Maritime Itinerary: Weekend at Bellingham SeaFeast

For all our seafood lovers, we’ve crafted a two-day game plan to explore Bellingham’s maritime heritage and revel in the harvest of the sea at the annual Bellingham SeaFeast. SeaFeast is a FREE festival celebrating the region’s thriving waterfronts, rich maritime heritage, and internationally-renowned fishing and seafood industries. After gorging on super-fresh seafood, exploring the festival’s art scene, and listening to live music, you’ll continue your maritime journey through Bellingham by land and by sea. Dive into the history of this seaside northern college town at the Whatcom Museum, take to the water on a kayak or historic schooner, stroll down a charming historic boardwalk, and take a scenic drive along Chuckanut Bay—all while snacking on plenty more fresh fish and shellfish along the way.

The Maritime Washington National Heritage Area aims to celebrate, maintain, and share the rich cultures of our state’s saltwater shores. Through travel itineraries like this one, we make it easy for you to dive headfirst into the unique stories, sites, and experiences of Washington’s maritime heritage.

Saturday, September 17

10:00 am Bellingham SeaFeast

Open 10:00 am – 5:00 pm | Zuanich Park | 2600 N Harbor Loop Dr, Bellingham, WA 98225

At scenic Squalicum Harbor overlooking Bellingham Bay (one of Maritime Washington’s key sites!), the annual Bellingham SeaFeast celebrates the maritime cultures, foods, and industries of this unique corner of the Pacific Northwest. You’ll find plenty of stations serving up super fresh seafood—including a salmon grill hosted by Lummi Nation—as well as the Bellingham Dockside Market, where you can buy even more treats to take home with you. But while you’re downing a local oyster or feasting on grilled wild salmon, don’t overlook the festival’s equally impressive arts and music scene: SeaFeast will feature art installations recycled from marine litter, a land blessing from Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest, a full slate of local musicians, and “Harbor Sea Shanty Walk”—costumes encouraged. SeaFeast is FREE, but certain events (including harbor boat rides, industry tours, and guided seafood sessions) require advance tickets.

Kevin’s top three things to see at SeaFeast? “Our first ever three Sea-Cycle Sculptures are being created by the artisans at Signs Plus, a sponsor for SeaFeast; fresh seafood all day to purchase from Dockside Market, along with seafood and food trucks at our Food and Fishermen Pavilion, sponsored by BP; and Lummi Nation Black Hawk Singers and Dancers [at 12:00 pm] along with Poet Laureate Rena Priest doing the opening ceremonies and blessings [at 10:00 am].”

Kevin Coleman, SeaFeast Program Director

3:00 pm Whatcom Museum

Open 12:00 – 5:00 pm | Old City Hall Building | 121 Prospect Street, Bellingham, WA 98225

If you can tear yourself away from the festivities, it’s worth the 30-minute stroll over Whatcom Creek and through Maritime Heritage Park to Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall location (another Maritime Washington key site!). On the second floor, you’ll find the Maritime History Gallery, featuring exhibits on the county’s water-based heritage and beautiful views of the bay.

“My favorite aspect of the Maritime Gallery are the historical photos, especially on the windows overlooking the bay. To see the waterfront now, compared to how it looked 100 years ago, is really something special.”

Christy Ham, Whatcom Museum Membership and Visitor Experience Supervisor

5:00 pm Dinner in Downtown Bellingham

Now that you’re hungry again (right?), it’s time to head downtown to keep the sea feast going. Given it’s location, it’s no surprise that Downtown Bellingham is home to a range of restaurants with fantastic fish and seafood offerings! Continue your seafood odyssey at one (or more) of these locations recommended by the experts at the Downtown Bellingham Partnership—all featuring seafood specials in honor of SeaFeast.

  • Rock and Rye Oyster House, 1145 N State Street. A locally- and family-owned restaurant in the historic Bellingham Herald Building, Rock & Rye offers fresh dishes and sustainable local seafood from scratch, alongside innovative craft cocktails, beer, cider, and wine.
    • Featured seafood menu item: Oysters Cascadia. Four broiled oysters served with seasonal Cascadia mushrooms, garlic, shallots, leeks, capers, and Pernod.
  • CARNAL, 1234 N State Street. Focused on live-fire cooking in the heart of downtown, CARNAL features ambitious, creative, and shareable dishes.
    • Featured seafood menu item: Tomatillo Glazed Halibut, braised with escarole, bay leaf, and fried potato cream.
  • Nomad Charcuterie and Wine, 10 Prospect Street. A cozy café with large windows, Nomad serves a seasonal menu of cheese, charcuterie, small plates, and natural wine from their home in the Flatiron Building.
    • Featured seafood menu item: Albacore Crudo with pistachio, caper, finger lime, and single varietal olive oil.
  • Bellingham Cider Company, 205 Prospect Street. A local craft cider producer, Bellingham Cider is a solar-powered restaurant with a full bar, locally-sourced food menu, and gorgeous patio overlooking Bellingham Bay—the perfect spot to enjoy one of their small-batch ciders made with 100% Washington apples.
    • Featured seafood menu item: Dungeness Spaghetti with Dungeness crab, chili flakes, mizithra cheese, brown butter, bread crumbs, and herbs.
  • Culture Café, 210 E Chestnut Street, Suite 2. Featured in Bon Appétit, the award-winning Culture Café features a scratch kitchen and a full bar that will make both you and your wallet happy.
    • Featured seafood menu item: Tempura Octopus with bubu arare + spring mix, Pacific Northwest wakame, red onion, pickled radish, cherry tomato, miso vinaigrette, and sambal aioli.

“I love when a happy hour with a killer appetizer (Hello Oysters Cascadia with a gin martini from Rock and Rye!) leads to extending the evening downtown for an impromptu live music show. My current favorite excuse to stay downtown a while longer is live jazz at Aslan Depot.”

Jenny Hagemann, Downtown Bellingham Partnership Marketing & Communications Manager

8:00 pm Drinks in the Waterfront District

Kulshan Brewing Co. Trackside Beer Garden | open 11:00 am – 11:00 pm | 298 W Laurel St, Bellingham, WA 98225

Formerly the site of a large Georgia Pacific pulp and tissue mill, Bellingham’s central waterfront is in the midst of a rebirth. The Port of Bellingham is transforming this former industrial site into a vibrant multi-use neighborhood with recreational spaces, shopping, housing, and plenty of remnants of its historic past. Although the transformation is still in progress, you can check out a rehabilitated granary building, watch bikers on the pump track, and grab local sips at Kulshan’s Trackside Beer Garden (dog and family friendly!). And, if by some miracle you’re still in need of more seafood, the Captain’s Cod Company food truck will be on site serving up fish and chips.

Sunday, September 18

10:00 am Take to the water

On Sunday morning, it’s time to get on that water you’ve been looking at all weekend—and you have plenty of options for how to do it.

If you’re looking to work up an appetite for more seafood, head over to the Bellingham Bay Community Boating Center (opens at 10:00 am), where you can rent a kayak, paddleboard, rowboat, or even a small sailboat. Their friendly staff will also give you some great local tips on where to explore! Brought your own boat? The Community Boating Center also offers an easy put-in spot at the Fairhaven Boat Launch, or you can check out the Whatcom Water Trails Map for more options.

Those looking for a bit more guidance can book a trip with Dragonfly Kayak Tours, who offer a half-day guided tour of Chuckanut Bay (just a bit south of Bellingham Bay) leaving at 10:00 am.

If a luxury brunch sounds better than working up a sweat, snag a ticket to the Schooner Zodiac’s Bellingham Brunch on the Bay sail, departing at 9:45 am. The Schooner Zodiac is a classic historic windjammer, originally built for the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical heirs in 1924 for use as a private yacht. Beautifully maintained, the Schooner Zodiac is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and operates out of Bellingham as a charter vessel.

12:00 pm Lunch at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Port Haven Fish-n-Chips | Open 11:00 am – 7:00 pm | 355 Harris Avenue, Bellingham, WA 98225

Now that you’re ready for more seafood, head to the Bellingham Cruise Terminal to grab lunch at Port Haven Fish-n-Chips. The terminal’s patio offers a gorgeous views, where you can eat your fish while watching boats of all types cruise through the bay.

Pro tip: Branch off onto a fish and chips tasting tour of Whatcom County with this list of top spots from our friends at Visit Bellingham.

On your way out, look for a small exhibit space tucked into the heart of the cruise terminal. Although it’s closed on Sundays, you can peek through the windows at the Whatcom Maritime Heritage Museum—a hidden gem within the ferry terminal featuring historic photos, model ships, and other artifacts from Bellingham’s longstanding maritime industries.  

1:00 pm Historic Fairhaven neighborhood and Taylor Dock boardwalk

After lunch, take a stroll through the Fairhaven District. The Town of Fairhaven was founded in 1883 and served as a prime location for manufacturing and processing of salmon, lumber, and coal—taking advantage of the intersection of abundant natural resources and access to the sea. Now a National Historic District within the City of Bellingham, Fairhaven is a truly charming neighborhood full of red brick Victorian-era buildings, art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Check out a few of Fairhaven’s unique local businesses on your way towards the Taylor Dock boardwalk.

Hop on the Taylor Dock boardwalk near the Chrysalis Inn & Spa. This long, elevated boardwalk extends over the bay, connecting Fairhaven Village Green to Boulevard Park. Originally built in the late 1800s as a working dock for the offloading of fuel and supplies, it now offers some fantastic views of both sea and mountains. As you walk north, keep an eye out for Tin Slag Rock rising above the water. This “rock” is actually a large pile of tin waste, created by a salmon canning facility that used to be located nearby. Each evening, the metal shavings from the factory were swept off the dock, eventually creating this enormous, rusty mass.

3:00 pm Chuckanut Drive to Larrabee State Park

Open 8:00 am – 5:00 pm | 245 Chuckanut Dr, Bellingham, WA 98229

After your walk, hop in the car and drive about 10 minutes south along Chuckanut Drive, also known as State Route 11. Hugging the shoreline south of Bellingham, Chuckanut Drive is famous for its gorgeous views wooded cliffsides dropping into the bay. Completed in 1896, it provided the first land access to Fairhaven. Today, it’s a favorite scenic drive.

Head south until you reach Larrabee State Park around milepost 14. Set on the seaward side of Chuckanut Mountain, Larrabee is Washington’s first state park and is famous for its postcard-pretty views of Samish Bay and the San Juan Islands. This unique park offers opportunities for all kinds of activities—from boating and fishing to hiking and camping—but we recommend the short (1.5-mile) hike to Clayton Beach, which features rare sandstone cliff formations and tide pools teeming with life.

6:00 pm Taylor Shellfish Samish Oyster Bar

Patio open 12:00 – 7:00 pm | 2182 Chuckanut Dr, Bow, WA 98232

Had enough seafood yet? Yeah, we didn’t think so. After your walk on the beach, continue driving another 10 minutes south along Chuckanut Drive towards your last stop of the trip at Taylor Shellfish’s Samish Oyster Bar, Farm, and Shellfish Market. With a waterfront picnic area overlooking Samish Bay, you can watch Taylor’s farmers bring in fresh shellfish from beds directly off the beach as you slurp down freshly shucked oysters and local beer or wine. Be sure to check out the interpretive panels around the deck that explain the history and art of shellfish farming in Washington! And, of course, don’t forget to pick up some extra seafood from the market to take home.