By Matt Crowley/The AS Review
In college, summer vacation takes on an entirely new meaning. In our younger days, the stretch from June to September was one free of worry, where homework, textbooks and tests couldn’t touch us. In a way, that remains true today. But with student loans, graduation requirements and a slew of other responsibilities on our plates, summer isn’t as carefree as it used to be. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun. Living in Bellingham can be a great way to spend your break and a summer here can provide a chance to see the city of subdued excitement in a different light.
Students may choose to stay in town for a number of reasons. Working full or part-time is a great way to save money, especially if you don’t have to pay tuition; summer enrollment allows students to get a leg up in their area of study. But responsibilities aside, a big part of summer is having fun, and Bellingham has plenty of ways to do so.
One thing that makes Bellingham such a great place is its location. The close proximity to water gives students a practically endless number of activities. One of the most popular hangouts is Whatcom Falls Park, a 241-acre sprawl of some of the finest nature Bellingham has to offer. The crown jewel of the park, a large water basin surrounded by 25-foot cliffs and a waterfall, hosts thousands of swimmers, sunbathers and cliff-jumpers every summer. Besides being a great way to cool off, cliff-jumping is a blast as well, as many a Western student could attest to.
Unfortunately, cliff-jumping does not come risk-free, and safety is a major concern at the falls. Since there are no lifeguards, visitors are advised to swim at their own risk.
Another of Bellingham’s fine parks is Boulevard Park. The long stretch of grass, rock and boardwalk offers plenty of space for visitors, whether you’re reading a book or playing catch, and at dusk the park provides a spectacular view of the sunset.
But despite its waterfront location, Boulevard Park doesn’t have much of a beach. Plus, the boardwalk is going to close next fall for renovation. For those looking for sand, there are a number of beaches in and around Bellingham.
Locust Beach has long been the go-to destination for Bellingham’s ever-growing population of skimboard enthusiasts. At low tide, the beach seems to go out forever and provides plenty of pools for skimming. A drawback in recent years, however, has been a lack of access. High volumes of people, combined with the trash, cars and noise that comes with them, have caused a number of homeowners near the beach to fence off areas that would otherwise be used to get to the water.
Galbraith Mountain, located in the heart of Bellingham, is an ideal location for hiking and mountain biking. It seems to have something for all skill levels, from beginner free-ride terrain to more advanced single-track courses.
The AS Outdoor Center (OC) will be holding several excursions this summer as well. Popular hikes and trips around the area, including to Mt. Baker, will be ready for sign-up once summer begins.
In addition to excursions, the OC also provides plenty of reading material and other resources for researching your next trip, whether it’s camping, hiking or mountain biking. For more information, visit the OC in Viking Union 150 and check out their videos, books and maps.
For those looking for more of an extended activity, camping is a great option. Bellingham and the area around it has some of the best hiking and camping spots in the Pacific Northwest. Birch Bay and Larrabee State Park are just two of the many campgrounds in Whatcom County.
As far as local entertainment, your options are mostly what you would find during the school year, with a few exceptions. During the summer, Joe Martin Stadium off of Lakeway Drive hosts the Bellingham Bells baseball club. Consisting mainly of college baseball players, Bells alumni include the likes of Seattle Mariners greats Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez. Tickets are between $6 and $7. A full schedule can be found at www.bellinghambells.com.
Those of you holing up in Bellingham will find plenty to do and will hopefully have enough diversions to keep you from worrying too much about real life.