A Look Back at 2016 – Why Tourism Matters for Bellevue

Communities across the country and around the world recognize the value of visitors in generating economic impact. Visitors to Bellevue help create and sustain jobs, bring out-of-town expenditures and generate tax revenues that benefit all of us. Additionally, there is strong evidence that increasing visitors in a market in turn leads to increases in the overall desirability of the destination as a place to meet, live, work, and locate businesses.

Visit Bellevue Washington released its 2016 Tourism Impact Report at its Tourism Spotlight Luncheon held May 16, 2017 at Meydenbauer Center.

2016 Visitor Impacts

Highlights of the Tourism Impact report include findings that visitors to Bellevue are increasing: the city saw 14 percent more visitors in 2016 than in the previous year, with a 20 percent increase in overnight visitors and $762 million in direct visitor spending. Visitors in Bellevue are spending more money, seeking out diverse cuisine options and enjoying entertainment, shopping and outdoor adventure in and around the city. This spending in turn generated tax revenues of over $69 million and helps support nearly 12,000 jobs in Bellevue.

New Hotel Inventory

Bellevue is continuing to respond to the rise in corporate travel, convention business and tourism with three new hotels opening in summer 2017 – W Bellevue, Hilton Garden Inn, and AC Hotel by Marriott. Not only will this add accommodation options throughout the city, but will create more jobs for locals and added meeting and events space capabilities to attract larger conventions and events to Bellevue.

Download the full 2016 Tourism Impact Report here.

Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: Old Bellevue via Tosin Arasi, Visitor Impacts infographic via Visit Bellevue Washington

Written by – Sharon Linton 

 

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Bellevue’s Best Picks For Spring

The days are getting longer and spring is in the air.  There’s no better place for fun, adventure or relaxation than Bellevue, Washington.

Whether you’re here for business with co-workers, spending the weekend or getting away with the family for a few days– you’ll be centrally located to discover the best that Western Washington has to offer this season.

Whatever your passion; art museums and shopping, sipping the perfect cup of local coffee, strolling through beautiful parks and walkways, or shopping until the sun goes down, Bellevue is the place to be. Read on and discover our top picks for everything spring has to offer.

Get OutsideWarmer days are coaxing us outdoors, so why not give in? You can start with an early morning run through the Mercer Slough just south of downtown Bellevue where you’ll find well maintained trails and breathtaking scenery.  For a more ambitious trail, we love heading to Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park for miles of challenging, single track terrain.

For paddle sports fans, look no further than the Lake Sammamish Northwest Paddling Festival in May. It’s just a short drive east from downtown Bellevue.

Enjoy taking the outdoors in at a slower pace? Start with a delicious artisan pastry and coffee from one of our favorite spots, Belle Pastry, while you saunter and window shop down old Bellevue’s historic Main Street. Or grab brunch at the 520 Bar and Grill before you hit the stores.

And Bellevue’s fabulous Farmer’s Market, opening May 19, is the perfect place to take in the spring weather while tempting all your senses with fresh flowers, fruits, vegetables and locally baked goods. Or if you want, pick up a delicious lunch or dinner from a food truck while you’re there.

Calling All Art LoversLucky for us, spring marks the beginning of fresh exhibitions at the Bellevue Arts Museum. Take a peek at The Contact, Quilts of the Sierra Nevada by Ann Johnston.

Or walk over to Bellevue Place and catch the latest exhibit at the Hall Spassov Gallery.

Did you know downtown Bellevue is home to 100 public sculptures and works of art? Be sure and download our Downtown Bellevue Art Map.  It’s a complete guide to viewing all the spectacular art installations throughout downtown Bellevue.

Family and Group Adventures

Want to do something unique with family, friends or co-workers? How about Serial Mysteries? It’s an escape room adventure like you’ve never experienced. Use clues and the physical environment to solve Serial’s puzzles. Test the wit of your 2-15 person team. It’s great fun for family bonding or corporate team building.

For some big outdoor adventure with groups and older kids (nine and above), you’ll love the Bellevue Zip Tour. Take a thrilling ride through the forest on 6 1/2 different zip lines including their longest one– over 457 feet. Located in Eastgate Park just off I90.

Spring Holiday Happenings

For even more family fun this spring, we’ve got you covered. From local Easter celebrations to Mother’s Day and beyond—you won’t have to look far for things to do.

The newly relocated KidsQuest Museum is in a great new space in Downtown Bellevue. Serving little people 10 and under, it’s all day fun for the kids.  And just for Easter, they’ll be featuring an Egg-tastic Event for the whole family on April 9 from 9-12.

If you feel like venturing out, take a short ride into Seattle and explore Seattle’s own Woodland Park Zoo for the annual Easter Bunny Bounce.

If you’re in town for Mother’s Day, treat mom to a fabulous brunch at Eques located in downtown Bellevue’s Hyatt Regency. Or try a special savory Italian brunch at one of our new favorite spots, Vivo 53. Another favorite, Pearl Seafood and Oyster Bar is also featuring a special plated family style Mother’s Day Brunch.

After brunch, why not check out the latest spring fashion arrivals and shopping picks? You’ll be just steps away from unique shopping at The Bellevue Collection and The Bravern.

Is mom more on the athletic side? Sign up for the Mother’s Day Half Marathon located just minutes from Bellevue in beautiful Kirkland, Washington.

Another great Mother’s Day outing is happening at the Bellevue Botanical Garden. The Botanical Garden feature 53-acres of cultivated gardens, restored woodlands, and natural wetlands. And on Mother’s Day, enjoy their free annual social with light refreshments and music just for mom.

Whatever the warmer weather inspires you to do, find it this spring in Bellevue, Washington.

Written by – Tami Rogers

Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: Crossroads Farmers Market (open in June) via Visit Bellevue Washington, Mercer Slough Trail via Marcus Donner, Bellevue Arts Museum via Scott Harder, Brunch Pizza via Vivo 53, Shopping at The Bellevue Collection via Merrill Images

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Wheel Meal Deals in Bellevue

The growing tech and business sectors in downtown Bellevue means plenty of hungry workers eager for an affordable but tasty lunch. If you’re looking for quick, portable, and delicious cuisines, check out the food truck pod in downtown Bellevue at 626 106th Avenue Northeast. The pod switches it up with four or five different mobile restaurants every day, but if you can’t make it to the pod, you can likely find a food truck on one of the many corners throughout downtown Bellevue.

Snout and Co. offers a mix of Caribbean and Southern soul food. Cuban sandwiches

and picadillo (Cuban-style hash) mingle on the menu with South Carolina-style barbecue pork sandwiches and sides of collard greens and white beans and rice. Skillet, a longtime local favorite, is hard to miss—its distinct, shiny, classic Airstream exterior is like a beacon calling hungry patrons to enjoy its modern American food. Skillet’s menu changes often, but don’t miss standards like The Burger (grass-fed beef, arugula, bacon jam, and bleu and brie on brioche) and the poutine (a Canadian late-night delicacy made here with hand cut fries, gravy, cheddar, grana padano, and herbs).

Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max serves Hawaiian food, most notably its namesake poke, a sort of salad consisting of raw sashimi-grade fish, rice, seaweed, and seasonings. If raw fish isn’t for you, try the Aloha Chicken Bowl (your choice of yakitori chicken, garlic-fried chicken, or chicken katsu, served over rice with a side of Hawaiian mac salad) or the Shrimp Boat Sandwich (think a shrimp po’boy with a Hawaiian twist).

Other notable food trucks making stops at the downtown Bellevue pod include Bread and Circuses (gastropub fare), NaanSense (Indian), Off the Rez (Native American), Where Ya At, Matt? (Southern/Creole), Mesob at the Curb (Ethiopean), and more.

Written by – Ethan Chung, published in the 2017 Bellevue Visitor Guide

Photo Credits – Marcus Donner

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The Latest Buzz on Bellevue’s Coffee Culture

When you think of Seattle, you think of coffee. After all, the company that put coffee shops in just about every neighborhood in the country began right in our own backyard.

But did you know Bellevue has over 110 coffee shops of its own?  Many of these local gems have some of the best locally roasted, sourced, smooth and delicious coffee we’ve ever tasted.  Listed below are a few of our favorite local hangouts to spend a morning lingering over a latte, or dropping by for a delicious cup to go.

And with all there is to explore and do in Bellevue, you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in the time it takes you to finish that to-go cup!

Café Cesura

Just a ten-minute walk from Lincoln Square or a quick drive from just about anywhere in Bellevue, Café Cesura is all about local beans and sourcing. Step inside and you’re in for a real treat. Large windows create a bright, airy, clean and sleek environment.  Single-origin coffees, loose-leaf teas and delicious, creative sandwiches are offered all day long. It’s a place you’ll want linger and chat with a friend over a warm mug.

Beyond the tasty coffee and tea offerings, you can choose from fabulous pastries like almond croissants and the ever-popular cronut—a cross between a croissant and donut. And don’t forget to try their award-winning egg sandwich.

Honor Coffee

New to Bellevue in 2016, Honor Coffee, the local shop that started in Seattle, can now be enjoyed in Bellevue. Honor features beans from Olympia Coffee Roasting, a small, quality focused coffee roaster from the Pacific Northwest.

Walk into the spacious, inviting digs and you’ll first notice the large communal wood table with plenty of room for playing games or just hanging out with the family or friends.

But what we love most about Honor is the coffee itself. Rich and smooth, along with baristas who know their stuff, it’s not a bad way spend a morning or afternoon. Their specialties include cold brews and pour over methods. Speaking of which, you’ll love checking out the Yama–a cold brew drip glass tower, prominently displayed on the counter. This funky glass contraption will make you a super smooth cup of cold brew. Alexis, our barista, was an expert on the process.

Fika House Kafe

Started by Micah Pittman, owner of 99 Park Restaurant in Bellevue, Fika House Kafé is the perfect place to relax for any true coffee connoisseur. When you open the door, it’s clear this small, sleek space belongs to someone who knows what he’s doing.

We were lucky enough to pop in on a Monday, the day of the week when Micah himself serves up some of the most delicious craft brew east of Seattle, not to mention the fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth homemade waffles to go with it. We asked him what inspired him to open a coffee shop—in the midst of running a successful restaurant close by:

“I had a real passion for coffee and wanted a place that was part of the local community. I also wanted our waffles to be like nothing else you could find in the area.”

And the waffles certainly are. He and his chef from 99 Park, Derek Bugge, spent time in Belgium and Amsterdam just to perfect the waffle recipe. They even brought home a special waffle iron you will only find in Europe. You can get your waffle bacon wrapped, or even gluten-free. It’s no wonder the waffles have become as much as a draw as the coffee at Fika House.

Bellden Café

This new, community-driven coffee shop does more than just serve a delicious cup of joe. Bellden Café’s owner, Claire Sumadiwirya, added a unique twist on the traditional coffee shop model by regularly partnering with and supporting local charities.

And where did that inspiration come from? Sumadiwirya credits her young son:  “A few years ago, we were traveling in Shanghai and my son got very sick. He ended up in the hospital for two weeks. We were far from home, in a foreign country, and the community there was amazing. They nurtured and took care of us in such a lovely way.” After that experience, she decided to open a coffee shop for the Shanghai community within the hospital. “We were there during a time before large coffee chains had come in. They just didn’t have a place for community gathering.”

With that success, she came back to the United States and settled in Bellevue, deciding to open a shop here with that same community building in mind.

“We wanted to create an atmosphere where customers would not only enjoy great coffee and food– but also have an opportunity to do something bigger for the world. We decided to pair with non-profits to elevate our business to one that gives back,” she says.

Bellden Café offers special food and drink items for each featured charity. All the proceeds from the sale of these items go directly to the charity. In addition, employees and the owners volunteer for every non-profit they partner with.

Dote Coffee

Coming in June to the soon-to-be opened Market at Lincoln Square, is Dote Coffee. Dote is the brainchild of Lisa Dupar, local celebrity chef and owner of Pomegranate Bistro, along with her partner, Sarah Doud. Together, they are launching an innovative new coffee experience.

They tapped local artisan roaster Phillip Meech of Café Lusso to create the perfect blend, specifically for Dote. That means all of Dote’s signature chocolates were made to pair with and complement the finest coffee there is.

According to Dupar, Dote will be more than just an ordinary coffee destination. “We really wanted to create a unique experience in coffee. Bellevue has “grown up” over the past several years and we set out to honor that. I have always believed in the idea of nurturing the community with the best local, simple ingredients—and wanted to apply that same concept to Dote by creating a one-of-a-kind experience you won’t find anywhere else.”

What does that mean? Imagine sipping a warm mug of the best chocolate truffle you have ever come across. Look for tantalizing house signature flavors like Dote Honey Dark Chocolate, Dote Vanilla Bean White Chocolate and Dote Hazelnut Milk Chocolate. All created exclusively by world-class chocolatier Ewald Notter. Notter will also invent exclusive Dote candies, bars and snacks. You can even get a “boozy” dote after dinner or an evening at the movies.

Seattle Coffee Gear

Want to do even more coffee exploration? Stop by Seattle Coffee Gear right off Northeast 8th Street in downtown Bellevue. Not only will you find the latest methods and demonstrations on how to make a perfect cup—there’s even a coffee wall.

Here you’ll find over 40 local roasts and taste them via pour-over or espresso brew method. Customers are encouraged to create their own “tasting flight” by selecting a few to try, brewing them up and sampling right there in the store.

Written by – Tami Rogers

Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: Coffee and Champagne via Fika House Kafé, Coffee Cup and Bellevue Backdrop via Café Cesura on Instagram, Table Spread via Honor Coffee, Coffee and Waffle via Fika House Kafé, Barista with Latte via Bellden Cafe, Coffee Tasting Wall via Seattle Coffee Gear (Bellevue) 

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Bellevue’s Top Picnic Spots

Whether you prefer a more urban setting—or want to really feel like you’re “getting away,” Bellevue has some of the most beautiful places to picnic in the state.

How about a romantic meal at dusk for two with some fabulous food? Looking for family time and love a beach? Or do you prefer to wander out a little further and go for a hike to find just the right picnic spot? Read on and let us help you the perfect destination for what you have in mind.

Bellevue Downtown Park

An approximately 21-acre oasis of green in the heart of Bellevue, this park is the definition of an “urban oasis”. Bellevue Downtown Park has been undergoing some upgrades that will be completed in June, making it the premiere urban spot to picnic in daytime or evening. Our favorite way to do it? Grab a delicious gourmet sandwich or salad from Gilberts on Main and you’ll be just blocks away from the park. Or you can do a romantic dessert for two and pop into nearby Belle Pastry.

Other nearby food options include the new Beechers handmade cheese location that opened on the lower level at Bellevue Square. Grab an amazing cheese, fruit and cracker plate, one of their Panini’s or of course, a cup of their famous macaroni and cheese and you’re good to go on a fantastic picnic. Or, stop by the new Poke Mix, and build your own poke bowl to take with you. You can also check out the new 365 by Whole Foods in Bellevue Square. Grab some sandwiches, sushi or a fantastic stir-fry. This Whole Foods features Thai food to-go from local, award-winning Thai restaurant, Wild Ginger.

The ten-acre lawn area will invite you to throw out a blanket and maybe toss the Frisbee around after your picnic. And with a one-half mile promenade, you’re also in the perfect spot for a walk after enjoying lunch.

And just in time for summer, Downtown Bellevue Park will be opening its new, innovative play space in June. Expanding the current playground, the Inspiration Playground will span approximately 1.5 acres. Dedicated to fun, imagination and learning where kids of all ages and abilities can explore at their own pace. Look for whimsical play areas for the little ones as well as climbing structures and challenges for older kids.

Wheel chair accessible swings; interactive water features and sculpture gardens will engage the senses, create inclusiveness and delight your kids for hours of outdoor fun.

Enatai Beach ParkIf you want to venture out a little further than the mall, Enatai Beach Park is just a couple of miles south of Downtown Bellevue off of I90.  Pack a lunch or pick one up on the way. Another one of our local favorites?  Homegrown, an organic, sustainable sandwich shop has one of the best egg, local Beecher’s cheese and bacon sandwiches in town and they serve it all day. Or, try one of their gluten-free Quinoa bowls. You could also stop by Bellevue’s Asian grocery store, Uwajimaya for unique and tasty treats, including bubble tea from the Oasis Tea Zone.

There’s plenty of parking at the beach park and if it’s a warm day you can swim after your picnic. Canoe and Kayak rentals are also available once the summer season hits.  You’ll enjoy great views from the beach and the kids will love all the ducks and geese.

Ashwood Park

If you’re thinking of spending some time with little ones, we have the perfect day planned for you. Head to beautiful Bellevue Library in the morning—with its terrific children’s section and ample parking, it’s a great way to spend a few hours. Check out the events calendar from King County Library ahead of time and see if there are any special programs going on—like children’s story hour, before you go.

When you’re done, you’re just a walk away from Ashwood Park. It’s located between the library and KidsQuest museum. If you don’t pack a lunch, grab a sandwich at Café Cesura or pick up a famous Top Pot Donut at their Bellevue location and get ready to spread out your blanket and relax while the kids enjoy some playtime at the park.

They also offer some fun programming for children of all ages during spring and summer months like the Four on the 4th Dog Jog & Walk to raise money for the Bellevue Humane Society.

Hike to a Picnic

Prefer more of a wilderness hike before relaxing? One of the best views is at Cougar Mountain Wildland Park. Driving just eight miles east on I90 from downtown Bellevue, Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park is the gem of King County’s 25,000-acre park system. Discover our region’s unique historical, cultural and natural heritage on your hike. Trails are wide and well marked, many are relatively flat, a great place to bring your family or your dog.

Along the trails, there are several small attractions related to the area’s mining history, as well nice viewpoints and a couple of small waterfalls.

Try the Coal Creek Falls Trail for a gorgeous waterfall view while you enjoy your lunch.

Another hidden gem for a hike is Wilburton Hill Park. You can start by having lunch at one of the picnic tables than hop on the trail. There’s even a trail to connect you to the Bellevue Botanical Garden.

If you’re with the kids, stop by Kelsey Creek Farm nearby. Home to ponies, sheep, goats, chickens, pigs, rabbits and waterfowl, the farm dates from the 1930’s, complete with white-rail fencing, beautiful lawns and play fields. Look for special events that the kids will love like farm classes and the annual Sheep Shearing in April.

There are dozens of beautiful parks located throughout the city of Bellevue; perfect for a picnic or just about any outdoor activity you can think of.  For a complete list along with ideas of things to do when you get there,  just visit our website!

Written by – Tami Rogers

Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: Enatai View via Visit Bellevue Washington, Bellevue Downtown Park via Kaitlyn Brajcich, Enatai Beach Kayaking via Marcus Donner, Cougar Mountain Anti-Aircraft Peak View via Kaitlyn Brajcich, Kelsey Creek Farm Cows via Visit Bellevue Washington

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Photo Worthy Spots in Bellevue

Selfies, panoramas, and artsy shots—snap them all in Bellevue.

  1. BELLEVUE COLLECTION SKY BRIDGE

The 110-foot glass-and-steel sky bridge connecting Lincoln Square to Bellevue Square offers an impressive vantage point of the downtown corridor.

2.CROSSROADS PARK

Capture your kiddos’ joy as they play in the spray park at Crossroads Park. Don’t miss a chance for a photo op on the life-sized orca sculpture that doubles as a fun spray element.

  1. SOUTH BELLEVUE COMUNITY CENTER

John T. Young’s “Temple of the Stones,” made of granite, steel, and cable at South Bellevue Community Center, is a gorgeous piece of public art that shoots well in all seasons, but particularly in the fall.

  1. COAL CREEK NATURAL AREA

Escape the hustle and bustle of downtown and explore this dense forest area that also serves as a natural fish and wildlife habitat. Watch for evidence of the area’s early coal industry along the trail.

  1. MEYDENBAUER BAY

The towering skyline of downtown Bellevue fits nicely with Meydenbauer Bay, a gleaming corner of Lake Washington, in the foreground.

Written by – Ethan Chung, published in the 2017 Bellevue Visitor Guide

Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: The Bellevue Collection Sky Bridge via Brian D. Casey, Crossroads Spray Park via Visit Bellevue Washington, South Bellevue Community Center Scuplture via Tosin Arasi, Coal Creek Natural Area via Flickr Creative Commons, Meydenbauer Bay via Merrill Images

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New Year, New Bellevue

What’s happening in Bellevue? Let’s just say Bellevue is taking the “New year, new you” mantra to a whole different level this year. 2017 has some major projects coming to completion across the city that are already bringing new residents, workers, visitors and experiences to Bellevue’s bustling downtown and beyond. Here’s our roundup of the freshest, must-visit destinations coming to Bellevue this year.

Accomodation

Not one, but three major hotel brands are coming to Bellevue in 2017.

Hilton Garden Inn – Opening June 2017

Just a short stroll away from Bellevue’s shopping and dining core, Hilton Hotels will open the Hilton Garden Inn Seattle Bellevue Downtown on NE 10th Street and 108 Ave NE, an upscale yet affordable hotel providing travelers the conveniences of home while on the road. For example, as a guest at Hilton Garden Inn you can order fresh, cooked-to-order breakfasts delivered to your room, unwind at a state-of-the-art fitness center or stop by their 24/7 “Pavilion Pantry” for healthy snacks, sweets, beverages or ready-made meals. The new Hilton Garden Inn will have 254 guestrooms total and flexible meeting space to accommodate up to 100 guests.

AC Marriott Hotel – Opening June 2017

In south downtown Bellevue on NE 2nd Street and 106th Place NE, one of Marriott’s newest brand concepts will establish a presence, AC Hotels by Marriott. This clean, minimalist hotel brand has Spanish origins reflected in its European-style breakfasts, shared spaces for networking and/or tapas and cocktails, and efficient use of space and design to appeal to the global traveler. Visitors staying at the 235 guestroom AC Marriott Bellevue will be able to further their European inspired travels with easy city walks to Bellevue Downtown Park or the charming Old Bellevue Main Street District.

W Bellevue – Opening June 2017

In the heart of downtown on Bellevue Way, a new W Hotel will join the forces that are Lincoln Square and Bellevue Square as a part of the Lincoln Square Expansion. Alongside other new shopping and dining options, the W Bellevue will have 220 guestrooms, 25 suites, 10,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and will be just a sky bridge away from world class shopping at The Bellevue Collection. The hotel rooms will combine cutting-edge interior design with the Pacific Northwest’s rugged outdoor heritage and tech-forward sensibilities. Guests will be able to amplify their senses at Chef Jason Wilson’s new farm-to-fork restaurant, explore Bellevue’s coveted cocktail culture at the speakeasy bar Civility & Unrest and wind down in the lounge area called The Library, a pulp pleasure parade of old-style gaming and cheeky fun.

Shopping/Dining/Attractions

Mark your calendar and be sure to come visit these new retailers, restaurants and experiences coming to Bellevue in the months ahead.

Lincoln Square Expansion – Various projects opening throughout 2017

Started in 2014, Lincoln Square Expansion is the all-encompassing name for a vast project adding 1.5 million square feet of space to Lincoln Square, Kemper Development Company’s mixed-use shopping center on Bellevue Way between NE 4th and 8th Street downtown. Over the coming months, companies like Valve Corp, Pokemon and WeWork will move into the new office tower named “400 Lincoln Square”, while new apartment owners move into “Two Lincoln Tower” next door. Below these new apartments and office spaces will be the W Bellevue hotel plus a host of new restaurants and retailers.

Winter 2017 – Lincoln Square Expansion 

Spinners rejoice! The first SoulCycle in the greater Seattle area is opening this January at the Lincoln Square Expansion. The indoor cycling gym has been sweeping the nation with their community approach to fitness and upbeat 45-minute classes. Sign-up for a class via their website and enjoy the ride.

Spring 2017 – Lincoln Square Expansion 

As the year warms up the Lincoln Square Expansion will welcome a host of new eateries. Henry’s Tavern, an American bar and grill with Portland roots bringing 100 beers on tap; Fogo de Chao, a well-known Brazilian steakhouse celebrating the art of ‘churrasco, fire-roasted meats delivered straight to your plate; and Japonessa Sushi, a sushi bar with Latin American flair are just naming a few. Other names slated to open in the spring include Taylor Shellfish, Wild Ginger, Baron’s Restaurant, Duke’s Chowder House, Parker’s Coffee and The Market. Chef Jason Wilson’s hotly anticipated new farm-to-fork restaurant and speakeasy cocktail bar concepts have yet to announce opening dates but are in the works for 2017 as well.

Fall 2017 – Lincoln Square Expansion 

Shoppers looking for a steal will be able to visit Nordstrom Rack, opening at the Lincoln Square Expansion in the fall.

KidsQuest – Opening January 2017

Calling all families! Bellevue’s interactive, non-profit children’s museum will be moving into a huge new and renovated space in downtown Bellevue this January. Conveniently located close to the Bellevue Library and local parks, kiddos ages 0-8 will be captivated here for hours on end. KidsQuest’s philosophy encourages early learning through play, especially when it comes to the sciences, technology, engineering, art and math. Come check out the new space complete with an outdoor gallery, water gallery, story tree area and stage for reading, a two-story climber, classroom spaces including an art studio, and more. Looking for the perfect space for a birthday party, or even a social for the grown-ups? KidsQuest is currently scheduling special events in their new space for March 2017 or later.

Renovated Bellevue Downtown Park – Fully Reopening July 2017 

The Bellevue Downtown Park has been a distinctive 21-acre oasis in the middle of Bellevue for years. Many visitors know the wide waterfall, stepped canals populated by ducks, shade trees and spacious lawn often frequented by Pokemon Go players. But this year, a construction project will wrap up just in time for the 4th of July, revealing a Bellevue Downtown Park come “full circle”. The project will complete the walkway and canal around the circular park to form a connected loop and add the new “Inspiration Playground,” an expanded playground that engages all the senses to create a space more inclusive of children of all abilities.

Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: City Hall Photo via Brian D. Casey, Guest Room via AC Hotels by Marriott, Hotel Exterior via Hilton Garden Inn, Living Room Lounge via W Bellevue, Downtown City View via Brian D. Casey, KidsQuest in Progress via Merrill Images, Downtown Park via Michael Walmsley

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Winter Hikes – from Urban to Winter Wonderland

In the Pacific Northwest we escape to the great outdoors year-round, and because the snow usually stays up in the mountains (about 45 minutes from Bellevue), a visit to Bellevue this winter means hiking opportunities ranging from snow-free urban vistas to white winter wonderlands. Just peruse our favorite winter hikes below, determine your timing, your level of desire for adventure and how bundled up you want to get. Then make your choice and get outside to enjoy the natural beauty that is so abundant here.

520 Bridge Biking and Walking Path    img_0024

Highlights:

  • Enjoy beautiful views of Seattle, Bellevue and Lake Washington as you walk west across the 520 floating bridge from the Evergreen Point Park and Ride. A 14-ft wide walking and bike path is separated from the adjacent freeway by a protective barrier. The path includes resting areas with benches and three scenic viewpoints providing information about Nautical and Maritime history of Lake Washington, as well as details about local fish and waterfowl.
  • While construction continues on the west end of the 520 floating bridge the trail is an out and back trail from the Evergreen Point Park and Ride.

Hike Distance: 2 miles round trip (or continue to the east and walk for several more miles along this same pathway)

Getting There:

  • Drive to the Evergreen Point Park and Ride just 3 miles west of downtown Bellevue
  • Catch the 555 ST Express Bus from the Bellevue Transit Center and get off at the Evergreen Point Freeway station.

Tips and things to know before you go:

This is a paved pathway with some elevation gain/loss as you transition from the park and ride area to the floating bridge level. Dress for the weather and have fun. The Evergreen Point floating bridge connects Seattle to Bellevue and holds the Guinness World Record title for the longest floating bridge in the world. The bridge originally opened in 1963 and was replaced by the new slightly longer, 7,708 foot bridge, in April 2016.

 

Mercer Slough Nature Parkimg_0033

Highlights:

The Mercer Slough Nature Park is a 320-acre wetland oasis, lushly populated with ferns, shrubs, flowers, several varieties of berries, distinctive wooden boardwalks and shaded pathways just a short distance from Bellevue’s bustling downtown. Stop by the Visitor Center at the Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center  (on the east side of the park) to talk to the on-duty park ranger, view the interpretive displays and check out back pack with activities to help you learn about the park and its environs.

Hike Distance: There are three main trails in the Park: the 0.8 mile Bellefields Loop Trail, the 1.1 mile Heritage Loop Trail, and the 4-mile Periphery Trail. Canoers and kayakers can explore the 2.6 mile Water Trail that flows through the length of the park. Canoes and Kayaks are available for rent at Enatai Beach Park on Lake Washington.

Getting There:

Drive (or walk) just 2 miles south of downtown Bellevue’s skyscrapers to the Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center and Bellefields trailhead on the east side of the park.

Tips and things to know before you go:

Mercer Slough Nature Park is the largest remaining stretch of wetland left on Lake Washington and it’s wetlands, meadows, forest, and bog are home or the seasonal destination of 170 species of birds and animals including Coyote, Beaver and Muskrat. Birds commonly seen in the park include: Great Blue Herons, many Ducks, Killdeer, Sparrows, Swallows, Red-tailed Hawks, Eagles, Towees, Kinglets, and Bushtits. Trails include boardwalks and well maintained pathways but there can be muddy spots.

 

Franklin Falls

Highlights:  A relatively short winter hike pays off big with an almost entirely frozen 135-foot waterfall creating a mist that covers everything and icicles that drip from the rock walls. While the falls are spectacular the journey is also worthwhile as you walk through snow laden old growth forest along the bubbling South Fork of the Snoqualmie River.

Hike Distance: The hike to Franklin Falls is easy. It’s a two-mile round-trip adventure with a 400′ elevation gain. In other words, it’s great for all ages and skill levels. You can make the hike to Franklin Falls year-round, but it’s especially stunning in the winter.

Getting There: From downtown Bellevue the trail head is just 45 miles and takes about 50 minutes to get there. Take I-90 east to exit 47 (Asahel Curtis/Denny Creek). At the top of the exit turn left. You’ll hit a T in the road; turn right. Take the first left (you’ll see signs to Denny Creek Campground). Stay on this road for about 2.5 miles. Take another left after the campground. The Franklin Falls trailhead is right there and it’s well-marked.

Equipment needed: Despite the short distance, winter hiking on this route is nothing to take lightly. Dress for the winter weather, wear boots with good traction and gloves and a warm jacket. Some portions of the trail get pretty slippery so hiking poles and snowshoes or ice grippers that can be put on your shoes can be helpful too.

Tips and things to know before you go: To avoid the crowds and finish your hike before dark its a good idea set off for this trip by 10 am on a weekend, by noon on a weekday. A Northwest Forest pass is required. A day e-pass can be purchased for $5. Just print it out ahead of time and place it on your vehicle’s dashboard.

 

Guided Snowshoe Walks at Snoqualmie Passfullsizerender

Highlights: Explore the Cascade Mountains and learn about winter ecology while snowshoeing on the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest January through March.  No experience is necessary and the Forest Service provides snowshoes and poles.

Getting There: Snoqualmie Pass is just over 50 miles from Downtown Bellevue – about a one-hour drive.

Various Snowshoe walk options are offered Saturdays and Sundays.

  • Short Snowshoe Hike with Ranger
  • Extended Snowshoe Hike with Ranger
  • Winter Photography Outings
  • Kids in the Snow

Equipment needed: Participants should wear layered and insulated clothing, hats and gloves with sturdy, waterproof shoes or boots, hats and gloves. To offset the costs of the program, a donation is requested. Extreme winter weather may be cancel snowshoe programs. Please call ahead to make reservations and check on any cancellations.

 

Gear Up

Need the proper layers or equipment for the journey? Get geared up for your winter hiking adventures at REI in Bellevue and before you #optoutside.

Photo Credits, Top to Bottom: Sharon Linton

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Cool Stuff To Do in Bellevue – A Techie’s Itinerary

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.

An Inside Look

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.

Fun and Games

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!

Fuel Up

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 

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5 Bellevue Spa Experiences To Try In 2017

Spa Day

It’s a new year, and what better time to remind ourselves to make a fresh start when it comes to health and wellness? Maybe you’re looking to work out more regularly, eat better, or take a little more time for yourself. Whatever your 2017 goals are, there’s nothing like a good spa visit to give yourself a little getaway, decompress, relieve sore muscles and fight those winter blues with a burst of energy. These trending Bellevue spa packages and seasonal treatments are some of our favorite ways to do just that.

Recoop Sparecoop-spa-1

A modern, minimalist downtown spot, Recoop Spa was created for those of us who just don’t have the time to lounge at a spa for hours. Finally! Their full range of treatments includes a massage as brief as 30 minutes that can be a quick fix on its own or added to any body treatment. Try a relaxing massage after a long day or pamper your toes with their Milk and Almond Pedicure complete with a soak in hot almond milk and a moisturizing massage with sweet almond oil.

Yuan Spa

Yuan Spa’s elegant and calming space hearkens to their philosophies around holistic health and Eastern remedies. This is the place to try cupping, the Chinese medicinal technique used to improve circulation and ease muscle tension that became a hot topic at last summer’s Olympic Games. You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to book a session here, and you may find the benefits of cupping to be just as game-changing. Not looking for a particular skin treatment or massage session? You can visit Yuan Spa to use the sauna, Eucalyptus steam room, and pools for just $45 without having to book an appointment.

Truce SpaTruce Spa Westin - wes1555sp.129045

Step into Truce Spa and you step into a luxurious tropical retreat. If you know the feeling of coming back from a trip in need of another vacation, Truce Spa is for you! Their spa menu includes treatments targeted at relieving the exhaustion and stresses that so often comes from traveling across time zones. Recover from your holiday travels with an Aroma Detox Massage using detoxifying essential oils to cleanse the lymphatic system and alleviate jetlag. The massage starts with oils drizzled along the spine, followed by a warm compress and ending with an invigorating lemon grass massage.

Float Bellevue

Finding an effective stress-management practice can be difficult, but don’t lose hope yet! At the recently opened Float Bellevue, you can literally float your stresses and aches away. The concept sounds too simple to be true. Book your session, arrive, shower, grab a pair of earplugs, and step into your very own float tank (also referred to as a sensory deprivation tank) for a 1-hour float in a warm salt-water. While floating can benefit anyone seeking a clear mind and relaxed muscles, these float tanks also help people who suffer from chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, migraine headaches and more.

Salt Mine Ariumsalt-mine-arium-kidsroomtrio

It’s that time of year when a nasty head cold can hit you hard. Good thing Salt Mine Arium’s Salt Room and Spa in Bellevue has the perfect remedy. The air in their salt rooms is saturated with micro salt particles that can be easily absorbed through the skin and deep into the lungs. Just pop-in to Salt Mine Arium (walk-ins are welcome) sit down, relax and breathe. The benefits of salt therapy include relief for allergies, asthma, cold, flu and insomnia. For a unique meditation or yoga experience, book a private session with one of Salt Mine Arium’s own instructors for a yoga + salt therapy fusion.

Written by: Rachel Encke

Photo Credits (Top to Bottom): Pexels.com, Recoop SpaTruce Spa, Salt Mine Arium

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