This vibrant small city tucked between the Puget Sound and Cascade Mountains is 50 miles south of Vancouver, B.C., and 90 miles north of Seattle. Yet while Bellingham offers easy access to two major metro areas, it's a distinct community in its own right, with a nationally recognized hospital, international airport, and state college.
From the downtown harbor, boats depart regularly for the nearby San Juan Islands. A farmers market attracts more than 100 local vendors.
The town has a large retiree community, many of whom are no doubt attracted by the state's lack of income tax. Mild summers (average July high of 73 degrees) and winters (average January low of 32) are another selling point (as long as you don't mind frequent cloudy days).
At the Academy of Lifelong Learning at Western Washington University, faculty or other experts lead 60 multi-session classes and excursions a year. That has drawn about 250 members to the 12-year-old program.
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