By Angelina Caplanis | This article originally appeared in the 2015 Bellevue Visitor Guide.
1. Shop Till You Drop
Photo courtesy The Bellevue Collection
Bellevue’s collection of expansive shopping centers has earned it a reputation for being a one-stop-shop city. Bargain buys abound at the Marketplace at Factoria, upscale fashion holds court at The Bravern, and The Bellevue Collection has a mix of everything with department stores and designer showrooms.
2. Visit Bellevue Botanical Garden
Bellevue Botanical Garden by Lynn via Flickr
Natural beauty continues to impress at the beloved botanical garden. Take a free tour of the 53 acres year-round. Gardens include the traditional Japanese Yao Garden, the Rhododendron Glen, and the Fuchsia Garden, where a visitor in the summer might spot a hummingbird enjoying the flowers, too. During the holidays, half a million lights transform it into an illuminated wonderland.
3. Stroll Downtown Park
Bellevue Downtown Park by Michael Walmsley
Think of it as a park and an art gallery rolled into one—Bellevue’s Downtown Park is a nature oasis in the middle of the bustle and buildings. It’s a local favorite for its some 20 acres of greenery, half-mile-long strolling path along a canal, and numerous sculptures.
4. Take a Historic Walking Tour
Whaling boats docked in Meydenbauer Bay, Bellevue, ca. 1925; Photo courtesy Eastside Heritage Center
Before the soaring skyscrapers and the big tech boom, Bellevue was a tiny town of timber and family farms. Relive those bygone days during a self-guided Early Bellevue Walking Tour. Download a map from the Eastside Heritage Center, and set aside two to three hours to retrace the history of the city. There are even some remnants from the past—like the headquarters for the American Pacific Whaling Company fleet—still standing today.
5. Try A Zip Line
Bellevue Zip Tour Courtesy Bellevue Parks & Community Services / Colin Walker
Experience the area’s parks a little differently—from up in the air — on the Bellevue Zip Tour. Soar between a forest of Douglas firs and maples at Eastgate Park, where six different zip lines offer high-flying adventure from up to 80 feet off the ground. Just don’t be surprised if time zooms by on a 2.5-hour guided tour.