September 5-11, 2012

Bellingham-Whatcom County, Washington

Trip Description

This is a 6-day hands-on tour: Expect to shuck an oyster, crack your own crab, pluck your afternoon appetizer out of a shaded forest, watch as your foraged meal goes from the woods to part of a gourmet meal, heave and ho the sail on the deck of the historic Schooner Zodiac, and shout out suggestions to the professional Improv Team at the Upfront Theatre (founded by comedian Ryan Stiles). You’ll experience farm to fork restaurants and cooking demos, local wines, galleries, museums, boutique shopping and sailing, all set against a rich, historical background.

Bellingham, Washington is home to quirky, fascinating and historic museums, galleries and arts districts, where writers will enjoy special behind-the-scenes tours. Your palate will have fun on this trip – from foraging in the forest to nibbling at local farms and orchards; the idea of a 10-mile diet can easily be realized visiting this corner of Northwest Washington. We’ll expose you to specialty, small-batch ice cream (think unusual flavors like avocado, vanilla pepper and Earl Grey), locally-brewed beers made with hops grown in the brew pub’s own garden, and hand-made pasta, crepes, traditional perogies, truffles, gouda, and sausages, locally-grown hazelnuts, shellfish, berries, apples, and a special winery dinner.

This tour also includes dinner at the Willows Inn on Lummi Island. Chef Blaine Wetzel’s celebrated 22-course meals have resulted in some noteworthy and even international awards, including “Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride” by New York Times and “Best New Chef” by Food & Wine Magazine. Wetzel has also been nominated twice for the James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef of the Year award. The Willows Inn touts its food as “fished, foraged and farmed only today, only for you, only from this place.”

Bellingham is home to about a dozen wineries, and this tour includes sampling and touring up to four of them… one of them by boat. And not just any boat. The Schooner Zodiac is a tall ship that docks in the Historic Fairhaven district with a mast that towers over 11 stories high and room for 30 day trippers to take in the sights, sounds and wildlife of the Salish Sea.

Writers will stay at three of Bellingham’s boutique waterfront hotels that tout European vibes, amazing vistas and exquisite service.

Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism’s team will be your hosts, along with the owners and representatives at all our local venues. These businesses believe in public relations and sharing local treasures and the fun yet laid back Bellingham vibe.

About the Area

Bellingham and surrounding Whatcom County are located in Northwest Washington State, just 90 miles north of Seattle and 30 miles south of Vancouver, BC. With Puget Sound to the west and the North Cascades Mountains to the east, this charming, scenic area is full of adventure, fun and natural beauty. Bellingham consistently ranks among the top 10 cities with the cleanest air nationwide, as one of the best places to live, best places to retire, and “hippest, healthiest, and most adventure-packed” small cities in America. It has also earned recognition as the “Best Place to Play Year-Round,” “Coastal Dream Town,” “Top 10 Adventure Town,” “Trail Town USA,” “Best Paddling Town in the USA,” and “Happiest Small City.”


See Registration Form for cost.

Air Allowance

Air Allowance is $400 per participant, provided by Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism. Prior to the media tour, selected participants must purchase airfare and, upon arrival in Bellingham, provide receipt to Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism for reimbursement for the cost of airfare up to $400. If the media tour participant cancels the trip for any reason, reimbursement will not be provided.

Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism may also depend on support (assisted comp) from Allegiant Air, Alaska Airlines and Frontier Airlines for discounted flights directly to BLI (Bellingham International Airport). BWCT will do its best to accommodate all needs/travel planning of individual writers. Once a writer is selected for this trip, any questions about booking a flight and flight discounts should be directed to Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism.

Flights to Bellingham International Airport (BLI):

Alaska Airlines flies round trip to Bellingham direct from Las Vegas, Seattle, and Honolulu.

Allegiant Air flies round trip to Bellingham direct to/from Las Vegas; Oakland; Los Angeles; San Diego; Palm Springs; Mesa, AZ.

Frontier Airlines flies round trip to Bellingham direct to/from Denver, CO (seasonal: June – Sept 16, 2012).

It may be easier (and cheaper in some cases) for media tour participants to fly into SEA (Seattle-Tacoma International Airport). BWCT will offer the $400 air allowance to those participants and will also cover round-trip costs on the Airporter Shuttle (operated by Bell-Air charters) between SeaTac Airport and Bellingham, WA. Travel time via shuttle is about 2.5 hours.

About the Weather

Northwest Washington weather is unpredictable, but early September typically brings pleasant to warm weather: average high of 68 (can soar into the 80s or 90s), average low of 50, with only 1.8 inches of rain for the month.

Suggested Attire

See “Expectations for Conduct” on the Registration Form for more about IFWTWA’s media trip clothing guidelines. Bellingham is a casual and active city. Casual or business casual attire is appropriate for evenings, depending on the venue. Suggested day attire is light, comfortable, casual active wear. Sun protection and a light rain jacket for rain or cool mornings and evenings is recommended. Besides walking on city sidewalks, you will be walking on beaches, trails and boat decks; wear comfortable, sturdy walking shoes that you don’t mind getting soiled.


Hosts will select eight participants from the list of applicants. To increase your likelihood of selection, before applying:

Make sure your IFWTWA online profile and clips are current by going to; log in to Members Area and edit your profile.

Send any clips from past IFWTWA media trips to


Due to limited space in ground transportation at the host’s destination, guests are not invited on this media tour. You must be an IFWTWA student or regular member to apply.

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Itinerary: Sept 5-11, 2012

Note: Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism (BWCT) will select 8 writers from the applicants for this media tour. (Max. capacity is 8).

Day 1, Wednesday Sept. 5 – Welcome Beach Party

Arrive by 3 p.m. – Meet at The Chrysalis Inn & Spa and check in.

Welcome Dinner: Hands-on demo and Northwest beach dinner at Taylor Shellfish Farm on Samish Bay, a 100-year family operation. Learn to shuck and grill oysters, crack Dungeness crab, clean and prep live geoduck for sashimi and ceviche. Tools, gloves, bibs and wine provided.

Lodging: The Chrysalis Inn & Spa

Day 2, Thursday Sept 6 – Hiking and Foraging

Breakfast at The Chrysalis Inn & Spa

Trip to Artist Point on Mt. Baker or Chuckanut Mountain trails (depending on weather) for easy hiking and foraging with author, NPR broadcaster, adventurer and wild foods expert Jennifer Hahn, author of Pacific Feast: A Cook’s Guide to West Coast Foraging and Cuisine and Spirited Waters: Soloing South Through the Inside Passage (participants will receive signed copy of Pacific Feast).

Lunch: Catered picnic or cafe lunch, and foraging for tasty edibles on the trail.

Free time before dinner (suggestion: spa treatment on your own at the hotel).

Dinner: Wild foods cooking demo with Jennifer Hahn at Ciao Thyme Cooking School

Lodging: The Chrysalis Inn & Spa

Day 3, Friday, Sept 7 – Fairhaven/Downtown/Arts District

Breakfast at Magdalena’s

Walking Tour of Historic Fairhaven

Downtown Arts District Tour:

Whatcom Museum at the Lightcatcher (art museum, award-winning architecture),

Spark Museum of Electrical Invention (world-class collection),

Mt. Baker Theater (historic theater tour)

Lunch and beer tasting at Boundary Bay Brewery

Taste flavors you’ve never dreamed of at Mallard Ice Cream

“Chocolatier’s Chat” with the chocolate maker at Chocolate Necessities

Dinner: The Table

Improv Show at Ryan Stiles’ Upfront Theatre

Lodging: Fairhaven Village Inn

Day 4, Saturday, Sept. 8 – Farm Visits

Breakfast at Woods Coffee

Visit Bellingham Farmers Market (walk or drive)

Whatcom County farm visits with lots of nibbling:

Farmer Ben’s (meats, poultry),

Bellewood Acres (apples),

Appel Farms (artisan cheese),

Boxx Berry Farms (berries)

Lunch: Farm Tour samples will constitute lunch

Check in at Fairhaven Village Inn; free time before dinner.

Dinner: Old World Deli

Lodging: Fairhaven Village Inn

Day 5- Sunday Sept 9 – Winery Tour and Willows Inn Day

Breakfast: Fairhaven Village Inn

Free time after breakfast

Writer’s choice of two activities to be selected in advance:

Day on your own to research other story interests. Lunch on your own. Hosts from Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism will be available for suggestions, facilitate interviews, and help with any arrangements.

Whatcom Winery Tour with catered lunch. Tastings at 2-3 Whatcom County wineries in Puget Sound AVA.

Depart via ferry for Lummi Island

Tour Willows Inn and farm, interviews with owners and acclaimed chef Blaine Wetzel at Willows Inn

Dinner: Willows Inn

Depart via ferry for Gooseberry Point (near Bellingham)

Accommodations: Hotel Bellwether

Day 6 Monday Sept. 10 – Sailing

Breakfast: The Old Town Cafe

Day sail on the Schooner Zodiac, includes lunch on board and a stop at Legoe Bay winery on Lummi Island

Dinner: Harborside Restaurant

Lodging: Hotel Bellwether

Day 7- Tues, Sept 11 – Departure Day

Breakfast at Hotel Bellwether

Tour Ends (Depart)

Registration Form