By Kerri Burnside
I grew up in Bellingham, and when I was in middle school my family moved to a new school district. So that I could finish the school year without having to change schools, I walked several miles to and from Whatcom Middle school every day. It was not “uphill both ways,” but I did live on Sehome Hill, so the walk home was definitely a good workout. My friends and family thought that I was crazy, but I loved it. It set the stage for getting daily exercise and it gave me downtown every day after school. Back then, downtown Bellingham was the place to be. Do any of you Hamsters remember eating at the counter at Woolworths, cruising Bunks, getting a burger at Herfey’s or shopping at the Bon Marché? Good times.
Once the Bellis Fair Mall was built, downtown became a ghost town. The plans to revitalize the downtown began in 1988 and have gone through many changes, but we are definitely seeing the positive results. In fact, Bellingham was recently ranked 8th in the nation as having the best downtown according to the International Downtown Association (IDA).
Downtown Bellingham currently is home to about 2,400 people and employs nearly 7,500 people. We have the second highest artist-related businesses to residents in the nation, giving Bellingham that quirkiness that we all love. With the successful “buy local” campaign supported by organizations like Bellingham Connections, Sustainable Bellingham, Downtown Bellingham Partnership and more, we have created a culture of residents supporting the local economy. Hamsters are creating a great town to live in that is continuing to thrive. According to Livability.com, “this city by the bay has become a model for urban sustainability.”
The revitalization efforts have created a pedestrian and bike friendly community with easy access to trails, parks, restaurants and entertainment. Downtown’s art and architecture, coupled with the beautiful natural scenery makes a walk downtown a pleasure to the eye. The amazingly creative local businesses have combined culture with activities, making it fun to explore the downtown area.
The staff with the Bellingham Muse decided to create our own fun adventure for exploring and enjoying downtown Bellingham. We have hidden geocaches at some of our favorite places. Go to www.geocaching.com and search for the cache name “Muse Hunt” to start your treasure hunt. If you would like to read more about geocaching, read the article Take a Hike on page 11. Hamsters, if you are not taking advantage of all that Downtown Bellingham has to offer, we recommend that you come see for yourself why it was ranked 8th in the Nation, but let’s just keep it our little secret. 😉
Kerri Burnside is the Co-Publisher of the Bellingham Muse. She has been teaching stress management for over 15 years and offers a weekly guided meditation for stress reduction that is open to the public. See the schedule and location here.