Bellevue Coffee Maker Spotlight – Meet Natalie

 

Woods Coffee was established in 2002 by the Herman family of Lynden, Washington. With a dream of starting a chain of coffee shops, the Hermans pooled their talents and resources to create the first Woods Coffee shop in Lynden. After six months, they opened their second store in the same town. Since then, they have been on a steady growth track. The Herman family currently has a total of 19 stores in the Pacific Northwest including Bellevue, the first location in King County.

Woods Coffee serves handcrafted coffee beverages and made-fresh daily food, including breakfast, lunch and pastries and a warm inviting atmosphere.  Woods Coffee’s values focus on serving others, making a difference and having fun. We’re excited to introduce Wood’s store manager Natalie Marrs and show how she lives out the Wood’s values everyday

What is your name?

Natalie Marrs

Which coffee shop are you with?

Woods Coffee Bellevue Square

What inspires you to come to work every day?

Working for Woods Coffee helped me get my life back on track when I was at an all time low. I first started working for the company after getting very sick and having to medically withdrawal from Western Washington University. Feeling like I could never get caught up and was grasping for anything when I was lucky enough to get hired to work at the busiest drive thru location in Bellingham. After the first week I was so overwhelmed I was ready to quit. Working in coffee is hard. My manager at the time, Holly Nava, told me if this was going to be my last shift that was fine, but for today my goal was to make as many people smile as possible. That day I had so much fun connecting with guests and my teammates that I told her I wanted to stay. The store became my second home, my team a second family, and all the guests created a sense of community for me in Bellingham.  A couple months later I was able to start back at WWU to continue my sophomore year. From then on I worked at the Lakeway Woods while going to school full time until graduating with a degree in Kinesiology and a minor in Sports Psychology. In my classes I learned a lot about team psychology and focused most of my projects on employee wellness. Since graduating, my goal has been to create a healthy and positive family environment at work where my employees always feel supported and actually want to come to work. I love my baristas and I would do absolutely anything for them. I can’t wait to be a part of the Woods Coffee expansion and create a barista family in Bellevue.

Signature coffee order? 

Woods cold brew with a splash of nonfat milk

What is your favorite accompaniment to your morning coffee?

Banana bread from Woods Coffee

When you’re not drinking coffee, what’s your go-to beverage of choice?

Smoothie from Freshii at Bellevue Square

Do you have a favorite place in Bellevue?

Sushiland

Where’s your go-to happy hour spot?

Cactus

If a customer asked you where to go for “the best bite” in Bellevue, where would you send them?

Nordstrom Cafe

What activity in or around Bellevue is a “Must” for those visiting the region?

Lucky Strike bowling/arcade

Where do you go when you’re craving something sweet?

Vivo 53 ice cream sundae

What’s your favorite spring or summer event in Bellevue?

Farmer’s market

Stay tuned for more Bellevue Coffee Maker Spotlights from Visit Bellevue Washington. Be sure to pay Natalie and the crew at Woods Coffee a visit this summer and post your photos with the hashtag #MyBellevue to enter our summer photo contest! (Full contest details here.)

Photo Credits – Woods Coffee

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Bellevue’s Hottest Spots for a Cold Treat

Is there anything better than a cold, refreshing sweet treat on a hot summer day? Whether you’re into ice cream, frozen yogurt, gelato or prefer a cone or a thick shake or malt, we’ve rounded up the best places to visit during your stay in Bellevue.

I scream you scream….

Ice cream is where it’s at. We can’t get enough of the cold, rich, creamy stuff. And if you’re visiting Bellevue this summer, you can rest assured your favorite treat will be on hand.  Here are some of our favorite spots to drop in and indulge.

Vivo 53

Located at Bellevue Square, Bellevue’s Vivo 53 is best known for its variety of handcrafted, artisanal Italian dishes that feature a uniquely modern flair. However, their line of “Insane Sundaes” has become a favorite, garnering much attention since being introduced at their former Fort Worth restaurant in Texas. Standing just under a foot tall, these extravagant ice cream sundaes boast an exciting arrangement of traditional Italian flavors with an array of toppings that come in all colors, shapes, and textures. Next time you’re at Vivo 53, try one of these insane sundaes which are sure to make any dessert-lover giddy with joy.

Ben and Jerry’s

Visit Vermont’s finest, iconic ice cream shop in Bellevue Square, Kirkland or Factoria Mall locations. Pamper yourself with a classic like Milk and Cookies, Cherry Garcia, Peanut Butter Cup or one of our top picks: Chunky Monkey with bananas, fudge chunks and walnuts. Or choose from frozen yogurt, non-dairy and gluten-free flavors just as creamy and enticing. And you can feel good about indulging. Ben and Jerry’s is made only with fair trade ingredients.

Molly Moon’s

A Seattle favorite, Molly Moon’s has finally found a home on the Eastside in downtown Redmond, just a short drive east on Interstate 520. This local Seattle handmade ice cream shop has won numerous “best ice cream” awards since its inception in 2008. With locally sourced ingredients and unique flavors like Honey Lavender, local Stumptown Coffee and Theo’s Melted Chocolate, Molly Moon’s has built quite a fan base. Check out seasonal flavors like Sweet Cream Rhubarb Crisp. Our favorite? Scout Mint in a sundae topped with homemade hot fudge, thin mint crumbles, local Chukkar cherries and whipped cream. Gluten-free and vegan flavors are always on the menu as well.

Cold Stone Creamery

Located at Bellevue Crossroads, adjacent to the International Market, Cold Stone is always a top pick on a hot day in the Pacific Northwest. Create your own flavors or try one of their signature creations like Oreo Overload, Peanut Butter Cup Perfection or the Pie Who Loved Me made with cheesecake ice cream, Oreo cookies, graham cracker pie crust and fudge. How do you spell indulgent? If you prefer sipping your cold treat, you can create your own shake or smoothie.

Godiva Soft Serve

You had us at Godiva. How does the world’s best chocolate maker do soft serve ice cream? You can probably guess. It’s some of the creamiest, dreamiest stuff we’ve ever tasted. Located in Bellevue Square, you have to stop in for a swirl of Dark Chocolate, Raspberry Rose Anniversary Collection or White Chocolate Vanilla Bean.

Frozen yogurt anyone?

Indulgence without the guilt, frozen yogurt is here to stay. Here are some of the hottest shops to check out:

Red Mango

Located in Bellevue Square, you can treat yourself to some of the best frozen yogurt we’ve ever tasted. Red Mango offers up tart and sweet flavors like Madagascar Vanilla, Milk Chocolate and Pomegranate as well as special seasonal concoctions. Top it off with fresh berries, dark chocolate chips or our favorite—peanut butter cups with Ghiradelli chocolate sauce.

Menchies

If variety is what you’re looking for in frozen yogurt—Menchies is the place to be. Located at Kelsey Creek on Main Street in Bellevue, choose from dozens of low-fat, non-fat, sugar-free and even low carb delicious flavors like Greek Vanilla Bean, Banana, Cookie dough, Pure Chocolate and Classic Cherry. And it’s all sold by weight so you can indulge as much or as little as you desire. Did you say toppings? How about every fresh fruit you can think of as well as your favorite candies, cookies and even mochi. If you love the “build your own” method of frozen yogurt—you may also want to visit Peaks Frozen Yogurt Bar and Yogurtland in Bellevue.

Pressed Juicery

Prefer a healthier cold treat? Look no further than a delicious Freeze from Pressed Juicery, located at the Lodge in Bellevue Square. The Freeze is the latest and greatest creation from these California juice-makers. Packed with the same nutrition found in their popular juice flavors, Freeze is a soft-serve frozen treat and the first of its kind: by using only juices from fruits and vegetables, almonds and coconuts, Freeze is a vegan, gluten and dairy-free dessert. But after your first taste, you’ll never believe it.

The Best Gelato on the Eastside

You don’t have to travel to the Italian Riviera to taste the world’s best gelato. Here are a few places to find this creamy sensation:

Sirena Gelato

Sirena Gelato is an oasis for gelato lovers located in beautiful downtown Kirkland. With the help of a third generation Italian gelato maker from Venice, Brian Ugurlu and his family handcraft unique recipes utilizing both exclusive specialty imports and local Northwest ingredients.  The result is a tasty and distinctive blend of old world favorites with a modern American flair. Indulge in delicious flavors like Red Velvet Cupcake and Amaretto. If you close your eyes, you can almost feel the breeze off the coast of Portofino.

Tutta Bella Pizzeria

Come for the incredible pizza but stay for the gelato. Better yet, just come for the gelato. Tutta Bella features gelato from Seattle’s own award-winning gelato shop, Bottega Italiano. Choose from scrumptious flavors like Vanilla, Chocolate, Lemon, Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip, Nutella, Pear or whatever’s in season. Pizza and gelato go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Metropolitan Market

Located in Kirkland and a short drive east on Interstate 90 in Sammamish, is Metropolitan Market serving up fresh, incredible gelato by the cup or cone from Seattle’s own Pike Place Market favorite, Gelatiamo. Maria Coassin opened the doors of Gelatiamo in 1996, after dedicating years to learning the art and science of making authentic Italian gelato in her Italian hometown. Lucky for us, she now makes this delicious stuff in small batches in Seattle. Choose from from flavors like Pistachio, Dark Chocolate, Coconut and Almond.

Written by – Tami Rogers 

Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: Ice cream stock image via Pexels.com, Ben & Jerry’s server via Ben & Jerry’s Bellevue on Google Maps, Molly Moon’s Redmond storefront via Molly Moon’s, Cold Stone flavors via Cold Stone Creamery Bellevue on Zomato, Godiva soft serve via Godiva on Instagram, Freezes via Pressed Juicery on Instagram, Sirena gelato flavors via Sirena Gelato on Instagram, Tutta Bella gelato via Tutta Bella Bellevue, Gelatiamo flavors via Gelatiamo Seattle on Instagram

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19 Bellevue Must-Dos

Your bucket-list guide to fun, food, and culture

An excerpt of the first 19 Must-dos in Bellevue from the full list of 90 that appear in the 2017 Bellevue Visitor Guide

By Julie Arnan, Ethan Chung, David Clark, Deanna Duff, and Denise Sakaki

Nos. 1–3
Explore Mercer Slough

Lake Washington’s largest freshwater wetland offers plenty of education and recreation for all ages. From May to September, snag a canoe from Cascade Paddlesports’ convenient location at Enatai Beach Park to begin your aquatic adventure through the slough. This 2.6-mile water trail drops straight into the heart of the 320-acre park—paddle through water lilies and keep an eye out for turtles, herons, jays, and even the occasional eagle. During the summer, guided tours can be organized for the family (stop at the park’s U-pick blueberry fields after the tour to end the day on a sweet note). The Environmental Education Center is a point of collaboration between Bellevue and the Pacific Science Center (Seattle), where wetland ecology is the central topic. Enjoy the slough as a family with special programs like guided night walks that allow participants to call owls, learn about nocturnal animals, and enjoy hands-on sensory activities. If the grownups are looking for some alone time, try Parents Day Out, a supervised drop-off program that keeps kids occupied and learning with a day exploring the slough.

Nos. 4–9
Drink Local Cocktails

Lot No. 3 buzzes even on a Monday night—the cocktails are exceptional, particularly anything whiskey-based. A horseshoe-shaped bar corrals the faithful around a solidly knowledgeable bartender whose middle name might be “Craft.” The bourbon-forward Young Buck pairs nicely with a side of chicken and waffles. Or if you like it neat, stop in on a Wednesday for half-price whiskey pours.

Monsoon Bellevue boasts the largest bottle collection on the Eastside with close to 700 choices. Bar manager Jon Christiansen has even procured discontinued Japanese whiskies and other hard-to-find spirits. He is committed to fresh everything—syrups, garnishes, and juices are made in-house. For a truly special experience, try one of the barrel-aged cocktails like the smoky Mezadone made with mescal, poppy, riesling, and Madeira.
Under the deft hand of bar manager Dan Yeisley, 99 Park’s bar program has blossomed into a well of finely crafted options. The Ginger’s A Peach is the beverage equivalent of a gummy peach ring candy—only refreshing instead of cloying—while the Beso De Fuego packs a spicy punch from a few drops of Scrappy’s firewater tempered by grapefruit, lime, and tamarind.
Prime 21 Lounge is billed as a “bar within a bar” located inside Daniel’s Broiler. If the views don’t have you swooning, the carefully curated selection of bourbons, scotches, and rums will undoubtedly do the trick. The menu consists solely of spirit-based drinks, though beer, wine, and appetizers are available from the bar kitchen.

Civility & Unrest, located in the Lincoln Square Expansion, opened June 15, 2017 bringing a “speakeasy feel and serious approach to the exploration of cocktail culture.”
At Bake’s Place, drinks are accompanied with a side of live music featuring local musicians and national acts, and don’t miss the large outdoor patio during the warmer months.

No. 10
Have Some Farm Fun

A few minutes from busy downtown Bellevue sits Kelsey Creek Farm, a city-owned space perfect for families or adults looking to take a stroll away from the city. The 1930s-era farm houses ponies, sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens, pigs, and more. Kelsey Creek Farm has picnic tables, a picnic shelter, and a playground, all free for public use (no reservations required). The farm offers tours where you can interact with the animals and classes that teach kids about farm work, pioneer life, and animal care and handling.

Nos. 11–16
Take a Spa Day

Be sure to schedule a little “you time” while traveling. Bellevue is home to plenty of world-class spas that will help you recover from jetlag, fight off fatigue, and put you in the perfect mind and body space for your vacation. Seeking luxury? Yuan Spa’s unique Body Renewal Package is a five-and-a-half-hour experience that will leave you walking on air. Enjoy a Mai Tai pedicure or other special treatments from Recoop Spa. Book a traditional Hawaiian lomi lomi massage at Gene Juarez Salon and Spa or a rejuvenating facial at SkinSpirit. Float away your worries at Float Bellevue, a flotation therapy spa where you lay in an enclosed tank full of Epsom salt solution. Or try halotherapy, the art of healing using salt, in the salt room at Salt Mine Arium.

No. 17
Eat an Insane Sundae

Vivo 53 is known for its wood-fired pizzas with toothsome crusts and its freshly made pastas, but you can’t leave this restaurant without trying an Insane Sundae. These larger-than-life desserts are stacked with Willy Wonka-levels of sweet toppings. Don’t miss the Candy Esplosione with M&Ms, rotating ice cream, chocolate pretzels, rock candy, chocolate peanut butter brownie, Heath Bar, swirl lollipop, whipped cream, and chocolate drizzle. The menu says “It’s like licking a unicorn!” so how can you say no?

 Nos. 18–19
Visit Bellevue Botanical Garden

Bellevue Botanical Garden is open 365 days a year so visitors can enjoy its 50-acre splendor in every season. Grab a coffee from the locally owned Copper Kettle Coffee Bar and explore the grounds. Bask in the colors of the Fuschia Garden, meditate in the traditional Japanese Yao Garden, and stroll the Lost Meadow Trail. Annual events include Art in the Garden featuring garden-based glasswork during summer and Garden d’Lights, a winter holiday tradition with more than a million lights illuminating the night. Regular lectures, classes, and docent-led tours enhance the experience.

To see the other 71 Bellevue Must-do’s check out the 2017 Bellevue Visitor Guide or check back to this blog later in the summer.

Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: Mercer Slough kayaking via David Johanson Vasquez, cocktail bar at Lot No. 3 via Heavy Restaurant Group, Kelsey Creek Farm via Bellevue Parks and Community Services, spa lobby via Recoop Spa, Spumoni Sundae via Vivo 53, garden walkway via Bellevue Botanical Garden

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Bellevue’s Summer Festival Season

If you’re heading to Bellevue, Washington this summer, you’re in luck. We’ve got some of the most unique, talked-about summer festivals and street fairs in the country. And once you get a taste—you’ll want to make us a summer getaway destination every year.

The Strawberry Festival

Coming to Bellevue June 24-25, the Strawberry Festival at Crossroads Park is the perfect place to take the kids and enjoy the summer weather. While the main stage will feature music from big band to classic rock –performers will also be delighting festival goers with entertainment for kids and adults alike. Look for inflatable bouncers, pony rides, face painting, strawberry shortcake eating contests and much more.

Bellevue Arts Fair Weekend

Celebrating its 33rd summer, Bellevue Arts Fair Weekend will once again be bringing fine arts and crafts to the streets of downtown Bellevue. Coming July 28-30th, Arts Fair Weekend features three different arts fairs bringing in over 600 of the most talented and popular artisans, musicians and craftspeople from the Northwest and beyond. This is truly the event locals look forward to all year long.

In addition to a one-of-a-kind shopping experience from national as well as local artists, Bellevue Art Museum’s (BAM) ARTSfair offers free programming all weekend long including: BAM Exhibitions, KIDSfair, the Sound & Movement Stage, food trucks, and much more.

At 6th Street Fair, you’ll peruse an eclectic mix of arts and crafts from local artisans. This fair is the perfect place to find a gift or a treasure for yourself from baskets and beadwork to paintings and pottery that reflects the culture of the region. Bellevue Festival of the Arts  also features a variety of local Northwest artists, musicians and craftspeople. Plus the proceeds benefit various local and global non-profit organizations.

Bellevue Farmers Market

There’s no better way to explore the best of what the Pacific Northwest has to offer than at the Bellevue Farmers Market. The farmers market features amazing local produce, flowers, meats, fish and baked goods—but also entertainment for the entire family. There’s live music along with a whole host of food trucks to satisfy the desires of even the hardest-to-please foodie. Located in the parking lot of Bellevue Presbyterian Church, half a mile north of Downtown Bellevue,

the Farmer’s Market takes place rain or shine Thursdays from 3-7pm through October 11th.

Kirkland Uncorked

For wine lovers, you can’t beat Kirkland Uncorked. Taking place July 14-16 and just a short drive along Lake Washington to Kirkland, this event is in beautiful downtown Kirkland’s Marina Park, right on the water. Showcasing over 70 Washington wines, you’ll be sipping the best Washington State has to offer. Be sure and visit the beer tent and street fair while nibbling on delicious food from dozens of local vendors.

Kirkland Summerfest

Also in Marina Park August 11-13, is Kirkland Summerfest. An event for the entire family, Summerfest features kids activities all day Saturday and Sunday as well as live music, food, beer and wine throughout the weekend.

Enjoy family fun in the kid zone while listening to live music from great local musicians. Indulge in fabulous cuisine from a wide array of food trucks while you soak up the sun.

Live at Lunch

Downtown Bellevue’s favorite place to hang out on a gorgeous day, Live at Lunch is the perfect lunchtime destination. With different locations throughout downtown Bellevue, music and entertainment line-ups, it’s the best place in the city to relax in the summer sun.

Being in downtown also means a wide variety of quick and delicious lunch options to pick up and take with you to enjoy the music. Try the fresh and hearty sandwiches, salads and quinoa bowls at Homegrown. Or stop by Gilbert’s on Main for our favorite sandwich, the cold turkey and hot pastrami with swiss cheese, coleslaw and homemade Russian dressing. Truly heavenly.

Mark your calendars, Live at Lunch takes place July 11th-September 14th on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Noon-1:30 p.m at plazas and parks throughout downtown Bellevue.

Bellevue Family Fourth

The 2017 Bellevue Family 4th presented by The Bellevue Collection will take place at the newly renovated Bellevue Downtown Park. The Eastside’s largest 4th of July event will honor America’s birthday for the 26th consecutive year.

Enjoy live entertainment, a Bellevue Parks Family Fun Zone with kid-friendly entertainment, jugglers, mascot characters, face painting and free interactive games, plus food vendors and a spectacular fireworks show synchronized to a live performance at 10:00 pm by Bellevue’s Youth Symphony Orchestra. It is truly a Fourth of July you will never forget.

Seafair

Of course, no summer in the Pacific Northwest is complete without Seafair.

This non-profit festival was founded in 1950 to attract tourists to the Seattle region and promote marine events to enhance Seattle’s reputation as the Boating Capital of the World. Taking place this year August 4th-8th, events happen throughout Seattle and the Eastside and touch more than two million people throughout the summer.

Seafair’s Signature Events include:

  • Seafair Kickoff June 14th
  • Alaska Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon & 1/2 Marathon, July 18th
  • Seafair Pirates Landing, July 8th
  • Seafair Summer 4th
  • Safeway/Albertsons Seafair Milk Carton Derby, July 15th
  • Swedish Seafair Triathlon & Kids Triathlon, July 23rd
  • Alaska Airlines Seafair Torchlight Parade, July 29th
  • Seafair Fleet Week & Boeing Maritime Celebration, August 1-6
  • Seafair Weekend featuring the Boeing Seafair Air Show and Albert Lee Appliance Cup, August 4-6

Check out the Seafair website for all the details.

Written by – Tami Rogers

Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: Bellevue Family 4th concert via Colin Walker, Bellevue Strawberry Festival slide via Eastside Heritage Center, BAM ARTSfair streetview via Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue Farmers Market streetview via Bellevue Farmers Market, Kirkland Uncorked at Kirkland Marina via Kirkland Uncorked Facebook, Glass Flowers via Kirkland Summerfest, Folk Band via Bellevue Downtown’s Live at Lunch, Fireworks at Bellevue Family 4th via Colin Walker, Seafair boats via Rod Mar  

 

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Bellevue Coffee Maker Spotlight – Meet Claire

Think community-driven coffee. Bellden Cafe is a new coffee shop in town, but when you walk through their doors into an inviting, warmly-decorated space you’ll find an energetic buzz. Owner, Claire Sumadiwirya, started Bellden Cafe with a unique twist on the traditional coffee shop model by regularly partnering with and supporting local charities.

Bellden Cafe offers special menu food and drink items for rotating featured charities. 50% of 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.

Get to know Claire and what brought her to Bellevue in the very first of our Bellevue Coffee Maker Spotlight blog series. We’re excited to share her story.

What’s your name?

Claire Sumadiwirya.

What’s the name of your coffee shop?

Bellden Cafe.

What inspires you to come to work every day?

At Bellden Cafe 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.

Signature coffee order?

Espresso or Cortado.

When you’re not drinking coffee, what’s your go-to beverage of choice? 

A Matcha Latte from Bellden or an Old Fashioned from Lot No.3!

Do you have a favorite place in Bellevue?

I love everything about this city, so it is really hard for me to pin-point a particular place.

If you were going out after work in Bellevue, where would you head?

Lot No. 3 or John Howie Steak.

If a customer asked you where to go for “the best bite” in Bellevue, where would you send them?

For healthy casual food, we love the Poke Mix. And for something fancy, we like John Howie or the Bis on Main.

What is your favorite accompaniment to your morning coffee?

A buttery plain croissant.

What, in your opinion, is the world’s best coffee creation?

Other than espresso or cortado, I love cold brew!

What activity in or around Bellevue is a “must” for those visiting the region?

The parks here are beautiful, and made with so much care and love. The Bellevue Art Museum is exquisite, and world class. Bellevue is just a sophisticated city with so much to offer plus delicious cuisine from all over the world.

Where’s your go-to happy hour spot?

Daniel’s Broiler.

Where do you go when you’re craving something sweet?

I am not really a sweet person, but if I really really crave something sweet, it would be the shaved ice bowls from Ding Tai Fung.

Where do you enjoy drinking your coffee? 

The Bellevue downtown park, near the water, and mostly just at my cafe.

What’s your favorite spring or summer event in Bellevue?

The Bellevue Farmer’s Market.

How would you describe Bellevue to visitors? 

Bellevue is where the world calls home. We have great cuisines from all over the world, beautiful parks that makes us happy, and most importantly generous community that love one another.

Stay tuned for more Bellevue Coffee Maker Spotlights from Visit Bellevue Washington. Be sure to pay Claire and her crew at Bellden Cafe a visit this summer and post your photos with the hashtag #MyBellevue to enter our summer photo contest! (Full contest details here.)

Photo Credits – Bellden Cafe 

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Summer in Bellevue: We’re Just Getting Warmed Up

The long days of summer have finally arrived. Bellevue, Washington is ready for the season with some of the best outdoor activities the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

Whatever your idea of summer fun is, you’ll find it here. If you’re hanging out with friends, co-workers or just looking for some good family friendly activities, you’ll love being in our big, beautiful backyard.

Hit the streets

Do you enjoy street fairs and festivals? Crazy about outdoor music? There are some events taking place this summer that you just can’t miss, like the annual Bellevue Arts Fair Weekend!

One of the Pacific Northwest’s largest and most celebrated festivals of its kind – Bellevue Arts Fair Weekend takes place in downtown Bellevue the last weekend of July each year.

And the Arts Fair Weekend is just one example of Bellevue’s outdoor festivals and fun. Be sure and check out the Bellevue Strawberry Festival Saturday to Sunday, June 24 -25th, with free outdoor music and activities for the kids. If you’re here over the 4th of July, Bellevue Family Fourth, offers a full day of activities, music, food and a spectacular fireworks display in the newly renovated Bellevue Downtown Park. Live at Lunch outdoor music and entertainment, will have you tapping your feet while enjoying some delicious food truck fare over the lunch hour. Vintage Sale and Arts in the Garden at Bellevue Botanical Garden is a great way to shop for some beautiful vintage pieces and other gorgeous art while wandering the spectacular gardens. All proceeds benefit the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society’s (BBGS) educational programs for children and adults.

And a Bellevue summer isn’t complete without a trip to Bellevue Farmer’s Market. Enjoy the fresh fruit, vegetables, homemade pastries,food trucks and live music throughout the summer and well into fall. If you can’t make the Bellevue Farmer’s Market on a Thursday, the Crossroads Bellevue Farmer’s Market is another great spot to shop from local farmers, growers and makers on Tuesdays during the summer months.

Beat the heat

Love the water? You’ve come to the right place. Jump in, cool off and discover all there is to do at our beaches and waterside parks.

If watersports are a passion of yours, you can rent a canoe for a day or a few hours at many of our beaches. Or just dive in and take a dip on a sunny afternoon. We love picking up a kayak at Enatai Beach Park, paddle boards at the downtown Kirkland Marina, or even a boat or jetski for the day from Woodmark Waterfront Adventures.

And don’t miss some of our favorite water events. The Round the Rock Stand Up Paddle Board Race is a 13-mile endurance race from Newcastle Beach Park on Lake Washington. For family fun, check out Parkadilly at Lake Sammamish State Park. Enjoy live entertainment from the stage and kid-focused interactive activities. If you feel like venturing out toward Seattle, the Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival is a favorite. It features a variety of different wooden vessels and events are on both land and water including music, demonstrations, children’s activities and more.

Of course, a Pacific Northwest summer is not complete without Seafair, a celebration featuring watersports events that take place all over the Seattle area throughout the summer.

Calling all foodies

For outdoor-loving foodies, Bellevue has some of the best patio restaurants in the region. 99 Park, 520 Bar and Grill, Local Burger, Daniel’s Broiler, and Bellevue Brewing Company are just a few of the many spots where you can enjoy a side of fresh Northwest air and sunshine. Sit under the stars with a great meal and sip a glass of award winning Washington wine at Bis on Main.  One of our favorites? The crispy garlic chicken paired with a local chardonnay from Columbia Valley. Leaning more toward classic comfort food and cocktails? Check out Lot No. 3 and grab a table outside. Try the bacon cheeseburger with crispy fried onions, lettuce, tomato, house pickles, ‘secret sauce’ and bistro fries.

Bake’s Place in downtown Bellevue features a stunning outdoor patio with games in the summer like giant Jenga and Cornhole. not to mention live entertainment from local musicians. Serving fresh, delicious cuisine and handcrafted cocktails, it needs to be at the top of your list.

Whatever you love most about the outdoors, your best vacation memories are waiting to be made right here, in Bellevue Washington.

Written by – Tami Rogers

Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: Newcastle Beach Park Volleyball via Brian D. Casey, Bellevue Arts Museum’s BAM ARTSfair via Miquel Edwards Photography, SUP Racers via Round the Rock SUP Race, Patio Dining via Lot No. 3

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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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