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 sports feature numerous opportunities to be both spectator and participant at venues throughout the Pacific Northwest.
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.
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
There 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.
The 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.
It 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 sports feature opportunities to channel your inner Olympian by participating.
Who 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 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
Running 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 sports feature opportunities to cheer on current, former and someday Olympians.
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.
Seattle 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