Located in coastal northwestern Washington on Bellingham Bay, the progressive and outdoorsy city of Bellingham (population 115,000) has a sizable LGBT population. This hip and dynamic college town (home to Western Washington University) abounds with cool farm-to-table restaurants, great little coffeehouse, craft breweries, and quirky bars - check out the Bellingham Gay Nightlife and Dining Guide for more details. Each July, the city also plays host to Bellingham Gay Pride - the dates this year are July 9 and 10, 2016.
Interested in celebrating Gay Pride in Tacoma? That city's Pride Festival and related activities take place July 8 through July 16.
Popular not just with locals but also GLBT folks from Vancouver, BC (just a 75-minute drive to the northwest) and Seattle (about an hour-and-a-half by car to the south), Bellingham Gay Pride takes place over a full weekend and is sponsored by the city's own very fun gay bar and dance club, Rumors Cabaret, which hosts a Pride Drag Show and Celebration on Saturday evening.
The fun begins at 9 pm on Friday, July 8, with an All-Ages Dance Party and Drag Show at the Make.Shift Art Space. On Saturday, July 9, the Pride Family Picnic is held at noon in leafy and gorgeous Bloedel Donovan Park, which is at 2214 Electric Avenue. This all-ages event is free, but donations are welcome.
The following day, Sunday, July 10, the Bellingham Pride Parade sets down Cornwall Avenue in downtown at noon, beginning at the junction with Ohio Street, and proceeds to Deport Market Square (at 1100 Railroad Avenue). Here, until 4 pm, the Bellingham Pride Festival features vendors, performers, food, more kids' activities, and so on.
Bellingham Gay Resources
Given Bellingham's great location for boating and whale-watching (the San Juan Islands are nearby), or for hiking both in the city and to the east in North Cascades National Park, it's a very popular place to visit in summer, so plan to book a bit ahead if aiming to come up for the weekend. The city does have a number of lovely inns and hotels, including some stunning waterfront properties like the Chrysalis Inn & Spa and Hotel Bellwether.
The city's many lively and gay-friendly bars and eateries will be especially busy this weekend. Check regional gay papers, such as Seattle Gay Times and the Seattle Lesbian for stories about the gay scene in western Washington state, and the local alternative newsweekly, Cascadia Weekly, for a progressive take on what to see and do in Bellingham. The blog Gay InsideOut, of LGBTQ community center in Bellingham, is also helpful. Also extremely helpful is the travel site produced by the city's official tourism organization, the Bellingham and Whatcom County Tourism Office.