Bellingham is a world-class city, it has everything a major city has without being the size of say Seattle. City is great for couples, families, young people, singles, retirees and so on. Bellingham is consistently ranked on a national scale among the healthiest, best, happiest and fastest growing metro areas but, of course this city like any other has it's issues and growing pains. It's been growing at a quick rate for the past twenty years and it is almost unrecognizable now as it was in the late 90's (population wise). With nearly 114,000+ people it's no longer a smaller city which is showing more and more as the issues typically dealt with in big cities are residing here now. Cost of living is throw the roof with it being impossible for 90% of the country to buy a home or live comfortably within city limits, homelessness problems especially in the downtown core, violent-crime and crime in general is particularly bad now, traffic and parking is a big issue (during rush hour... no thank you) are just a few of these problems. Bellingham has amazing public schools, neighborhoods, economy, diversity, small/local businesses, job opportunities (tech field especially), political activeness, public transportation etc. the list goes on. Basically if you're able to afford to live here I' d highly recommend this place otherwise don't bother. Homes are very expensive and rent is very high as well, to buy a home in Bellingham will cost you near $500,000+ depending on the area, type of home, and land it's on (you'll find many homes in mediocre neighborhoods with 2 bed, 1 bath less than 1,000 sq ft for at least $380,000). Renting will be costly too as most property in the city will cost you about $2,000/month and certain neighborhoods even being up to $3,500/month. Keeping that in mind if you can afford it or don't mind 5 roommates it's a wonderful city.
Bellingham is pleasant in the summer. There is lots going on, and the downtown is active. Unfortunately it attracts a lot of homeless and panhandlers, perhaps because of its liberal reputation and expensive housing. Traffic and parking can be problematic, and the layout of the city is not easy to negotiate. Big mountains are nearby and the ocean of course is close by.
Although it is a very scenic and pretty seaside city, I went to Bellingham winter of 07 and didn't have the best time of my life. Bellingham has some pretty good skiing but most of the time it was too cold to do anything else like hiking, or mountain climbing.
My wife and kids loved the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center which is basically a big community pool, but I hated the commotion of the general pool area and the lack of diversity. They also enjoyed the long Bellingham hiking trails available.
The one thing I enjoyed greatly was the golf course which truly is one of the best in the state. The course was your standard 18-hole, but had a bar with a great big screen tv, snack bar, practice area and we even received a complementary golf lesson.
The restaurants in Bellingham were average, often times restaurants had a menu of only fish dishes, which unless you love fish is annoying, and the food was lacking in taste for how much it cost.
I went to Bellingham again with my business partner in the spring of 2010 and actually enjoyed myself more. The city is much more enjoyable in the warmer months. Bellingham is a spring or fall city, if you go in the winter be prepared to have a lousy time.