Wandering Bellingham, Washington: First Stay at The Chrysalis Inn & Spa

Home >> Travel >> Wandering Bellingham, Washington: First Stay at The Chrysalis Inn & Spa

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.

Wandering Bellingham

The Chrysalis Inn & Spa. Photo credit by Lara Dunning

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.

As is common in the travel industry, Wander With Wonder sometimes receives complimentary products and services. However, you can always count on Wander With Wonder to report with honesty and integrity on those places we believe offer wonderful opportunities for our readers. Wander earns income from ads and affiliate links on our site. Some of those links are for Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, Wander earns from qualifying purchases. None of these practices influence our reporting, but we believe in full disclosure. For further information please visit our legal page.

Wandering Bellingham

The staircase is a favorite spot for wedding photos. Photo courtesy The Chrysalis Inn & Spa

The first feature that caught my attention was the curved wooden stairway that wound its way up to the third floor through wooden beams.

Wandering Bellingham

Winter or summer, the Living Room provides plenty of warmth and water views. Photo by Lara Dunning

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.

Wandering Bellingham

The inn has a daily happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Photo courtesy The Chrysalis Inn & Spa

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.

Wandering Bellingham

The train passes next to the inn. Photo by Lara Dunning

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.

Wandering Bellingham

A plush bed with views awaits guests of the inn. Photo by Lara Dunning

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.

Wandering Bellingham

My favorite feature was the cozy reading nook. Photo by Lara Dunning

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.

Wandering Bellingham

The inn has an on-site spa. Photo courtesy Diane Paddy’s Photography

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.

Wandering Bellingham

During dinner, I watched a seal glide through the water below the boardwalk. Photo by Lara Dunning

To start, I ordered the rum and ginger beer cocktail Taylor Dock.


Wandering Bellingham

The Taylor Dock drink pays homage to Bellingham’s historic dock. Photo by Lara Dunning

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.

Wandering Bellingham

The quinoa and yam crab cakes was my favorite dish. Photo by Lara Dunning

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.

Wandering Bellingham

Be sure to ask about their market fresh fish dishes. Photo credit: Lara Dunning

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.

Wandering Bellingham

The banana cream pie comes in a mason jar. Photo by Lara Dunning

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.

Wandering Bellingham

The Taylor Boardwalk is a great place to experience the waterfront and beaches. Photo by Lara Dunning

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.

Wandering Bellingham

On your stroll along Taylor Boardwalk, grab a coffee and savory snack at Woods Coffee. Photo by Lara Dunning

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.

Wandering Bellingham

The Fairhaven District is full of murals and sidewalk art.  Photo by Lara Dunning

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.


Wandering Bellingham

Fairhaven has a European feel. Photo credit: Lara Dunning

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.

Wandering Bellingham

Book Fare Cafe prepares foods made with local farm products. Photo by Lara Dunning

For more information visit Be in Bellingham and The Chrysalis Inn & Spa.

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.

Written by Lara Dunning

Lara Dunning lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest and freelances for a variety of travel magazines. Her work can be found at Experience Anacortes, Bainbridge Island Magazine, Northwest Travel & Life Magazine, RealFoodTraveler.com, WaggonerGuide.com and Whidbey Camano Islands. She also owns the travel site Small Town Washington & Beyond (http://smalltownwashington.com/), where she shares her passion for small town travel. Lara has an MFA in Creative Writing from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, writes young adult novels, nonfiction essays, and likes to hike with Hazel, her Australian Cattle Dog.

You May Also Like…


  1. Sue Reddel

    I haven’t been to Washington State but Bellingham looks delightful. The Chrysalis Resort seems like a perfect place to relax and enjoy. And those crab cakes at Kennen’s would be right up my alley. I’m bookmarking for a future visit. Thanks!

  2. Lara Dunning

    Sue, I hope you make it to Bellingham soon. You’ll have a wonderful time.

  3. carrie @ frugal foodie mama

    This inn & spa looks absolutely amazing! 🙂 I am over here drooling over that banana cream pie in the jar.

  4. Lara Dunning

    Carrie, Very fitting that you’d like the banana cream pie. 🙂

  5. Carmen Edelson

    This place has my name written all over it.. from the surroundings, to the food, and beautiful interiors. Thanks for sharing! I’ll check it out.

  6. Tami

    I went to college in Bellingham, and It’s one of my favorite towns in the Pacific Northwest. I also watched a TV travel show recently where this hotel was highlighted. Uncanny timing — I thought it was a great hotel then and it was fun to see more information on this post!

  7. Lara Dunning

    Tami, I almost when to Western Washington! What a great place to go to college! That does sound like uncanny timing for sure. It’s a great hotel and in a fab location.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest food, wine & travel updates! We look forward to having you Wander with us.

You have Successfully Subscribed!