If you’re looking for a mixer to make your own at-home concoctions, head to KombuchaTown to grab a pack of their new live seltzers. In flavors like ginger, cucumber, and grapefruit, these fizzy waters go perfectly whether you’re whipping up a traditional cocktail or a refreshing, non-alcoholic tonic.
Photo Courtesy of Swim Club Wet Bar
Saturday: Explore San Juan Island
September is the beginning of shoulder season, which means it’s the perfect time to explore San Juan Island without the crowds. The island’s outdoor recreation is unbeatable, whether you’re looking to kayak, cycle, hike, or fish. Make sure to visit Lime Kiln Point State Park, where you can spot whales even into September. While you’re there, check out the interpretive center and historic Lime Kiln Lighthouse. For more scenic views, head to Cattle Point Lighthouse on the island’s southern end, where grassy dunes meet stunning shoreline. If you’re planning an overnight stay, Lakedale Resort in Friday Harbor offers Covid-safe yurts, cabins, and lodge rooms. All yurts enjoy access to a private hot tub, and guests can entertain themselves from a selection of sanitized board games. For dinner, grab some food from local island favorites like Downriggers, Duck Soup, and Friday Harbor House. If you can’t make it to the island in person, go there virtually at visitsanjuans.com/experiences.
Photo Courtesy of Lakedale Resort
Sunday: Get your fill of fall colors.
September is my favorite month for hiking, with crisp afternoons, fewer crowds, and colors, colors, colors. Head up Highway 20 to North Cascades National Park, where there are plenty of trails to take your breath away through September and into early October. My favorite destination for fall colors is Sahale Arm, accessed by the trailhead at the end of Cascade River Road. Most people stop at Cascade Pass, where the views open up to a valley dappled with golden larch trees, but if you keep going you’ll encounter hillsides carpeted in red, orange, and yellow. Another great trail for colors is the Heather-Maple Pass Loop, which will have you snapping pictures every other step. Closer to Bellingham is Yellow Aster Butte, another devastatingly pretty hike for fall colors, plus epic views of Mount Baker. This trail is also dog-friendly, so your pooch can come along, too.
For more like this, check out our Lifestyle section here.