We aren’t crazy about spring cleaning, but we do love the yearly ritual of packing away our bulky, neutral winter clothes and sprucing up our wardrobe with breezy, colorful pieces from local shops. In anticipation of that annual rite of spring, we attended the Bellevue Collection’s Standout Style runway show last weekend, and were delighted to see several trends that not only brightened our morning, but are sure to color us happy all season long.
Stripe it rich: Toss out the conventional (boring!) wisdom that says you can wear horizontal stripes only if you’re tall and thin. We say, if it makes you feel good, wear it! Women of all shapes and sizes will feel like a million bucks in Kate Spade’s show-stopping, multi-colored striped sequin dress.
Rain on our parade: The best of April showers and May flowers can be found in Victorinox Swiss Army’s fabulous floral Camille raincoat. We also loved a selection of form-fitting lightweight women’s jackets from Eddie Bauer that will let your chic flag fly on morning runs through spring wind and rain.
White hot: If the little black dress had a smart, savvy sister, she would be a white shirt, and spring offers dozens of versions of that stylish sibling. We want BCBGMAXAZRIA’s handkerchief-hem shirt dress—by far, more cool, calm and collected than anyone in our family!
Flaunt your Flamenco: We could almost feel the sultry Spanish breeze on our shoulders when a collection of flirty, Flamenco-inspired fashions walked the runway. A collective sigh took flight when Diane Von Furstenberg’s embroidered tulle goddess gown breezed by—and not just from the ladies!
Photo Credits: Photos courtesy of The Bellevue Collection
In the old days, we might have said these cafés are worth writing home about, but in 2016, we savvily encourage you to snap, post and share them. Here are five cafes in Bellevue who are ready for their close-up on Instagram—or your favorite social media app.
We were so delighted to see Belle Pastry’s sweet little pastel-hued macarons when we visited the café’s new location in the Meyden complex, across the street and one block east from the original Main Street storefront. The beloved French cookies are back, along with the bakery’s signature fruit tarts, palmiers, Madeleines, croissants, cakes and quiches. Stop by for a post-yoga pick-me-up, then check out the distinctive local shops on Main Street.
The coffee is luxurious, the service is warm and the green tea lattes are lovely, but what really caught our eye at downtown Bellevue’s mod Café Cesura is the gorgeous, glossy, reclaimed-wood community table that invites diners and sippers to take a seat and stay a while. This cozy, locally-owned café’s convivial vibe and picture-perfect drinks will encourage you to cozy up to old acquaintances, make brand-new ones, or share your solo experience with your followers.
We love cafes that love local ingredients, and Homegrown sources much of its produce from Sprouting Farms in nearby Woodinville. The sustainable sandwich shop also features locally roasted Stumptown coffee, and gluten-free baked goods from Seattle’s own Grand Central Bakery. Grab a latte splashed with organic milk and a breakfast sammie made with certified-humane, cage-free eggs, then snap a photo from a table on the sun-soaked patio.
We’d heard of hangovers and comb-overs, but it wasn’t until we stopped by Honor Coffee’s inviting Bellevue café that we learned the virtues of the pour-over, whereby a skilled barista custom brews a single cup of coffee just for you. That’s just the kind of personal touch we love to tell our friends about—and we think you will, too. Especially if it comes with one of Honor Coffee’s delicious, baked-fresh-daily pastries!
If we’ve learned anything from binge-watching British television on Netflix, it’s this: It is always the right time for a cup of tea. The next time you find yourself caught in the rain, caught in traffic or catching a cold, duck into Smacha’s comforting tea room for a hot pot of tea and a pair of the café’s house-made honey lemon chamomile cookies. The friendly staff will help you choose just the right tea to smatch your mood. (See what we did there?)
(Photo Credits, Top to Bottom: Honor Coffee photo via the Honor Coffee website, Belle Pastry photo by Visit Bellevue Washington, Cafe Cesura via Instagram, Homegrown photo by Visit Bellevue Washington, Honor Coffee via Instagram, Smacha Tea via Instagram)
It’s April. The 2016 Masters Tournament is this weekend, and for the golfers among us, it’s the month to pull the clubs out from behind the winter coats and hit the green. Here are some of our favorite spots to play 18 holes just a short drive out of downtown Bellevue. These beautiful courses create the perfect backdrop to enjoy a sunny afternoon with friends or wind down after a business trip.
Just on the northeast side of town you’ll find the meticulously groomed Bellevue Golf Courseof 18 holes. This municipal facility doesn’t play especially long (it’s just more than 6,000 yards from the blue tees), but the tall evergreens lining many of the fairways present plenty of challenges. Hone your driving skills on the practice range, or perfect your short game at the nearby nine-hole executive layout, Crossroads Par 3.
Set high on a bluff 10 miles southeast of Bellevue, The Golf Club at Newcastle is famous for its grand 44,000-square-foot clubhouse, which affords guests breathtaking views of Lake Washington and Mount Rainier. Choose from two first-class layouts, Coal Creek and China Creek, and its putting course. The on-site Calcutta Grill and its English-style pub rank among the celebrated dining venues of any golf course in the Pacific Northwest.
Northeast of Bellevue in Redmond, Willows Run Golf Complex offers golfing experiences for every skill level, including an exacting 18-hole putting course, a kid-approved nine-hole par-3 course, and two full-length links-style tracks. Of the latter two layouts, Eagle’s Talon plays longer than adjacent Coyote Creek, but water comes into play frequently on both courses, rewarding both precision and steady nerves. An added bonus: you can often spot wildlife at this leafy complex. Keep an eye out for a wandering coyote or bald eagle.
Looking a little farther north, just outside the wine-country town of Woodinville, Echo Falls Golf Club has developed a reputation for its tricky dogleg fairways and one of the most memorable 18th holes of any public course in the state. Bring your A game—this picturesque but treacherous par-3 requires a solid mid-iron to an undulating island green.
Easter has come around the corner a little early this year, but we’re ready for it here in Bellevue! It’s time to bring those lighter colors out from the back of the closet and celebrate the season with family and friends. Whether you’re looking for a place to take the kids for their first egg hunt or a spot for an intimate brunch with your friends, you have choices galore when it comes to Easter in Bellevue.
Brunch in Bellevue on Easter is nothing short of beloved tradition. Here’s just a few of the local restaurants who’ve created special Easter Brunch menus this year!
Brunch at Basil’s Bistro
Prepare for an eclectic brunch at Basil’s Bistro at the Hilton Bellevue. Make your reservation between 11am and 3pm Sunday and enjoy a menu with everything from international breakfast entrees like Pork Belly Fried Rice to delectable seafood dishes to omelets made to order. Bring a special someone or even better, bring the entire family! Kids 5 and under eat for free.
Brunch at Vivo 53
Treat your family and friends to an Italian style brunch at Vivo 53 from 10am to 3pm! Try creative concoctions like smoked salmon brick oven pizza and crispy cardamom waffles. For those of age, bottomless $15 mimosas will be flowing. What more need we say? Reservations are recommended.
Brunch at Pearl
Go big or go home at Pearl‘s 3-course Easter brunch from 10am to 2pm. A reservation here means wetting your palette with strawberries and cream before diving into brunch classics like their Monte Cristo Sandwhich and Heuvos Rancheros accompanied by plenty of side potato hash and house-made pastries.
Brunch at Daniel’s Broiler
Having Easter brunch at Daniel’s Broiler means you can have your steak and eat it in the morning too! This hefty meal includes starters, traditional brunch entrees, and then of course, USDA prime steaks served with mashed potatoes and fresh seasonal veggies.
Easter Bunny Photos
Saturday, March 26 is the Easter Bunny‘s last day for photos at Bellevue Square Center Court! Come make some memories you can take home with you. (Note: He’s not quite as real as this bunny pictured at right, but almost!)
Community Egg Hunt
This free event for the family at Neighborhood Church in Bellevue is the egg hunt you can’t miss. Starting at 8:30am Easter day and going til 10:30am there will be 10,000 eggs to find plus bounce houses, family field games, prizes, and donuts. Kids of all ages plus the kids at heart will want to be there!
It seems that every year as the spring flowers bloom, the range of family events and activities happening in Bellevue explodes as well. Did we mention that Bellevue hotel rates are favorably low during spring break (late March through early April) to boot? Here’s a roundup of five especially entertaining, unique, and locally-beloved spring activities coming up in Bellevue that the whole family won’t want to miss!
Cultural Crossroads Festival
Mark your calendars for the 2016 Cultural Crossroads Festival coming to Bellevue next weekend, Friday March 11 through Sunday March 13! This much awaited annual festival features a lineup of the area’s best ethnic entertainment, plus cultural exhibits and an international bazaar. In addition to delicious food, music, and dancing, the weekend event will feature more exciting activities for children this year, including an international and interactive LEGO display, coloring activities, and a “Dolls of the World” display.
St. Patrick’s Day at Crossroads Bellevue
The celebration doesn’t end after the Cultural Crossroads Festival. Come back to the Crossroads Bellevue Shopping Center on March 17 for a family-friendly celebration of St. Patrick’s Day! The Fire Inside, a five-member powerhouse of jigs and reels will be performing at the Market Stage. Join them for an evening of fiddling, pipes, and Irish dance. The Fire Inside plays traditional material alongside groundbreaking modern Celtic music. Bring the family to join in sing-a-longs, instrumentals and dancing.
International Ballet Theatre’s Alice in Wonderland
The International Ballet Theatre will be bringing a live theatre performance of Alice in Wonderland to Meydenbauer Theatre the weekend of March 19-20! Created for children and their families, the show will be a one-hour narrated dance performance scheduled conveniently during the afternoon. Get tickets to treat the family to a richly colorful Alice in Wonderland performance before enjoying lunch or dinner at one of Bellevue’s many downtown restaurants.
Walk ‘n Wag
Now this event will involve the entire family, furry members included! The Friends of Lake Sammamish State Park will be holding its first Walk ‘n Wag event on March 19. Dog lovers and their families are welcome to bring themselves and their pets to the beautiful Lake Sammamish State Park for a walk around a new 5k path the park rangers are developing. An optional 3k path will also be available. Register individually or as a family here; there’s a special family entry ticket for families of up to 4.
Kidsquest Visits BAM!
Every month this spring, Kidsquest Children’s Museum in Bellevue is partnering with Bellevue Arts Museum (BAM) in downtown to offer hands-on art projects and explorations inspired by current exhibitions. The March edition of the series on March 25 will be inspired by the prestigious “Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture” exhibit. The Kidsquest Visits BAM series is a perfect opportunity for the adults with toddlers and preschoolers to see a fantastic art exhibit while the kids have a great time creating and learning as well!
These five are just a few of the fantastic family-friendly activities happening in town this spring! For more ideas, trip planning, and more, visit our family page as well as the spring break itinerary on our website.
(Photo credits, Top to Bottom: Girl on carousel courtesy of Keith Brofsky, Cultural Crossroads performers and The Fire Inside courtesy of Crossroads Bellevue; Alice in Wonderland courtesy of the International Ballet Theatre; family image courtesy of Friends of Lake Sammamish State Park; Girl at BAM courtesy of Angela Hernandez)
Looking for a little more atmosphere for your date night, a fun weekend outing, or just something new to try with your colleagues? Then we have just the suggestion for you! Check out a few of our favorite hot spots for live music in Bellevue. From jazz tunes while enjoying dinner and drinks to Latin music and dancing, there’s something for everyone.
The Wintergrass Music Festival:
This weekend is THE weekend for live music in Bellevue, particularly if you listen to or play bluegrass and acoustic music. The 2016 Wintergrass Music Festival is here in downtown Bellevue through Sunday, February 28! Every year in February, this beloved live music event fills the Hyatt Regency Bellevue with the sounds of live performers, dancing and spontaneous jamming sessions. Get a day pass and check it out for yourself this weekend.
Also in the heart of downtown is Bake’s Place, Bellevue’s hub for live music housed in a cozy locally-owned restaurant and bar. Nearly every night there are local musicians performing in various genres from jazz to R&B to salsa, several times a week at no cover charge! Everything about the experience at Bake’s Place is welcoming and local, from the fresh, seasonal food and specialty cocktails to the neighborhood ambiance. During the warmer months, Bake’s Place’s large outdoor patio complete with bar area and Giant Jenga becomes a go-to nightlife spot. Need a unique meeting space for a special event? Bake’s Place accommodates groups of up to 100 guests as well!
Cypress Lounge & Wine Bar:
Live music and wine. Need we say more? Located at The Westin Bellevue, Cypress Lounge & Wine Bar offers an intimate setting for a glass of wine or a cocktail. Visit on Friday nights from 7-10pm for live performances that create a perfect setting for a relaxing dinner or romantic date night.
Music at the Crossroads Market Stage:
Looking for fun for the entire family? Then check out the schedule of performers at Crossroads Bellevue‘s Market Stage. Their calendar includes everything from blues to open mic nights to French cafe dance music. Music lovers of all ages can attend and expect a great time! The nearby International Public Market restaurants provide plenty of snack options as well.
Have you visited our favorite music spots in Bellevue? Mix it up this weekend and give live music a try!
(Photo Credits, Top to Bottom: Wintergrass Music Festival, Bake’s Place, Cypress Lounge & Wine Bar, Crossroads Bellevue)
Remember when the handsome prince kissed Sleeping Beauty to wake her from her deep slumber? That’s what it feels like in Bellevue on the first day of spring. We’ve enjoyed the nap, thank you very much, but now it’s time to fall in love—with warmer days, longer nights, fewer layers of clothing and more time outside. Here’s what else has us smitten this season.
Beyond longer days and warmer temperatures, spring brings fresh seasonal produce to our restaurants and farmers markets; new and favorite wines to our wineries and tasting rooms; and budding trees, blooming flowers and baby animals to our parks and botanical garden.
It’s the perfect time of year to visit the spa for a pedicure, the salon for a new ‘do, and local shops and malls for a welcome wardrobe refresh. And with gas prices so low, it’s the ideal time to plan a leisurely day trip to our state’s beautiful national parks, ocean beaches or tulip fields.
Whether you have a few hours or a few days, there is much to adore about the city and the season. So take a chance on springtime in Bellevue. We promise you won’t be disappointed.
(Photo Credit, Top to Bottom: Phantom Lake courtesy of Alex Levine, 99 Park’s Spring Dish courtesy of Shilohanne Photography, Wintergrass Music Festival, Lot No. 3 outdoor seating courtesy of Matthew Sumi Photography.)
Here’s your dilemma: The stunning view from downtown Bellevue of two snow-capped mountain ranges has you itching for a hike, but you don’t have enough time to commit to a full-fledged trek. Rest easy, gentle hiker, we’ve got you covered.
There are numerous nearby trails, unpaved and otherwise, where you can enjoy all the benefits of a soul-soothing or cardio-boosting ramble without the tedious travel—or the expensive gear. All you need are comfortable shoes, your phone for maps and photos, and a water bottle.
By far, our favorite places to roam are the parks that offer the best of both worlds: land and water. Meydenbauer Beach Park, just a quarter mile from the Old Main neighborhood, has a handful of forested trails and challenging staircases that are sure to raise your heart rate. To bring it down, simply descend to the beach and the pretty view of Lake Washington.
Tucked into the Moorland neighborhood, about a mile southwest of downtown, is Chism Beach Park, another hidden gem with both trails and beach access. Both Meydenbauer Beach Park and Chism Beach Park face west and offer lovely views of the Seattle skyline—and the sunset, if you’re hiking late in the day. (Both parks also close their restrooms until April 30, so plan accordingly!)
Another big bonus of the two parks is their proximity to fabulous eating and drinking establishments. We recommend Gilbert’s on Main for a hearty pre-hike breakfast, and Local Burger or the 520 Bar & Grill for beer and burgers afterwards.
For a flat track and great people watching, visit Bellevue Downtown Park, the city’s 21-acre outdoor social hub, which features a charming pond (complete with adorable ducklings in the spring), a half-mile circular path, and lots of open green space for stretching.
There’s so much space, in fact, that this is a great destination for meeting up with friends or colleagues for a long walk and a little gossip, followed by cocktails and fresh seasonal fare at 99 Park, just across the street.
Mercer Slough Nature Park and Bellevue Botanical Garden offer two of the most diverse urban hiking experiences on the Eastside. With a combined 373 acres between them, you’ll not only find a trail that tickles your fancy, you’ll see darn near every plant, flower, fish and fowl that calls this region home. Both venues are free to the public, and offer guided tours.
For years, walkers and joggers have been able to cross the I-90 floating bridge via the paved, 20-mile I-90 Trail that stretches from Renton to Seattle along Lake Washington, but the 520 floating bridge, which links Bellevue to Seattle, was off-limits to pedestrians. That all changes when the new 520 floating bridge (which will be the longest in the world) opens in April.
A family-friendly grand-opening celebration takes place April 2-3 and includes a community fun run and walk (5K or 10K) across the bridge, followed by a 20-mile bike ride the next day. The new bridge will feature a 14-foot-wide shared-use path along the north side of the highway, complete with scenic viewpoints and rest areas.
Oh, and if you find yourself in Bellevue without your comfortable shoes—or your water bottle—we’ve got you covered there, too. Escape Outdoors, The North Face and Title Nine, all located in downtown Bellevue, can supply everything you need for a great day on the trail.
(Photo Credits, Top to Bottom: Stocksnap.io via Jon Ottosson, Meydenbauer Beach Park courtesy of Merrill Photography, Local Burger, Bellevue Downtown Park courtesy of Walmsley Photography, Arial view of the I-90 Bridge courtesy of Visit Bellevue Washington, Coal Creek Trail courtesy of Visit Bellevue Washington)
Every day is a good day for wine from Washington, but in March we spend 31 days patting ourselves on the back for being so darn good at making—and drinking—it. Officially, the celebration is known as “Taste Washington Wine Month,” but around here, we just call it “The Best Month Ever.” Here’s how local wine insiders suggest you make the most of it.
By the glass
Erik Liedholm, wine director for Seastar and John Howie Steak, is smitten with the 2014 Schloss Howie Riesling, his favorite selection from the current by-the-glass list. “This was a custom wine made in a partnership with Long Shadows,” he says. “It is fresh and bright with just a bit of residual sugar. So good with charcuterie”
Over at Purple Café and Wine Bar, wine director Chris Horn (pictured at right) picks the Kerloo “Majestic” Grenache, Columbia Valley 2013. “Ryan Crane adds a touch of Mourvedre to the mix, which brings some darkness and depth,” he says. “Wickedly good.”
By the bottle
Daniel’s Broiler wine director Victoria Antilla’s favorite bottle is a perfect pairing for the restaurant’s signature USDA prime: “We have so many amazing Washington wines, it is hard to pick just one, but Grammercy Cellars’ “The Deuce” Syrah pairs beautifully with the nice bit of char that we put on our steaks,” she says.
From the impressive wine list at El Gaucho Bellevue, wine director Josh Lehman picks the 2007 Côte Bonneville estate blend, while Purple’s Horn loves the Reininger Carmenere, Walla Walla Valley 2012. “They were nice enough to let us have a few cases of this small production wine,” he says. “It shows off the grape—herbs, dark fruit and mouth drama.”
At a dinner party
Horn is positively effervescent in his praise for Analemma’s “Atavus” Blanc de Noir Brut, Columbia Gorge, 2010. “I’ve never had a better sparkling wine from Washington,” he says. “And who doesn’t want to start a party with bubbles?”
“Blends are a great choice for parties and not only does Chris Gorman make some of the best in the state, but the names on his wines always make for great conversation starters,” says Antilla. “Gorman Winery’s ‘The Devil You Know,’ a classic Bordeaux-style red wine, is always a crowd pleaser.”
At a local tasting room
“Anything at the a’Maurice tasting room,” says Horn. “Really. Anything.”
Liedholm is a bit more specific. “A’Maurice Malbec,” he says. “A great pour from a knowledgeable and very friendly tasting-room team.”
After a chilly hike
“I hate being cold,” says Horn. “It’s my least favorite thing in the world. So I would rely on the warming nature of the B. Leighton ‘Olsen Brothers Vineyard’ Petit Verdot, Yakima Valley 2012. It’s a bear skin rug of a wine.”
“If it was a really long hike, perhaps the 2012 Feather Cabernet Sauvignon. That would be a worthy reward,” says Liedholm. “If I had just hiked up Mount Rainier, it would naturally be Gramercy Cellars’ ‘The Third Man’—the name is inspired by the occasional hallucinatory effect of climbing at high altitudes.”
On the first warm day of spring
When the temperature finally begins to climb, Lehman uncorks the Fidelitas Optu white, and Horn breaks out the Dowsett Family “Celilo Vineyard” Gewurztraminer 2013. “It’s good any day, but it smells like spring in a glass,” he says.
Antilla chooses Sleight of Hand’s “the Enchantress.” “Halibut season starts in the spring, and this wine is so good with halibut lightly pan-seared in butter with just a bit of sea salt and lemon,” she says. “Deck dining weather is almost here!”
At a picnic
“When I picnic, I usually pack antipasti, cheese and cured meat,” says Antilla. “A white wine that hits all the right notes with so many different flavors is Viognier, and Steven’s Winery’s “Divio” has just the right amount of stone fruit on the nose and creamy lemon on the palate to wash down my hamper full of treats.”
“When I think spring, I think Sauvignon Blanc,” says Horn. “And when I think of which Washington Sauvignon Blanc I most want to pound in a park, it’s Avennia’s ‘Oliane,’ Yakima Valley 2014.”
When you’re watching the sunset
“The end of the day calls for something smooth and sippable,” says Antilla. “Long Shadows’ “Saggi” is modeled after a Super Tuscan wine, Sangiovese being the dominate grape with some Cabernet and Syrah providing a nice rounded flavor profile.”
Lehman also chooses a red blend to bid farewell to the sun: Rotie Cellars’ Southern Blend, while Horn is partial to saying goodnight with a white: “Toasting the sun with a glass of Lullaby Viognier is attitudinally correct both in name and flavor,” he says.
When you’re saving for a rainy day
Liedholm’s bargain pick is Columbia Crest’s “Grand Estates’ line. “The wines are consistently delicious and despite an enormous production output, they have a sense of place and taste much more expensive than they are,” he says. “Just because they are inexpensive doesn’t make them cheap.”
“Tamarack Cellars manages to make great wines for great prices,” says Horn. “Be it the Chardonnay or their Firehouse Red—both over deliver.”
After you win the lottery
Even when the sky’s the limit, Horn is loyal to local, choosing Woodward Canyon’s Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. “I could afford something pricier if I won the lottery, but there’s no reason,” he says. “It’s the best Cabernet from one of the best Cabernet vintages I’ve seen.”
Lehman would choose the 2007 Quilceda Creek Cabernet, and Liedholm would splurge on the 1989 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon. “I first tried this wine at a restaurant in Michigan (where I grew up) and it was the proverbial ‘game changer’ in my thoughts about New World wine,” he says.
If you still haven’t satisfied your curiosity about our local wines, we suggest a visit to nearby Woodinville Wine Country, home to more than 100 tasting rooms and wineries, all with distinctive characters and vintages.
Among our favorites is sleek-but-convivial Novelty Hill | Januik, which features a lovely terraced garden, a bocce court, delicious wood-fired pizzas and, most importantly, an extensive tasting menu. We also love the charming DeLille Cellars Carriage House Tasting Room, with its inviting covered patio, rustic wine-barrel tables and coveted pours of limited-production wines.
And no trip to wine country would be complete without a visit to Chateau Ste. Michelle, where a stunning setting, trout ponds, a resident peacock and gourmet cheeses are just the icing on the cake—the cake being a sampling of the winery’s award-winning and premium wines.
We could go on and on about the wonderful wines—and wineries—of Washington, but March is quickly approaching and we need time to plan our celebration. We hope you’ll join us.
(Photo Credits, Top to Bottom: Jay Mantri via Stocksnap.io, picture of Chris Horn courtesy of Purple Cafe & Wine Bar, Jay Wennington via Stocksnap.io, JM Cellars Wine Glass courtesy of Althea Conyers Achem, Sharon Linton, Woodinville Wine Country, Pexels.com, Luis Llerena via Stocksnap.io, Novelty Hill Januik)