Families

Berthusen, Fairhaven and Elizabeth parks offer great summertime play

Kids enjoy the spray park at Fairhaven Park in Bellingham in 2014. It operates 1-7 p.m. daily from mid-June through Labor Day.
Kids enjoy the spray park at Fairhaven Park in Bellingham in 2014. It operates 1-7 p.m. daily from mid-June through Labor Day. The Bellingham Herald

Here’s a look at three Whatcom County parks that are perfect for summertime play:

Fairhaven Park

Fairhaven Park, established in 1906, is one of Bellingham’s oldest parks — but it’s known for its newest addition, the spray park.

Jets, streams and showers of water shoot from the ground to the delight of babes, toddlers and older children on a warm summer’s day. The park itself open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, but the spray portion operates 1-7 p.m. daily from mid-June through Labor Day.

In addition to the spray park, there’s a playground, multi-sport fields, a basketball court, barbecue grills, picnic tables, a covered picnic area, a community building with restrooms, and plenty of free parking. Nearby, there’s a brick labyrinth that’s popular for a meditative walk.

Several trails lead north and west from the park to Bellingham Bay and the Fairhaven business district and south to the Chuckanut Bay wetlands and Larrabee State Park. In the fall, you’ll see salmon spawning in lower Padden Creek.

A popular event is the Skill Share Faire, scheduled 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30. It includes educational booths aimed at teaching a range of practical skills, such as braiding, fence-building and knife-sharpening.

Details: For more information about the park, including a map and location of nearby trails, go online to cob.org/services/recreation/parks-trails/fairhaven-park.aspx.

Getting there: Fairhaven Park is at 107 Chuckanut Drive in the South neighborhood. It’s served by the Whatcom Transportation Authority bus No. 105, Fairhaven-Downtown.

Elizabeth Park

Built on 4.5 acres of land donated by Henry Roeder in 1884, Elizabeth Park is the oldest park in Bellingham.

It’s a neighborhood park, open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. with on-street parking only, but it draws visitors from around the city and beyond who enjoy the historic trees and expansive lawns that invite a summertime game of tag, Frisbee, or catch with a baseball. There’s a fountain, a gazebo, picnic tables, a playground, tennis courts and restrooms.

“Living near the parks and using the parks has been one of our family’s favorite pastimes,” said Jill MacIntyre Witt, who has lived across from the park for nearly a decade. “We love being outdoors kicking the soccer ball around or pushing kids in the swings. We love the trees in Elizabeth and the change of the seasons that they display.”

There’s a summer concert series near the gazebo and an Arbor Day celebration every September.

Details: For more information about the park, including a map and location of nearby trails, go online to cob.org/services/recreation/parks-trails/elizabeth-park.aspx. There’s also a document with information about the park’s many heritage trees.

Getting there: Elizabeth Park is bounded by Washington, Walnut, Madison and Elizabeth streets in the Columbia neighborhood. It’s connected to downtown by a series of trails through the Lettered Streets area. Several WTA stops are within walking distance, including bus Nos. 3, 4, 25, 50 and 232.

Berthusen Park

This 236-acre park is part of a historic farm homesteaded in 1883 by Hans Berthusen and his wife, Lida Hawley-Berthusen. Their barn, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built from trees that grew in the area.

It’s noted for old-growth cedars, and several miles of trails for hiking and biking, along with historic, environmental and educational events and opportunities. The 2/3-mile Wonder Trail with interpretive signs shows the importance of trees, ferns, and animals such as birds. There are picnic areas, group shelters, two kitchens, a playground and ball field, plus the historic barn with period farm equipment on display. The Puget Sound Antique Tractor and Machinery Association has permanent displays that include a huge buzz saw of the type used in timber mills of the era.

Each August, there’s a Threshing Bee to showcase farmers and machines in operation. In May, there’s a plowing match with draft horses pulling antique farm implements.

Getting there: Berthusen Park is at 8837 Berthusen Road, on the corner of West Badger Road, on Lynden’s rural west side. From Guide Meridian Road take West Badger Road west to the park. Hours are 8 a.m. to dusk daily.

Details: Go online to lyndenwa.org/departments/parks/berthusen-park.

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