Let’s be honest: You have only about a month and a half before spending money on yourself will become frowned upon. Once the holidays approach, you’ll be shopping to make someone else happy. Before you embark on that noble endeavor, we suggest that you gift yourself with a few fantastic local experiences that you’ll remember for many seasons to come.
Our recommendations are available all year round, so you can enjoy them yourself while you’re in town this fall, then come back and experience them again with friends or family members. And many of these businesses offer gift cards or certificates, so you can wrap them up for a loved one over the holidays. If you look at it that way, treating yourself to a Bellevue experience is a very unselfish act.
You don’t have to trek to Costa Rica or New Zealand to find a thrilling ride above a lush forest canopy. The Bellevue Zip Tour, which has drawn unanimously rave reviews on Trip Advisor, features a half-dozen zip lines in Eastgate Park that range in length from 78 to 458 feet. Riders (who must be at least 9 years old and weigh between 60 and 275 pounds) catch glimpses of Mount Baker and Glacier Peak while racing up to 35 miles per hour up to 80 feet off the ground. Register online or call 425.452.4240.
Gene Juarez Salon & Spa at the Bellevue Galleria offers the indulgent opportunity to do nothing all day except feel beautiful. The luxurious, six-hour Day of Beauty package ($460) includes makeup application, an expert blow dry, a catered lunch, a 90-minute relaxation massage, a 60-minute signature facial, and a spa manicure and pedicure.
Yuan Spa, also downtown, ups the ante by two hours with the eight-hour Eternal You package ($670), which bundles hydrotherapy, a signature Chinese body ritual, a radiant foot treatment, a Hollywood HydraFacial, a manicure and pedicure, and a catered lunch. You’ll finish up just in time for happy hour, where you can show off the beautiful and balanced effects of all that pampering.
Spend a few hours at Whisk in Bellevue’s Main Street District, and you’ll unearth a new appreciation for cooking and entertaining. Autumn is the perfect time to fall back in love with food because there is such a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables to choose from. Stop by the Bellevue Farmers Market (Thursdays, 3-7 p.m., through Oct. 27) for a sampling of local produce, then head over to Whisk’s inviting retail store and kitchen for a tasty tutorial (most classes are $95).
Fall highlights include the Make-Ahead Three-Course Dinner Party on Sept. 18 and Oct. 9, 22 and 23; and the Local Harvest Dinner on Oct. 6 and 20. Or whip up dishes from around the world at classes that visit Spain (Sept. 15 and 23), Cuba (Sept. 16 and Oct. 7), India (Sept. 20), Mexico (Sept. 21 and Oct. 21), France (Sept. 22 and Oct. 5 and 12), Italy (Sept. 24, Oct. 1, 9 and 23, and Nov. 2) and Greece (Sept. 30).
Get a crush on Woodinville Wine CountryFall is a magical time for wine. It is the season of crush, when grapes are harvested from the vineyard, transported to the winery and transformed into wine. While much of the action takes place in the eastern half of the state where the vineyards are located, there are plenty of events at the 108 wineries and tasting rooms of Woodinville Wine Country to make you fall in love with Washington wine while you’re on this side of the Cascades.
The best way to immerse yourself in wine country is through an all-inclusive tour with a knowledgeable local guide. Barrel Wine Tours offers half- and full-day private tours that include luxury transportation with a professional driver, and tastings at three to four Woodinville wineries. Full-day tours even include a delicious three-course lunch. The company is a co-op of Washington wineries, so you’ll get the inside scoop and plenty of education about our booming local wine scene.
Ever since Tom Cruise’s character, Joel, commandeered his dad’s Porsche 928 in “Risky Business” – with Lana riding shotgun and Guido in hot pursuit – we’ve been fantasizing about an exhilarating ride in an exotic sports car (minus the illegal activity, of course).
So we were thrilled to learn about Zadart Exotic Car Rentals, a new local business with a fleet of rent-by-the-day dream machines that includes a McLaren 12C Spider (MSRP $315,000!), a Lamborghini Huracan and a Ferrari 458, among other assorted Aston Martins, BMWs and Bentleys.
Daily rates ($150-$1,200 per day) reflect the cars’ lofty pedigrees, but Zadart offers a couple of great specials: Walk in the same day and choose any available car in the lot, and you’ll save 40 percent off the hourly rate or 30 percent off the daily rate. With the date-night offer, you get 16 hours for the price of only four when you call the same day to make your reservation.
Cruise the Kirkland waterfront or Alki in Seattle, or for longer jaunts, visit the Washington State Department of Transportation website for an interactive map of scenic byways. We love the pretty North Cascades Scenic Highway, which stretches 140 miles from Sedro-Wooley to Twisp and hugs the stunning, jewel-green Diablo Lake along the way.
And because a hot car requires cool shades (à la Tom Cruise’s signature Ray-Bans), before you buckle up, stop by Eye Society at the Bravern or Sunglass Hut at Bellevue Square for your own distinct eyewear.
Written by – Monica Fischer
Photo Credits, Top to Bottom – Bellevue Skyline via Marv Heston, Bellevue Zip Tour via City of Bellevue, Spa Stones via Pexels.com, Cooking Class via Whisk, Woodinville Wine Country Tour via Sandra Lee, Diablo Lake via Monica Fischer