Lorin Lindell | 09/16/2019 | Insider Blogs |   

Western Washington University Parents Activities

Visiting Bellingham as the parent of a current or potential student is a great opportunity for a getaway to a beautiful location.

Bellingham is a hub of college life and outdoor adventures, located 90 miles north of Seattle and 50 miles south of Vancouver British Columbia. There are an endless number of scenic drives, hikes and restaurants to explore in surrounding Whatcom County.

Bellingham has been called the Best College Town in Washington State. It is home to Galbraith Mountain, which is rated the most popular place to mountain bike in Washington State by Singletracks.com, and nearby hiking trails include The Best Day Hike in America by Backpacker Magazine. We’re more than an outdoor town though, Bellingham also has a love for local businesses, food and craft beer and was recently featured as a great foodie destination by Forbes Magazine

What To See On Campus

  • Sehome Hill Arboretum This 175.5 acre oasis is located right behind Western’s campus, giving students and guests an outdoor experience just steps away. The "arb" features a number of trails with an observation tower overlooking the cityscape and Bellingham Bay. 

  • Carver Gym
    • Viking Athletics is one of the premier NCAA Division II programs in the United States. Carver Gym, home of Viking basketball and volleyball, seats 2,534 fans at home games throughout the athletic season. WWU volleyball finished No. 2 in the nation in 2018.
  • Outdoor Sculpture Garden
    • Created with a mission to bring work from nationally known artists to the state of Washington, the collection has twice been named one of the ten most important university campus art collections in the U.S. Carefully placed by the artists themselves, the sculptures define the landscape of Western’s beautiful 215-acre campus.

  • Performing Arts Center 
    • The Performing Arts Center hosts more than 300 performances every year in theatre, dance and music. The Mainstage Theatre seats 1,050, the Concert Hall seats 650, and the intimate DUG Underground Theatre seats 104. Most shows are open to the public at little to no cost. In addition to performances, three exhibition spaces in the Performing Arts Center showcase work from the Western Gallery art collection. The spaces are located by the entrances to the Concert Hall and the Mainstage Theater.
  • Western Gallery
    • The Western Gallery is Western Washington University’s art museum and presents six temporary exhibitions annually, concentrating on national and international art. The Western Gallery is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

Getting To Campus

Once you are in Bellingham, Western Washington University can be reached via Bill McDonald Parkway on the south side of campus, or Garden Street on the north side of campus. From the I-5 freeway, use exit 252. Turn northwest on Samish Way, then west on Bill McDonald Parkway. Continue on Bill McDonald to the Western Visitor Information Center.


Western has two general visitor parking lots: the C lots, located on the south end of campus, and the 6V lot, located on the north end. Visitors must purchase a visitor permit at the pay station in the parking lot or via the ParkMobile App available for download on most cell phones.

Guests with a state disability permit may obtain a visitor permit in one of the visitor lots (C or 6V) and park in any marked disability space on campus.

Visitor Information Center

Western’s Visitor Information Center is located in the Campus Services Building, where staff welcome you, answer questions and provide assistance. It is open Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. and can also be reached at 360-650-3349.

For in-depth information about the larger community, hotels, restaurants, parks and attractions head to Bellingham’s Visitor Center at 904 Potter Street . Open 7-days a week from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Off Campus Must-Do's

There are so many Things to Do in Bellingham and Whatcom County, we use the tag line "One Destination, Many Adventures." The city of Bellingham has two historic business districts: Downtown on the north side of Bellingham Bay, and Fairhaven on the south side of Bellingham Bay. Both are filled with shops and restaurants.


Most people want to know Where to Eat. Bellingham may seem small-ish, but our thriving food scene includes more than 600 restaurants and eateries. Start with our restaurants page, filled with inspiration, restaurant listings and interactive maps to guide your journey.

Bellingham is also widely known for its thriving and growing craft breweries. Several are family friendly and offer great food. Others offer rotating food trucks at the brewery. For full details see our craft beer page.

What To See Off Campus

Now that the campus has been explored and your belly is full, it is time to check out some of the popular spots around town. The beautiful, over-water South Bay Trail connects Downtown and Fairhaven and provides great photo ops on a 2.5 smooth gravel trail and boardwalk.

Bellingham is filled with Parks & Playgrounds of all shapes and sizes. In the middle of the South Bay Trail is Boulevard Park, which is also the quickest to drive to from campus and has gorgeous views of Bellingham Bay. On Bellingham's eastern border is Whatcom Falls Park with a photogenic WPA-era stone bridge overlooking a waterfall, and acres of trails through thick evergreens.

More highlights include local farms and agriculture, such as Bellewood apple farm, and unique attractions, such as Rook & Rogue Board Game Pub. Be sure to view our list of Museums & Galleries and our list of Theaters and Music for cultural arts inspiration and venues

Off Campus Activities

A great way to experience our community is through our online events calendar, your one stop shop for everything happening in Whatcom County.

        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.
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
Visitor Center Located at I-5 Exit 253 - Check Hours
904 Potter Street, Bellingham, WA 98229
Phone: 360-671-3990

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