Nothing makes you dream about the future quite like a government-issued shelter-in-place order. I don’t know about you, but I spent most of my time in self-isolation planning what to do when the quarantine lifted, as well as noting everything I wished I would have done before the pandemic forced us to stay home.
My hope is that these pages will inspire you to dream big and then make these dreams a reality. What’s a trip you’ve always wanted to take? A skill you’ve always wanted to learn? Whether it’s running a marathon or learning another language, you never know what tomorrow might bring, so get working on your bucket list today. — Becky Mandelbaum
RIDE IN A HOT AIR BALLOON
Drift among the clouds, sip champagne, and soak in the views with friends and family. In our neck of the woods, Balloon Depot offers morning and evening flights seven days a week. Each spring, they’ll also fly you above Skagit Valley, so you can get a birds-eye view of the tulip fields. Further south, you can fly with Ballooning Snohomish to catch sight of Mount Rainier and the Olympic mountains.
SEARCH FOR BIGFOOT
He’s out there. It’s just a matter of finding the right time, the right gear, and the right spot. If you’re really serious, go to bigfootisalive.com and book a tour with The Bigfoot Adventures. Their nocturnal tour will take you to all the Bigfoot hotspots and teach you the best methods for tracking down the world’s most elusive creature. Search the woods with night vision goggles, learn the Bigfoot call, and end the night with a bonfire as your guides regale you with Sasquatch lore.
GO WHALE WATCHING
We’re lucky to live in a region with such amazing wildlife. Whales are a symbol of the Pacific Northwest and you won’t want to miss seeing their beauty in person. Book a tour from Island Adventures Whale Watching, which departs from Anacortes, Everett, and Port Angeles. If you’re in Friday Harbor, San Juan Excursions will help you finally spot an orca, and maybe some seals and sea lions, too.
JOIN THE CIRCUS
Did you know Bellingham has its very own circus? The Bellingham Circus Guild puts on regular performances featuring acrobats, jugglers, clowns, and magicians. If it’s not enough to watch the show, join the fun with the guild’s regular classes and workshops. Learn a range of circus skills, from handstands to hanging from a trapeze.
ADVENTURE IN AN RV
For those who love to camp but are tired of sleeping on the ground, RV life may be the life for you. Who doesn’t want a mobile weekend getaway that combines the luxury of indoor plumbing and refrigeration with the solitude of nature? The staff at Camping World RV & Outdoors in Burlington or Poulsbo RV of Mount Vernon can help you find the perfect camper for your recreation needs. If you’re just looking for a temporary getaway, check out El Monte RV Rentals in Ferndale.
BREW YOUR OWN BEER
Love beer? Want to make your own? The Bellingham Homebrewers Guild can help you get started. Their informative monthly meetings are open to the public, but members enjoy additional benefits like competitions and group brews. North Corner Brewing Supply in downtown Bellingham is another great resource for novice brewers looking for equipment, camaraderie, or advice.
MAKE YOUR OWN JEWELRY
If you’ve ever wanted to make your own bling, the Bellingham Metal Arts Guild is a great place to start. They offer a range of classes for beginners and experienced metal workers alike. Learn everything from soldering and designing lockets to making your own Christmas ornaments. They also offer courses and tools for small jewelry business owners.
TACKLE THAT REMODEL PROJECT
If it’s time to finally expand your closet or build that addition you’ve always dreamed of, The RE Store can help. Not only can you find an array of used building materials at affordable prices, but The RE Store staff will also help you identify your needs and deliver items if you don’t have a truck. From lumber to cabinets to electrical supplies and more, the RE Store has it all. They’ll also remove and salvage any undesired materials from a demolition project.
BUILD YOUR OWN CHICKEN COOP
Who doesn’t want fresh eggs every morning? Make farm-fresh eggs a reality with your own chickens, but first make sure they have a safe and comfortable home. You can find plenty of blueprints online, but The RE Store also offers a free guide to making your own A-frame coop with supplies you can find in-store. Before you know it, you’ll have a dozen freshly laid eggs, plus a dozen feathered friends.
LEARN TO KNIT
It’s never too late to learn a new hobby. Pick up some needles and get started with beginner’s classes from Northwest Yarns and Apple Yarns in Bellingham, WildFibers in Mount Vernon, or Fidalgo Artisan Yarn & Clothing in Anacortes. Learn the basics of knitting or crocheting before moving on to more advanced techniques. Before you know it, you’ll have hats, blankets, and gloves galore.
KAYAK UNDER THE STARS
For a night to remember, grab your kayak and paddle out at dusk. If you don’t have your own gear, outfitters like Moondance Sea Kayak Adventures in Bellingham will help you get out onto the water. For something extra special, companies like Discovery Sea Kayaks offer a bioluminescent kayak tour on San Juan Island. Not only will you have a clear view of the night sky above, but you’ll also observe glowing bioluminescence in the water below.
HIKE, BOAT, OR FLY STEHEKIN
Photo Credit: Richard Uhlhorn
This remote village in the North Cascades mountains can only be accessed by foot, water, or air. Hiking in and out involves a multi-night backpack tripping trip. For a faster, easier journey, the Lady of the Lake boat makes regular trips from Chelan. Once there, visit the historic Buckner Orchard, grab a delicious pastry from the Stehekin Pastry Company, and soak in the unparalleled views of Lake Chelan.
TAKE A RIVER TOUR
View the arrival of majestic bald eagles with Skagit River Eagle Tours. They also offer photography tours and fall color float trips. For a more heart-thumping adventure, sign up with Triad River Tours for a variety of white water rafting excursions on the Sauk, Skykomish, Snoqualmie, and Skagit rivers.
CLIMB MOUNT BAKER
Nothing screams achievement like summiting a mountain. Make your mountaineering dreams come true by reaching the top of our mighty Mount Baker. Experienced climbers can make the trek without professional support. For the rest of us, guides like those from Alpine Ascents can lead the way.
SPEND THE NIGHT IN A FIRE LOOKOUT
What’s more scenic than waking up in a tower in the middle of the wilderness? Washington has dozens of fire lookouts, but nearby favorites include Hidden Lake Lookout, Park Butte Lookout, and Lookout Mountain Lookout. For a real leg-buster, hike your gear up to Sourdough Lookout, where the beat poet Gary Snyder once lived. Most lookouts are first-come, first-served, so make sure to go early to claim your spot.
BECOME A NINJA WARRIOR
Photo Credit: Celina Meza
We’ve all seen, and loved, the show. Now, you, too can become like one of the contestants. Life Force Ninja Gym in Bellingham offers rotating obstacles just like the ones on the show, so you can get fit while challenging yourself in a safe, supportive environment. If you’re mostly interested in getting vertical, Bellingham’s VITAL Climbing Gym and Riverstone Climbing Gym in Burlington will help get you off the ground.
RUN A MARATHON
Photo Credit: Joy Love
Marathons are the ultimate fitness test. If you can push yourself for 26.2 miles, what can’t you do? If you’ve always wanted to prove to yourself that you’re up to the challenge, start training in the beginning of the summer and work your way up to a race in August, like the Race the Reserve marathon on Whidbey Island. If you’re looking for company, check out the Greater Bellingham Running Club. They host regular group runs, workouts, and races throughout the year.
DANCE YOUR HEART OUT
Are you the one who stands on the side at weddings, hoping no one will drag you onto the dance floor? No more! Push yourself physically and creatively with dance classes and gain the confidence you need to shine at your next event. Pop into an adult class at Opus Performing Arts School downtown, or if you don’t want anyone else to see you, “YouTube University” is always an option.
FIND YOUR CENTER
Photo Credit: Kim Summers
Yoga is a great way to increase your balance, strength, and overall well-being. In Bellingham, Elements Hot Yoga, FLUX Power Yoga, 3 Oms, and Intent Yoga are a few places to start, as are Flow Motion in Ferndale and Quantum Health and Yoga Lounge in Mount Vernon. Most studios offer intro deals for new students, so you can try a few places before you decide which is the right fit. Some studios also offer peripheral services like wellness classes, saunas, and workshops.
LET LOOSE WITH IMPROV
Sometimes it’s hard to say “yes” to life. Well, in improv, saying yes is the first rule. Cut yourself some slack and let your hair down with some local improv classes, like those offered at The Upfront Theatre or Improv Playworks. Playworks even offers an introductory class for free, as well as classes in Mount Vernon, so there’s no excuse not to at least give it a shot. You might realize you’re funnier than you think!
SHARPEN YOUR COOKING SKILLS
Could your cooking use a little zest? If you find yourself reaching for the microwave more often than the stove, it might be time to give your palate the gift of cooking lessons. There are plenty of local options, like Calypso Kitchen, the Community Food Co-op, and Ciao Thyme, that offer affordable classes that will have you cooking like Gordon Ramsey in no time.
JOIN A BOOK CLUB
It can be hard to finish a book, cover to cover. This summer, stick to your guns and finish a book (or a few) in the company of a book club. Create your own club with friends or turn to those from local outlets. Village Books offers a variety of book groups for readers of all genres. You can also join Bellingham Reads, a literary discussion group hosted by the Bellingham Public Library.
MASTER ANOTHER LANGUAGE
If you’ve always wanted to travel the world but have worried about the language barrier, worry no more. Dust off those old high school French lessons or dive into something completely new. Apps like Babbel and Duolingo make it easier than ever to learn a new language at home. For a more thorough experience, sign up for classes from Salud Spanish Programs or Whatcom Community College in Bellingham or Ode to Learning in Mount Vernon.
GET BACK IN THE CLASSROOM
Whatcom Community College offers a range of community and continuing education courses, many of them under $100. While there’s plenty of career-focused subjects like grant writing, becoming an Airbnb host, building websites, and writing for social media, there are also courses like Tour the Solar System and Stars, Introduction to Thru-Hiking, and Putting the Science of Happiness to Work. Some courses last a day while others, like language courses, span a few weeks.
FINISH YOUR BOOK
Whether it’s a novel, a memoir, or an epic fantasy trilogy that’s been brewing inside you for years, make a commitment to finally put your words onto the page. Writing is hard, but there are plenty of local resources to help instruct, guide, and support your literary journey. Join a writers group at Village Books or attend the yearly Chuckanut Writers Conference, hosted by Village Books and WWU. If you’re strapped for time, wait until November to join the thousands of people who participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
START A GRATITUDE JOURNAL
Studies show that gratitude can lead to better health, fewer aches and pains, an increase in empathy, and even a greater resistance to stress. A gratitude journal is an easy way to take stock of what you have, rather than focusing on what you lack. Once a day, write down something you’re grateful for, taking a moment to reflect on why it matters to you. I promise, just one entry will have you feeling happier. Plus, whenever you’re feeling down, you can browse through the journal and remember everything good in your life.
SOAK IN A HOT SPRINGS
Turns out you don’t need to own a hot tub to enjoy one — nature has some of her own. For a relaxing day out in the wild, you can visit Olympic Hot Springs on the Olympic Peninsula, or Goldmyer Hot Springs in North Bend. Don’t forget your swimsuit!
EXPLORE LUMMI ISLAND
As the crow flies, Lummi Island is only a short distance from Bellingham, but it feels like a world away. Grab your bike and enjoy the short ferry ride over to the island, where you can spend the day cycling around the quaint island or hiking the Baker Preserve Trail for epic views of the San Juan Islands. Refuel with lunch at the Beach Store Cafe or relax with a glass of wine at Legoe Bay Winery.
VISIT ALL THE NATIONAL PARKS IN WASHINGTON
Washington has three national parks: Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, and North Cascades National Park. Each boasts its own list of trails, campgrounds, and recreation activities. Go for a Washington road trip and check all three off your list!
TOUR A BAVARIAN VILLAGE
Photo credit: Icicle TV
This summer, take a trip to Germany without ever leaving the state. Leavenworth is a Bavarian village tucked away in the Cascade Mountains. The themed town has everything you’d find in the real deal: German chocolate shops, pubs that sell pretzels and brats, and stunning mountain views. There’s also great hiking nearby. For an extra-special treat, visit during Oktoberfest when the town comes alive with beer, brats, and music.
SLEEP ON A FLOATING BED & BREAKFAST
Nothing beats San Juan Island in the summer, when there’s more hiking, biking, shopping, and fine dining than you can reasonably fit into a day. If you’re planning a visit to Friday Harbor, why not make the night special by sleeping on the water? Let the waves gently rock you to sleep at The Wharfside Bed and Breakfast.
HAVE LUNCH AT THE WILLOWS INN
The Willows Inn on Lummi Island is famous for its ever-changing prix fixe menu made from locally sourced ingredients and served at their beautiful lodge. It’s pricey, but more than worth it for the excellent cuisine from award-winning chef Blaine Wetzel and luxurious ambiance.
ESCAPE TO SEMIAHMOO RESORT
Photo Credit: Semiahmoo Resort
Perched at the stunning northern tip of Semiahmoo Spit in Blaine, Semiahmoo Resort has everything you need for a classy weekend getaway close to home. From fine dining and wine tastings to golf and spa services, your time is sure to be filled with rest and relaxation.
REFRESH YOUR WARDROBE
Sometimes a change of attitude has to start with a change of clothes. We’re lucky to live in an area where trusted local retailers know how to combine style and comfort, without the outrageous price tags of big city boutiques. Three French Hens in Fairhaven, Cottons in La Conner, and Cheeks Designer Jeans in Lyden are all great places to start. For a downtown Bellingham shopping spree, make your way to Fringe Boutique, The Chipper Bird, and Sojourn.
ORDER A STEAK AT DIRTY DANS
Photo Credit: Devan Ballard
Named after the historic founder of Fairhaven, “Dirty” Dan Harris, Dirty Dan’s Steakhouse specializes in prime rib and their steaks do not disappoint. Treat yourself to their famous filet mignon, served with house steak butter, garlic mashed potatoes, and creamed spinach.
RENT A YURT AT DOE BAY
Known for its beautiful setting and annual music festival, Doe Bay Resort on Orcas Island is the perfect place for a weekend trip with (or without) the kids. From their waterfront location to their acclaimed cafe that serves food grown in their garden to their kayak tours and their clothing-optional hot tubs, there’s something for everyone. You’ll be sure to leave refreshed.
BUY SOME BLING
Photo Credit: PAVE Jewelry
Who says you need a reason to buy a ring? If you’re in Fairhaven, stop by Whimsey or Silvery Moon to find a unique piece of jewelry that makes you smile whenever you wear it. PAVÉ Jewelry and Design in Mount Vernon offers a range of glittery pieces perfect for any occasion, even if the occasion is just spoiling yourself.
TURN YOUR YARD INTO AN OASIS
We all dream of an outdoor getaway with lush gardens, turquoise pools, and a comfortable place to relax with a book or glass of wine. Why not make this dream a reality? With help from local home stores like Greenhouse, you can find comfortable, durable, and attractive furniture for your yard. When it comes to pools and hot tubs, Northwest Hot Springs in Burlington and Ferndale can help turn your turf into an urban oasis.
READ EVERY HISTORIC MARKER IN FAIRHAVEN
Photo Credit: Emily Porter
In the late 1980s, a local newspaper publisher, Tyrone Tillson, received a grant to create and install historical plaques documenting Fairhaven’s colorful past. Today, you can still find these markers scattered around the neighborhood, denoting tidbits of history. While some simply mark where structures used to stand, others, like HERE IS WHERE MATTHEW WAS CUT IN TWO BY A STREETCAR 1891, offer an illustrative, if morbid, view of what life was once like in Fairhaven. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled to the ground — some markers are hard to spot.
CRUISE CHUCKANUT DRIVE
Chuckanut Drive Scenic Byway delivers exactly what its name promises — a scenic drive along the Chuckanut Mountains. Considered by some to be the Big Sur of Washington, this 24-mile stretch of road puts you in contact with some seriously beautiful views of the mountains and Bellingham Bay. Fun fact: It’s also the only place where the Cascade Range connects with the sea. Break up the drive with a hike in the mountains, a walk along the beach, or delicious seafood from Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar or Chuckanut Manor.
VISIT BELLINGHAM’S HISTORIC HOUSES
Photo Credit: Emily Porter
Bellingham has dozens of historic locations, but the historic houses are especially fun. Tour the Pickett House, built in 1856, which holds the title of Washington’s oldest wooden structure, or visit the Roeder Home, which was constructed in 1910 and whose grounds are now a county park. If you’re strolling through residential Fairhaven, stop and admire the Gamwell House, a stunning Victorian built in 1892.
DRINK A BEER AT EVERY BREWERY
This one might take awhile. Bellingham is known for its numerous craft breweries, even earning the nickname Brewingham. With more than 15 breweries (and new ones cropping up every year), visiting them all requires time, thirst, and careful planning. Start with standbys like Boundary Bay, Chuckanut, Stones Throw, and Aslan, but make sure not to skip newer places like 122 West or Stemma. Outside the city, you can also try new brews from FrinGe in Ferndale and Terramar in Edison.
- Follow a vegetarian diet for a month.
- Travel somewhere new without an itinerary.
- Face a lifelong fear.
- Reach out to someone you miss.
- Learn about a relative you don’t know well.
- Go car-free for a month.
- Start a garden.
- Become someone’s pen pal.
- Walk down a new street every day for a month.
- Help a stranger in a life-changing way.
- Visit every state in the U.S.
Bellingham Alive’s Bucket List
“Hiking and camping in the Hoh Rainforest…and soaking in the hot springs. I also want to explore Vancouver Island.” – Devan B., Sales Executive
“Relax with a massage and body scrub at a Korean spa. I also want to head up to Richmond for a game of indoor mini golf at West Coast Mini Putt.” – Mariah C., Graphic Designer
“Take a drive to the Okanagan wine region and experience some of their wineries. Also visit the Olympic Rain Forest and find a cool place to have a picnic. ” – Lisa K., Publisher
“See the northern lights and become fluent in another language.” – Becky M., Editor-in-Chief
“Learn to ice skate and do one trick. Also horseback riding on the beach with someone I love.” – Jenn M., Office Manager
“Finally learn how to play an instrument and explore more of the outdoors.” – Anelyse M., Editorial/Marketing Coordinator