Whatcom County offers a great combination of indoor and outdoor places to explore in spring. Be sure to check the websites, as hours and admission may change.
Or just rough it, don your galoshes and mackintosh and head out to splash in the puddles or go explore.
For more suggestions, go to bellinghamfamilies.com; check the Take Five arts and entertainment section each Thursday in The Bellingham Herald; go to The Bellingham Herald’s online calendar and enter keywords like “children” or “kids;” or “like” Bellingham Families on Facebook.
Another good source is the quarterly Leisure Guide published by Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department. Go to cob.org and search for “Leisure Guide.”
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ARNE HANNA AQUATIC CENTER
1114 Potter St., Bellingham
Hours, cost: Call for times, prices for classes and family swims.
Details: 360-778-7665, cob.org/services/recreation/aquatic.
The aquatic center has four swimming pools: a beach-entry instructional pool with a 135- foot water slide ending in it; a 25-yard, eight-lane lap pool; a dive tank with a one-meter springboard;and a hydrotherapy pool for people 16 and older. The center offers a variety of programs, including lap swims, American Red Cross swim lessons and training courses, three different intensity levels of shallow water aerobics, deep water running, deep water aerobics, water child care, kayaking and preschool, family and open swims.
Depot Market Square, on Railroad Avenue between Maple and Chestnut streets, Bellingham.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday April through mid-December.
Cost: Free to look at variety of vendors.
Details: 360-647-2060, bellinghamfarmers.org.
Since 1993, Bellingham Farmers Market is a great venue for farmers and customers alike to connect with fresh produce, prepared foods and local crafts. Kids’ vending days are the last Saturday of each month, plus weekly entertainers add to the fun.
The Fairhaven Farmers Market runs from noon to 5 p.m. June through September at the Fairhaven Village Green, 10th Street and Mill Avenue.
1320 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham.
Hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Cost: $4 adults, $2 for those 2 to 17, free for kids younger than 2.
Details: 360-393-7540, bellinghamrailwaymuseum.org.
The Bellingham Railway Museum offers our community a fascinating look at the history of railroads in a family-friendly environment.
The museum displays include a G-gauge layout depicting logging and mining railroads, an interactive Lionel model train exhibit, a train simulator and more.
1312 Bay St., Bellingham.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.
Cost: $6 adults, $3 for kids 11 and younger.
Details: 360-738-3886, sparkmuseum.org.
This amazing hot tourist spot has a collection of more than 1,000 radios and an array of 19th-century electromagnetic equipment that depict the history and development of radio and electricity. The nonprofit organization offers self-guided tours, workshops and special events.
250 Flora St., Bellingham.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday
Cost: $10 general, $8 students, seniors and active military, $4.50 for kids 2 to 5; free for kids younger than 2 and for museum members. FIG only, 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday through Friday, $4.50 per person.
Details: 360-778-8930, whatcommuseum.org.
Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building is a ray of warmth on a rainy day. With traveling exhibits from around the country and a special Family Interactive Gallery with hands-on activities for kids, it’s sure to dry out even the dampest Bellingham spirit.
MARINE LIFE CENTER
1801 Roeder Ave. in the Port of Bellingham complex, Bellingham.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from September to May and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily from June to August.
Cost: Admission is free, but donations are accepted.
Details: 360-671-2431, marinelifecenter.org.
Tide pool touch tanks and small aquariums highlight the marine life of Bellingham Bay.
Kids love to dip their fingers in the critter touch tank at the Squalicum Harbor interpretive center.
Volunteers are on hand to answer any questions.
The family-oriented facility also includes three large aquariums and an observation pool brimming with fascinating sea life such as fish, crabs and sea stars.
LYNDEN PIONEER MUSEUM
217 Front St., Lynden.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Cost: $7 adults, $4 seniors and students, free for kids 6 and younger.
Details: 360-354-3675, lyndenpioneermuseum.com.
Lynden Pioneer Museum features a life-size replica of Lynden’s historic downtown, a full-size early 20th century farmhouse and more than 60 vintage buggies, cars and tractors, plus agricultural exhibits and a First Nations display. Visit the museum store, which carries books on local history and Delft ware from Holland.
421 Judson Street (in the alley), Lynden.
Hours, cost: Check website for times and prices.
Details: 360-354-3851, lyndenskateway.com.
Whether it’s a celebration for a birthday, drop-in hockey, skate lessons or just a spin on the floor, there’s nothing quite like a day of roller skating; not only is it old-fashioned fun, it’s great exercise! The family-owned Lynden Skateway was rebuilt in February 1996, after the old Lynden Skateway and Bowl burned down in 1994.
WWU SCULPTURE COLLECTION
Walking tour map and audio guides available at Fine Arts Building.
Hours: Any time.
Cost: Free. Most parking on campus is paid parking, ask at visitor center about parking.
Details: 360-650-3963, westerngallery.wwu.edu/sculpture.shtml.
While you appreciate the work of 24 international artists, your kids can touch and race around Western Washington University’s outdoor sculpture collection. Pick up a walking tour map or audio guide at the Fine Arts Building or schedule an expert guided tour. Don’t miss Isamu Noguchi’s Skyviewing Sculpture, one of the collection’s most famous pieces. Audio phones are available at the WWU visitors’ booth.
WWU ROCKS AND FOSSILS
Hours: Daily while classes are in session.
Details: 360-650-2817. For a map of campus, go to wwu.edu (the map link is at the top right-hand corner).
Western Washington University’s Environmental Studies building features geologic and natural history displays with collections of rocks, fossils, gems and minerals in exhibits placed along the hallways on three floors of the building. Environmental Studies is open free daily while classes are in session.
Around Whatcom County you can spot diving hawks just driving down the freeway. So many fantastic bird-watching spots abound. Head to Whatcom Falls and Semiahmoo parks, Tennant Lake, Blaine’s Marine Park, or Larrabee and Birch Bay state parks with binoculars and a camera, or join a group such as the North Cascades Audubon Society for extra insight.
Details: 360-671-1537, northcascadesaudubon.org.
Hours: Vary, call stores for specific times.
Cost: Browsing is free, books are a different story.
Details: Michael’s Books, 109 Grand Ave., 360-733-6272, http://michaelsbooks.com; Henderson Books, 116 Grand Ave., 360-734-6355; Village Books, 1200 11th St., 360-671-2626, villagebooks.com; Eclipse Bookstore, 1104 11th St., 360-647-8165.
What reader can resist Grand Avenue’s duo of used bookstores? Henderson Books and Michael’s Books boast mazes of aisles stacked with bargain reads.
Or, if you’re in Fairhaven, stop by Village Books, where used books are shelved alongside new books; or Eclipse, where used books are so plentiful they’re stacked in the aisles.
210 W. Holly St., Bellingham.
Hours: Noon to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Cost: $2 per person in the interactive art area, free admission to the fine art gallery and library.
Details: 360-647-5614, mindport.org
You’ll be surprised how much physics and biology you can learn from the hands-on art experiences at this inventive interactive gallery. Mindport’s selection of kinetic art is designed to be touched and manipulated, often with surprising results. The center suggests kid visitors be at least 6 (and supervised by adults) to best appreciate the experience.
YMCA CLIMBING WALL
1256 N. State St., Bellingham.
Cost: The climbing wall is free to all YMCA members. Other costs vary. Call for times.
Details: 360-733-8630, www.whatcomymca.org.
Got an itch to climb a mountain but don’t want to brave the cold? Journey to the Whatcom Family YMCA’s climbing wall, where you can engage in a variety of activities that suit your need, whether it’s a family, teen, rookies, youth or a certification test climb.
South State Street and Bayview Drive, Bellingham.
Hours: Daily from dawn to dusk.
Facilities: Pathways, boardwalk, picnic areas, playgrounds, restrooms.
Details: 360-676-6985, www.cob.org/government/departments/parks.
The spacious waterfront oasis — formerly an industrial area that once operated canneries and a lumber mill — is now the ultimate spot for a game of tossing discs. (Just try not to aim for the water.) Note to shutterbugs: The unrivaled view of the bay is irresistible, particularly at sunset.