Let’s face it, the greater Bellevue/Seattle area is a technology hub quickly becoming its own kind of multicultural, game-loving, VR-wearing, hiking and beer-drinking variation of Silicon Valley. And wherever you find hundreds of tech workers living and playing, you find plenty of fun for the geek in all of us. So no matter whether you’re in town for an event like Emerald City Comicon, Pax West, BrickCon, Immerse Tech Summit, or just want to soak in the techie culture, these are some of the hot spots to visit when you’re in Bellevue.
Being in Bellevue means you’re rubbing shoulders with the tech giants like Microsoft, Amazon and Google, gaming companies like Valve and Bungie, plus a host of startups you’ve never heard of but make a mental note to remember in case they jump to stardom in the next few years. Visit the place where some of the region’s leading technologies all began with a stop by the Microsoft Visitor Center. Located on Microsoft’s headquarters campus in Redmond, the visitor center is open Monday through Friday and contains a small museum of Microsoft and computing history, plus plenty of their latest gadgets to test out and interact with. Another local leader, Amazon, offers the Amazon Headquarters Tour of their Seattle campus every Wednesday. You’ll have to register for this one up to months in advance, but if you can score a visit you’ll enjoy a laid-back, behind-the-scenes tour of this impressive campus with plenty of fun facts and maybe even a trip to the notorious banana stand.
Is the startup scene more your vibe? Check out the events hosted every month by New Tech Eastside, the largest and arguably the most fun-loving meetup group in Bellevue. Anyone from tech enthusiasts to developers, founders, investors and their friends can attend for an evening making great connections, enjoying food and drinks, learning cool things from new companies and just having a good time in general.
Now that you’ve seen the sights and your event or tour is over, it’s time to kick back and relax. Tabletop gamers and informal players alike should head straight to Mox Boarding House. This extensive game store and adjoined restaurant are a board game paradise. Guests can wander back and forth between the store and the restaurant to pick up a game from the store’s generous library to play free of charge at their tables. Try one of the 20 beers on tap plus an order of poutine to share, and get to playing! Uncle’s Games in Crossroads Bellevue is another great stop to demo a tabletop game from their library or visit for one of their many “game night” events throughout the week.
Looking for an interactive activity to try as a group with friends or family? Put your heads together to solve a puzzle adventure with the mobile phone meets outdoor scavenger hunt game, Metrodemic. You’ll get to explore downtown Bellevue while following the mobile prompts and clues. Need a break? You can pause the game at any point along the way for a pit stop at a nearby restaurant or bar, and get back to the game at your own pace. Those wanting some extra adventure might opt for zip lining at Bellevue Zip Tour, operating April through October, or Adventura‘s outdoor challenge course. If the weather isn’t cooperating, opt for a round of “escape the room” at Bellevue’s Serial Mysteries, or at Conundroom in Redmond. Conundroom even has a virtual reality escape room quest where you and your team will use VR headsets to connect to your avatar at a faraway space station, fire lasers to protect yourself and more!
End the trip with a proper round of food and drinks after your adventures. Beer enthusiasts looking for local flair will want to check out Bellevue Brewing Company or Geaux Brewing for a uniquely Bellevue brew. Bellevue Brewing Company is a neighborhood favorite known for pub food just as good as their distinctive flagship beers. Try one of their loaded sandwiches with a 425 Pale Ale, a stone fired pizza to go with your Scotch Ale, or an order of smoked ribs to accompany a hearty Oatmeal Stout. You’ll leave full and happy. Recently opened in the summer of 2011, Geaux Brewing has a more boutique feel, and still boasts a delicious selection of standard and rotation beers on tap. Their tap room has a look inspired by the French Quarter in New Orleans, and sports a selection of local and Louisiana-made food to accompany your Norwest brew.
Want some more substantial eats? Lunchbox Laboratory in Bellevue will have your mouth watering with their generously-sized experimental burger combinations and boozy milkshakes. See if you can spot their classic “Dork”(duck + pork) burger patty on the menu. Feeling like a particular cuisine, bar or quick bite at the Downtown Bellevue Food Truck Pod? Check out our website to find whatever fits your craving.
Photo Credits, Top to Bottom: Microsoft building via Marcus Donner, Game Library at Mox Boarding House via Visit Bellevue Washington, Zip Tour via City of Bellevue, Beer Taps via Bellevue Brewing Company, James West Burger via Lunchbox Laboratory