Here is our dilemma this summer: How will we swim, run, hike, bike, paddle, dance, eat, drink, golf, shop, cheer on our favorite teams and catch all the action of the Olympics? It’s going to take a Herculean effort, but we think we’re up to the challenge, and we have to admit: It’s a pretty great problem to have.
If you’re joining us in Bellevue this summer—on your own, with co-workers, or accompanied by friends or family—here’s how we suggest you tackle the sport we like to call “doing every fun thing under the sun.” And just in case we leave out anything, please visit our events calendar for more cool happenings.
Summer is still a few weeks away, but one of our favorite warm-weather pastimes has already returned, and we couldn’t be happier. The Bellevue Farmers Market opened May 12, and we stopped by to soak up the sun, sample the goods and meet some of the hardworking local folks who toil in the soil so we can eat fresh all season long.
We heartily recommend you visit every single stall, but if you’re short on time, you might want to move these six sociable vendors to the top of your shopping list.
This time of year, most of our favorite recipes feature asparagus, so we scooped up generous bunches of the vitamin-packed shoots—both thick and thin varieties were available—as well as onions and spring garlic from this family-owned farm based in Mabton, east of the Cascades.
How could you not love beer inspired by the Big Easy? The New Orleans-themed craft brewers from right here in Bellevue hooked us up with a lovely malty, melon-y IPA named Treme, and invited us to stop by their family-friendly taproom at 12031 Northup Way, Suite 203.
The Ballard-based artisan confectionary showed off three varieties of their small-batch caramels, and while we appreciated the Fleur de Sel and Absinthe with Black Salt candies, our favorites were the Key Lime with Sea Salt caramels, which perfectly balanced citrus and sweet.
We were showing off and chose a sample of the spicy chipotle salsa made by Darren Donahue’s family-owned Maple Valley condiment company, and boy, did we pay for it! Fortunately, there are a handful of less-fiery but just as addicting salsa varieties to choose from.
We were tickled to find pickles at the market, and thrilled to learn that this local company also produces a stellar Bloody Mary mix and relish, plus pickled asparagus, green beans and beets. If you can’t make it to the market, you can find their fine-brined goods in Bellevue at Pasta & Co.
It’s kind of genius to infuse popsicles with seasonal, local and organic ingredients, and positively brilliant to sell those fresh, refreshing frozen treats at the farmers market on a sunny day. Choose fruity or creamy varieties, in flavors from strawberry to coconut to chocolate banana.
The Bellevue Farmers Market is open Thursdays 3-7 p.m., through October 27, in the parking lot of Bellevue Presbyterian Church, 1717 Bellevue Way NE. You’ll find free and plentiful parking, and food trucks slinging cross-cultural cuisine. Bring shopping bags and cash, or buy a token with your debit card ($2 service charge) if you forget to stop by the ATM.
Written by – Monica Fischer
Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: Bellevue Farmers Market photos courtesy of Monica Fischer
If you’re a visitor to Bellevue, there’s a mode of local transportation you may not be aware of, but really shouldn’t miss. It’s called the Seattle Mariners bandwagon, and it’s one of the most exhilarating rides in town.
We’re not gonna lie—it’s been grounded for a while. (The Mariners haven’t made the postseason since 2001!) But with the team second to the top in the American League West, and icon Ken Griffey Jr., headed to the Hall of Fame this summer, it’s the perfect time to get back on board! Here’s what you’ll need to know if your trip to Bellevue has Major League Baseball in the lineup.
Seattle Mariners baseball games take place under a retractable roof at Safeco Field, one of the most beautiful ballparks in America, with views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains to the west, and downtown Seattle to the north. Single-game tickets are priced dynamically based on demand, but generally run $50 to $200 (up to $500 for the swanky Diamond Club).
Visit the Mariners’ official website to pick a game and buy tickets. There are lots of fun promotions throughout the season—often with discounted tickets or keepsakes—including Felix Hernandez Bobblehead Night (June 24), Turn Back the Clock – ’80s Mariners Retro Cap (June 25), Family Night (June 28), Filipino Heritage Night (June 29), Guys Night Out (June 30) and more.
Parking near the stadium is competitive and pricey, so we recommend traveling to Seattle via public transportation, taxi or uber—especially if you’re planning to pre-function with your co-workers before heading to the game. Visit the Sound Transit website to easily plan your trip by bus from the centrally and conveniently located Bellevue Transit Center.
You can’t properly represent in business-casual khakis and a polo, so be sure to stop by the Seattle Mariners Team Store at Bellevue Square for a baseball cap, T-shirt, jersey or—our favorite—foam finger. The Seattle Team Shop and Macy’s stock fan fashion, too, and Sports Authority can hook you up with a new glove for catching fly balls.
If game day just isn’t the same without a hot dog, stop by Sizzle Dogs on 120th Avenue East near the Bellevue Botanical Garden, or save your appetite for the stadium. There are several affordable sausage vendors outside Safeco Field and numerous concession stands inside the stadium that serve foot-longs—even one behind Section 132 that serves veggie dogs!
Stay the Night
Not only are our local hotels home to fantastic pre-game watering holes like Basil’s Bar at the Hilton Bellevue and Joey Bellevue at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue, many of them also offer lower nightly rates on weekends. So if you can’t make it to the ballpark during the week, stick around for a day or two after your convention or conference and take in a Saturday or Sunday matinee.
Coordinating a fun and relaxing social event for groups can be a little challenging. Running out of ideas? Picture this. A comfortable, yet sophisticated afternoon that a group of colleagues, friends, or family could all enjoy. A beautiful, spacious venue nestled in a European-esque location. Luxurious wines poured for every guest. You guessed it, we mean wine tasting, and we know the perfect spots, tours, and itineraries that might just be the answer to your post-event group needs and special occasion plan-aheads.
Just 20 minutes north of Bellevue are over 100 different wineries and tasting rooms all waiting to be explored in the picturesque Sammamish River Valley, collectively known as Woodinville Wine Country. As fall comes around, the air warmed by the summer months combined with gradually cooler nights ripen these local grapes to perfection. Fall also means that Crush has arrived: the most awaited time of year for wine makers and enthusiasts when the grapes are traditionally harvested. What better way to celebrate the turn of the season than with a visit to the wine country?
“Great, wine tasting would be nice,” you may think, “for a romantic date for two. But how would that work for my colleagues who just want to relax without crowding up to a counter where we rub shoulders left and right?
Not to worry; planning assistance for group tastings is only a phone call away. Below you will find a multitude of group wine tasting options to fit every size and schedule.
For 50 dollars per person, Butler Seattle’s award winning tour team will first take your group on a relaxing and elegant trip to at least three of Woodinville’s finest tasting rooms via luxurious Mercedes Benz Sprinter. Then you will be returned to Purple Café and Wine Bar in Bellevue just in time for dinner. Purple Café and Wine Bar waives the corkage fee if you’d like to pour your favorite new bottle for dinner. To join Butler’s Wine Tour you can purchase tickets online at least 48 hours prior to a tour start time or call for availability at 206-233-9233. You and your party will be thoroughly spoiled for the evening, a welcome option for the busy meeting planner or multi-tasking maid of honor.
The All Day Wine & Dine Tour
You quite possibly saw the above Wine & Dine tour and thought, “I want that but I’d like to spend most of a day exploring Woodinville wineries.” Well, you’re in luck. Barrel Wine Tours offers a full day tour that includes luxury transportation, a knowledgeable guide to introduce you to the winemakers at four boutique wineries in Woodinville, all tasting fees, and a three course wine-paired meal. Now you’re really getting pampered. Tour length is 6 hours at $149 per person for 8 minimum guests, $139 per person for 12 guests, and $129 per person for 16.
The Connoisseur’s Wine Itineraries
Let’s be honest, you and your associates know your wines. You don’t really need a guided tour; what you’re looking for is some stellar suggestions that only a Woodinville wine scene insider would know. Then let us point you to Woodinville Wine Country’s unique wine tasting itineraries that include the area’s most historic spots and local favorites.
The One Stop Showstopper
If you’d rather unwind at a single location (rather than take a tour), then a group reservation at one of Woodinville’s favorite wineries such as Novelty Hill Januik Winery may be right up your alley. Novelty Hill Januik’s spacious and upscale tasting room will certainly wow your guests after a business meeting or as part of a girl’s day out.
A reservation for groups greater than 12 people consists of an hour and a half seated tasting at 20 dollars per person to sample one of three 5 wine menus: ‘Racy Whites’, ‘Big Reds’, or ‘Mixed Favorites’. These sensual menus introduce guests to a medley of complex blends and award-winning favorites. Add a fresh, handmade pizza to the mix if you visit on a weekend between 11am and 4:30pm. Make your group reservation by calling 425-481-5502 for availability.
The Distinctive Private Event:
Maybe a group reservation sounds like great fun, but you have a vision for your event. You can picture the details down to the lighting and the dessert menu. If this is the case, Novelty Hill Januik is an excellent choice, but contact them to reserve a space for your special event. They offer a range of private spaces, from their Board Room, to outdoor bocce ball, to a full winery buy out. Plus, Novelty Hill Januik’s experienced planners and in-house culinary team will be ready to pull out all the stops.
Whether it be a unique tour itinerary, a comfortable wine and dine tour, a casual afternoon tasting, or a spectacular private event, Woodinville Wine Country is a spot that has something for everyone in your group. So forget the stress of planning and micromanaging your next group event, and escape to the wine country this fall. Cheers!
From top to bottom: Images courtesy of Purple Cafe & Wine Bar, Butler Seattle, Woodinville Wine Country, Woodinville Wine Country, Benjamin Benschneider Photography, Novelety Hill, Visit Bellevue Washington.
Enjoy light refreshments, live music and some of the most beautiful scenery on the Eastside at the Bellevue Botanical Garden’s celebration of Mother’s Day. Join fellow flower and garden enthusiasts at the free 1 p.m. social at the Aaron Education Center, then stroll on your own through the 53-acre urban refuge, or join a guided tour at 2 p.m. You’ll also find local and handcrafted gifts, like jewelry, scarves and wind chimes, for Mom at the Trillium Store.
Brunch – All Day!
Who doesn’t love brunch? You can sleep in and still enjoy your favorites from both breakfast and lunch (sometimes even dinner!). Plus, it’s perfectly acceptable—even encouraged—to enjoy a cocktail before noon.
The Golf Club at Newcastle hosts a generous brunch buffet featuring the usual breakfast treats plus carved prime rib and ham, cedar plank Pacific salmon, crepes, omelets and pasta (9 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; $22.95-$53.95, kids 3 and under free; reservations required). Enjoy a delicious three-course brunch at Pearl, where you can start with chilled oysters on the half shell and proceed to mouthwatering entrees like fried chicken and waffles or a Dungeness crab omelet (9 a.m.-2 p.m.; $20-$29, price varies by entrée; reservations required).
For those who can’t turn down rustic Italian fare, visit Vivo 53 as they kick off a new weekend brunch menu (Saturdays and Sundays, 10am-3pm) just in time for Mother’s Day. Italian frittata with crispy prosciutto, italian sausage, burrata and parmesan, and wood-fired smoked salmon pizze with herbed creme fraiche are just a few of the delectables on their menu.
If you haven’t yet visited Basil’s Bistro at the lovely new Hilton Bellevue, Mother’s Day brunch is the perfect excuse. The extensive menu features fluffy scrambled eggs, pomegranate BBQ chicken, lobster bisque, prime rib, leg of lamb, custom omelets, fresh fruit and plenty of sweet, warm pastries (11 a.m.-3 p.m.; $19.95-$48.95, kids 5 and under free). The Red Lion Hotel will also host a decadent brunch of eggs, salmon, scones, cheesecakes and chocolate-dipped strawberries (10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; $19.95-$36.95, kids under 5 free).
Just a few minutes from Bellevue on the Kirkland waterfront, The Woodmark’s Beach Café will serve up lemon ricotta pancakes, duck confit hash, handcrafted pastries and many more delights (11 a.m.-3 p.m.; $10-$19 per entrée). Also in Kirkland, bin on the lake will offer a variety of special Mother’s Day items for lunch and dinner, including spring pea salad, Chilean seabass and grilled lamb chops (1-8 p.m.; $22-$40).
KidsQuest Children’s Museum
If your idea of the perfect Mother’s Day is even more playtime with your kids, then load up your future scientists, software engineers, artists and mathematicians and head to KidsQuest. The hands-on, interactive kids’ museum at Marketplace @ Factoria will offer free admission to all moms and grandmas on Mother’s Day. You and your crew can explore the Backyard, tinker in the Garage, hide away in the Tree House or take a deep dive into the Waterways.
Mom & Me at the Zoo
The Woodland Park Zoo will celebrate moms of all species at the 26th annual Mom & Me at the Zoo event. Moms receive half-price admission, and the day features lots of live performances on the North Meadow, plus a bouncy house and arts and crafts booth for the kids (9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.). Be sure to explore the zoo’s numerous exhibits to observe how the moms of the animal kingdom celebrate their Mother’s Day.
Whether she’s a new mom or a veteran, we bet she’d jump at the chance for some quality time to herself. Recoop offers that just with its Mamma’s Hideout package, which includes a 60-minute massage, a facial, a pedicure and a manicure (4 hours, $360). And the Bellevue outpost of Gene Juarez Salons & Spas offers three dreamy Mother’s Day spa packages, ranging from 2 to 6 hours and $210 to $460. If you’re lucky, maybe she’ll bring you along!
The Color Run
Do you and your mom love fitness and fun? Sign up for The Color Run, the “happiest 5K on the planet.” There are no winners or prizes at this carefree, untimed race, just lots of colorful “paint” showers (it’s really powder made from food-grade corn starch) and tons of laughter. The family-friendly event, which benefits Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington & Alaska, kicks off at Seattle Center at 8 a.m. Entry fees range from $49.99 to $69.99.
We aren’t crazy about spring cleaning, but we do love the yearly ritual of packing away our bulky, neutral winter clothes and sprucing up our wardrobe with breezy, colorful pieces from local shops. In anticipation of that annual rite of spring, we attended the Bellevue Collection’s Standout Style runway show last weekend, and were delighted to see several trends that not only brightened our morning, but are sure to color us happy all season long.
Stripe it rich: Toss out the conventional (boring!) wisdom that says you can wear horizontal stripes only if you’re tall and thin. We say, if it makes you feel good, wear it! Women of all shapes and sizes will feel like a million bucks in Kate Spade’s show-stopping, multi-colored striped sequin dress.
Rain on our parade: The best of April showers and May flowers can be found in Victorinox Swiss Army’s fabulous floral Camille raincoat. We also loved a selection of form-fitting lightweight women’s jackets from Eddie Bauer that will let your chic flag fly on morning runs through spring wind and rain.
White hot: If the little black dress had a smart, savvy sister, she would be a white shirt, and spring offers dozens of versions of that stylish sibling. We want BCBGMAXAZRIA’s handkerchief-hem shirt dress—by far, more cool, calm and collected than anyone in our family!
Flaunt your Flamenco: We could almost feel the sultry Spanish breeze on our shoulders when a collection of flirty, Flamenco-inspired fashions walked the runway. A collective sigh took flight when Diane Von Furstenberg’s embroidered tulle goddess gown breezed by—and not just from the ladies!
Photo Credits: Photos courtesy of The Bellevue Collection
In the old days, we might have said these cafés are worth writing home about, but in 2016, we savvily encourage you to snap, post and share them. Here are five cafes in Bellevue who are ready for their close-up on Instagram—or your favorite social media app.
We were so delighted to see Belle Pastry’s sweet little pastel-hued macarons when we visited the café’s new location in the Meyden complex, across the street and one block east from the original Main Street storefront. The beloved French cookies are back, along with the bakery’s signature fruit tarts, palmiers, Madeleines, croissants, cakes and quiches. Stop by for a post-yoga pick-me-up, then check out the distinctive local shops on Main Street.
The coffee is luxurious, the service is warm and the green tea lattes are lovely, but what really caught our eye at downtown Bellevue’s mod Café Cesura is the gorgeous, glossy, reclaimed-wood community table that invites diners and sippers to take a seat and stay a while. This cozy, locally-owned café’s convivial vibe and picture-perfect drinks will encourage you to cozy up to old acquaintances, make brand-new ones, or share your solo experience with your followers.
We love cafes that love local ingredients, and Homegrown sources much of its produce from Sprouting Farms in nearby Woodinville. The sustainable sandwich shop also features locally roasted Stumptown coffee, and gluten-free baked goods from Seattle’s own Grand Central Bakery. Grab a latte splashed with organic milk and a breakfast sammie made with certified-humane, cage-free eggs, then snap a photo from a table on the sun-soaked patio.
We’d heard of hangovers and comb-overs, but it wasn’t until we stopped by Honor Coffee’s inviting Bellevue café that we learned the virtues of the pour-over, whereby a skilled barista custom brews a single cup of coffee just for you. That’s just the kind of personal touch we love to tell our friends about—and we think you will, too. Especially if it comes with one of Honor Coffee’s delicious, baked-fresh-daily pastries!
If we’ve learned anything from binge-watching British television on Netflix, it’s this: It is always the right time for a cup of tea. The next time you find yourself caught in the rain, caught in traffic or catching a cold, duck into Smacha’s comforting tea room for a hot pot of tea and a pair of the café’s house-made honey lemon chamomile cookies. The friendly staff will help you choose just the right tea to smatch your mood. (See what we did there?)
(Photo Credits, Top to Bottom: Honor Coffee photo via the Honor Coffee website, Belle Pastry photo by Visit Bellevue Washington, Cafe Cesura via Instagram, Homegrown photo by Visit Bellevue Washington, Honor Coffee via Instagram, Smacha Tea via Instagram)
It’s April. The 2016 Masters Tournament is this weekend, and for the golfers among us, it’s the month to pull the clubs out from behind the winter coats and hit the green. Here are some of our favorite spots to play 18 holes just a short drive out of downtown Bellevue. These beautiful courses create the perfect backdrop to enjoy a sunny afternoon with friends or wind down after a business trip.
Just on the northeast side of town you’ll find the meticulously groomed Bellevue Golf Courseof 18 holes. This municipal facility doesn’t play especially long (it’s just more than 6,000 yards from the blue tees), but the tall evergreens lining many of the fairways present plenty of challenges. Hone your driving skills on the practice range, or perfect your short game at the nearby nine-hole executive layout, Crossroads Par 3.
Set high on a bluff 10 miles southeast of Bellevue, The Golf Club at Newcastle is famous for its grand 44,000-square-foot clubhouse, which affords guests breathtaking views of Lake Washington and Mount Rainier. Choose from two first-class layouts, Coal Creek and China Creek, and its putting course. The on-site Calcutta Grill and its English-style pub rank among the celebrated dining venues of any golf course in the Pacific Northwest.
Northeast of Bellevue in Redmond, Willows Run Golf Complex offers golfing experiences for every skill level, including an exacting 18-hole putting course, a kid-approved nine-hole par-3 course, and two full-length links-style tracks. Of the latter two layouts, Eagle’s Talon plays longer than adjacent Coyote Creek, but water comes into play frequently on both courses, rewarding both precision and steady nerves. An added bonus: you can often spot wildlife at this leafy complex. Keep an eye out for a wandering coyote or bald eagle.
Looking a little farther north, just outside the wine-country town of Woodinville, Echo Falls Golf Club has developed a reputation for its tricky dogleg fairways and one of the most memorable 18th holes of any public course in the state. Bring your A game—this picturesque but treacherous par-3 requires a solid mid-iron to an undulating island green.
Easter has come around the corner a little early this year, but we’re ready for it here in Bellevue! It’s time to bring those lighter colors out from the back of the closet and celebrate the season with family and friends. Whether you’re looking for a place to take the kids for their first egg hunt or a spot for an intimate brunch with your friends, you have choices galore when it comes to Easter in Bellevue.
Brunch in Bellevue on Easter is nothing short of beloved tradition. Here’s just a few of the local restaurants who’ve created special Easter Brunch menus this year!
Brunch at Basil’s Bistro
Prepare for an eclectic brunch at Basil’s Bistro at the Hilton Bellevue. Make your reservation between 11am and 3pm Sunday and enjoy a menu with everything from international breakfast entrees like Pork Belly Fried Rice to delectable seafood dishes to omelets made to order. Bring a special someone or even better, bring the entire family! Kids 5 and under eat for free.
Brunch at Vivo 53
Treat your family and friends to an Italian style brunch at Vivo 53 from 10am to 3pm! Try creative concoctions like smoked salmon brick oven pizza and crispy cardamom waffles. For those of age, bottomless $15 mimosas will be flowing. What more need we say? Reservations are recommended.
Brunch at Pearl
Go big or go home at Pearl‘s 3-course Easter brunch from 10am to 2pm. A reservation here means wetting your palette with strawberries and cream before diving into brunch classics like their Monte Cristo Sandwhich and Heuvos Rancheros accompanied by plenty of side potato hash and house-made pastries.
Brunch at Daniel’s Broiler
Having Easter brunch at Daniel’s Broiler means you can have your steak and eat it in the morning too! This hefty meal includes starters, traditional brunch entrees, and then of course, USDA prime steaks served with mashed potatoes and fresh seasonal veggies.
Easter Bunny Photos
Saturday, March 26 is the Easter Bunny‘s last day for photos at Bellevue Square Center Court! Come make some memories you can take home with you. (Note: He’s not quite as real as this bunny pictured at right, but almost!)
Community Egg Hunt
This free event for the family at Neighborhood Church in Bellevue is the egg hunt you can’t miss. Starting at 8:30am Easter day and going til 10:30am there will be 10,000 eggs to find plus bounce houses, family field games, prizes, and donuts. Kids of all ages plus the kids at heart will want to be there!