We’re going off the beaten path to explore Ferndale, Washington.
Tucked away just north of Bellingham, Ferndale is a charming town with a rich history and plenty of surprises to discover.
Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, or cheese lover, Ferndale has something special to offer. Join us as we uncover the hidden gems of this picturesque destination.
Worth a stop: Chuckanut Drive
If you’re traveling northbound on I-5 toward Bellingham, don’t miss the opportunity to take a scenic detour along Chuckanut Drive.
Instead of staying on the freeway, hop off at the Burlington exit and follow Highway 11, also known as Chuckanut Drive, all the way to Bellingham. This 20-mile stretch offers breathtaking views of Samish and Bellingham Bays, with glimpses of the beautiful islands off the coast on clear days.
Take advantage of the pullouts and viewpoints along the way, explore Larabee State Park, and end your journey in the historic Fairhaven district.
Where is Ferndale?
Ferndale is located in Whatcom County, in the northwest corner of Washington.
It sits about 10 miles north of Bellingham and is a mere 7-mile drive from the Canadian border crossing in Blaine.
A Bit of History
Ferndale has a rich history that dates back to the time of the Lummi and Nooksack tribes, the original inhabitants of the area.
European settlers were drawn to Ferndale in the 1870s due to its fertile farmland. By 1872, Ferndale had become an official town bustling with agriculture, logging, and dairy farms.
Its ideal conditions for dairy farming earned it the nickname “Dairy Center of the Northwest.”
The arrival of the railroad further fueled the region’s growth.
Even today, Ferndale remains a quiet town surrounded by postcard-perfect landscapes, making it an ideal destination for a relaxed family getaway.
Highlights of Ferndale
Pioneer Park is my family’s favorite attraction in Ferndale.
Spanning 17 acres, this green space is home to the Ferndale Pioneer Village — a restored pioneer town featuring 12 original cedar slab log cabins and a history museum.
Explore the village, wandering into the village church, post office, schoolhouse, and pioneer homes. In the summer, guided tours are available to provide deeper insights into the cabins’ history.
The Pioneer Village also hosts special events throughout the year, such as the Old Settlers community celebration in July and An Old Fashioned Christmas celebration during the holiday season.
Don’t miss the Visitor Center, located inside Pioneer Pavilion, which provides information and brochures about the area (limited hours: Monday to Friday, 10 AM to 4 PM).
Hovander Homestead Park
Hovander Homestead Park offers a glimpse into late 1800s farm life on its 350-acre property.
Explore the barns, historic outbuildings, and the meticulously restored Victorian Hovander Farmhouse.
From May to October, the park transforms into a working farm, housing a variety of farm animals.
Admire the beautiful master gardener demonstration gardens, find a serene spot for a picnic, or relax in the shaded areas.
Tennant Lake Interpretive Center
For nature enthusiasts, the Tennant Lake Interpretive Center is a short drive from downtown Ferndale.
This popular birding area offers a 1.4-mile loop trail where you can spot blue herons, bald eagles, and various migratory birds.
In addition to the nature preserve trails, the center features a unique fragrance garden.
This fully accessible garden offers raised beds at hip height, making it wheelchair-friendly. Visitors are encouraged to touch and smell the plants, and there’s even a braille identification system for the visually impaired.
Star Park playground
While exploring the historical and natural attractions of Ferndale, you’re children may have noticed the lack of playground equipment.
To keep the kids entertained, head to the City of Ferndale Star Park, which boasts an impressive play area.
Griffintown’s Cozy Corner Books
If you’re a book lover, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Griffintown’s Cozy Corner Books. This delightful used bookstore is exactly what a used bookstore should be.
Ferndale’s reputation as dairy country makes it a cheese lover’s paradise. Explore the following cheese-centric destinations:
Twin Sisters Creamery
Begin your cheese tour at Twin Sisters Creamery, a locally owned family business. Twin Sisters Creamery produces four delicious raw milk cheeses; my favorites are Whatcom Blue and Peppercorn varieties.
Visit their tasting room to sample these delectable cheeses, and if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the cheese-making process through the viewing window.
Ferndale Farmstead specializes in Italian-style cheeses, such as Fresh Mozzarella, Provolone, and Asiago. Although they don’t have a tasting room, you can find Ferndale Farmstead cheeses at well-stocked cheese counters in the area.
For a special experience, consider booking a private farm tour and tasting.
The Cheese Shop at Appel Farms
The Cheese Shop at Appel Farms has been a part of the Ferndale community for over 30 years.
Make a stop at their cheese shop to indulge in a selection of cheeses and cheese-related gifts.
You can also enjoy a light lunch or join a private tour to learn more about the cheese-making process.
Edaleen Dairy: Local Dairy Delights
While not exclusively a cheese destination, Edaleen Dairy is a local dairy with a store in Ferndale.
Browse their selection of local dairy products and don’t miss out on their full-service ice cream parlor, offering over 40 flavors of ice cream.
- Edaleen Dairy – Ferndale Location
Yeah Baby Boards
For a unique culinary experience, check out Yeah Baby Boards. This charcuterie board-making and catering company creates stunning, artistic boards that are perfect for special occasions or events.
You can also explore their lunch menu, picnic boards, and happy hour specials for a travel-friendly gastronomic adventure.
Eat and Drink
Ferndale offers a wide variety of take-out options, including Thai, Mexican, and hamburger joints.
Grab your family’s favorite cuisine and head to one of the beautiful parks mentioned earlier for a memorable outdoor dining experience.
Additionally, consider these unique Ferndale food choices:
Leader Block Trattoria
Leader Block Trattoria is an Italian restaurant in Ferndale’s historic district.
Combining Northern Italian flavors with Pacific Northwest influences, this charming eatery promises a special evening out.
Main Street Bar and Grill
For a party and great pub food, Main Street Bar and Grill is the place to be.
Enjoy live music or karaoke most nights – stay updated on their upcoming events by checking their Instagram page.
Barb’s Pies and Pastries
Satisfy your sweet tooth at Barb’s Pies and Pastries.
Treat yourself to delectable donuts, cinnamon rolls, hand pies, and more.
Ferndale is also home to some notable breweries. Check out these 2 breweries for a unique tasting experience:
District Brewing offers a selection of burgers and a wide variety of chicken wings to complement their craft beers.
The tasting room features different themed spaces, which is very fun!
It’s a family-friendly brewery.
Fringe Brewing: Open-Air Tasting Room
Fringe Brewing boasts a spacious open-air tasting room and a large outdoor seating area.
Bring your family along.
Food trucks arrive in the late afternoon and evening. Check their website for the food truck schedule.
Travel tip of the week
Pack a mini first-aid kit
Always pack a small first aid kit.
I have this annoying habit of getting a migraine the day after I fly. Since I’m hiding under the covers, trying to shut out the world, it always falls on Jody to go search for an extra-strength pain reliever in whatever new and unfamiliar city we happen to be in.
After doing this 2 or 3 times, he caught on that this would be a pattern, and our mini travel first-aid kit was born.
Whether you’re embarking on a short weekend getaway or a longer adventure, having essential first aid supplies can be a lifesaver. Consider including items like band-aids, antibiotic ointment, pain relievers, and any medications specific to your needs.
By being prepared, you can address minor health concerns and save time and effort in unfamiliar locations.
Here’s our comprehensive guide on travel first aid kits.
We hope this guide has piqued your interest in Ferndale, Washington — a hidden gem in the Pacific Northwest.