There’s nothing like the feeling of freedom as we shake off our winter boots and woolies in favor of tank tops, shorts and t-shirts that have hibernated in the back of our closets for way too long. As the sun warms our homes, it’s time to start planning fun family excursions outdoors to local destinations that invigorate, entertain and educate. Here’s three top picks for the hot summer ahead.
If you want to treat your kids to a really special family day out, Chuckanut Island will take some planning – but it’s well worth it. The five-acre island in Chuckanut Bay is accessible only by boat or kayak, so if you own neither you’ll want to sign up for an island kayak excursion with MoonDance Kayak (moondancekayak.com; 360-738-7664) or rent kayaks and life vests from a vendor in town.
Pack a picnic lunch, park at Wildcat Cove – the boat launch at Larrabee State Park – and prepare for a playground of natural beauty.
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Gifted to the Nature Conservancy in 1976, Chuckanut Island is heavily forested with Douglas firs that date back 250 years, madrone and western red cedars. Its trees protect the nests of bald eagles and many other bird species, and at low tide you can explore the rocky beach’s marine invertebrates like sea cucumbers, blue mud shrimp and rock crabs.
Have a picnic lunch on the beach followed by a walk on the island’s trail. Dogs are not allowed on the island, and visitors are asked to park their kayaks and boats on the northeast and west beaches and to stay on the foot trail. The island is open during daylight hours year round, and visitors are asked to pack out all garbage when they leave.
Outback Farm at WWU
You want your kids to learn about where their food comes from, but you haven’t the time, space or energy to create your own vegetable patch. Solution? Plan a visit to WWU’s Outback Farm, a four-acre space on campus run jointly by Fairhaven College and the WWU Student Union.
Here, students, faculty and interested community members collaborate to cultivate vegetable plots and grow produce for donation to the Bellingham Food Bank.
The farm has Outback Work parties open to the public, where you can bring your family and spend a couple of hours immersed in the pleasure of garden tasks, such as preparing vegetable beds, planting crops, weeding and pruning fruit trees under the direction of a student site manager.
If you go, you’ll see ducks paddling in a small pond at the farm and chickens watching cautiously from a nearby pen. In an average year, the farm donates one ton of vegetables to the Food Bank and grows over 50 varieties of vegetables and herbs in field plots. In the mix are fruit trees, edible native species, a chicken flock and beehives.
Outback Farm includes greenhouses, a restored wetland and native forest grove, an orchard and an outdoor performance stage that hosts musical concerts and student theater productions.
The farm is located south of the Fairhaven Residences, between 25th Street and South College Way, and summer work parties are scheduled for Tuesdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesdays 3-5 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.. For more information email email@example.com or visit as.wwu.edu/outback/. Volunteer visitors from the community and visitors in general are welcome.
Situated on the corner of Texas and Humboldt streets in the Sunnyland neighborhood, this is the second oldest park in the city.
The three blocks area was set aside in 1889 by P.B. Cornwall, president of the Bellingham Bay Improvement Company.
The park has young trees, benches, picnic tables and a playground in good condition, as well as lots of green space for running around. It’s close to Memorial Park, which was established to honor war veterans and is located off Illinois Street, behind Sunnyland Elementary school.