The brick and sandstone buildings of the Fairhaven District are your first glimpse of Bellingham, as you round the corner and cross the bridge, from your drive north on scenic Chuckanut Drive. Fairhaven was one of three towns on Bellingham Bay that merged together to form Bellingham in 1904. The town of Fairhaven came close to being a large regional commercial center in the 1890s when it was in its boom. With good, deep water wharfs at the edge of town, and coal and timber in ample supply in the hills nearby, Fairhaven had a building boom that lasted throughout much of the 1890s but ended abruptly. As time went on, Fairhaven was largely overlooked as the quite, old fashioned south side of Bellingham, until recent years. Today Fairhaven is enjoying another boom. This boom has brought more building to the district, but with a strong sense of Fairhaven's colorful past, and an awareness of Fairhaven's unique lifestyle and culture.
At the center of Fairhaven is the Fairhaven National Register Historic District, the home of 17 historic buildings. The unique character and beauty of this area is enhanced with new buildings that have been designed to blend in with their historic neighbors. These new and historic buildings are now home to numerous shops, restaurants, boutiques and offices. Several new condominium buildings have been built with beautiful views of the bay and are just across the street form restaurants and shopping. Many of the older building have been restored and seismically upgraded, and now house high end condominiums on the upper floors, and shops at street level. With a grocery store, numerous walking trails, shops, restaurants, spectacular views and character all around, it’s easy to see how those living in Fairhaven can go days without ever leaving the neighborhood.
In the heart of Historic Fairhaven
, surrounded by the district's characteristic brick and sandstone buildings, is the Village Green. The Village Green has become the cultural center of Fairhaven after being purchased by the city several years ago to preserve green space for the neighborhood. The Green is in almost daily use as a meeting place, concert venue, farmer’s market and even a cinema on summer evenings. On any weekend afternoon, just come down to the Village Green, buy an ice cream cone, or better yet, some gelato at a neighboring business, sit down and enjoy whatever kind of performance is going on.
On the far south side of Fairhaven is one of Bellingham’s largest city parks. Fairhaven Park
is comprised of large amounts of open space, children’s playground, children's wading pool, picnic shelters, tennis and basketball courts, and a launching point to the Interurban Trail. From Fairhaven Park you can find trails that lead you south into the Chuckanut Mountain Trail System, down to Larrabee State Park or beside Padden Creek along the edge of the Historic District and to the beach at Marine Park. Here, at Marine Park you’ll discover a peaceful place at the bottom of Fairhaven’s hill to watch the waves and smell the salt breeze. From here you can continue south along the shore for miles. It’s common to see eagles in the trees, Blue Herons at the edge of the water and seals peeking out of the waves.
On Memorial Day weekend every year, Fairhaven becomes the center of Bellingham’s biggest event. The Ski to Sea Race brings thousands of competitors and spectators to Bellingham to join the local enthusiast, in the race that starts at Mt. Baker and ends at Marine Park in Fairhaven. Besides the culmination of this huge, world renowned race, Fairhaven hosts the end of the race party that includes extravagant food, music, venders and people. It’s a great way to start the summer season.
Fairhaven really comes to life in its array of unique and original shops, boutiques, cafés and restaurants. For a good list of dining establishments, follow the Fairhaven Dinning Link
. For a list of shops and boutiques, follow the Fairhaven Shopping Link
Fairhaven is the home of Bellingham’s bus and train stations. Within just a couple of block from the center of Fairhaven, you can catch the Amtrak train for its daily run along the shore, south to Seattle and beyond. Fairhaven is also the southern terminus of the Alaska Ferry System. Twice a week, the Alaska Ferry arrives and departs from the Fairhaven Cruise Terminal on its route from Southeast Alaska. Fairhaven is also just a mile off of interstate 5, with quick access to the freeway.
Children Attend Lowell Elementary School
, Fairhaven Middle School
, and Sehome High School