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Get Outdoors Easily in Wonderful Whatcom County

Outdoor recreation and stunning scenery are the top reasons that so many folks choose to visit Whatcom County. Located between the Salish Sea and the North Cascades, Whatcom is a land of towering peaks, serene forests, countless trails, and endless outdoor opportunities. Whether you’re interested in hiking, exploring public parks, paddling,snow sports, birdwatching, or simply taking a scenic drive, something for everyone here. 

Larabee State Park
Larrabee State Park. Photo provided by Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism.

Larrabee State Park

Washington’s first state park, Larrabee State Park has been a local favorite since its opening in 1915. Over 100 years later, this 2,748-acre camping park offers 8,100 feet of saltwater shoreline on Samish Bay.

Larrabee is also a great spot to kayak! Whatcom County’s 100+ miles of saltwater shoreline and freshwater lakes offer plenty of kayaking opportunities and thanks to the Port of Bellingham, we now have the Whatcom Water Trails Map.

The best way to get to Larrabee State Park is Chuckanut Drive,  Washington State’s original scenic byway. Hugging the shoreline of Bellingham Bay, at milepost 14, Chuckanut Drive passes Larrabee State Park.

Hovander Homestead Park

Visit the countryside farm at Hovander Homestead Park in Ferndale, Washington for access to easy walking trails and a breath of fresh air. This rural county park encompasses 350 acres and features everything from views of Mount Baker and farmyard animals to a fragrance garden and boardwalk at Tennant Lake. With access to a huge red barn and historic Victorian home (a National Historic Site in fact), Hovander makes our list of Most Instagrammable Spots in Whatcom County.

Semiahmoo Spit and Resort. Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism.

Semiahmoo Spit & Resort

A mile-long beach between Birch Bay and Blaine, Semiahmoo Spit is one of our favorite spots! The spit is excellent for bird watching, beachcombing, and sunset viewing on a nice flat walk. And if you’re looking for somewhere to stay (or eat and drink) nearby, Semiahmoo Resort is located at the end of the spit.

Semiahmoo Resort is only 2 hours north of Seattle and 30 minutes north of Bellingham. Once the site of the largest cannery in North America, the name “Semiahmoo” comes from the Salish language, describing the shape of the land as a “crescent moon.” Today, Semiahmoo Resort is a family-friendly, 198-room casual beach destination. Located at the end of a mile-long spit, Semiahmoo is surrounded by Salish Sea saltwater with views across the bay to White Rock, BC and beyond. It’s an ideal place for a quick getaway from the city.

Stimpson Family Nature Reserve

For those in need of a forest experience, Stimpson Family Nature Reserve delivers 350 acres of undisturbed old growth. This ancient forest features Douglas Fir trees over 400 years old! Walk beneath the lush canopy to access two loop trails and enjoy one of Whatcom County’s 10 Best Walking Trails!

Chanterelle Trail

If you’re looking for a trail that checks all the boxes, Chanterelle Trail may be the one. Open to hikers and mountain bikers alike year-round, this trail is great for kids, leashed dogs, and just about anyone looking for a good hike. It’s moderately challenging (4.8 miles round-trip with 1,000 feet of elevation gain) and offers options for extending your hike or making a loop. And of course, the payoff is oh-so-worth-it. From the overlook, you’ll enjoy expansive views across Lake Whatcom to Lookout Mountain, Bellingham Bay and beyond.

Bellingham_Diablo Lake
Diablo Lake. Photo provided by Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism.

Diablo Lake Overlook

Located high above the turquoise waters of Diablo Lake, this overlook is an absolute must-stop on the North Cascades Highway (SR-20). With snow-covered peaks, known by some as “the American Alps” drop precipitously to the glacier-fed lake, whose waters are actually a dammed section of the Skagit River, this is one of the most photogenic places in Washington.

Picture Lake & Artist Point

It’s hard to beat the views at the end of Mount Baker Highway. Mount Shuksan reflected in Picture Lake is a timeless portrait of Whatcom County and the North Cascades—one of those classic scenes everyone should see at least once. You can experience this incredible viewpoint year-round. Picture Lake is also ranked No. 1 on our list of Most Instagrammable Spots in Whatcom County!

Oyster Dome

Perhaps the most famous hike near Bellingham, Oyster Dome is another can’t-miss destination. Located on Blanchard Mountain (part of the Chuckanut Mountains), the dome is a 2,000-foot rock perch overlooking 180-degrees of Salish Sea and San Juan Island views. If you’re not up for a hike, the view from the parking lot at Samish Overlook is nearly as good as the dome.

Scenic Places to Stay

Ranging from luxury hotels to rustic cabins, Whatcom County offers a variety of accommodations all with amazing views. Choose between city hotels, historic B&Bs, ocean side resorts or a beach side cabin. No matter where you stay in Whatcom County, fresh local food and fun activities are not far.

Advertising Disclosure: This content is provided by The Alaska Marine Highway System, an advertiser of AAA Washington. The content doesn’t necessarily represent the views of AAA Washington.

Interested in planning your next road trip with AAA Washington? Call your travel agent directly or your nearest AAA store to get pro tips, TripTik maps, and more. Find more Pacific Northwest scenic drives and road trips.

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