Close your eyes and imagine all the places you pass on your way to Canada. First you go through Everett, then there is the tulip town, then Bellingham and Western Washington University. After that, it’s Blaine and the border crossing, right?
Wrong! Tucked between Bellingham and the border, there are a number of darling places, one of them being Hovander Homestead Park in Whatcom County’s city of Ferndale.
The place is gorgeous! With majestic trees along the Nooksack River and a picture perfect farmhouse, Hovander Homestead merges the history of late 19th century and early 20th century farming with ample space for modern day recreation throughout its 350 acres. During our visit, I anticipated a full morning, but, we easily spent 4-5 hours exploring, learning, and soaking in both the past and the present beauty of this area.
Curious what all there is to do at Hovander Homestead Park? Well, here’s our list of things you won’t want to miss!
The Barn and Animal Yard
Get your cameras ready, the classic red Hovander Barn is a sight to see - 60 feet tall and almost 11,000 square feet - one of the largest wood barns in Whatcom County. Inside you’ll find antique farming equipment with placards describing exactly what each did to make the farm run smoothly. Seasonally, outside, you’ll find barnyard animals ready to nibble your hands for a treat!
Crafted of western red cedar and Douglas fir, the Scandinavian-inspired house is the central point of Hovander Homestead. Completed in the early 20th century by owner architect Hakan Hovander (read more about his journey to the PNW here), the home is filled with antiques the family brought from Sweden as well as other period relevant pieces. You can tour the house during the summer on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 1 - 4 p.m. or in the off-season by scheduling a tour with the park ranger. Call 360.384.3444 to make arrangements.
Washington State University plants and cares for a variety of gardens near the orchard. There is a demonstration garden, a native plant garden, and a Children’s Story Garden. I was definitely inspired by the story garden and hope to implement a few of the book/veggie combinations in our own garden soon!
2014 brought a new addition to the park - a farm-style playground! There is a structure for toddlers and another for 5-12 year olds. Between the barn, the Story Garden, and the playground, your kids will be on an adventure high!
The Observation Tower
You’ll find a tall, red tower near the playground and it’s open to climb! At the top you’ll get a sweeping view of the entire homestead.
Picnic Areas and More
Scattered throughout the park there are a number of shelters and picnic areas. And yes, there are fully functioning bathrooms available for events and day visitors alike. All the shelters can be reserved for events … even weddings! If your event calls for a quaint Anne of Green Gables vibe, Hovander Homestead just might be a perfect fit!
The Fragrance Garden
Regular gardens are grand, but a fragrance garden, holy sweet lavender … and every other scent you can dream of … it’s like walking into a living and breathing outdoor flower shop! You’ll find the fragrance garden next to the Tennant Lake Interpretive Center, a short drive from the Hovander House. The raised beds are wheelchair and stroller friendly and you’ll note that the plant identification details include Braille for blind visitors.
Tennant Lake Marsh Boardwalk
Behind the Tennant Lake Tower, near the Fragrance Garden, a trailhead begins that will wind you through an actual marsh. Don’t worry about muddy feet though, the boardwalk and observation decks keep you safe while providing breathtaking views of Mount Baker. The loop is 1.4 miles and is both wheelchair and stroller friendly.
Are you amazed by all Hovander Homestead Park has to offer? Talk about a wonderful outing! Soon, plan to catch a sunny day (or bring your umbrella) and visit Hovander Homestead Park. You’ll enjoy a glimpse into the past while savoring the beauty that flourishes in Northern Washington. For easy driving directions, set your GPS to 5299 Nielsen Ave., Ferndale, WA 98248.