Why You Should Visit Fairhaven
Why should you choose Fairhaven for your next getaway?
Fairhaven is a charming historic district located just south of downtown Bellingham, Washington. This well-preserved area, which overlooks the waters of Bellingham Bay, is within walking distance of the bus and train station and the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. Most of Fairhaven's shops, galleries, and restaurants occupy a four-block by four-block neighborhood, making it an easy place to explore on foot. You can leave the train station or park your car, relax, and enjoy your visit without worrying about transportation logistics.
Named as a potential railroad terminus, Fairhaven was a boomtown that burst to life in 1889. Within a year, workers came from around the world to build and run dozens of hotels, saloons, and other businesses. The town was referred to as the "Chicago" or the "San Francisco" of the Northwest. When the railroad terminus located elsewhere, the city established itself as a seaport. The businesses have changed, but Fairhaven's turn-of-the-century charm has been preserved.
You won't find any chain stores or fast food restaurants in Fairhaven. Shopaholics will enjoy the opportunity to wander through unique gift shops, bookstores, and boutiques. Art lovers can take in the work of local and regional artists at Fairhaven's many galleries. Everyone will find a restaurant or coffee shop that appeals to his or her taste, from steak and seafood to ethnic to vegetarian fare.
Fairhaven is a friendly place where everyone says hello, where you can strike up conversations in most any shop or restaurant. Visitors, college students, and locals all intermingle in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.
Fun Things to Do in Bellingham's Fairhaven Historic District
Fairhaven is a great place to explore on foot or to sit back and take in the scenery. Here are some of the fun things you can do while in Fairhaven.
Fairhaven Village Green
Located at the corner of 10th and Mill, the Fairhaven Village Green is a public area enjoyed by people of all ages. Outdoor cinema, bocce ball, a farmers market, and live music are just some of the activities you might find when visiting the Green.
Historic Walking Tour of Fairhaven
Fairhaven is proud of its colorful history and wants everyone to know it. Historic markers can be found on buildings and sidewalks around the district. Local businesses display their history in the form of photos or exhibits. To learn more about Fairhaven's past and the buildings that have been preserved, pick up a walking tour map at your hotel or a local business.
The South Bay Trail runs from just outside Fairhaven Inn to downtown Bellingham, offering gorgeous water views all along the route. The trail alternates from hard-packed gravel to boardwalk to paving, with some gaps where you walk along a residential street. Suitable for walkers, runners, and bicycles, South Beach Trail is strewn with benches, viewpoints, and interpretive signs. Boulevard Park, located approximately at the trail's midpoint, is a great place to hang out. It has lots of grassy area for playing, lounging, or picnicking. You'll also find benches, a play structure, and restrooms.
The Chrysalis Spa
The Chrysalis Spa provides a sensual escape from everyday life. The menu of treatments has everything from massages and facials to body treatments and pedicures. Like the Chrysalis Inn, the Spa is decorated to soothe with natural materials, glass art, and running water.
Shopping in Fairhaven
You'll enjoy an afternoon spent exploring Fairhaven's unique shops. Here is just a sample of what you'll find:
Brenthaven Travel Store
909 Harris Ave.
Brenthaven sells high-quality, locally-made travel bags, business cases, and accessories.
1005 Harris Ave.
Jewelry, gifts, and bath and body items are the specialties at The Bunch, which offers a nice selection of products from Sequim's lavender farms.
1104 11th St.
Bibliophiles will enjoy browsing through Eclipse's two stories of quality used books. They have an excellent selection of books on Northwest topics.
1209 11th St.
The shop offers quality shoes, clothing, and gear for walkers and runners. You'll get expert help in choosing the shoes with the best fit and features for your specific needs.
1106 Harris Ave.
Children are the focus at this charming boutique, which offers gifts, toys, and clothing for little ones.
1103 11th St.
Wool Station is stocked with shelves and shelves of high-quality yarns in every color of the rainbow. They also sell patterns, books, needles, accessories, and knitted sample items.
Art Galleries in Fairhaven
The galleries in Fairhaven offer a broad selection of fine art and crafts. You'll find fine woodwork, art jewelry, blown glass, clever pottery, and much more.
1000 Harris Ave.
When you walk into this woodworking cooperative, you are immediately struck by the delightful smell of wood and polish. In addition to fabulous handcrafted wood furniture, Artwood's selection includes wood jewelry, gift items, vases, boxes, and other home furnishings.
1300 12th Ave.
This art gallery's selection of fine art and craft items covers the range, from paintings and wall sculpture to art glass and pottery.
1000 Harris Ave.
You'll find both functional and artsy pottery pieces at Good Earth Pottery, as well as jewelry, candles, and other gift items.
915 Harris Ave.
This gallery if filled with vases, ornaments, frames, dishes, jewelry, and much more, all in gorgeous colorful glass.
Dining in Fairhaven
Home-style breakfasts, fresh lunch selections, and hearty dinners can all be had in Fairhaven.
1208 11th St.
This casual café offers a menu chock-full of fresh wholesome foods such as homemade soups, deli sandwiches, and quiches and pot pies. Colophon serves a variety of vegetarian options. You can also enjoy delicious desserts, ice cream, espresso, beer, and wine.
1211 11th St.
Named after Fairhaven's colorful founding citizen, this dinner restaurant specializes in steaks, prime rib, and seafood.
Keenan's at the Pier
804 10th St.
Open to the public for lunch and dinner, Fino Wine Bar offers a variety of chef-prepared Northwest dishes.
960 Harris Ave.
Scrumptious homemade gelato comes in such flavors as ameratto, coconut, and real vanilla. Sirena also serves coffee drinks and baked goods.
Skylark's Hidden Café
1308B 11th St.
This cozy bistro serves from a full menu of fresh tasty choices, all made from the best quality ingredients. For lunch and dinner, you can choose from sandwiches, salads, burgers, hearty pasta dishes, and seafood. You'll also enjoy the selection of desserts, ice cream treats, and espresso drinks. Skylark's is also open for breakfast when it serves from a menu of home-cooked breakfast favorites such as fresh cinnamon rolls or biscuits and gravy.
Hotels & Lodging in Fairhaven
This elegant boutique hotel provides convenient access to Fairhaven's shops, restaurants, and waterfront trails. Room amenities include down bedding, bathrobes, fine toiletries, and high-speed Internet access. Guests can also enjoy continental breakfast in the morning room, complimentary tea and coffee in the library, and a large balcony off the second floor.
Chrysalis's spacious and comfortable rooms are individually decorated to create an atmosphere of soothing elegance. Room amenities such cushioned window seats, gas fireplaces, huge jetted tubs, water views, and down bedding complete the relaxing ambiance. The Inn's common areas include an expansive living room and outdoor sitting and dining areas overlooking the water. The shops and restaurants of historic Fairhaven are just a short walk away.
How to Get to Fairhaven
Fairhaven is located just south of downtown Bellingham, which is 89 miles north of Seattle.
From Interstate 5 take exit #250 onto Old Fairhaven Parkway and head west for approximately 1 mile.
If you are approaching from the south, scenic Chuckanut Drive is a wonderful way to get to Fairhaven.
The Greyhound bus stops at Fairhaven Station several times each day.
The Amtrak Cascades, which runs between Eugene, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, BC, stops at Fairhaven Station.
The Bellingham Cruise Terminal is the southernmost terminus of the Alaska Marine Highway System. The Washington State Ferry System does not provide regularly scheduled service to Fairhaven or Bellingham.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations, meals, and recreation for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, We believe in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.