The fishing port and college community of Bellingham has steadily transformed itself from a rough-and-tumble blue-collar town to the arts, retirement, and pleasure-boating capital of Washington's northwest corner. Downtown abounds with cafés, microbreweries, specialty shops, and galleries, and the waterfront—dominated by lumber mills and shipyards in the early 1900s—is gradually morphing into a string of parks with
connecting trails. College students and professors from Western Washington University make up a sizable part of the town's population and contribute to its laid-back intellectual climate. The lushly green bay front, creeks meandering through town, and Lakes Whatcom and Padden attract wildlife like deer, raccoons, river otters, beavers, ducks, geese, herons, bald eagles, and the occasional cougar.