Where to Eat, Stay and Play in Lynden, Washington
This sleepy little town just south of the border is waking up.
Forget traveling all the way to Seattle and try spending a laid-back weekend in Lynden, Washington. Steeped in Dutch heritage and home to hundreds of local farms, Lynden is a great choice for farm-to-table enthusiasts looking for a slower pace.
This region is known for its abundance of fresh produce (the county produces roughly 65 percent of America’s raspberries) and these locals are keen to share both their knowledge and their bounty. Head over to BelleWood Acres for everything apple; from the country store brimming with cider, apple butter, and the must-try honey roasted peanut butter to the café stocked with owner Dorie Belisle’s pies, there’s lots to taste and discover. But the true star has to be the onsite distillery, which produces an impressive array of spirits made from—you guessed it—apples!
If the farm life isn’t for you, perhaps a visit to the Lynden Pioneer Museum is in order. The surprising 28,000-square-foot space, filled with weird and wonderful exhibits and displays will keep you occupied for hours, especially the recreation of the town’s main drag circa 1885 to 1935. For the artistically inclined, there’s the Jansen Art Center. Housed in the beautifully repurposed former city hall, this multifunctional artist haven offers classes (Paint and Wine Night FTW!), exhibits, and more—some of which are held in the former morgue.
Tuck into a decadent breakfast at Avenue Bread, where just about every meal is served with fresh bread baked daily at the Bellingham locations. Try the Florentine Benny on a savoury rosemary English muffin, or stock up on pastries to fuel you throughout the day. If the sight of so many windmills has you searching for a Dutch-style breakfast, look no further than Dutch Mothers, where you’ll find local farmers digging into traditional pannekoeken piled high with sweet or savoury toppings.
Northern Washington is a caseophile’s dream, with dairy farms and artisanal cheese makers peppering the landscape. A short trip to neighbouring Ferndale will bring you to Twin Sisters Creamery, a family-run operation that produces gorgeous Whatcom Blue and Farmhouse White cheeses onsite, and also stocks an impressive array of local and specialty cheeses, as well as wines, beers, ciders, and everything else to make a perfectly paired cheese platter. They also offer classes and curated tastings, but if you miss out, fear not, the helpful staff have lots of samples on hand and will guide you through their 70-plus in store options.
Dinner at Drizzle is a must. The second of two locations, Drizzle Lynden is the only one that has a farm-to-table café in addition to its olive oil and balsamic tasting room. Spend some time sampling the plethora of oils and vinegars, many infused with fruit, herbs, and more, and discover some of the less common suggestions for how to use them—grapefruit white balsamic makes a unique, refreshing beverage when combined with cucumber soda and fresh mint. Chef Andy Nguyen’s menu is a beautiful expression of the local bounty, and he’s even taken the time to credit almost every ingredient to its producer. When you see “Lindsay’s cheese” listed in a dish, know that he means Lindsay Slevin of Twin Sisters, just 10 miles down the road. This commitment to the community means the menu will always feature seasonally appropriate offerings and the freshest ingredients.
Cap off your night with a flight of brews at Overflow Taps, a taphouse committed not only to providing delicious beers and ciders, but also to giving back. You can feel good about drinking that second pint knowing that $0.25 is going to Charity: Water, an organization committed to providing clean and safe drinking water to those in need. There are board games available and patrons are encouraged to grab some grub from neighbouring businesses such as Avenue Bread two doors down. If a cocktail is more your speed, pop by happy hour at the Mill, the charming lounge on the ground floor of a boutique hotel inside a windmill. Cozy up by the fireplace with an Old Fashioned or enjoy a featured cocktail on the dog-friendly patio.
Lynden may not be large, but it’s home to some surprisingly sophisticated boutique hotels. One such space is the Inn at Lynden, a 35-room hotel in the historic Waples Mercantile Building. Once a busy department store, the building lay vacant for 30 years before it suffered a major fire in 2008, but thankfully it was beautifully restored and reopened as a hotel and assorted other businesses in 2015. Each room is unique and features remnants of the original structure, such as ancient wooden beams and old growth fir floor boards. Stay close to home base and enjoy the shops and restaurants on the main floor, or borrow one of the hotel’s bicycles and cruise around the area in true Netherlander style.
The aforementioned Mill Inn is another charming option for accommodation in downtown Lynden, although it only boasts a modest seven rooms. Each of its rooms is also unique, offering varying bed options and even some kitchens for longer stays, and all seven are housed in the tower of an actual windmill. Guests are also treated to an array of Dutch treats like salted licorice and stroopwafels upon checking in to their rooms. It’s not unheard of to have large parties book all seven rooms, taking over the hotel for a truly private event.