For my second day wandering Bellingham, Washington I discovered the Historic Fairhaven District with its charming 19th-century architecture and took a stroll on Taylor Boardwalk. I also stayed at another luxury waterfront hotel—The Chrysalis Inn & Spa—which travel journalist Patricia Schultz included in her book 1,000 Places To See Before You Die in the United States & Canada.
Bellingham is a two-hour drive from Seattle, and a 1.5-hour drive from Vancouver, BC., and is the county’s biggest town.
A Hidden Gem While Wandering Bellingham
Someone not familiar with the area might think The Chrysalis Inn & Spa is a magnificent waterfront home for it’s in between a residential neighborhood, a park, and Bellingham Bay. From the street, the 43-room boutique Craftsman-style inn blends in with its surroundings. Inside is an inviting space of wood and warmth and water views.
The first feature that caught my attention was the curved wooden stairway that wound its way up to the third floor through wooden beams.
Next, the open Living Room with plenty of plush seating, a stone fireplace, and views of Taylor Boardwalk hovering over the water. Beyond the Living Room, an outdoor patio, which I later discovered opens during the warmer months.
Before heading up to my room, I walked along a portion of the boardwalk, and the railroad tracks came into view, as well as a train! Since I grew up in a house a few blocks from train tracks, I have a fondness for their whistles and chugs. Surprisingly, I didn’t hear the train at all from my room, but I expect that some of the front-facing rooms might.
My Stay at Chrysalis Inn While Wandering Bellingham
I stayed in a Side View Deluxe Room, which was very spacious. The room had a plush king bed, a two-person soaking tub, a shower and a fireplace with a large lounging chair. But my favorite feature was a large window nook with views of Bellingham Bay and Taylor Boardwalk.
It rained off and on during my stay, but thankfully, the nook made me feel as if I was enjoying the great outdoors, while comfortable and warm inside.
The full-service inn has three room styles, which include side view rooms with a king bed; full view rooms with a king bed; and luxury suites, which include a separate living room with a wet bar or a dining area. All of the rooms have a water view, either partial or full, and some are dog-friendly. The inn also has a canine concierge, an onsite spa, and restaurant.
The Spa at The Chrysalis is next to the lobby, and at check-in, you’ll notice the intoxicating aroma of the eucalyptus steam room wafting through the air. Guests may indulge in a variety of spa treatments, specials and spa packages like the Signature Trio, Soothing Sensations, and a Customized Package. There is even a healthy spa menu if you want to luxuriate for most of the day. The spa is popular and it’s important to note that the inn suggests a two-week advanced reservation for spa services.
Dinner With a View
The inn’s restaurant and bar, Kennan’s at the Pier, is all about the water view and has plenty of window gazing opportunities. I opted to dine in the restaurant and sat at a table right next to the window.
To start, I ordered the rum and ginger beer cocktail Taylor Dock.
For an appetizer, I ordered the Quinoa and Yam Crab Cakes with mixed greens and a caramelized onion and roasted red pepper aioli. This ended up being my favorite dish of the night.
For dinner, I decided to continue with eating lighter fare and ordered the Market Fresh Fish, which was pan-seared salmon, purple cauliflower, and jasmine rice.
For dessert, I ordered the unusual sounding Mason Jar Banana Cream Pie, which had banana custard, graham cracker nut crumbles, and meringue. Next time I want to try the Flourless Chocolate Torte with a pecan crust, a Nutella ganache, and a raspberry coulis.
Keenan’s is also open for breakfast, lunch and the Sunday brunch has some dishes I’d like to try, including the Smoked Salmon Frittata, Huevos Rancheros màs de Polenta, and a Garden Scramble. Still full from the night before, I opted to skip breakfast and go for a stroll on the Taylor Boardwalk.
Over the Sea and Through the Park Wandering Bellingham
In the 1800s, the Taylor Dock was a working dock and boats pulled up to unload and load their goods. Now, the award-winning pedestrian trail—Taylor Boardwalk—is a great place to walk and bike, and every summer, brave locals make the 20 foot jump into the bay.
From the elevated platform, you can see boats cruising through the bay, watch for sea life and enjoy small pockets of sandy beaches. The boardwalk connects to a trail that leads to Boulevard Park, which has a large grassy area, more beaches, a playground, and Woods Coffee.
Wandering the Fairhaven District
A fifteen-minute walk from the inn is the Fairhaven District which earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. I wandered down the red brick sidewalks, admiring the street art and perusing shops, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d been transported to a Europen village.
Restaurants like the British-style pub the Archer Ale House, the deco-style Le Chat Noir and the double-decker red bus turned fish n’ chips eatery enhanced this European vibe.
For lunch, I wandered all the way up to the second floor of Village Books to the Book Fare Café, which focuses on creating dishes from local foods. Without hesitation, I ordered the sweet potato and spinach quiche and a chai tea latte. From their second-floor perch, I enjoyed a meal with a view of Bellingham Bay.
Check out my previous explorations, where I visited museums, got electrified (almost) and stayed at the Hotel Bellwether on the waterfront. Also, check out Elizabeth Rose’s explorations of Bellingham’s great foodie scene.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.