Bellingham is a moderately sized, tree-lined city that shoulders up to Bellingham Bay with the bravado of a booming outdoors-oriented destination that knows its worth. As the terminus for one end of the Alaska Marine Highway, a hub for cruises to and from the San Juan Islands (and Victoria, British Columbia), and a gateway to the mountains of northern Washington (including Mount Baker, which sits on Bellingham's doorstep), it should come as no surprise to find that this is a place popular with its residents and with the steady stream of visitors that passes through year-round.
Though it rains often in these parts the climate is mostly mild, which keeps this green-minded city flush and lush above and beyond their eco-conscious ways - in fact, there's been a strong push to leave gas-guzzlers in the driveway and get a bit of good old-fashioned bit of exercise by peddling to and from work. In many areas, biking lanes run along main streets and a network of trails traverse local parks providing easy access to quiet walking trails. Those looking rather for a better sense of the sea can enjoy a glimpse of the bay from waterfront parks or on a boat-tour, though for natural views its hard to top the city's big mountain, Mount Baker, a 62-mile drive east, which sounds a siren song for hikers in summer and snow-enthusiasts come winter.
Don't leave without stopping for at least a look at, if not in, Whatcom Museum of History and Art, housed in the brick building built as City Hall in 1892. A walking tour of the old downtown tops off an easy education in historic Bellingham architecture - catch if you can one of the cultural events hosted here throughout the year for a more comprensive introduction to the best Bellingham has to offer.
And finally, when you decide that your days as a land-lubber must end, rent a water-craft -- from kayak to yacht -- and sail away (to sea or around the safe confines of a local lake). The San Juan Islands are within range of sailboats and powered vessels, though kayakers and canoers would be wise to assume these trips a little too far to reach on an afternoon paddle.
Bellingham is 78 miles north of Seattle.