Wintergrass Festival

Wintergrass Festival 2017

Outside the Hyatt Regency in downtown Bellevue, it’s a damp, dark February evening as the city’s tech workers and mall shoppers pull up their hoods and tighten their scarves. But, inside, the jam is on as multigenerational bluegrass bands spring up impromptu in the hallways, landings, and just about anywhere they can find a spot to set up. Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018, the Wintergrass Festival descends on Bellevue February 22-25 with a musical culture of the community, collaboration, education, and fun.


Wintergrass is a prime example of how to instill arts and culture into a community better known for its corporate persona. A family-friendly event, the festival features 30 bands from the USA, Canada, and Sweden and offers 60 workshops ranging from “Banjo 101” to “How to Grow a Band.” Headliners like Ricky Scaggs, Sam Bush, and David Grisman mingle and even jam with attendees when not performing on stage.

“The sense of music is everywhere. It’s like watching a hive,” says Wintergrass development and publicity director Wendy Tyner.

Bluegrass comes in many iterations at Wintergrass including traditional, modern, “jazzgrass,” gospel, and country. Instructor Rushad Eggleston comes to bluegrass with his cello – unconventional instruments are welcome. Even attendees without instruments can join the fun thanks to a stash of harmonicas in a range of keys available to borrow.

The festival has prompted many award nominations including Director Beth Fortune’s 2015 Grammy nomination as best musical director for her work with Wintergrass and as a teacher at Washington Middle School. Wintergrass won Event of the Year in 2005 from the International Bluegrass Music Association. But, the festival is most proud of its educational component working with underserved youth. Nearly half of the kids are given scholarships to attend the festival and participate in group workshops, bands, and get to see accomplished musicians make bluegrass magic. And kids under 12 can attend for free regardless of participation in workshops.

Approximately 250 youth are served by the following programs: Pintgrass (ages 4-7), Youth Academy (ages 7-14), Youth orchestras (6 regional middle schools), and the Rock City Songsters (ages 16-20) including a mentoring program where they learn about sound, the stage, and marketing. Wintergrass founding executive director Patrice O’Neil has been the creative spark in creating educational programs to inspire young musicians, says Tyner.

The festival draws 12,000-16,000 visitors annually according to Tyner. In addition to attendees, that number includes a huge number of volunteers, some of whom receive teaching accreditation hours for their service. Currently, more than 80 percent of visitors come from the Puget Sound area, but the festival would like to see that demographic expand to include people from all of the Northwest, West Coast, and Alaska. They are also hoping that Bellevue residents increase their presence this year.

“We are proud to be in Bellevue,” says Tyner noting that the festival brings in 2-3 million dollars in revenue for local hotels and businesses. “People come for the festival and then stay and visit Bellevue museums, restaurants, and stores.”

Though headliner shows frequently sell out on Friday and Saturday nights, most of the bands play twice during the festival. Thursday night and Sunday generally have the capacity to sell more tickets. Children’s groups perform on Friday night and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets may be purchased for one day up to all four days of the festival with reduced prices for military, Canadians, and seniors.

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While Away Winter, The Bellevue Way

From festive holiday events to vibrant musical festivals, Bellevue is the place to be this winter season. Bellevue Magic Season extends throughout the month of December anchored by a rainbow of twinkling light sculptures at Garden d’Lights (at Bellevue Botanical Garden), old-fashioned ice skating at the Magic Season Ice Arena (Bellevue Downtown Park through mid January) and more along with the Northwest’s largest nightly holiday performance at The Bellevue Collection’s Snowflake Lane.

Snowflake Lane


Magic Season Ice Skating Rink

Winter isn’t usually very white in this low elevation lakeshore city, but local ski resorts are less than an hour away on Snoqualmie Pass offering a downhill adrenaline fix, scenic Nordic trails, and snowshoe hikes. Warm up back in town with our winter beverage guide featuring coffee, drinking chocolate, and wee drams of whiskey. Or soak away the chill with a view in the window-side tub of W Bellevue’s Extreme WOW Suite – one of the city’s many luxury experiences highlighted in a specially curated list of local indulgences. But, nothing warms the heart quite like music. Enjoy live performances by Grammy-winning musicians and join the fun with impromptu jamming sessions and workshops at Wintergrass in February.

Article written by Julie Arnan.

Images courtesy of: The Bellevue Collection, Ice Skating Rink by Lisa Merrill Images, George White Photography.

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Warming Winter Beverages

Warming Winter Beverages

When “tis the season” becomes plain old winter and the body craves a bit of warmth, many of us find ourselves reaching for a cozy beverage whether said beverage is literally warm or known for its warming powers. Everything from coffee to Scotch can be found just around the corner in Bellevue. And what better way to experience the city than on two feet, coffee cup in hand?


The Northwest’s favorite beverage, coffee is something of a religion in this neck of the woods. Shots of Redmond-based Caffe Lusso (translation: Luxury Coffee) form the base of coffee beverages at Café Cesura located on 108th Ave NE. Roasted to “the point of nuance,” Caffe Lusso delivers consistent, balanced flavor perfect for starting the day. Bellden Café, located on Main Street, sources its coffee from Portland roaster Coava Coffee. Not only is the product delicious, but it echoes Bellden owner Claire Sumadiwirya’s dedication to charity and community. Each season, Bellden donates proceeds from a specific food or beverage item to a different charity raising both money and awareness for causes close to her heart (winter proceeds benefit the Overlake Medical Center Fund).

Turmeric Latte at Third Culture Coffee

Third Culture Coffee serves as a great weekend walk starting point, located just across the street from the south entrance to Bellevue Downtown Park. The menu offers an eclectic mix of caffeinated beverages including global specialties like the Spanish Bombon – a shot of espresso mixed with a dash of condensed milk; and Vietnamese coffee featuring a larger ration of condensed milk. Get it to go and take a loop around the half-mile walking path that circumnavigates the park. If it’s “12-o’clock somewhere,” Third Culture Coffee also serves flights of port that will have you cozy in no time.

Drinking chocolate at Dote Coffee Bar in Lincoln Square South comes with or without a shot of espresso, but the main event is the chocolate ganache base crafted by Swiss master chocolatier Ewald Notter. Traditional dark chocolate to progressive turmeric ginger lattes are available daily, while a peppermint-white chocolate lollipop can be stirred in seasonally. And the chai tea latte at Belle Pastry on Main Street is positively swoon-worthy.

Whiskey Double Dark Boozy Coffee at DOTE Coffee Bar

 

 

Delicious mulled wine at Purple Cafe

Mulled wine bridges that gap between warm and warming beverages. At Purple Café on 106th Ave NE, they infuse a house-made blend of cinnamon sticks, star anise, allspice berries, cloves, and black peppercorns with citrus peel, honey, and red wine to create a spicy-sweet sip-able beverage.

Monsoon Bellevue has one of the Eastside’s largest whiskey collections including bourbon, Japanese whiskey, Scotches, and Irish whiskey. Monsoon bartenders love to pour shots and flights from some of the more obscure bottles with a side of whiskey education if customers show interest. They also make custom barrel-aged cocktails – each available for a limited time only. Another whiskey hotspot, Lot No. 3 is an ideal place to request a warming dram or expertly balanced brown-spirit cocktail like the “Man of Constant Sorrow” made with Russel’s Reserve 10-year bourbon, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, China China Amer, and rosemary.

Spirits were first distilled by European monks for medicinal applications. Many of the more herbal liqueurs and aperitifs hail from this heritage including the Italian amaro spirit Fernet Branca, available at Civility & Unrest in Lincoln Square South.

Article written by Julie Arnan.

Images courtesy of: Third Culture Coffee, Lot No. 3.

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The Lux Life

The Shops at The Bravern

Bellevue offers many levels of indulgence allowing one to dip in a toe or plunge headfirst into luxury’s deep end.

FOR THE BODY

Spahhhhh. Even saying the word is relaxing with a built-in sense of satisfaction. When Gene Juarez, a name synonymous with beauty in the Pacific Northwest, moved to the Shops at Bravern in late October, its famous “Day of Beauty” package found its rightful home. The six-hour plunge into aesthetic and wellness treatments includes a 90-minute therapeutic massage, a 60-minute facial, a spa manicure and pedicure, followed by an expert blow dry and makeup application. All that beautification can really work up an appetite. Luckily, the package includes a catered lunch ($475). Or try individual treatments at Truce, located on the second floor of the Westin Bellevue. They offer massage, facial treatments, nail services, and a full line of organic skin care products from Eminence.

Spa room at Gene Juarez Salon & Spa

 

FOR THE PALATE

But first, Champagne. Always. Civility & Unrest was founded as a high-end cocktail and Champagne bar and the list reflects that commitment from NV Krug ($700) and Dom Perignon ($400) Rosé to 2004 Pol Roger Champagne ($250), and up into the Champagne stratosphere with some 1998 Dom Perignon P2 ($970) or 2000 Krug Clos d’Ambonnay ($5,400). Ask about the collection of rare bourbon, single malt Scotch, and Cognac or try the “Head Over Heels” cocktail made with Hennessy XO, Absinth, and Peychauds bitters infused with strawberries and black truffles. Upstairs at the W Livingroom Bar, Louis XIII Remy Martin Cognac is poured by the glass ($350), but why not spring for the bottle ($10,000)?

Caviar, foie gras, oysters, filet mignon – the list of indulgent ingredients can be found on many of the city’s restaurant menus. At John Howie Steak (JHS), the Wagyu trio lets diners compare American, Australian, and Japanese versions of the world’s most tender steak ($250). Or play chef in the comfort of your own home with the JHS Steaks to Go program – 28-, 35-, and 42-day custom aged USDA steaks are cut to order and delivered overnight with seasoning and cooking instructions. Finish a night at JHS with the famed Kopi Luwak coffee service prepared tableside Turkish-style in gilded cup and saucer with naturally rich caramel and chocolate flavor ($45/cup).

Indulge your solid gold sweet tooth with an order of Chocolate Gold fondue at the Sugar Factory (also available at its bar, Chocolate Lounge). Gold-coated dark chocolate truffles are melted tableside and served with myriad gold dusted accouterments. The $1,000 treat serves up to six people and comes with a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne and a glass of 50-year Remy Martin Louis XIII cognac. Guests also leave with a sweets-stuffed gift bag.

TO BE SEEN

There’s not an evening on the planet that could not be improved by a red Ferrari, though the canary yellow McLaren MP4-12C may be hard to pass up when browsing the luxury rental options at Zadart Exotic Car Club & Rentals.

The company is the only one of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, according to the staff. Started by local teen Jonny Netz as a high school project, Zadart offers a fleet of current model luxury vehicles by the hour, day, and longer. The popular “Date Night” package allows customers to pick up the vehicle at 6 p.m. in time for a swanky night out on the town, returning the vehicle by 10 a.m. the next morning. Driving by busy sidewalks highly recommended for maximum preening impact. With a $500 credit card deposit, most vehicles range between $250-1500 per day. Hourly rates vary. 

Finally! Evidence that the best things in life really are free – personal styling at both Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus don’t cost a dime. The process at Nordstrom starts with an online contact form after which someone from the styling staff replies with a survey to narrow down a potential client’s needs, tastes, and budget expectations. On appointment day, the stylist gives the clients a fashion parade of possibilities. While the commission-based stylists would love to establish long-term relationships with clientele, customers are under no obligation to purchase.

 

Jewels in every color sparkle from beneath glass cases at Gordon James Fine Diamonds on Main Street. With 40 years of experience in the industry, Gordon has access to exquisite and rare stones like the natural fancy 6.94-carats pale greenish-yellow oval cut ring that graced my finger for a few luscious minutes one afternoon ($375K). Gordon and Gretchen Raine pay attention to comfort details when designing their pieces making for smooth bracelet backs and invisible closures, and lighting-catching details like using higher E-grade diamonds in the best-selling “Huggie” earrings to radiate more sparkle whether worn to a gala or under a ski helmet ($2,750).

TO REST

A good night’s sleep is a luxury in and of itself. Treat yourself to a fantastic night in the Chairman Suite with views of the Seattle skyline at The Westin Bellevue, a brand focused on wellness and renewal featuring its trademarked Heavenly Bed® and Shower. Or go big with the Extreme WOW Suite at W Bellevue boasting idyllic lake views from a window-side soaking tub, future-forward tech, and 2,300-square feet of room in which to stretch out or curl up.

Skyline view from the Westin Bellevue

 

Article written by Julie Arnan.
Images courtesy of: The Shops at The Bravern, Gene Juarez Salon, Sugar Factory American Brasserie, Zadart, Westin Bellevue. 

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Bellevue Coffee Maker Spotlight – Meet Radhika

Image by Rina Jordan


Image by Rina Jordan

Located just half a block south of Downtown Bellevue Park, Third Culture Coffee has emerged as one of Bellevue’s beloved cafes, celebrating diversity through delightful coffee, dessert, and food. Third Culture Coffee offers a variety of artisanal beverages, ranging from traditional Indian teas to locally-sourced coffee blends. The abundance of natural lighting throughout the cafe helps create a soothing ambiance, making Third Culture Coffee the perfect place to relax with a tasty beverage in hand.

We are excited to introduce cafe co-owner Radhika Kapur, whose dedication and unbridled passion for her craft make visiting Third Culture Coffee all the more worthwhile.


What is your name?

Radhika Kapur.          

Which coffee shop are you with?

Third Culture Coffee.

What inspires you to come to work every day?

The belief that I can and will make a difference.

Signature coffee order?

I love experimenting and trying out new flavors so when visiting specialty coffee shops, I try and go for their signatures or Single origin Pour Overs. At Third Culture, I generally go behind the bar and whip up an experiment myself…some habits die hard I guess! And at other coffee shops where unique options are not available, a Cortado would be my first preference.

What is your favorite accompaniment to your morning coffee?

My preference here is distinctly Aussie. A crisp raisin toast with butter melted in, or toasted banana bread with butter …. its sublime! I am also very partial to a simple avocado toast to kick start my morning along with coffee.

When you’re not drinking coffee, what’s your go-to beverage of choice?

Sherry or Port from Purple Bar in Bellevue.

Do you have a favorite place in Bellevue?

Bellevue Downtown Park. It is Bellevue’s crown jewel, in my humble opinion. It’s a place for everyone, to relax, have fun & enjoy. It is beautiful at night & the kid’s playground is amazing and it brings the community together – right in the heart of downtown. I’m a HUGE fan!

If you were going out after work in Bellevue, where would you head?

I would be spoilt for choices really. Depends on who I’m going out with and what we are in the mood for. For drinks and appetizers, I would stick to Bellevue Way, there are so many options there from W to Joey’s. If the focus is on food, I’m very partial to Facing East, Din Tai Fung or the newly opened Lake House. And if I’m in the mood for catching a flick, Lincoln Square has great movie options with a late-night bite at Bollywood Café.

If a customer asked you where to go for “the best bite” in Bellevue, where would you send them?

Hmmm…That’s a tough one since there are so many options. I think our neighbors at Third Culture have great bites, whether it’s the Carmine’s, Park 99, Monsoon, Peony. As I have said earlier, I think we would be spoilt for choice.

What, in your opinion, is the world’s best coffee creation?

Cold Brew. The depth of flavor and you can do so much with it! It is incredible.

What activity in or around Bellevue is a “must” for those visiting the region?  

I think Snowflake Lane and ice skating in the Bellevue Downtown Park around Christmas time are awesome activities and an absolute must do for visitors.

Where’s your go-to happy hour spot?

With 2 kids and a crazy schedule, I have to admit I haven’t been able to make it to too many happy hours. I do like Monsoon a lot and since its right next to Third Culture, I am very familiar with their happy hour and really like it.

Where do you go when you’re craving something sweet?

Sweet = Drinking Chocolate, Sherry Affogato & Hot Cakes Molten Lava Cakes….my three favorite desserts, so thankfully I head straight to Third Culture.

Where do you enjoy drinking your coffee when you can take it wherever you like?

I love sitting next to the water, so the two classic water spots for me are Meydenbauer Bay or in Kirkland near the water.

What’s your favorite event in Bellevue?

I’m a huge Bellevue Arts festival fan. I wait the whole year for it and love spending my entire day in the fair. I also love the movie nights that are hosted in all the local parks. As my kids grow older I appreciate Bellevue for the community places and family spots.

How would you describe Bellevue to visitors? 

Bellevue is a charming, beautiful & diverse city where you can enjoy nature’s beauty along with family. It has good eats, hip places and lots of things to do through the year – shopping, trails, parks and so much more!


Stay tuned for more Bellevue Coffee Maker Spotlights from Visit Bellevue Washington. Also, be sure to pay Radhika and her crew at Third Culture Coffee a visit this fall and post your photos with the hashtag #MyBellevue!

Photos courtesy of Rina Jordan Photography

Posted in Bellevue Parks, Culinary and Wine, Downtown Bellevue, Hidden Gems / Local Picks, Private dining, Rainy Day Activities, Things To Do | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bellevue’s Unique Meeting Venues

Memorable and engaging experiences for meeting attendees

Meeting professionals know that making lasting impressions on convention attendees happens throughout an event. It requires thinking strategically about all aspects of the event from the opening reception, to the meeting venue, to where to hold your organization’s board meeting and how you can create memorable and engaging experiences all along the way.

The Visit Bellevue Washington team is here to help you to identify those unique opportunities to engage your event attendees and create a memorable experience in our city and beyond. Here is a list of types of venues to spark your imagination.

Bellevue’s Unique Venue Ideas 

  • Art museum or gallery
  • Cooking class
  • Performing arts center or theater stage
  • Movie theater
  • Children’s museum
  • Escape room
  • Tree house overlooking Bellevue nature park
  • Brewery or wine tasting room
  • Restaurant buy-out or private dining

Check out our list of Bellevue’s unique meeting venues and group dining options and other engaging interactive meeting venues. The list includes information venue capacities for receptions or seated events, availability for buyouts and more.


New trends in convention and facility design mean that meeting venues offer engaging lighting and sound systems, creative gathering spaces and a range of interactive technologies that maximize the attendee meeting experience. Meydenbauer  Center’s recent renovation delivers a range of new lighting options, offers comfortable and flexible lobby seating that provides opportunities for attendee interaction and all new AV technologies make it even easier to bring your presentations to life.

Bellevue also offers a range of unique venues that are perfect for a reception for your entire group or smaller events for VIP dinners or events.  At KidsQuest Children’s Museum, your guests can engage their inner child while exploring the exhibits at a reception.

At the Bellevue Arts Museum, three diverse event spaces can be rented out for private events set against a backdrop of impressive architecture and exhibits. Or you can host a reception on stage at Meydenbauer Center’s Theatre.

We can also recommend venues where you’re able to take in views of Bellevue skylines or enjoy a meal or reception on a beautiful outdoor patio surrounded by the sights and sounds of the Pacific Northwest.

Photo Credits, Top to Bottom: After hours reception via Visit Bellevue Washington, Meydenbauer Theater by Meydenbauer Center Theatre, Inner Child by Visit Bellevue Washington.

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Calling All Foodies

Great news for those of us who live to eat. Bellevue is attracting award-winning local, national and worldwide talent in the kitchen. The result? We are now home to some of the hottest chefs and most innovative flavors in the country.

Here are just a few of the newest and most inspired eateries in town.


Fogo de Chão

Fogo de Chão brings fresh excitement to the Bellevue restaurant scene. A Brazilian steakhouse, this new venue is famous for its centuries-old Southern Brazilian grilling technique of churrasco, a taste of traditional Southern Brazilian culture and cuisine.

For one price, mouth-watering Brazilian meats are carved tableside. Included with your meal?  An extensive salad and vegetable bar called the Market Table. The Market Table features goodies like hearts of palm, giant asparagus, fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, sun dried tomatoes, fresh cut and steamed broccoli, marinated artichoke bottoms, tabbouleh, smoked salmon, an assortment of fine cheeses, and much more. At lunchtime, the Market Table is available as a meal all its own.

What to try? In addition to the Brazilian meats try the south-of-the-border fish and seafood dishes along with a Caipirinha; a signature cocktail featuring cachaca, the native spirit of Brazil, distilled from pure cane sugar.

Planning a meeting? Fogo de Chão offers private dining for large and small groups including corporate or business functions.

The Lakehouse

Also in Lincoln Square South, James Beard Award-winning Chef Jason Wilson brings his interpretation of a Northwest farm-to-table meal to Bellevue.

Offering vibrant, farm-inspired craft-cooking, The Lakehouse concept was inspired by Bellevue’s own history and spotlights produce sourced from ever-evolving grower and farmer relationships. Authentic, engaging and delicious, the familiar dishes meet an artisan approach with a produce-driven menu that is filled with local seafood, small ranch meats, and handmade pasta.

Set in a beautiful, welcoming space reminiscent of an entertainer’s lake house, the restaurant features a farmhouse table for communal dining or large groups, chef’s counter, private and semi-private dining.

After dinner, be sure to check out Civility & Unrest, another Jason Wilson venture, on the ground floor of Bellevue’s new W Hotel. This speakeasy-inspired lounge is centered upon the craft cocktail insider experience.

What to try? Feast on comfort food like the Grilled Pork Chop with apricots and white cheddar grits; or the Roasted Neah Bay Halibut with lemon chile buttered spinach and Manila clams.

Japonessa

Seattle’s favorite sushi restaurant now has a home in Bellevue’s own Lincoln Square. Japonessa is a sushi-cocina, offering sushi, sashimi and specialty rolls with a Latin twist. Known for an extensive happy hour and traditional sushi bar experiences, this restaurant features a gorgeous dining room decorated with modern décor and an extensive sushi bar front and center. It’s the perfect place to be and be seen.

From traditional nigiri and sashimi to rolls decorated with jalapeño, cilantro, and mango, Japonessa takes traditional Japanese cooking fundamentals and fuses them with flavors from Latin America. There’s even a chef’s table you can book ahead of time to watch Chef Masa Nakashima do his magic right before your eyes.

What to try? Look for amazing rolls like the Eight Spice Tuna Tataki with seared tuna, jalapeño garlic soy citrus, and wasabi aioli or our favorite, the Madrid Moon with spicy yellowtail, cucumber, cilantro, topped w/ seared spicy crab, black tobiko and drizzled with jalapeño citrus and truffle oil.

Private dining is also available for small or large groups.

Peony Kitchen

Located on Main Street in Old Bellevue, Peony Kitchen is a modern take on Chinese cuisine and is breathing new life into traditional Chinese food.

Enter the dining room, and you know you’re in for something special.  The spectacular space is decorated with Chinese pottery, brass, and vases of silk peonies. Walls of brick, tile and unfinished wood give the new building a vintage look. Peony Kitchen’s owner, restaurateur Paul Choi has designed an upscale Chinese restaurant with some unique menu items.

What to try? The Whole Five Spice Crispy Duck, crispy and mouth-watering and like nothing we’ve ever tasted. The Tea-Smoked Free-Range Chicken is another entrée you don’t want to miss. For lighter fare, try the smaller tapas-style plates like the delectable Mu-Shu Tacos or pan fried Kurobuta Pork Buns.

Pokéworks

The healthiest, most delicious trend in eating comes straight from the islands of Hawaii. Pokéworks delivers the best in delicious Poke bowls and wraps. And it’s no wonder. After many trips to Hawaii filled with lots of poké, its founders decided to bring this island favorite to the Mainland for all to enjoy. And now you can indulge in the freshest, most delectable seafood you’ve ever tasted, conveniently located on Bellevue Way in the heart of Downtown Bellevue.

What to try? Build your own bowl any way you like with flavors like Shiso Salmon, Spicy Ponzu Albacore, Wasabi Shrimp and Scallops, and Ginger Chicken. And don’t forget the add-ons. Choose from mix-ins like edamame, mango, sweet onion and incredible sauces including Spicy Ginger, Wasabi Aioli or Sweet Chili Gochujang. For crunch lovers, how about topping it all off with Onion Crisps, Lotus Chips, and Macadamia nuts. Or try a unique twist on a fan favorite, the Pokerrito (Poke burrito)!

Henry’s Tavern

Also new in Bellevue’s Lincoln Square South is Henry’s Tavern. With one location in Seattle and another on the way in South Lake Union, Henry’s is now on the east side of Lake Washington, much to the delight of Bellevue beer and burger lovers.

And this location is something to behold. Over 100 beers on tap along with indoor shuffleboard, state-of-the-art televisions for perfect game-day viewing, a custom frost rail to keep pints cold, an extensive wine list and a floor to ceiling keg cooler in the bar area. There’s even outdoor rooftop dining with views of downtown Bellevue and space enough to seat 80.

What to try? Don’t miss Henry’s signature hand-seasoned Gorgonzola waffle fries as a side to a Peanut Buster Burger featuring applewood smoked bacon, chunky peanut butter, dill pickles and crispy onion strings.

Sugar Factory

Sugar Factory arrived at Bellevue’s Shops at the Bravern in September. A whopping 8,500-square-foot retail/restaurant that seats 250, with plenty of outdoor space and even a chocolate lounge. A celebrity favorite destination in New York, L.A. and Las Vegas, Sugar Factory offers a fun family-friendly menu, decadent treats and is popular for all types of parties.

What to try? Check out one of their signature cocktails (with or without alcohol); served in goblets garnished with lollipops; or try to polish off a King Kong Sundae.


Whether you’re searching for meat-lovers paradise at Fogo De Chao, exploring the exotic “sushi-cocina” menu at Japonessa, or looking to indulge in some crazy sweets at Sugar Factory, Bellevue’s latest and greatest restaurant openings will surely have you coming back to the city for seconds.

Photo Credits, Top to Bottom – Spread via Fogo De Chao, Roasted Carrots via The Lakehouse, Sushi platter via Japonessa, Bar via Peony Kitchen, Sushiritto via Pokeworks, cheeseburger via Henry’s Tavern, Cocktail via Sugar Factory.

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What’s New in Bellevue

While we were out and about this summer enjoying the Pacific Northwest’s beautiful weather and natural settings a profusion of new spots to shop, dine, stay and play opened in Bellevue.

We are excited to welcome AC Hotel by Marriott and W Bellevue, plus new restaurants and bars, entertainment, and nightlife options at Lincoln Square. In addition, new coffee shops, a wine tasting room, and several new restaurants in Old Bellevue and The Shops at the Bravern are ready to be explored. Our newly renovated Downtown Park offers walking paths, water features, and innovative new playground spaces.


New Places to Stay & Explore in Bellevue

Lobby at W Bellevue

The summertime openings of two exciting new hotel properties AC Hotel by Marriott and W Bellevue brings Bellevue’s total hotel rooms available to 5,274.

AC Hotel Lifestyle King Room

Within downtown, and walking distance from Meydenbauer Convention Center, there are now 17  hotels and 3700 guest rooms.

  • W Bellevue – A contemporary design inspired by the hotel’s spectacular position near the shores of Lake Washington and Bellevue’s history as a lakeside vacation destination. The hotel includes 245 modern guest rooms, 25 Suites, 11,000 sq. ft. of event space, plus three unique restaurants and bars that have people dancing well into the night.
  • AC Hotel – This European inspired hotel provides stylish & modern guest rooms. Indulge in delectable tapas, locally brewed beers & wines on site at the AC Lounge or explore dozens of award-winning restaurants, just minutes away in downtown Seattle & Bellevue. Meet in sophisticated function rooms complete with high-speed internet & advanced AV equipment.

Old Bellevue – Main Street

  • Third Culture Coffee brings together the tradition and history of cultures with the allure and mystique of coffee. All in a welcoming atmosphere that celebrates a global coffee culture.
  • Peony Kitchen Offers a fresh interpretation of Chinese cuisine in a vibrant and stylish atmosphere.
  • Swiftwater Cellars – This tasting room and restaurant bring the popular Swiftwater Cellars of Suncadia to Bellevue.

The Shops at the Bravern

The Shops at the Bravern is anchored by the Northwest’s only Neiman Marcus plus the ultimate luxury brands like Hermes, Gucci, Moncler, Bottega Veneta and Prada and much more.

  • Sugar Factory American Brasserie The food at Sugar Factory American Brasserie is a treat for all, serving decadent and tasty fare to satisfy any craving. The signature menu offers everything from pancakes and sweet and savory crepes to salads, burgers, and pizzas, all available throughout the day. Sugar Factory also offers spiked adult beverages made with premium spirits, including Sugar Factory’s signature 36-ounce alcohol-infused smoking candy goblets, all of which are available without alcohol for the kids.

Bellevue Collection – Lincoln Square South

Lincoln Square South is the newest area of the Bellevue Collection, located just south of the Bellevue Arts Museum and connected to the rest of the Bellevue Collection by sky bridges. In addition to the new W Hotel and residential tower and an office building, Lincoln Square South also includes a wide range of shopping, dining and entertainment options.

  • Dote Coffee – Direct trade green coffee, roasted in small batches to bring out the unique ‘taste of place’ in each origin and blend. Served up traditionally or mix it on the bar with handmade chocolate, ice cream, and booze. Signature creations by Chef Ewald Notter.
  • Cinemark Reserve Lincoln Square – State of the art movie theater featuring six stadium seating auditoriums with lounge seats, electric powered, oversize, plush, comfortable recliners with foot rests! This 21 and over movie theater also has a full kitchen with seat side service for order and delivery, plus a bar with lounge and table seating and exterior terrace.
  • Civility & Unrest – Speakeasy-inspired cocktail experience, offering guests an expressive cocktail culture exploration.
  • Fogo de Chao – Internationally renowned Southern Brazilian steakhouse, Fogo de Chão, features a vibrant dining room, lively bar area and an open kitchen showcasing the centuries-old Southern Brazilian grilling technique of churrasco. Fogo de Chão honors the Brazilian gaucho traditions of churrasco, the art of roasting meats over an open fire, and espeto corrido, or “continuous service.”
  • Henry’s Tavern – American Bar & Grill. Henry’s Tavern Bellevue offers 100 beers on tap to combine its rich history with an innovative approach to beer inspired food and a dedication to local brews. Its robust menu includes a wide variety of scratch made items supporting locally sourced ingredients.
  • Japonessa – Sushi Cocina featuring a Japanese core concept with hints of Latino flair.
  • SoulCycle Bellevue – SoulCycle is a full-body indoor cycling workout that started a movement. Rockstar instructors. Epic playlists. THE original cardio party on a bike.
  • The Lakehouse – 3-meal restaurant. The farm-inspired craft-cooking by Chef Jason Wilson showcases his produce-driven approach using the best local ingredients from the region’s farmers and foragers. The menu offerings include local seafood, small ranch meats, and handmade pasta.
  • Nordstrom Rack – The Rack returns to downtown Bellevue adding to the range of shopping options from off-price to luxury. The Rack offering customers a wide selection of on-trend apparel, accessories, and shoes at an everyday savings of 30-70 percent off regular prices.
  • Wild Ginger – Fusion Asian restaurant offering fresh, diverse, and authentic flavors in a fine dining atmosphere. With a Wine Spectator Grand Award winning wine list, lively bar and great happy hour.
  • Zoom + Care – Pioneered on-demand healthcare with Perfect Visit™ — same-day, no-wait, illness, injury, and preventive care scheduled directly online, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, meds and labs on site.

Additional dining options are scheduled to open throughout the fall and will be highlighted in future newsletters

Photo Credits, Top to Bottom: W Hotel Lobby via W Hotel, Signage via Third Culture CoffeeCocktail via Sugar Factory.

Posted in About Visit Bellevue, Culinary and Wine, Downtown Bellevue, Fashion, Hidden Gems / Local Picks, Shopping, Things To Do | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s the Season to Fall for Bellevue, Washington

From exploring outdoor fun in our breathtaking Pacific Northwest playground; like world-class sporting events and scenic day trips; to the hottest trends in fall fashion, restaurants and nightlife along with great weekend rates on fabulous hotels – adventure awaits you.

Fall Fashion

And it wouldn’t be fall without fashion. There’s plenty to see for the fashionista in Bellevue. This fall’s latest trends come to life on the runway during Fashion Week at The Bellevue Collection, September 20 – 24, featuring three different runway shows and many other events.

Fashionistas will also want to check out The Shops at the Bravern.  Bottega Veneta and Oliver Peoples made their debut earlier in the summer. And Gene Juarez opens its new flagship salon and spa in September.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities

If you are an outdoor sports lover, don’t miss the 9th annual Round the Rock stand up paddle board event on September 10. Organized by Northwest Paddle Surfers, Round the Rock is the longest standing Stand up Paddle (SUP) event in the area. Every year, hundreds of athletes and passionate paddlers from all over the world depart from Bellevue’s beautiful Newcastle Beach Park and paddle around Mercer Island (the Rock). It’s fun to watch or paddle.

If hiking is your passion, we love the fall colors and miles of gorgeous trails at Bellevue’s own Mercer Slough Nature Park, Lewis Creek Park or Weowana Park. Or, head out along the Mountains to Sound Greenway and explore trails galore.

Fall also brings some great family festivals and activities. Don’t miss the fabulous Zip Scare Tour. Going on evenings, October 13-28, it’s a night-time zip-line adventure that will have you zipping through the evening sky with glow sticks lighting the way.

The Kelsey Creek Farm Fair happens Saturday, October 7 from 11-4 celebrating everything the season has to offer. Look for children’s crafts, inflatables, entertainment, tractor rides, and vintage tractor displays.

Or welcome autumn in the Pacific Northwest at the annual Salmon Days Festival in Issaquah, Washington. Taking place October 7 – 8 in Downtown Issaquah, just minutes east of Bellevue off I 90, Salmon Days is an award-winning fall season kick-off event.

Explore New Dining Options

Prefer to eat your way through the city? Enjoy the nightlife and great people watching in Bellevue at a slew of new adventurous eateries with the hottest chefs and trend setting menus. And if you’re planning for a large group or company gathering, many can accommodate you.

Southern Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão has opened at the Lincoln Square expansion featuring Brazilian grilled meats and seafood, along with Japonessa, a Japanese core concept restaurant with hints of Latino flair. Be sure to also check out The Lakehouse, Henry’s Tavern and the sophisticated lounge, Civility & Unrest. And don’t miss the new Market at Lincoln—a premium, casual food hall featuring a flurry of new restaurants. Also coming in September to The Shops at The Bravern is the celebrity favorite, The Sugar Factory.

No matter what your idea of the perfect fall adventure, you’ll find it here, in Bellevue, Washington.

Photo Credits, Top to Bottom: Zip Scare Tour via South Bellevue Community Center, Fashion Week via Bellevue Collection, Fogo Spread via Fogo de Chao

Posted in About Visit Bellevue, Bellevue Indoor Recreation, Bellevue Parks, Culinary and Wine, Downtown Bellevue, Events, Family, Fashion, Outdoors, Shopping, Things To Do | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Festivals and Outings Perfect for the Kids (and Kids at Heart)

If you’re bringing the family to Bellevue on vacation, coming for business, or spending the weekend, fall is the perfect time of year to play in our neck of the woods. And now more than ever, Bellevue is a fantastic place to spend a week or a weekend. New luxury hotels in town like the W Bellevue and AC Marriott and great values on weekend stays at all our Bellevue hotel properties makes us truly the destination for staying and playing.

And this fall, there are great festivals to check out and a fantastic line-up of fun, family-friendly things to do throughout our city or just a short drive away.

Right Around the Corner

  • Be sure to take the kids to KidsQuest Children’s Museum in downtown Bellevue. A hands-on, interactive children’s museum that encourages learning through play. With activities both indoors and out, it’s a great place to spend an afternoon or entire day with the little ones all the way up to age 11 or so.
  • Enjoy a beautiful day outdoors with the family at one of our many gorgeous parks. The Bellevue Downtown Park reopened in July after a year of expansion and renovation. It’s an urban oasis in the middle of downtown Bellevue with water features, a ½ mile walking path and the new Inspiration Playground with new interactive features that engage the senses and accommodate children of all abilities.
  • Are you a family that loves to hike? Why not hop on a trail at the Mercer Slough Nature Park. With over 7 miles of trails to pick from, you’ll find the perfect path for an afternoon out with the entire family.
  • Looking for water views and other outdoor activities? Pick up a sandwich at Whole Foods in the Bellevue Collection and check out Enatai Beach Park for a waterfront view of Lake Washington while you picnic. After lunch, consider renting a canoe, kayak or paddle board and paddle around Lake Washington and into the slough.
  • For the perfect day indoors, look no further than Lucky Strike at Lincoln Square for an afternoon with the kids. There’s premium bowling on 16 spacious lanes, fantastic food, and a world-renown arcade game area.

Festivals and Fun

If festivals are your passion, here are some of our favorites in Bellevue or just a short drive away:

Kelsey Creek Farm Fair

Explore Children’s arts and crafts, inflatables, animal encounters, a petting zoo, entertainment, interactive children’s activities, tractor rides, and vintage tractor displays. Have a fun-filled day with the little ones while searching for a pumpkin in the pasture to decorate. Admission and many activities are free while some have a nominal fee.

Halloween on the Hill

Join the fun at a series of Halloween inspired events on Saturday, October 28 at Halloween on the Hill at South Bellevue Community Center.

This one-day festival features events like The Great Pumpkin Race and Jump; race or jump your decorated pumpkin on wheels; Carnival on the Hill; carnival games, food, bouncy houses, and entertainment; Haunted Movie on the Hill; enjoy buttery popcorn while watching a Halloween classic on the big screen.

Zip Scare Tour

The Zip Scare Tour takes place every evening October 13-28 on the Zip Lines at Bellevue’s Eastgate Park. You can enjoy scary, creepy fun zipping through the dark of night. There’s one suspension bridge and three zip lines to thrill you, while you step off a platform and coast along in darkness. But not to worry; riders and platforms will be brightened with lights and glow sticks.

Issaquah Salmon Days

Held over the course of two days, the Salmon Days Festival in historic Downtown Issaquah celebrates the return of salmon to local waters. Taking place October 7-8 and just minutes east of Bellevue off I-90, this award-winning festival embraces Issaquah’s unique history, culture, and ethnic diversity.

Look for a parade to kick it all off on Saturday as well as a kid’s entertainment stage. Treat yourself to delicious cuisine from over 60 food booths. If you’re an art lover or love to shop, you’re in luck. Over 270 arts and crafts vendors will be there displaying their work.

Hayrides, Hot Air Balloons, and Corn Mazes, Oh My!

Prefer some old-fashioned fun of the past? Just a short drive away from Bellevue—you and the family can be transported to the days of yore at these fun farms and corn mazes.

Serres Farm – Redmond, WA

A 24-acre working family farm in Happy Valley east of Redmond, Serres Farm has a pumpkin picking patch your kids will love getting lost in. Just put on your favorite boots and grab a wheelbarrow because it’s time to start the hunt for the perfect jack o’ lantern. A variety of pumpkins from miniatures to giant Great Atlantics grow in the field. Patch opens the last weekend in September and runs through Halloween.

And be sure to enjoy the spectacular cornfield maze. It’ll take about 15-20 minutes to navigate this giant hand designed puzzle. The kids will also delight in the animal train ride all around the farm. Of course, what would fall be without an old-fashioned hayride? You can even race your favorite duck in a water propelled duck race.

Jubilee Farm – Carnation, WA

Every Saturday and Sunday in October, you can visit the pumpkin patch, take a hayride and enjoy some hot spiced apple cider at Jubilee Farm.  About 20 miles east of Bellevue, Jubilee has thirty acres of farmland open to the public. Bring the kids to visit the animals, play in the hay maze or watch a cooking demonstration. They’ll delight while watching adults sling pumpkins with the homemade trebuchet. There’s even a concession area for a quick bite.

The farmers market is open to the public in the fall on this biodynamic farm. It has operated in Snoqualmie Valley for more than 20 years.

Prefer to get carried away?

How about checking out fall’s colors from hundreds of feet above Woodinville wine country? Hop aboard a balloon at Woodinville’s Over-the-Rainbow hot air balloon company and take you on a ride of a lifetime.

Enjoy spectacular views looking over Lake Washington and the Seattle skyline. Beyond that is Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountain Range. And to the south,  Mount Rainier, so big and beautiful it looks close enough to touch. It’s an experience unlike any other.

This is just a sampling of things that we like to do in the fall in and around Bellevue. Check out Visit Bellevue’s calendar of events and things to do for more fall visit inspiration.

Photo Credits, Top to Bottom: Bellevue Downtown Park via City of Bellevue, Zip Scare Tour via South Bellevue Community Center, Salmon Days via Issaquah Salmon Days, Farm via Serres Farm,  Hot air balloon via Pixabay.

Posted in Bellevue Parks, Events, Family, Holiday, Outdoors, Summer Fun, Things To Do | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment