Civic Agenda: Summer a great time to get out and play in Bellingham

Kids enjoy the spray park at Cornwall Park in Bellingham.
Kids enjoy the spray park at Cornwall Park in Bellingham. The Bellingham Herald

We live in an outdoor-lover’s paradise blessed with miles of trails, great open waters for sailing and kayaking, and mountains to climb and bike. During the summer, Bellingham residents love to get outdoors and enjoy our parks and open spaces, and the city is happy to provide a wide range of opportunities for people of all ages to go outside and play. On average, the city spends more than $14 million per year on our parks and recreation amenities, and we are often voted in national publications as one of the best places to hike, paddle, bike and play.

The Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department strives to provide opportunities close to your neighborhood to ensure access for all, and this summer we have a variety of parks and trails that are either new to the public or new-and-improved. Some of the investments are for public access, and others are to help better protect our natural resources as we improve stormwater management and protect water quality. Here are some of the great outdoor amenities residents can enjoy this summer.

ASB Trail: G Street at the head of the I & J Waterway

Take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront and watch our spectacular sunsets on a new trail. Be sure to pause to read interpretive signs on the 10-foot wide, crushed-gravel trail, which stretches about a third of a mile from Squalicum Harbor onto the aeration stabilization basin breakwater formerly owned by Georgia Pacific. This trail is our newest amenity, having just opened at the end of June.

Bloedel Donovan Park: 2214 Electric Ave.

Bloedel Donovan Park has seen recent investments to its shoreline and stormwater management. The 17-acre park, situated on Lake Whatcom, is a popular public space for swimming, rowing and boating. The improved stormwater management will help protect water quality, which is essential as roughly 85,000 people depend on the lake for drinking water. Shoreline mitigation will enhance habitat for native plants and animals.

Civic Athletic Fields: 135 Civic Field Way

Each year, Civic Stadium will host more than 400 events — rain or shine. While many of us love natural grass, synthetic fields perform better in adverse weather, which is why the city has invested in two: the Joe Martin Baseball and Civic Stadium fields. The Joe Martin Baseball Field features more than 120,000 square feet of new synthetic infield, outfield and warning track. The fields are designed to accommodate a multitude of sports, year-round, including the Bellingham Bells, which won the West Coast League Championships last year.

Cordata Park: 2000 W. Horton Road

For residents of the Cordata and Guide Meridian neighborhoods, Cordata Park offers a haven where you can walk, bike, throw a Frisbee on the new meadow, or enjoy a picnic at one of the new picnic tables.

Cornwall Tot Lot: 2300 D Street

The Tot Lot is the place to be for kids ages 2 to 6. The playground was designed specifically with little kids in mind, with a slide and a variety of other activities to engage them. Parents can watch from the sidelines on a comfortable bench or play with the kids on the lawn, all of which is protected by a surrounding fence.

Fairhaven and Cornwall Spray Parks: South and Cornwall neighborhoods

Cool down this summer and play in the spray of fresh, potable water through Sept. 15, between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Cornwall Park also features two playgrounds, picnic tables, tennis courts, a basketball court, disc golf course, horseshoe courts and barbecue grills and can be found at 3424 Meridian Street in the Cornwall Park neighborhood. Fairhaven Park has similar features and is located at 107 Chuckanut Drive North in the South neighborhood.

Lake Padden boat rentals: 4882 Samish Way

Paddle Padden in a kayak or atop a stand up paddle board between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays or between noon and 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through Monday, Sept. 7, with thanks to Yeager’s Sporting Goods. Find your floatation device of choice at the boathouse at the Lake Padden Park west entrance. Rentals cost $7 per hour for single kayaks or SUP boards and $22 per hour for tandem or fishing kayaks. Tax is included in these figures and you can pay with cash or credit card.

Squalicum Creek Park: 1001 Squalicum Way

Drop by the new Squalicum Creek Park for afternoon fun. Let your dog run free in the off-leash area, pack a lunch to enjoy under the cover of a picnic shelter, shoot a game of hoops, walk the loop trail or feel the rush of adrenaline after ripping across the playground on a zip line.

Maritime Heritage Park: 600 West Holly

Bellingham’s downtown park is having a busy summer. Maritime Heritage Park, in the heart of downtown, has a variety of music and festivities through September. Participate in a scavenger hunt on July 26 or drop by for the Children’s Art Festival on Aug. 22. Weekly lunchtime concerts begin Friday, Aug. 7 and continue each Friday through Sept. 4. The park also offers shaded trails to roam, an amphitheater to relax in, and plenty of open greenspace.

No matter where you live in Bellingham or your outdoor interest, with more than 40 parks and open spaces, there’s something for everyone. So get outside and enjoy the lovely summer months in the Pacific Northwest!


James King is Bellingham Parks and Recreation director. This is one of a series of monthly Civic Agenda reports The Bellingham Herald invited Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville to provide to share updates about City of Bellingham issues and projects. She invites citizens to contact her at 360-778-8100 or mayorsoffice@cob.org.