The historic Fairhaven district is just south of downtown Bellingham. And while it's just six square blocks, it's packed with character.
"There's a great variety of shops. And we've got a lot of artist shops, all independently owned. We've got a whole lot of restaurants and any kind of pizza you could ever want," said Paul Hanson, co-owner of Village Books and Paper Dreams. "But the historical aspect, it just feels like you're going back in time and a sense of nostalgia and warmth and community."
Fairhaven is a great place to explore, ducking into shops like Paper Dreams.
"We have a lot of tourists that are walking around and they go to Rocket Donuts, and they get their doughnuts, and they come here and they find something fun," said Kelly Evert, co-owner of Village Books and Paper Dreams. "They find things that are made in Bellingham. We have soaps that are made here, t-shirts that are made here. They'll find something that they won't find anywhere else. We have things for little kids, from the candy counter to toys to home décor. Gifts for everybody."
And if it's a good read you're looking for, just pop into Village Books, Paper Dreams' sister store.
"It's an independent book store that's been open since 1980. And, it's three floors of new, used and bargain books," explained Sarah Hutton, co-owner of Village Books and Paper Dreams. "We have music, we have magazines, we have books, we have used classics you've always meant to read, we have the hot new best seller that everyone's talking about, we have gifts that make you smile, we have cards for every occasion."
Even former residents who have moved away always seem to find a reason to return.
"I've left and come back. I've left and come back," explained Evert. "And, I just keep getting drawn back to this community. We have the beautiful mountains to the water to the people that we all have in common."
"I just love that I have a lot of good memories here from when I went to college here," said George, a customer shopping at Paper Dreams. "And, I love coming up here because I love the city, I love the views, oh and the food."
Ah yes, the food. If you're anything like the Seattle Refined staff, all that shopping will make you hungry! We'd suggest a hot bowl of soup from Colophon Cafe.
"We carry at least five soups every day," explained David Killian, co-owner of Colophon Cafe. "We have our African Peanut Soup, that's one of our signature soups. We have spicy Moroccan potato bean. We have split pea, my favorite. There's no ham. It's a vegetarian, vegan, simple but delicious. Mexican bean. And, our award winning clam chowder."
The Colophon Cafe started as a coffee shop inside Village Books, but moved to the basement of the 125-year-old building and grew into a full-service restaurant.
"It has evolved over the decades to suit family-friendly, book lovers come over here to sit by the fire, have a glass of wine or coffee," said Stacey Killian, co-owner of Colophon Cafe. "And, it's been a big part of the Fairhaven community."
"When we pull into work in the morning and we walk from our car into work, actually we feel it every day, we feel thankful to be able to live and work in such a special town," said Hanson.