Bellevue Summer Convention Spotlight: GTOAA Nationals

pontiac-1384266_1920Summer approaches, and so does summer convention season in Bellevue! The team at Visit Bellevue Washington works to connect meeting planners with their perfect venue, hotels and activities, and while we love every season here at Visit Bellevue, we locals also know that the best time for an out-of-state convention attendee to experience the Pacific Northwest is during the summer months. The sun is out, the temperatures are perfect, the evergreens and the mountains are calling and Bellevue is bustling with outdoor entertainment and waterfront activities.

This summer, we are excited to welcome an especially fun crowd of attendees from around the nation to Bellevue for a convention that is sure to be a highlight: the 2016 GTOAA Nationals Convention. That is, GTO Association of America‘s celebration of the classic American muscle car coming to the West Coast this July for only the second time in 37 years.

Ted_w/GTO_RoadsterTo get the inside scoop on what is going to be a major event for GTO enthusiasts and Bellevue locals alike, we went to Ted Knapp, Northwest GTO Legends Club President (head of GTOAA’s local chapter). Ted represents these passionate, fun-loving car enthusiasts found among GTO owners, racers, and aficionados “to a T.” Hailing from our neighboring city of Woodinville, Washington, Ted has been a muscle car enthusiast since his high school days and has fond memories of driving his first GTO back to the Pacific Northwest from Nebraska with his mom and sister.

United States. Washington, Bellevue, Downtown Park, Meydenbauer Bay, Lake Washington and SeattleWhile Ted and his colleagues had their eye on the Pacific Northwest as their 2016 convention location from the start, multiple factors led them to choose Bellevue, Washington as their home base. “We toured the various venues in the Puget Sound Region.” Ted related, “We focused on hotel/convention facilities that had enough rooms, large enough convention facilities for registration, tech talks, banquets, etc. And most importantly, one that could handle both indoor parking for Concours cars and large enough parking for the Popular Vote cars. The Bellevue Hilton fit the bill.” On top of that, Ted noted Bellevue’s vibrant community and car and pedestrian-friendly streets as important selection factors.

Hilton Bellevue, WashingtonWhen asked what the GTOAA Nationals Convention is all about, Ted can lay out the goals for the entire event for you pretty simply: “The GTOAA Convention is an annual event to celebrate the GTO and provide an opportunity for Pontiac enthusiasts to gather and talk cars.” Many attendees will be driving their prized GTOs to the event to participate in either the “Concours” cars competition judged by a skilled set of judges, or the Popular Vote cars competition judged by convention attendees.

The best part? The viewing of cars is open to the public throughout the convention. “We welcome and encourage the public to join us. We like to promote the hobby. The public is also welcome to stroll through the indoor vendor space and purchase items offered there.” Ted adds.

Photo Courtesy of Bake's Place

And the fun doesn’t end after the car competitions. GTOAA has worked with Visit Bellevue Washington to offer attendees all kinds of excursions around town and in neighboring cities as well. Attendees will have to opportunity to leave their prized Pontiacs at the car shows and get out and about in Bellevue by taking shuttles through downtown to experience local food, parks and shopping and the acclaimed Bellevue Arts Museum Wednesday through Sunday (July 13-17). For those attendees wanting to explore the region further, there will be special shuttles going to the Museum of Flight, The LeMay Car Museum, and even an Alaskan Ship Cruise after the convention ends!

We couldn’t be more thrilled for GTOAA’s 2016 Convention attendees. They’re going to have the time of their life, and the rest of Bellevue with them!

Written by – Rachel Burch

Photo Credits, Top to Bottom – GTO Closeup via Pixabay, Ted Knapp with his GTO via Ted Knapp, Bellevue Downtown Park Arial View via Merrill Images, Bellevue Hilton Exterior via the Bellevue Hilton, Diners on the Patio via Bake’s Place

 

 

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The Bellevue Summer Festival Checklist

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It’s pretty easy to tell when summer has come to Bellevue, Washington. The sun is shining, and that means you will find the outdoors-loving Pacific Northwest inhabitant outside soaking up the vitamin D in a constant state of activity until sometime in late September. While we love the many holidays throughout the year, there’s something about the long lazy days and luscious greenery of summer around here that calls for celebration. That’s why in any given summer month you will find festival after fair after festival in and around Bellevue.

The choices of things to do and see can be overwhelming, so here is a shortlist of Bellevue summer festivals we love, along with an insider tip we’d add to your bucket list.

JUNE 25-26: The Bellevue Strawberry Festival – Crossroads Park [Free]

Strawberry Festival Strawberry ShortcakeThe Strawberry Festival is a beloved local tradition. This family-friendly weekend festival celebrates Bellevue’s agricultural roots as well as its diverse cultural past, present and future. The festivities include hands-on history experiences, food vendors, a classic car show, inflatable bounce houses, pony rides, live entertainment and more!

Don’t miss: participating in a strawberry shortcake eating contest! Join the fun and devour a bowl of delicious fresh strawberry shortcake as fast as you can and you just might win a prize!

JULY 4: Bellevue Family Fourth – Bellevue Downtown Park [Free]

9242593988_8f4ae84b30_o-Credit Bellevue Parks & Community Services, Colin WalkerBring family and friends to the beautiful Bellevue Downtown Park to celebrate America’s Independence Day in a big way! This year marks the 25th anniversary of Bellevue Family Fourth, the largest 4th of July celebration in the region. Join the fun, food, games, live music, and be prepared for a stunning fireworks display.

Don’t miss: the fireworks show at approximately 9:30 – 9:45 pm in the evening! Pro tips: Bring a few extra sweaters and blankets to get cozy pre-fireworks. If you have a camera handy, set the ISO to 50 or 100 and slow down the shutter speed to 2-3 seconds or longer to catch those fireworks in motion!

JULY 29-31: Bellevue Arts Fair – Downtown Bellevue [Free]

AChalk art Bellevue arts fairrt and crafts lovers, you don’t want to miss this one! Local artists show and sell their work in a three day extravaganza all over downtown. Technically, Bellevue Arts Fair is a combination of three arts fairs that cover the city with all sorts of vendors and activities in all colors, textiles, and patterns.

Don’t miss: fueling up at the kettle corn stand before seeing how many sidewalk chalk artist you can find at the festival! Take a look at the many vendors selling wearables as well for a unique piece of jewelry or clothing to add to your wardrobe.

AUGUST 5-7: Seafair Weekend – Genesee Park [Tickets starting at $10]

Seafair Boats - Credit Rod MarThere’s a familiar phrase you’ll hear the locals proclaim as August approaches, “The Blue Angels are coming!” Soon after, the sound of soaring jets fills the air as the U.S. Navy Blue Angels come to town for a weekend of aerobatic demonstrations in the sky while the world’s fastest powerboats race on Lake Washington. Get your tickets to Seafair Weekend and stake out a spot at Genesee Park to enjoy the show up close. Activities at the park include food vendors, booths, kids interactive activities, live bands, and more Pacific Northwest waterfront fun!

Don’t miss: getting a glimpse of the Blue Angels from our local parks here in Bellevue, especially if you’d rather avoid the larger crowds. You can dine in downtown Bellevue (or pack a picnic) and visit Medina Beach Park or the new Evergreen Point Park & Ride that weekend for a more peaceful afternoon watching the Blue Angels soar overhead.

AUGUST 20: Taste of Main – Main Street, Bellevue [Tickets starting at $15]

Taste-of-Main---Courtesy-Detlef-Schrempf-Foundation-(5)Buy a “passport” to Taste of Main and spend the day sauntering through Bellevue’s historic Main Street District tasting hors d’oeuvres from local chef-owned restaurants, local wines, spirits, chocolates and more! Not only will you try the best of Bellevue’s food and wine, you’ll also be supporting local children’s charities while you’re at it!

Don’t miss: discovering other local gems and boutiques on Main Street. While the opportunities to taste food and wine are endless, there are also independent designer shops like Jarbo and La Ree Boutique, cooking classes at Whisk, and many other local shops to explore.

Written by – Rachel Burch

Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: Bellevue Arts Fair via Bellevue Arts Museum, Strawberry Shortcake via Eastside Heritage Center, Bellevue Family Fourth via Bellevue Parks & Community Services/Colin Walker, Sidewalk Chalk Artist via Bellevue Arts Museum, Seafair Boats via Rod Mar, Taste of Main via Detlef Schrempf Foundation

 

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Channel Your Inner Olympian in Bellevue

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In anticipation of the Summer Olympics, which kick off in Brazil with an opening ceremony on Aug. 5, we’ve compiled a list of sports and activities that will allow you to channel your inner athlete—or cheer on your favorite competitors—in and around Bellevue.

We’ve ranked each pursuit as either gold, silver or bronze, depending on how many opportunities you’ll have to watch or participate. Even if you never get to pose on a podium, you can still break a sweat with the best.

Let the games begin!

GOLD-MEDAL ACTIVITIES

Gold-medal sports feature numerous opportunities to be both spectator and participant at venues throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Basketball

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The Seattle Basketball Pro-Am summer league draws current and former professional and collegiate ballers to Seattle Pacific University’s Royal Brougham Pavilion. Watch your favorite local players—like Jamal Crawford (whose foundation the league benefits), Nate Robinson, Isaiah Thomas and Spencer Hawes—compete in a laid-back, family-friendly and affordable environment ($5 for adults, kids 17 and younger are free).

The Seattle Storm, winners of two WNBA championships, lost star forward Lauren Jackson to retirement earlier this year, but welcomed back team leader Sue Bird, along with newly drafted UConn Huskies star Breanna Stewart. Games take place at KeyArena through September.

There are also plenty of local courts where you can hone your own hoop skills, or mix it up with other ballers during a pick-up game. You’ll almost always find action at Hidden Valley Sports Park; the Crossroads Community Center has some of the nicest courts in town; and the Lewis Creek Park courts come with a stellar view.

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Beach Volleyball

Perhaps more than any other Olympic sport, beach volleyball screams summer. Soft sand meets hard bodies in two-on-two showdowns with spectacular views. You can watch some of the world’s most talented players at the AVP Seattle Open (June 2-5) at Lake Sammamish State Park in nearby Issaquah, while enjoying live music and great food.

If watching the pros has you hankering for a pick-up game of your own, head across the bridge to West Seattle, where you’ll find blistering local competition, from juniors to semi-pro, at Alki Beach. There’s even a camp (July 29) with 2004 Olympian and UCLA head sand coach Stein Metzger that’s open to adults.

 

Canoeing, Kayaking and Rowing

Carillon_Point_Waterfront_Adventures-Jean-Marcus_Strole_Photography-32There are bodies of water just about everywhere you look in the Puget Sound area, and most of them offer opportunities to row. You can rent canoes and/or kayaks in Bellevue at Cascade PaddleSports at Enatai Beach; in Kirkland at The Woodmark Hotel; in Issaquah at Issaquah Paddle Sports at Lake Sammamish State Park; and in Seattle at Northwest Outdoor Center on Lake Union.

Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) isn’t an Olympic sport just yet, but it could very well be in the future. Get a glimpse of the rapidly growing sport at the Round the Rock Stand Up Paddle Race (Sept. 17) that invites paddlers to travel 13 miles starting from Newcastle Beach Park in Bellevue.

Cycling

Sammamish River Trail 4- Sharon LintonThe Pacific Northwest is one of the most bike-friendly regions in the country, and there is no shortage of paved paths and bike lanes to tackle on two wheels. Visit the Cascade Bicycle Club website for bike maps, plus information on tips, tours, rides and rentals.

The club is instrumental in organizing the annual Seattle to Portland (STP) ride, the largest multi-day bicycle event in the Northwest. This year’s race takes place July 16-17, and will draw 10,000 participants to a 200-plus-mile ride through scenic valleys, forests and farmlands.

You can enjoy the drama of competitive track cycling at the Jerry Baker Velodrome at Marymoor Park in Redmond. The track’s Friday night races are the highlight of the week, and feature the fastest riders, great local beer and wine, food trucks, and hundreds of enthusiastic spectators.

Golf

Golf Club at Newcastle HEROIt may rain here a bit more than it does in other parts of the country, but that just means that we can boast about lush green golf courses come summer. There are dozens of local public and private courses that cater to golfers of every level, including the Bellevue Golf Course, the Crossroads Par 3 Golf Course and the Golf Club at Newcastle. Visit the Northwest Golf Guide for a comprehensive list.

If your swing could benefit from some tips from the pros, catch all the action at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 9-12) at Sahalee Country Club. Three-time winner Inbee Park will be going for a four-peat at this year’s tournament, one of the LPGA tour’s five majors.

Later this summer, the men will compete at the Boeing Classic at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, which features a whole week of charity events and clinics, plus a three-day (Aug. 26-28) PGA tournament that draws top-tier golfers like Scott Dunlap, John Riegger and defending champion Billy Andrade with a $2 million purse.

SILVER-MEDAL ACTIVITIES

Silver-medal sports feature opportunities to channel your inner Olympian by participating.

Swimming

BELLE_P103_pool_with_families_kids_65856_medWho says hotel pools are just for looks? If you’re staying overnight, why not take advantage of that lovely heated pool for an invigorating lap swim? You can also swim indoors at the Bellevue Aquatic Center, but if you prefer fresh water to chlorinated, slip on your suit, grab your goggles and head to one of our many swimming beaches.

 

Tennis

tennis-614183_1920Tennis enthusiasts will “love” the Robinswood Tennis Center, one of the best public facilities in the region. In addition to indoor and outdoor courts, you’ll find lessons, a pro shop, racquet and ball machine rentals, even restringing services if you get a little too, um, enthusiastic at the net. You’ll also find outdoor courts at more than a dozen city parks.

 

 

Track & Field

Columbia Winery Charity RunRunning is one of our region’s favorite pastimes, and Seattle and the Eastside are home to dozens of summer races and fun runs, including the Furry 5K (June 12); the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Seattle (June 18), the Michelob Ultra Seafair Pirate Run (July 30), Mud & Chocolate (Aug. 14) and the Columbia Winery Charity Run & Walk (Aug. 20).

It isn’t local, but if you’re in the Pacific Northwest for business in July, and don’t have to rush home, consider a trip to Eugene, Oregon for the U.S. Olympic Team Track & Field Trials. You can get there in about an hour by plane, four and a half hours by car or seven hours by train.

BRONZE-MEDAL ACTIVITIES

Bronze-medal sports feature opportunities to cheer on current, former and someday Olympians.

Gymnastics

Watch the Olympic gymnastics events on TV this summer, then go see a live encore from your favorite performers, like Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles and Aly Raisman, at the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions at KeyArena (Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m.). Tickets go on sale to the public June 23 at 10 a.m.

Soccer

1_soundersSeattle is home to both men’s and women’s professional soccer teams, so if you can’t travel to Brazil to cheer on the national teams, you can still enjoy “the beautiful game” right here. The Sounders FC men’s team hosts matches at Century Link Field, while the Seattle Reign FC women’s team welcome challengers to Memorial Stadium.

 

 

Written by – Monica Fischer

Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: Runner at Sunset via Pixabay, Crossroads Community Center Basketball Court via Bellevue Parks & Community Services, Beach Volleyball via AVP Beach Volleyball, Kayaking on Lake Washington via The Woodmark, Cycling on Sammamish River Trail via Sharon Linton, Golf Course View via The Golf Club at Newcastle, Indoor Pool via the Hyatt Regency Bellevue, Tennis Shot via Pixabay, Runners via Columbia Winery Charity Run & Walk, Sounders Game via Gregory Mauch Photography

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Spend the Day Solo in Bellevue

Fun in the Sun

Three Dog Night was wrong. When you choose to spend 24 hours doing exactly what you want to do, when and where you want to do it, one isn’t the loneliest number at all—it’s the loveliest! If you’re already away from home for business in Bellevue, why not take an extra day just for you?

Whether your leisure-time philosophy is to seize the day or take it easy, you will find dozens of distractions that will make you so happy to be so solo. We’ve crafted a carpe-diem itinerary for go-getters, sprinkled with more leisurely alternatives for those in search of solitude.

Good morning

Eques Signature Eggs BenedictKick off your day with an invigorating morning workout, like a run at Bellevue Downtown Park, a spin class at Flywheel or a drop-in, booty-kicking workout at jabX Kickboxing. Not only will it energize you for the rest of the day, it will erase any guilt you might feel about the delicious, decadent breakfast you’re about to enjoy at Eques.

Or take it easy: Skip the alarm and sleep in, then ease into the day with a yoga flow class at Shakti Vinyasa Yoga Bellevue, followed by a sweet French treat and coffee at Belle Pastry.

Good afternoon

mercerslough and canoe 2010Stock up on Vitamin D and soak up our photogenic panoramas with a paddle from Enatai Beach Park on Lake Washington to the Mercer Slough Nature Park. Cascade PaddleSports offers canoe, kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals, lessons and trips May through September.

Back on land, fuel up for the rest of your afternoon with a juicy burger and refreshing brew at Local Burger, which boasts a lively patio and inventive preparations; or visit the wildly popular Din Tai Fung for award-winning dumplings and noodles.

After lunch, learn how to make dinner (or dessert), brush up on your entertaining skills and meet other fun foodies at a cooking class hosted by Whisk. Topics range from “3 Haute Chicks,” featuring three boneless, skinless chicken breast recipes, to “Beach Shack Favorites,” which dishes up fresh tuna burgers with ginger, pickled onions and Wasabi soy mayo.

Or take it easy: Take a stroll while getting to know Bellevue, with a self-guided tour of the city’s public art installations or historical sites, or a guided tour of the Bellevue Botanical Garden. Get lunch to go and eat al fresco at Bellevue Downtown Park, then pamper yourself at a local spa and top off the afternoon with a rich, creamy pick-me-up at Fran’s Chocolates.

Good night

Lot No. 3 SmallIf you’re uncomfortable dining alone, seek out restaurants that serve their full menu at the bar and introduce yourself to the bartender. A good one will chat with you as often as he or she can, and a great one will also recommend his or her favorite local destinations. Hotel restaurants are smart choices because their staffs are accustomed to making visitors feel at home.

There are dozens of welcoming restaurants to choose from, but we’ve received a particularly warm reception at Lot No. 3, Seastar, 99 Park, Palomino Restaurant & Bar, Earl’s Kitchen + Bar, Cactus, Tavern Hall, Purple Café and Wine Bar and 520 Bar & Grill.

Wrap up your action-packed day with live music at Bake’s Place or—if you’re feeling brave—karaoke at Stone Lounge. After all, what better time to channel your inner Axl Rose or Nancy Sinatra than when no one who knows you is around to witness it?

Or take it easy: Two words: Room service. If you rarely get time to yourself, consider picking up a new novel or a stack of gossip magazines at Barnes & Noble, putting on your jammies and ordering in at your hotel. It may be the last time in a while that it’s all about you.

Good advice

Transit Center 2Bellevue is a safe, friendly and walkable city, but do use common sense when exploring on your own. Wear a life jacket and sunscreen on the water; walk alone only in well-lit public places; take uber, a cab or a hotel shuttle if you’re traveling more than a mile or two; and keep your mobile phone handy for photos, directions and sharing your experiences on social media.

 

Written by – Monica Fischer

Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: Girl with Bicycle via Willows Lodge, Eggs Benedict via Eques, Kayaking on Mercer Slough via Visit Bellevue Washington, Bar Dining via Lot No. 3, Bellevue Transit Center via Marv Heston 

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The Definitive Guide to Summer in Bellevue

9242662168_cc92c279aa_o(1)-Credit Bellevue Parks & Community Services, Colin Walker

Here is our dilemma this summer: How will we swim, run, hike, bike, paddle, dance, eat, drink, golf, shop, cheer on our favorite teams and catch all the action of the Olympics? It’s going to take a Herculean effort, but we think we’re up to the challenge, and we have to admit: It’s a pretty great problem to have.

If you’re joining us in Bellevue this summer—on your own, with co-workers, or accompanied by friends or family—here’s how we suggest you tackle the sport we like to call “doing every fun thing under the sun.” And just in case we leave out anything, please visit our events calendar for more cool happenings.

Taste-of-Main---Courtesy-Detlef-Schrempf-Foundation-(5)If you’re the festive type, mark your calendar for the Bellevue Strawberry Festival (June 25-26); the Bellevue Family 4th (July 4); the Bellevue Arts Museum ARTSfair (July 29-31); the Kirkland Classic Car Show (July 31); Kirkland Summer Fest (Aug. 12-13); and the Taste of Main (August 20).

Meanwhile, music lovers should take note of the Live at Lunch performances (July 5-Sept. 8); and outdoor concerts at Chateau Ste. Michelle winery and Marymoor Park.

Walmsley Bellevue Summer Concert

Sports fans should head to the pitch for Seattle Sounders FC and Seattle Reign soccer matches, to Safeco Field for Seattle Mariners baseball games or to Key Arena for Seattle Storm women’s basketball games.

As summer stretches into fall, football fans by the carload—and boatload—will flock to Century Link Field for Seahawks games and Husky Stadium for UW football games.

Round the Rock 2015

For those who would rather participate than spectate, Bellevue offers the Four on the 4th Dog Jog & Walk (July 4); and Round the Rock Stand Up Paddle Race (Sept. 17); nearby Kirkland hosts the Sounders FC Rave Green Run (July 17); and Issaquah welcomes the series finale of the Cascadia Dirt Cup (Sept. 17).

If your interests lean more toward raising a glass than breaking a sweat, we suggest the Washington Brewers Festival (June 17-19); Kirkland Uncorked (July 15-17); and the Auction of Washington Wines (Aug. 18-20).


Flower Vendor3
Still have free time? Kiss those lazy days goodbye and fill in your calendar with a visit to the Bellevue Farmers Market (Thursdays, 3-7 p.m.) or the Crossroads Farmers Market (Tuesdays, 12-6 p.m.), a tour at the Bellevue Botanical Garden, or a leisurely lunch or delicious dinner at a local restaurant. And while you can’t earn a gold medal in shopping, you can certainly give your gold card a workout at our inviting malls and boutiques.

 

 

Written by – Monica Fischer

Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: Fireworks at Bellevue Family 4th via Bellevue Parks & Community Services/Colin Walker, Taste of Main via Detlef Shrempf, Live at Lunch via Michael Walmsley, Round the Rock courtesy of Round the Rock Stand Up Paddle Race, Farmers Market Flowers via Crossroads Bellevue

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6 Stalls to Stop by at the Bellevue Farmers Market

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Summer is still a few weeks away, but one of our favorite warm-weather pastimes has already returned, and we couldn’t be happier. The Bellevue Farmers Market opened May 12, and we stopped by to soak up the sun, sample the goods and meet some of the hardworking local folks who toil in the soil so we can eat fresh all season long.

We heartily recommend you visit every single stall, but if you’re short on time, you might want to move these six sociable vendors to the top of your shopping list.

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Alvarez Organic Farms

This time of year, most of our favorite recipes feature asparagus, so we scooped up generous bunches of the vitamin-packed shoots—both thick and thin varieties were available—as well as onions and spring garlic from this family-owned farm based in Mabton, east of the Cascades.

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Geaux Brewery

How could you not love beer inspired by the Big Easy? The New Orleans-themed craft brewers from right here in Bellevue hooked us up with a lovely malty, melon-y IPA named Treme, and invited us to stop by their family-friendly taproom at 12031 Northup Way, Suite 203.

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Jonboy Caramels

The Ballard-based artisan confectionary showed off three varieties of their small-batch caramels, and while we appreciated the Fleur de Sel and Absinthe with Black Salt candies, our favorites were the Key Lime with Sea Salt caramels, which perfectly balanced citrus and sweet.

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Nino Blanco Foods

We were showing off and chose a sample of the spicy chipotle salsa made by Darren Donahue’s family-owned Maple Valley condiment company, and boy, did we pay for it! Fortunately, there are a handful of less-fiery but just as addicting salsa varieties to choose from.

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Seattle Pickle Co.

We were tickled to find pickles at the market, and thrilled to learn that this local company also produces a stellar Bloody Mary mix and relish, plus pickled asparagus, green beans and beets. If you can’t make it to the market, you can find their fine-brined goods in Bellevue at Pasta & Co.

Pops

Seattle Pops

It’s kind of genius to infuse popsicles with seasonal, local and organic ingredients, and positively brilliant to sell those fresh, refreshing frozen treats at the farmers market on a sunny day. Choose fruity or creamy varieties, in flavors from strawberry to coconut to chocolate banana.

The Bellevue Farmers Market is open Thursdays 3-7 p.m., through October 27, in the parking lot of Bellevue Presbyterian Church, 1717 Bellevue Way NE. You’ll find free and plentiful parking, and food trucks slinging cross-cultural cuisine. Bring shopping bags and cash, or buy a token with your debit card ($2 service charge) if you forget to stop by the ATM.

Written by – Monica Fischer

Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: Bellevue Farmers Market photos courtesy of Monica Fischer

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Take Me Out to Bellevue Before the Ballgame

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By Monica Fischer

If you’re a visitor to Bellevue, there’s a mode of local transportation you may not be aware of, but really shouldn’t miss. It’s called the Seattle Mariners bandwagon, and it’s one of the most exhilarating rides in town.

We’re not gonna lie—it’s been grounded for a while. (The Mariners haven’t made the postseason since 2001!) But with the team second to the top in the American League West, and icon Ken Griffey Jr., headed to the Hall of Fame this summer, it’s the perfect time to get back on board! Here’s what you’ll need to know if your trip to Bellevue has Major League Baseball in the lineup.

seattle-277120_1920The 411

Seattle Mariners baseball games take place under a retractable roof at Safeco Field, one of the most beautiful ballparks in America, with views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains to the west, and downtown Seattle to the north. Single-game tickets are priced dynamically based on demand, but generally run $50 to $200 (up to $500 for the swanky Diamond Club).

Visit the Mariners’ official website to pick a game and buy tickets. There are lots of fun promotions throughout the season—often with discounted tickets or keepsakes—including Felix Hernandez Bobblehead Night (June 24), Turn Back the Clock – ’80s Mariners Retro Cap (June 25), Family Night (June 28), Filipino Heritage Night (June 29), Guys Night Out (June 30) and more.

Parking near the stadium is competitive and pricey, so we recommend traveling to Seattle via public transportation, taxi or uber—especially if you’re planning to pre-function with your co-workers before heading to the game. Visit the Sound Transit website to easily plan your trip by bus from the centrally and conveniently located Bellevue Transit Center.

Gear Up

You can’t properly represent in business-casual khakis and a polo, so be sure to stop by the Seattle Mariners Team Store at Bellevue Square for a baseball cap, T-shirt, jersey or—our favorite—foam finger. The Seattle Team Shop and Macy’s stock fan fashion, too, and Sports Authority can hook you up with a new glove for catching fly balls.

Courtesy of 520 Bar and Grill, Permission to use on blog and social postsBeer Up

Bars near “the Safe” are cray on game day, so we suggest a pint or two in Bellevue before departing for the stadium (with someone else at the wheel, of course). You’ll find plenty of hometown camaraderie and happy-hour specials at Tavern Hall, Earl’s Kitchen + Bar, 520 Bar & Grill, The Pumphouse Bar & Grill, The Mustard Seed Grill & Pub, and many more local bars.

Lot 3 Mac N CheeseGrab a Bite

“Stadium food is so affordable,” said no one ever. Bench the high prices and fuel up in Bellevue instead. There are dozens of restaurants to choose from, but we like Lot No. 3, Palomino, Red Robin, Cactus, The Cheesecake Factory and Daniel’s Broiler on game day because they’re relaxed, roomy and an easy walk to the Bellevue Transit Center.

If game day just isn’t the same without a hot dog, stop by Sizzle Dogs on 120th Avenue East near the Bellevue Botanical Garden, or save your appetite for the stadium. There are several affordable sausage vendors outside Safeco Field and numerous concession stands inside the stadium that serve foot-longs—even one behind Section 132 that serves veggie dogs!

Hyatt Regency Bellevue ExteriorStay the Night

Not only are our local hotels home to fantastic pre-game watering holes like Basil’s Bar at the Hilton Bellevue and Joey Bellevue at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue, many of them also offer lower nightly rates on weekends. So if you can’t make it to the ballpark during the week, stick around for a day or two after your convention or conference and take in a Saturday or Sunday matinee.

(Photo Credits, Top to Bottom: Safeco Field images via pixabay.com, 520 Bar & Grill, Lot No. 3, Hyatt Regency Bellevue)

 

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Featured Group Activity: All Things Wine Tasting

Wine Photo

Coordinating a fun and relaxing social event for groups can be a little challenging. Running out of ideas? Picture this. A comfortable, yet sophisticated afternoon that a group of colleagues, friends, or family could all enjoy. A beautiful, spacious venue nestled in a European-esque location. Luxurious wines poured for every guest. You guessed it, we mean wine tasting, and we know the perfect spots, tours, and itineraries that might just be the answer to your post-event group needs and special occasion plan-aheads.

Just 20 minutes north of Bellevue are over 100 different wineries and tasting rooms all waiting to be explored in the picturesque Sammamish River Valley, collectively known as Woodinville Wine Country. As fall comes around, the air warmed by the summer months combined with gradually cooler nights ripen these local grapes to perfection. Fall also means that Crush has arrived: the most awaited time of year for wine makers and enthusiasts when the grapes are traditionally harvested. What better way to celebrate the turn of the season than with a visit to the wine country?

“Great, wine tasting would be nice,” you may think, “for a romantic date for two. But how would that work for my colleagues who just want to relax without crowding up to a counter where we rub shoulders left and right?

Not to worry; planning assistance for group tastings is only a phone call away. Below you will find a multitude of group wine tasting options to fit every size and schedule.

The Dinner Wine & Dine Tour

Wine Shot 1Tour CarsIf you want to sample the best of the region all afternoon and enjoy your favorite wine over dinner without doing a stitch of planning, then Butler Seattle and Purple Café and Wine Bar in Bellevue’s Wine & Dine Tour is for you.

For 50 dollars per person, Butler Seattle’s award winning tour team will first take your group on a relaxing and elegant trip to at least three of Woodinville’s finest tasting rooms via luxurious Mercedes Benz Sprinter. Then you will be returned to Purple Café and Wine Bar in Bellevue just in time for dinner. Purple Café and Wine Bar waives the corkage fee if you’d like to pour your favorite new bottle for dinner. To join Butler’s Wine Tour you can purchase tickets online at least 48 hours prior to a tour start time or call for availability at 206-233-9233. You and your party will be thoroughly spoiled for the evening, a welcome option for the busy meeting planner or multi-tasking maid of honor.

The All Day Wine & Dine Tour

USA, Washington, Woodinville. One sunny weekend in Woodivnille Wine Country.You quite possibly saw the above Wine & Dine tour and thought, “I want that but I’d like to spend most of a day exploring Woodinville wineries.” Well, you’re in luck. Barrel Wine Tours offers a full day tour that includes luxury transportation, a knowledgeable guide to introduce you to the winemakers at four boutique wineries in Woodinville, all tasting fees, and a three course wine-paired meal. Now you’re really getting pampered. Tour length is 6 hours at $149 per person for 8 minimum guests, $139 per person for 12 guests, and $129 per person for 16.

The Connoisseur’s Wine Itineraries

USA, Washington, Woodinville.Let’s be honest, you and your associates know your wines. You don’t really need a guided tour; what you’re looking for is some stellar suggestions that only a Woodinville wine scene insider would know. Then let us point you to Woodinville Wine Country’s  unique wine tasting itineraries that include the area’s most historic spots and local favorites.

 

 

The One Stop Showstopper

Novelty Hill Winery, 14710 Woodinville Redmond Road NE Client, Mithun Architects, Designers, Planners © Benjamin Benschneider All rights Reserved. Usage may be arranged by contacting Benjamin Benschneider Photography. Email: bbenschneider@comcast.net or phone 206-789-5973If you’d rather unwind at a single location (rather than take a tour), then a group reservation at one of Woodinville’s favorite wineries such as Novelty Hill Januik Winery may be right up your alley. Novelty Hill Januik’s spacious and upscale tasting room will certainly wow your guests after a business meeting or as part of a girl’s day out.

A reservation for groups greater than 12 people consists of an hour and a half seated tasting at 20 dollars per person to sample one of three 5 wine menus: ‘Racy Whites’, ‘Big Reds’, or ‘Mixed Favorites’. These sensual menus introduce guests to a medley of complex blends and award-winning favorites. Add a fresh, handmade pizza to the mix if you visit on a weekend between 11am and 4:30pm. Make your group reservation by calling 425-481-5502 for availability.

The Distinctive Private Event:

Novelty Hill Januik - 3Maybe a group reservation sounds like great fun, but you have a vision for your event. You can picture the details down to the lighting and the dessert menu. If this is the case, Novelty Hill Januik is an excellent choice, but contact them to reserve a space for your special event. They offer a range of private spaces, from their Board Room, to outdoor bocce ball, to a full winery buy out. Plus, Novelty Hill Januik’s experienced planners and in-house culinary team will be ready to pull out all the stops.

Whether it be a unique tour itinerary, a comfortable wine and dine tour, a casual afternoon tasting, or a spectacular private event, Woodinville Wine Country is a spot that has something for everyone in your group. So forget the stress of planning and micromanaging your next group event, and escape to the wine country this fall. Cheers!

From top to bottom: Images courtesy of Purple Cafe & Wine Bar, Butler Seattle,  Woodinville Wine Country, Woodinville Wine Country, Benjamin Benschneider Photography, Novelety Hill, Visit Bellevue Washington.

Posted in Conventions and Meetings, Culinary and Wine, Hidden Gems / Local Picks, Things To Do | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

6 Fun Ways to Celebrate Mother’s Day in (and around) Bellevue

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By Monica Fischer

Bellevue Botanical Garden

Enjoy light refreshments, live music and some of the most beautiful scenery on the Eastside at the Bellevue Botanical Garden’s celebration of Mother’s Day. Join fellow flower and garden enthusiasts at the free 1 p.m. social at the Aaron Education Center, then stroll on your own through the 53-acre urban refuge, or join a guided tour at 2 p.m. You’ll also find local and handcrafted gifts, like jewelry, scarves and wind chimes, for Mom at the Trillium Store.

Brunch – All Day!

Who doesn’t love brunch? You can sleep in and still enjoy your favorites from both breakfast and lunch (sometimes even dinner!). Plus, it’s perfectly acceptable—even encouraged—to enjoy a cocktail before noon.

Newcastle Golf

The Golf Club at Newcastle hosts a generous brunch buffet featuring the usual breakfast treats plus carved prime rib and ham, cedar plank Pacific salmon, crepes, omelets and pasta (9 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; $22.95-$53.95, kids 3 and under free; reservations required). Enjoy a delicious three-course brunch at Pearl, where you can start with chilled oysters on the half shell and proceed to mouthwatering entrees like fried chicken and waffles or a Dungeness crab omelet (9 a.m.-2 p.m.; $20-$29, price varies by entrée; reservations required).

Crispy Cardamon WafflesFor those who can’t turn down rustic Italian fare, visit Vivo 53 as they kick off a new weekend brunch menu (Saturdays and Sundays, 10am-3pm) just in time for Mother’s Day. Italian frittata with crispy prosciutto, italian  sausage, burrata and parmesan, and wood-fired smoked salmon pizze with herbed creme fraiche are just a few of the delectables on their menu.

Hilton Bellevue, Washington

If you haven’t yet visited Basil’s Bistro at the lovely new Hilton Bellevue, Mother’s Day brunch is the perfect excuse. The extensive menu features fluffy scrambled eggs, pomegranate BBQ chicken, lobster bisque, prime rib, leg of lamb, custom omelets, fresh fruit and plenty of sweet, warm pastries (11 a.m.-3 p.m.; $19.95-$48.95, kids 5 and under free). The Red Lion Hotel will also host a decadent brunch of eggs, salmon, scones, cheesecakes and chocolate-dipped strawberries (10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; $19.95-$36.95, kids under 5 free).

Just a few minutes from Bellevue on the Kirkland waterfront, The Woodmark’s Beach Café will serve up lemon ricotta pancakes, duck confit hash, handcrafted pastries and many more delights (11 a.m.-3 p.m.; $10-$19 per entrée). Also in Kirkland, bin on the lake will offer a variety of special Mother’s Day items for lunch and dinner, including spring pea salad, Chilean seabass and grilled lamb chops (1-8 p.m.; $22-$40).

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KidsQuest Children’s Museum

If your idea of the perfect Mother’s Day is even more playtime with your kids, then load up your future scientists, software engineers, artists and mathematicians and head to KidsQuest. The hands-on, interactive kids’ museum at Marketplace @ Factoria will offer free admission to all moms and grandmas on Mother’s Day. You and your crew can explore the Backyard, tinker in the Garage, hide away in the Tree House or take a deep dive into the Waterways.

mom and daughter watch jaguar

Mom & Me at the Zoo

The Woodland Park Zoo will celebrate moms of all species at the 26th annual Mom & Me at the Zoo event. Moms receive half-price admission, and the day features lots of live performances on the North Meadow, plus a bouncy house and arts and crafts booth for the kids (9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.). Be sure to explore the zoo’s numerous exhibits to observe how the moms of the animal kingdom celebrate their Mother’s Day.

Spa Day

Whether she’s a new mom or a veteran, we bet she’d jump at the chance for some quality time to herself. Recoop offers that just with its Mamma’s Hideout package, which includes a 60-minute massage, a facial, a pedicure and a manicure (4 hours, $360). And the Bellevue outpost of Gene Juarez Salons & Spas offers three dreamy Mother’s Day spa packages, ranging from 2 to 6 hours and $210 to $460. If you’re lucky, maybe she’ll bring you along!

The Color Run

Do you and your mom love fitness and fun? Sign up for The Color Run, the “happiest 5K on the planet.” There are no winners or prizes at this carefree, untimed race, just lots of colorful “paint” showers (it’s really powder made from food-grade corn starch) and tons of laughter. The family-friendly event, which benefits Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington & Alaska, kicks off at Seattle Center at 8 a.m. Entry fees range from $49.99 to $69.99.

(Photo Credits, Top to Bottom: Bellevue Botanical Garden, The Golf Club at Newcastle, Vivo 53, Basil’s Bistro at the Hilton Bellevue, KidsQuest Children’s Museum, Woodland Park Zoo)

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5 Essential Spring Trends at The Bellevue Collection

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By Monica Fischer

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.

Citrus

Nothing sour about citrus: Fresh oranges, lemons and limes are a sight for sore eyes after months of tan and taupe. We especially loved BCBGMAXAZRIA’S ambrosia strapless crepe A-line dress, Vince Camuto’s coral organza mesh trapeze dress and Victorinox Swiss Army’s amber Lenzburg II men’s coat.

Stripes

 

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

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

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!

Flamenco

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

 

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