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Exploring the Chuckanut Drive Scenic Byway

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This bench is a nice spot to enjoy the views from Woodstock Farm Park off the Chuckanut Drive Scenic Byway. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

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The Chuckanut Drive Scenic Byway stretches from I-5 exit 231 at Burlington to Bellingham's Fairhaven Historic District, a total of 21 miles. Traveling through scenic farmlands until reaching the coast and hugging the shoreline, the drive offers artisan crafts and foods, challenging hikes, great views and a rich history.

The first section of the drive travels through farmlands and sleepy little towns that don't even have one stoplight. First stop is Bow, Washington. You may have heard of farm to table, but farm to bakery is a first for me.  Located next to the more renowned Rhody Café, the Farm to Bakery Market is a must stop.  Everything is homemade, and the ingredients are farm-fresh and local as much as possible. Insider tip: Try the signature Lime-Soaked Polenta Cake.  It is a combination of polenta and pound cake and it is amazing. Months later, I am still thinking about how good it was.

Farm to Market Bakery, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday (call for holiday closures), 5507 Chuckanut Dr., Bow, 360.766.6240, farmtomarketbakery.net

As you continue your drive north on Chuckanut Drive, the farmlands start to fade away and the oyster beds and tidal flats of the Samish lowlands begin to beckon. The road becomes narrower as it begins to climb in elevation. Take advantage of the many roadside viewpoints.  They come up quickly, so watch for them. Enjoy great views of Samish and Chuckanut Bays as well as the San Juan Islands. The history of the highway, which was completed in 1896, can be found on many of the display signs at the overlooks. Stop at all; each has its own unique view and information, and I learned something new at each stop. Your next stop is Larabee State Park, the first designated state park in Washington. Enjoy beach access, tidal pools and hiking.

Larabee State Park, daily, 8 a.m. to dusk, 245 Chuckanut Dr., Bellingham, 360.902.8844, parks.state.us

Continue along Chuckanut Drive until you are almost at the end.  Watch for the turnout on your left for the Woodstock Farm Park.  This 100-year-old estate is now a city park. There is limited parking at the farm, with additional parking at the North Chuckanut Mountain Trailhead a quarter-mile past the farm entrance.  There is a nice trail you can take, just be cautious crossing Chuckanut Drive. The farm has a few short trails and scenic views of the bay. This property is just stunning and well worth a stop.

Woodstock Farm Park, daily, dawn to dusk, 1200 Chuckanut Dr., Bellingham, 360.778.7000

The Chuckanut Drive Scenic Byway ends in the historic Fairhaven District of Bellingham.  It is known for its red brick shops and restaurants that line its streets. It is a perfect stop to end the day. This neighborhood has a hip, funky vibe as well as an interesting history.  Fairhaven Winterfest runs through Dec. 23, with family friendly activities to help you celebrate the holidays.  For more information about Fairhaven, visit fairhaven.com.

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