Where to park when visiting SPARK

Sadly, Nikola Tesla’s radiant energy teleportation plans still haven’t come to fruition.

And since visitors can’t beam themselves to SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention, they often end up driving their cars instead. Thus, on occasion, they’ll ask about parking.

SPARK is a happening place to be, and it’s located on a short street in the popular downtown Arts District. Honestly, there’s not much parking on our street.

There’s no need to worry, though. There’s more than enough room within a five-minute walk, and many of the available parking spaces don’t come with the two-hour time limit you’ll find on Bay Street.

First of all, there’s the lot next door, which is a wonderful option if you’re visiting SPARK on the weekend (it’s reserved for a local business during the week).

The other secret? The Commercial Street Parking Garage.

A little background: Bellingham parking overview

The city of Bellingham commissioned a parking study in 2013 that showed nearly 10,000 spaces available throughout the city core (Downtown, Old Town and the residential sections of the York and Sehome neighborhoods), noting that the city has parking capacity to last through 2036.

However, the survey also noted some problem areas in the parts of downtown near SPARK Museum. Specifically, it was noted that parking is often more than 85-percent occupied here in the Arts District, and also nearby on Holly Street near Railroad and Cornwall avenues.

If you’ve driven downtown to visit SPARK, the Pickford or one of the many delicious restaurants nearby, you may have noticed this, too. The popularity of this area does mean that on-street parking gets crowded now and again.

However, the 2013 study showed that on-street parking outside the busiest areas was only 50- to 60-percent full, and that lot parking was used even less, at 40 to 50 percent.

Screenshot from Downtown Bellingham’s video introduction to the Commercial Street Parking Garage.

Which leads us back to the secret: The Commercial Street Parking Garage, which is only two blocks behind SPARK, also showed just 50-percent utilization in that study. It’s less crowded than the streets nearby, and parking is always available.

Like street parking, spaces in the garage cost just $0.75 per hour. The full-day rate of $6, though, is less than you’ll find most other places. The garage is free after 5 p.m. and on weekends and holidays, just like street parking. Visit Downtown Bellingham’s site for a list of all free parking days.

If you bring your car to SPARK, the garage is a great place to stash it for the day!

How to visit SPARK without the car

Of course, Bellingham has invested a lot of money in its bicycling infrastructure in recent years. Many of the nearby streets have dedicated bike lanes, and bicycle parking is readily available. In fact, there’s a big bike parking area right in front of SPARK, and it’s large enough to keep your bike trailer when you bring the family.

The bus system serves this area well, too. Whatcom Transportation Authority bus routes 3, 15, 50 and 232 all stop right nearby, up on Champion Street, and the downtown station is over on Railroad Avenue, about four blocks away.

However you travel to our museum in downtown Bellingham, know that there’s room for you. We hope to see you soon!