Hilary Parker | 05/24/2014 | Insider Blogs |   

Visiting Western Washington University with kids

[caption id="attachment_18959" align="aligncenter" width="600"]WWU Bellingham with kids Western Washington University's Outdoor Sculpture collection is a great way for kids to interact with art. Pictured here is part of the "Feats of Strength" installation (L) and the "Stone Enclosure: Rock Rings" (R).[/caption]

Bellingham is fortunate to have a university in its midst. Being a college town gives this small city access to intellectual and cultural resources we wouldn’t otherwise have as well as providing a vast campus that in itself offers a wealth of things to see and do.

Whether you’re a local, or visiting Bellingham and Whatcom County, Western Washington University’s campus can be a great place for families to explore and experience. Who knows, it may even inspire your children to think about becoming a college student themselves one day. When I recently visited the campus with my 7-year-old son, he told me just that: “Mom, one day I want to go to school here.” That’s music to a mom’s ears.

Ready to explore? Here are just a few of the many ways you and your children can connect with Western.

Out & About

[caption id="attachment_18960" align="alignright" width="225"]WWU Bellingham with kids On top of the world, the "Log Ramps" sculpture is a kid favorite.[/caption]

Outdoor Sculpture Collection – Western’s renowned Outdoor Sculpture Collection brings world-class art to

campus. What’s so neat about sculpture is that it is so accessible – kids to can interact with many of the sculptures – and multiple generations can find something of interest when viewing the art.

My kids’ favorite is “Stone Enclosure: Rock Rings,” a labyrinth-like sculpture located on the lawn between the Communication Facility and Fairhaven College. Other favorites include “Log Ramps,” which are great for climbing on or under, and the engaging little turtle-esque people of “Feats of Strength.” Families could easily spend a couple of hours exploring the collection, and when campus eateries are open, you can grab a snack after your adventure.

Sehome Hill Arboretum Trail – Managed cooperatively between Western and the City of Bellingham, the Sehome Hill trails above Western traverse 100 acres that once were home to mining and logging operations. Points of interest along the trails include a tunnel chiseled through sandstone, an old quarry site, and an observation tower. Paved trail and dirt trails and paths allow accessibility for many. Lushly forested, the trails make for a cool and shady place to walk on warm summer days and a great place for collecting gigantic maple leaves for art projects in the fall.

[caption id="attachment_18961" align="alignright" width="225"]WWU Bellingham with kids The old tunnel at the Sehome Hill Arboretum is an eye-catching point of interest along the trail.[/caption]

Learning & Exploring

Planetarium – The Spanel Planetarium recently installed a Digistar projection system. Peer into the “stars” under the full domed theater. Check the Planetarium schedule for show dates and times. Stargaze under the real night sky with members of the Physics & Astronomy Department every Wednesday night when class is in session and weather permits.

Grandparents U – Grandparents and kids ages 7-14 have a unique opportunity to explore topics such as chemistry, book making and fossils during at day and a half at Western each summer with Grandparents U.  Along with diving in to some fun hands-on projects, participants get a chance to tour the campus, swim at the rec center and picnic on the lawn. Get the full university experience by eating in the dining hall and staying overnight in student housing.

For more information about Western Washington University, visit www.wwu.edu.

For more about things to do and where to stay in Bellingham, visit our home page.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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