Fairhaven is perhaps the most charming place in Bellingham. Perched atop a hillside sloping gently toward Bellingham Bay, the historic district packs shops, eateries and bars into several square blocks of 19th-century red brick buildings — all within walking distance of one another. Parking is free and there’s plenty to see. From cobblestone streets to the bar, here’s how to spend a weekend exploring historic Fairhaven.

sailboat in fairhaven

Places to Stay in Fairhaven

The single most centrally-located hotel in Fairhaven is the Fairhaven Village Inn. Situated directly across the street from the Fairhaven Village Green plaza, the 22-room inn is within walking distance of every shop and restaurant in town. Guest rooms are spacious and comfy, with partial waterfront views and parkside rooms available. 

For unparalleled Bellingham Bay views, stay just north of Fairhaven at the Chrysalis Inn & Spa. This luxurious hotel is located between Fairhaven Village and Boulevard Park on the South Bay Trail. It’s a 5-10 minute walk into Fairhaven along the trail. 

tony's coffee at harris avenue cafe

Where to Eat and Drink in Fairhaven

Fairhaven is foodie heaven. Begin your morning with a stop at Harris Avenue Cafe for a mug of locally-roasted Tony’s Coffee. The oldest commercial structure on the south side of Bellingham, the cafe’s historic building was the original roasting location of Tony’s Coffee in the 1970s. Today, Harris Avenue Cafe continues to serve coffee alongside hearty breakfast and lunch offerings. 

Sycamore Square

For a quick cup of java and a bite to eat, squeeze into the adorably cozy Shirlee Bird Cafe. This quaint cafe is located on the ground floor of Fairhaven’s historic Mason Block building (now known as Sycamore Square). Built in the 1890s, the building is rumored to be haunted. But that hasn’t stopped businesses from flourishing between its brick walls.

Next door to the Shirlee Bird you’ll find Mambo Italiano — a Fairhaven favorite since 2001. Upstairs, The Black Cat (aka Le Chat Noir) watches over town from its 3rd-floor perch. Don’t miss happy hour at this French-style bistro for oyster shooters, fondue and drink specials. Always a lively spot, The Black Cat has been serving Fairhaven since 1987.

Fairhaven Pizza

Fairhaven harbors more than its fair share of pizzerias. You’ll find at least five pizza places in as many blocks, and each one is worth a visit. My favorite? Fairhaven Pizza. Savor a slice of their house special, the Chrome Dome, a veggie-topped pizza with walnuts and red-pesto sauce blend. Wash it down with a local beer in the funky two-story space, or soak up the afternoon sun on the patio.

sycamore square building in fairhaven

Beer and Cocktails

Looking for something new to sip in the old town of Fairhaven? If beer is your beverage of choice, try Stones Throw Brewing. Their shipping container brewery is one of the more unique gathering places in town. Take a seat by the fire or upstairs on the rooftop patio. Stones Throw’s family-friendly space is great for groups of all ages.  

Stones Throw Brewing fire pit
southside bar cocktails

If spirits are more your speed, Fairhaven features a handful of classy cocktail bars. Start at Swim Club for tiki-inspired drinks in a French Tropical “wet bar” for arguably the most inventive cocktails in town. Then walk a couple of blocks south to Southside Bar for expertly-crafted classic cocktails in a “neighborhood gin joint.” 

stairs at the fairhaven village green

Explore Fairhaven

Known for its boutique, independent shops, Fairhaven is full of shopping opportunities. Most folks begin their spree at Village Books and Paper Dreams — sister stores that have anchored Fairhaven since the early 1980s. Whether you’re looking for books or gifts, you can easily spend half a day (or more) browsing the shelves. Upstairs, Evolve Chocolate serves coffee and desserts with a birdseye view of the Village Green below. 

Speaking of the Fairhaven Village Green, the grassy lawn surrounded by benches is a community hotspot. During summer, you’ll find families licking Edaleen Dairy ice cream cones and basking in the sunlight. Outdoor movies and live entertainment are offered here on summer Saturdays. Additional festivals and events are held at the green throughout the year

taylor dock on the south bay trail

Get Outside

Like the greater Bellingham area, Fairhaven is a trail town. Walk north on the scenic 2.5-mile South Bay Trail to reach Boulevard Park and downtown Bellingham. Hit the beach at Marine Park, the finish line for Bellingham’s Ski to Sea race. Or take the Interurban Trail south to reach the Chuckanut Mountains — Bellingham’s backyard playground. Hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners flock to the Chuckanuts for year-round outdoor recreation.