Santa’s Coming to Bellevue

santa-photo-for-blogIt’s that magical time of year when the trees downtown twinkle with lights and snowflakes fall at the Snowflake Lane parade every evening in Bellevue, Washington. And whether you’re in town for ice skating, gift shopping or Garden D’Lights viewing this December, there’s someone the kids (and the young at heart) won’t want to miss. That’s right, Santa has come to Bellevue, in fact, he’s all over Bellevue! Get the details for each of the Bellevue Santa’s schedules below, and contact us at Visit Bellevue Washington for more holiday trip ideas!

Photos with Santa are located near Hallmark and Party City: Dec. 3, 4, 8-11, 15-24. For more information, please visit

bravern-elfie-santaThe Shops at The Bravern: Take an “ELFIE” with Santa, Dec. 7-11 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, please visit He’s even taking pawsome pet photos on Sunday, Dec. 11 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.!

santas-workshop-bellevue-squareThe Bellevue Collection: Stop by and visit Santa at his beautiful workshop at Bellevue Square every day until Christmas. For full details, please visit

marketplace-at-factoria-santaThe Marketplace at Factoria: Come see Santa for smiles, fun, and photos Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sundays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the holiday season. For reservations and details, please visit

Photo Credits, Top to Bottom – Header Image via, Crossroads Santa via Crossroads Bellevue, Take an “Elfie with Santa via The Shops at the Bravern, Santa’s Workshop at The Bellevue Collection via, Santa at The Marketplace at Factoria via 


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Five Bellevue Hotels that Place You in the Middle of it All

header teamed up with Visit Bellevue Washington to showcase several of the city’s downtown hotels that are conveniently located near all the action.

If you’ve always thought Bellevue was all work and no play, it’s time to reconsider. While this city certainly offers its fair share of tech businesses and trade shows, it also provides countless things to see and do after the work day is over. Between the peaceful nature areas and ritzy retail shops, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy, no matter if you’re vacationing in town after your business trip or bringing your family along for the fun.

Visit Bellevue Washington and teamed up to bring you five Bellevue hotels that place you in the middle of it all, from the gardens to the galleries. And better yet, because this area hosts business engagements during the work week, the hotels offer great values on the weekends.


Courtyard by Marriott Seattle Bellevue
We can hardly think of a better way to shake off the stress of the work week than by dining on some seriously good food and sipping on local brews. Head to the laid-back and welcoming taproom at Bellevue Brewing Company to sample a toasty oatmeal stout or the refreshing 425 Pale Ale. Once you’ve feasted on stone fired pizza and smoked wings, retreat to the Courtyard hotel for a dip in the indoor pool or cocktails at Table 8.


Sheraton Bellevue
Whether you’re extending your business trip through the weekend or exploring Bellevue on your own, there’s some major retail therapy in store for you. When you stay at the Sheraton Bellevue, The Shops at The Bravern are less than a mile away, where you can spend your afternoon shopping to your heart’s desire. The rich luxury of designer shops like Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, and Gucci are certain to lure you here, while the promise of macarons and champagne at Trophy Cupcakes will keep you lingering. Round out your day of window shopping by dining at Bellevue Grille and viewing the city scene from the comfort of your hotel room.


Hyatt Regency Bellevue
There’s so much to see and do in the area, why not stay in the heart of it all? Make yourself comfortable and book a studio suite at the Hyatt Regency, located on Bellevue Way, just north of the Bellevue Downtown Park. With 500 square feet of space and floor-to-ceiling windows, luxuriate after a day spent picnicking at Bellevue Botanical Garden and touring the grounds at Kelsey Creek Farm. Between viewing the flowers in the Yao Garden and petting the farm animals, you’ll experience a much more natural side to this business-focused city.


The Westin Bellevue
Power down your computer and treat your eyes to the unique exhibitions of arts and crafts at Bellevue Arts Museum. Sitting right across the street from The Westin Bellevue, this museum shows off rotating exhibits from both local and international artists. After getting a solid dose of inspiration at the museum’s Court of Light Sculpture Garden, do some more browsing at the museum gift shop and across the street at Bellevue Square—the only difference is that here you can actually purchase and take home what you like! Mosey around the more than 250 Bellevue Square retailers before returning to the Westin for a massage at Truce Bellevue Spa or a glass of vino at the on-site wine bar.


Hilton Bellevue
While you’re in town, get your cultural kick at the Theatre at Meydenbauer Center. This performing arts theater, only a half a mile north of the Hilton Bellevue, invites you to spend the evening marveling at an elegant troop of ballet dancers or humming along with the musical talent on stage. With symphony performances and theater productions, there’s never a dull night at this venue. Before heading over to a show, have a bite to eat at Basil’s Bistro at the Hilton or unwind in the hotel’s hot tub on the outdoor pool deck.

Written by – Chloe Mulliner

Photo Credits, Top to Bottom –, Courtyard by Marriott Seattle Bellevue, Sheraton Bellevue, Hyatt Regency Bellevue via Michael Walmsley, Bellevue Botanical Garden, The Westin Bellevue, Hilton Bellevue 

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Brunch Without Boundaries in Bellevue


Breakfast might be the most important meal of the day, but brunch is by far the most fun. We think it’s because there aren’t any rules for brunch: You are not required to wake up early. You aren’t forced to choose between breakfast and lunch. And you are heartily encouraged to have a mimosa or bloody Mary to kick-start your weekend day.

Whether you dine after yoga, before a football game or in between nothing more pressing than The New York Times and a trip to the dog park, you’ll find the freedom to brunch without boundaries at these lovely local restaurants.

99 Park99-park-brunch

Brunch at 99 Park is the perfect post-script to a brisk morning walk in Bellevue Downtown Park, or as a launching point for shopping on Main Street. The contemporary brunch menu features Washington oysters, kale salad, eggs benedict, crepes, chilaquiles, a Wagyu burger, housemade donuts and banana brioche bread pudding. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

520 Bar & Grill520-bar-grill-patio-server

Main Street’s favorite watering hole serves brunch Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Alongside the house favorite Spanish burrito are traditional breakfast scrambles, French toast, and steak and eggs. And as you’d expect from the neighborhood purveyor of craft cocktails, the 520 mixes some creative libations for brunch, from the spicy Green Chile Mary to the exotic and fruity Tropical Mimosa.

Lot No. 3lot3-food_matthew_sumi_photography

At casual, comfortable Lot No. 3, brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Choose from breakfast favorites like biscuits and gravy or pork belly benedict, or tuck into lunch specialties like fried chicken banh mi or the Cuban sandwich. The inventive brunch menu also features the daring Smoking Pig Bloody Mary, composed of jalapeno-bacon infused vodka and house Mary mix.


Cactus in Bellevue Square serves brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with festive preparations like Tres Leches French Toast, the legendary Migas and the vegetarian Santa Fe enchilada. You’ll also find all of your favorite southwestern-inspired main dishes, like fajitas, enchiladas and braised brisket tacos. Fuel up, then browse the 250-plus stores of the Bellevue Collection.

Monsoon Bellevue

Blending traditional Vietnamese cuisine with Pacific Northwest innovation, Monsoon Bellevue on Main Street serves a unique dim sum brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Choose from such delicacies as shrimp dumplings, steamed barbecue pork buns, daikon cakes, banh mi and a delicious selection of rice noodle bowls. Linger in the chic dining room, or order online and take your order to-go.

Vivo 53Vivo 53 Brunch

This classy joint on Bellevue Way serves brunch with an Italian twist. Join them Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 3pm for tasty italian sausage fritattas and smoked salmon pizze. Wash everything down with a bottomless mimosa and indulge in some cinnamon sugar beignets or one of Vivo 53’s signature “Insane Sundaes” to properly curb the sweet tooth.

Tavern HallTavern Hall Photos

If you like brunch with a side of sports, then spacious, flat screen-rich Tavern Hall should top your list of mid-morning weekend destinations. Brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and includes a bacon and ham strata, a fried egg sandwich, brick-oven baked eggs and a heavenly malted Belgian waffle. From 10 a.m. to noon, bloody Marys and mimosas will set you back just $3.


A visit to Eques at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue means distinctively Pacific Northwest flavors, all-you-can-eat style. This inventive breakfast and brunch buffet was named one of the best brunch restaurants in America by OpenTable, and features breakfast classics with a fresh twist. Think Pacific salmon eggs benedict or corn pancakes with smoked cheddar. Get a taste Saturday from 7am to noon, and Sunday 7am to 1:30pm.

Local BurgerLocal-Burger-Hillbilly-Burger

A burger joint that serves brunch? That’s just the kind of out-of-the-box thinking we love! Local Burger brings its commitment to local, sustainable food to the charmed hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Selections range from a spicy sausage, egg and jack biscuit to a seasonal vegetarian omelet and the restaurant’s signature Hillbilly and Seoul burgers.

Written by – Monica Fischer

Photo Credits, Top to Bottom – Crab Benedict Closeup via Pixabay, Pancakes and Coffee via 99 Park Restaurant, Brunch on the Patio via 520 Bar & Grill, Eggs Benedict via Lot No. 3, Brunch Spread at Cactus via Rachel Burch, Group Dining via Monsoon Bellevue, Smoked Salmon Pizze via Vivo 53, Tavern Hall Interior via Tavern Hall, Dungeness Crab Eggs Benedict via Eques, Local Burger Interior via Local Burger

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Fresh Fall Fun in Bellevue

North America, United States, Washington, Bellevue.

Because it’s the season when kids head back to school and the rest of us relax back into our post-summer routines, fall often feels like the season of familiarity. Our favorite network TV shows return to the airwaves, our favorite football teams return to the field, and our favorite fall sweaters return to our closets to keep us cozy as the days become shorter and cooler.

But this fall in Bellevue feels anything but familiar. Exciting new stores are getting ready to open. Expectations are running high for the University of Washington Huskies and Seattle Seahawks football teams. New fall fashion trends are infiltrating our shops and boutiques. And local chefs are introducing inventive new menus to showcase fresh fall produce.

If you’re joining us in Bellevue this fall, you’ll experience the best of the tried-and-true and the brand-spanking-new. Below is just a sampling of what’s taking place. For a full lineup, visit our events calendar.

Seahawks v 49ers 9-15-13 7 Photo Credit Kaitlyn Brajcich

Fall is a particularly bountiful time for sports enthusiasts, with football, soccer, baseball and women’s basketball all on the menu. Football fans (known locally as “12s”) flock to Century Link Field to watch the always-contending Seattle Seahawks, and tailgate at Husky Stadium hours before cheering on the nationally ranked UW Huskies. The home game against Stanford (Sept. 30) is shaping up to be a matchup for the ages.

Seattle Sounders FC are unlikely to make the playoffs this year, but a home game is nonetheless a memorable experience, drawing the largest crowds in the MLS. As of press time, the Seattle Mariners were a long shot to make the post-season, but their annual Oktoberfest game (Oct. 1) is still a fun way to wrap up the season at Safeco Field. Across town, the Seattle Storm of the WNBA will be closing out their season at Key Arena.


As we slip off our flip-flops and pull on our boots, we also hit the local malls and boutiques to shop for fall fashion. The signature event for the stylish among us is Fashion Week at the Bellevue Collection, which celebrates local designers and the season’s must-have trends Sept. 21-25 at venues throughout town. We’re also counting the days to the opening of three wildly popular local and national retailers: Washington’s own REI, HomeGoods and Trader Joe’s. (We also recently welcomed Athleta to Bellevue Square, our favorite new destination for athleisure wear!)

We’re especially excited to have a beautiful, spacious, adventure-inspiring REI store right in our own backyard. The new 40,000-square-foot retail space will feature a bike shop, snow shop and the top gear and apparel brands we’ve come to love.

The grand opening takes place Sept. 23-25 with REI Outdoor School classes and activities, snacks, beverages and a photo booth; doors open at 10 am. Friday, 9 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday. The first 200 people (18 and older) through the door on each day of the grand-opening weekend will receive a limited-edition CamelBak water bottle with a $10, $50 or $100 REI promotional card inside.

JM Cellars Wine Glass - Althea Conyers Achem

For local wineries, fall also heralds the most important event of the year: Crush, when grapes are harvested from the vineyard. Though most of the action takes place in Eastern Washington where the grapes are grown, most wineries in nearby Woodinville celebrate with dozens of events and tours. Restaurants, too, embrace the return of fall, with comforting dinner and decadent brunch menus.

Mercer Slough Bellevue Fall -Courtesy City of Bellevue

Perhaps more than any time of year, in fall, nature calls. Parks, trails and forests are bursting with colorful foliage, and cooler days make for comfortable hikes. Just steps from downtown, the Bellevue Botanical Garden offers the best view of the changing season, with free guided tours Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. through October.

Whether Bellevue is your home, or your home away from home, we hope you’ll discover something new that’s worth returning to.

Photo Credits, Top to Bottom – Downtown Bellevue Sign via Merrill Images, Seahawks Game via Kaitlyn Brajcich, Front Row Fashion Show from Fashion Week at The Bellevue Collection via Vivian Hsu for Team Photogenic, Wine Glass at JM Cellars via Althea Conyers Achem, Fall at Mercer Slough via City of Bellevue 


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5 Must-Do Experiences in Bellevue


Let’s be honest: You have only about a month and a half before spending money on yourself will become frowned upon. Once the holidays approach, you’ll be shopping to make someone else happy. Before you embark on that noble endeavor, we suggest that you gift yourself with a few fantastic local experiences that you’ll remember for many seasons to come.

Our recommendations are available all year round, so you can enjoy them yourself while you’re in town this fall, then come back and experience them again with friends or family members. And many of these businesses offer gift cards or certificates, so you can wrap them up for a loved one over the holidays. If you look at it that way, treating yourself to a Bellevue experience is a very unselfish act.

Soar high above the treetopszip_tour_sbcc_015-credit-bellevue-parks-community-services-colin-walker

You don’t have to trek to Costa Rica or New Zealand to find a thrilling ride above a lush forest canopy. The Bellevue Zip Tour, which has drawn unanimously rave reviews on Trip Advisor, features a half-dozen zip lines in Eastgate Park that range in length from 78 to 458 feet. Riders (who must be at least 9 years old and weigh between 60 and 275 pounds) catch glimpses of Mount Baker and Glacier Peak while racing up to 35 miles per hour up to 80 feet off the ground. Register online or call 425.452.4240.

Have a beautiful daySpa Day

Gene Juarez Salon & Spa at the Bellevue Galleria offers the indulgent opportunity to do nothing all day except feel beautiful. The luxurious, six-hour Day of Beauty package ($460) includes makeup application, an expert blow dry, a catered lunch, a 90-minute relaxation massage, a 60-minute signature facial, and a spa manicure and pedicure.

Yuan Spa, also downtown, ups the ante by two hours with the eight-hour Eternal You package ($670), which bundles hydrotherapy, a signature Chinese body ritual, a radiant foot treatment, a Hollywood HydraFacial, a manicure and pedicure, and a catered lunch. You’ll finish up just in time for happy hour, where you can show off the beautiful and balanced effects of all that pampering.

Whip up a delicious memorycooking-class-78

Spend a few hours at Whisk in Bellevue’s Main Street District, and you’ll unearth a new appreciation for cooking and entertaining. Autumn is the perfect time to fall back in love with food because there is such a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables to choose from. Stop by the Bellevue Farmers Market (Thursdays, 3-7 p.m., through Oct. 27) for a sampling of local produce, then head over to Whisk’s inviting retail store and kitchen for a tasty tutorial (most classes are $95).

Fall highlights include the Make-Ahead Three-Course Dinner Party on Sept. 18 and Oct. 9, 22 and 23; and the Local Harvest Dinner on Oct. 6 and 20. Or whip up dishes from around the world at classes that visit Spain (Sept. 15 and 23), Cuba (Sept. 16 and Oct. 7), India (Sept. 20), Mexico (Sept. 21 and Oct. 21), France (Sept. 22 and Oct. 5 and 12), Italy (Sept. 24, Oct. 1, 9 and 23, and Nov. 2) and Greece (Sept. 30).

Get a crush on Woodinville Wine CountryUSA, Washington, Woodinville. One sunny weekend in Woodivnille Wine Country.Fall is a magical time for wine. It is the season of crush, when grapes are harvested from the vineyard, transported to the winery and transformed into wine. While much of the action takes place in the eastern half of the state where the vineyards are located, there are plenty of events at the 108 wineries and tasting rooms of Woodinville Wine Country to make you fall in love with Washington wine while you’re on this side of the Cascades.

The best way to immerse yourself in wine country is through an all-inclusive tour with a knowledgeable local guide. Barrel Wine Tours offers half- and full-day private tours that include luxury transportation with a professional driver, and tastings at three to four Woodinville wineries. Full-day tours even include a delicious three-course lunch. The company is a co-op of Washington wineries, so you’ll get the inside scoop and plenty of education about our booming local wine scene.

Take the ride of your lifeimg_4062

Ever since Tom Cruise’s character, Joel, commandeered his dad’s Porsche 928 in “Risky Business” – with Lana riding shotgun and Guido in hot pursuit – we’ve been fantasizing about an exhilarating ride in an exotic sports car (minus the illegal activity, of course).

So we were thrilled to learn about Zadart Exotic Car Rentals, a new local business with a fleet of rent-by-the-day dream machines that includes a McLaren 12C Spider (MSRP $315,000!), a Lamborghini Huracan and a Ferrari 458, among other assorted Aston Martins, BMWs and Bentleys.

Daily rates ($150-$1,200 per day) reflect the cars’ lofty pedigrees, but Zadart offers a couple of great specials: Walk in the same day and choose any available car in the lot, and you’ll save 40 percent off the hourly rate or 30 percent off the daily rate. With the date-night offer, you get 16 hours for the price of only four when you call the same day to make your reservation.

Cruise the Kirkland waterfront or Alki in Seattle, or for longer jaunts, visit the Washington State Department of Transportation website for an interactive map of scenic byways. We love the pretty North Cascades Scenic Highway, which stretches 140 miles from Sedro-Wooley to Twisp and hugs the stunning, jewel-green Diablo Lake along the way.

And because a hot car requires cool shades (à la Tom Cruise’s signature Ray-Bans), before you buckle up, stop by Eye Society at the Bravern or Sunglass Hut at Bellevue Square for your own distinct eyewear.

Written by – Monica Fischer

Photo Credits, Top to Bottom – Bellevue Skyline via Marv Heston, Bellevue Zip Tour via City of Bellevue, Spa Stones via, Cooking Class via Whisk, Woodinville Wine Country Tour via Sandra Lee, Diablo Lake via Monica Fischer

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Bellevue Washington: Hiking Boots to High Heels


 Written by – Sharon Linton

I was that 8 year old girl who wore shorts under my dress so I could climb a tree or do a cartwheel during recess. I grew up to be a woman who is comfortable both on the trail or out for a glamorous night on the town and will gladly do both of those things in a single day.

If you can relate to this lifestyle then you might want to make a visit to Bellevue, Washington. It is the perfect place for people who like to go from urban exploration to outdoor adventures and back again.

Let me tell you about a perfect couple of days I spent in Bellevue and beyond last fall to give you an idea. It was quite the successful weekend that I plan to re-live again and again!

Friday Night : Bowling and Beers

“Friday nights are all about winding down after a workweek. This weekend I met up with some friends at Lucky Strike Lanes at Lincoln Square in downtown Bellevue for some friendly competition on the lanes. We enjoyed tasty bites (like mini pigs-in-a-blanket and shrimp skewers) from Lucky Strike’s menu and stayed hydrated with  pitchers of some of our favorite Northwest brews.”

Bellevue Farmers Market2

Fresh produce at the Farmers Market

Saturday : Outdoor Adventures Nearby

“After lounging around with the newspaper and a cup of coffee Saturday morning I was off to the Bellevue Farmers Market to pick up a selection of favorite fruits and vegetables, a bag of locally produced granola and a bright bouquet of flowers. I was almost finished when the line in front of the Aura Bakery booth caught my eye. Self control went out the window and next thing you know I had a chocolate-almond croissant in hand. It was the size of a dessert plate, warm with soft chocolate inside and covered with a sprinkling of almonds and powdered sugar. One bite and I knew that this would make the perfect energy boost for my next adventure – a hike.

We embarked on our trip toward the Cascade Mountains about 1pm; our destination; the Taylor River Trail near the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River.  To get there we drove east on I-90 about 30 minutes to North Bend then north another 12 miles to the trailhead. Within an hour of leaving downtown Bellevue we were in second-growth forest at the trailhead. (Check before you go for info about planned construction on this section of road.)

After consulting the map at the trailhead we decided to head toward Otter Falls, a little over four miles up the trail. We came across a few other hikers along the way, but for the most part it was just me, my husband, and the sound of the river rushing along.  We made good time other than numerous pauses to photograph the river, the jagged top of the Cascade’s Treen Peak, moss laden old growth cedar trees, golden leaves and orange, brown and white mushrooms bursting from the earth.

Huge boulders in the middle of a burbling creek provided a perch while we enjoyed some trail mix and water before heading back down the trail. There is nothing like an early fall day in the Pacific Northwest for beautiful scenery and solitude. All told, we covered nine miles in about three hours and returned to our car for the short drive back to Bellevue.”

Later Saturday: Happy Hour and High Heels

El Gaucho bar

The bar at El Gaucho

“Now was time to shower down, dress up and head out for a quick bite to eat and a cocktail before the rest of the evening’s events. We decided to check out the always popular happy hour at El Gaucho which offers a tantalizing array of happy hour food and beverages. I ordered up the Crispy Prosciutto and Fig Flatbread along with a glass of Columbia Valley red wine.

Of course, Saturday nights are all about nightlife, and on this night it was time for the annual Front Row Fashion Runway Show presented by Vogue. The show caps off The Bellevue Collection’s Fashion Week. I loved the insights into fall fashion trends and inspiring ideas for how I might wear them myself.  Smart scheduling by The Bellevue Collection left a couple of hours for shopping after the show.

From farmers market to fashion show, from hiking boots to high heels it was just the kind of weekend this Bellevue gal loves!”


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Bellevue Fall Convention Spotlight: SNAME Maritime Convention 2016


SNAME Maritime Convention 2016
Tuesday, November 1 – Saturday, November 5 

Early this November, Bellevue will be hailing the region’s coastal roots with the arrival of SNAME, for their annual convention! We’re thrilled to welcome this internationally-recognized society and their members to Bellevue for a jam-packed week of activity, and some city exploration of course! Never heard of SNAME? Read on for our profile of this eclectic convention group and what they’ll be up during their time in Bellevue, Washington.



Who: SNAME was organized in 1893, to advance the art, science, and practice of Naval Architecture, Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering. For over a century, members have included Commercial and Governmental Practitioners, Students, and Educators for Naval Architecture, Shipbuilding and Marine/Ocean Engineering.

With nearly 1,300 attendees from across the country, the 2016 SNAME Maritime Convention will bring together maritime professionals from all corners of the industry from designers to researchers to students.


What: The anticipated convention provides over 50 hours of technical presentations, including topics on ship production, operations, manufacturing research, and engineering design; networking with international leaders; an EXPO with cutting edge industry representation; discussions on Autonomous Shipping, PNW Shipbuilding, Canadian Shipbuilding and LNG Fuels; and the SNAME Annual Banquet/Luncheon where outstanding achievements in the industry will be highlighted.

Why Bellevue: When asked why the group was interested in Bellevue, meeting planner Alana Anderson said, “The Pacific Northwest is a hotbed for the maritime industry—with more than 550 of our members living and working in the region, Bellevue was a natural choice to host our annual convention. We are thrilled to be returning to Washington and can’t wait to welcome our attendees from around the world to the city.”

Tourism Impact: This diverse group is expected to generate nearly $1 million in economic impact for Bellevue and the region including spending on accommodations, transportation, dining, shopping and other activities.


The majority of SNAME members attending the 2016 SNAME Maritime Convention will be Commercial and Governmental Practitioners, Students, and Educators for Naval Architecture, Shipbuilding and Marine/Ocean Engineering. Attendees will range in age from students to seasoned industry experts.

Photo Credits, Top to Bottom: All photos courtesy of SNAME

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Bellevue Summer Convention Spotlight: GTOAA Nationals

pontiac-1384266_1920Summer approaches, and so does summer convention season in Bellevue! The team at Visit Bellevue Washington works to connect meeting planners with their perfect venue, hotels and activities, and while we love every season here at Visit Bellevue, we locals also know that the best time for an out-of-state convention attendee to experience the Pacific Northwest is during the summer months. The sun is out, the temperatures are perfect, the evergreens and the mountains are calling and Bellevue is bustling with outdoor entertainment and waterfront activities.

This summer, we are excited to welcome an especially fun crowd of attendees from around the nation to Bellevue for a convention that is sure to be a highlight: the 2016 GTOAA Nationals Convention. That is, GTO Association of America‘s celebration of the classic American muscle car coming to the West Coast this July for only the second time in 37 years.

Ted_w/GTO_RoadsterTo get the inside scoop on what is going to be a major event for GTO enthusiasts and Bellevue locals alike, we went to Ted Knapp, Northwest GTO Legends Club President (head of GTOAA’s local chapter). Ted represents these passionate, fun-loving car enthusiasts found among GTO owners, racers, and aficionados “to a T.” Hailing from our neighboring city of Woodinville, Washington, Ted has been a muscle car enthusiast since his high school days and has fond memories of driving his first GTO back to the Pacific Northwest from Nebraska with his mom and sister.

United States. Washington, Bellevue, Downtown Park, Meydenbauer Bay, Lake Washington and SeattleWhile Ted and his colleagues had their eye on the Pacific Northwest as their 2016 convention location from the start, multiple factors led them to choose Bellevue, Washington as their home base. “We toured the various venues in the Puget Sound Region.” Ted related, “We focused on hotel/convention facilities that had enough rooms, large enough convention facilities for registration, tech talks, banquets, etc. And most importantly, one that could handle both indoor parking for Concours cars and large enough parking for the Popular Vote cars. The Bellevue Hilton fit the bill.” On top of that, Ted noted Bellevue’s vibrant community and car and pedestrian-friendly streets as important selection factors.

Hilton Bellevue, WashingtonWhen asked what the GTOAA Nationals Convention is all about, Ted can lay out the goals for the entire event for you pretty simply: “The GTOAA Convention is an annual event to celebrate the GTO and provide an opportunity for Pontiac enthusiasts to gather and talk cars.” Many attendees will be driving their prized GTOs to the event to participate in either the “Concours” cars competition judged by a skilled set of judges, or the Popular Vote cars competition judged by convention attendees.

The best part? The viewing of cars is open to the public throughout the convention. “We welcome and encourage the public to join us. We like to promote the hobby. The public is also welcome to stroll through the indoor vendor space and purchase items offered there.” Ted adds.

Photo Courtesy of Bake's Place

And the fun doesn’t end after the car competitions. GTOAA has worked with Visit Bellevue Washington to offer attendees all kinds of excursions around town and in neighboring cities as well. Attendees will have to opportunity to leave their prized Pontiacs at the car shows and get out and about in Bellevue by taking shuttles through downtown to experience local food, parks and shopping and the acclaimed Bellevue Arts Museum Wednesday through Sunday (July 13-17). For those attendees wanting to explore the region further, there will be special shuttles going to the Museum of Flight, The LeMay Car Museum, and even an Alaskan Ship Cruise after the convention ends!

We couldn’t be more thrilled for GTOAA’s 2016 Convention attendees. They’re going to have the time of their life, and the rest of Bellevue with them!

Written by – Rachel Burch

Photo Credits, Top to Bottom – GTO Closeup via Pixabay, Ted Knapp with his GTO via Ted Knapp, Bellevue Downtown Park Arial View via Merrill Images, Bellevue Hilton Exterior via the Bellevue Hilton, Diners on the Patio via Bake’s Place



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The Bellevue Summer Festival Checklist

BAM ARTSfair (1)

It’s pretty easy to tell when summer has come to Bellevue, Washington. The sun is shining, and that means you will find the outdoors-loving Pacific Northwest inhabitant outside soaking up the vitamin D in a constant state of activity until sometime in late September. While we love the many holidays throughout the year, there’s something about the long lazy days and luscious greenery of summer around here that calls for celebration. That’s why in any given summer month you will find festival after fair after festival in and around Bellevue.

The choices of things to do and see can be overwhelming, so here is a shortlist of Bellevue summer festivals we love, along with an insider tip we’d add to your bucket list.

JUNE 25-26: The Bellevue Strawberry Festival – Crossroads Park [Free]

Strawberry Festival Strawberry ShortcakeThe Strawberry Festival is a beloved local tradition. This family-friendly weekend festival celebrates Bellevue’s agricultural roots as well as its diverse cultural past, present and future. The festivities include hands-on history experiences, food vendors, a classic car show, inflatable bounce houses, pony rides, live entertainment and more!

Don’t miss: participating in a strawberry shortcake eating contest! Join the fun and devour a bowl of delicious fresh strawberry shortcake as fast as you can and you just might win a prize!

JULY 4: Bellevue Family Fourth – Bellevue Downtown Park [Free]

9242593988_8f4ae84b30_o-Credit Bellevue Parks & Community Services, Colin WalkerBring family and friends to the beautiful Bellevue Downtown Park to celebrate America’s Independence Day in a big way! This year marks the 25th anniversary of Bellevue Family Fourth, the largest 4th of July celebration in the region. Join the fun, food, games, live music, and be prepared for a stunning fireworks display.

Don’t miss: the fireworks show at approximately 9:30 – 9:45 pm in the evening! Pro tips: Bring a few extra sweaters and blankets to get cozy pre-fireworks. If you have a camera handy, set the ISO to 50 or 100 and slow down the shutter speed to 2-3 seconds or longer to catch those fireworks in motion!

JULY 29-31: Bellevue Arts Fair – Downtown Bellevue [Free]

AChalk art Bellevue arts fairrt and crafts lovers, you don’t want to miss this one! Local artists show and sell their work in a three day extravaganza all over downtown. Technically, Bellevue Arts Fair is a combination of three arts fairs that cover the city with all sorts of vendors and activities in all colors, textiles, and patterns.

Don’t miss: fueling up at the kettle corn stand before seeing how many sidewalk chalk artist you can find at the festival! Take a look at the many vendors selling wearables as well for a unique piece of jewelry or clothing to add to your wardrobe.

AUGUST 5-7: Seafair Weekend – Genesee Park [Tickets starting at $10]

Seafair Boats - Credit Rod MarThere’s a familiar phrase you’ll hear the locals proclaim as August approaches, “The Blue Angels are coming!” Soon after, the sound of soaring jets fills the air as the U.S. Navy Blue Angels come to town for a weekend of aerobatic demonstrations in the sky while the world’s fastest powerboats race on Lake Washington. Get your tickets to Seafair Weekend and stake out a spot at Genesee Park to enjoy the show up close. Activities at the park include food vendors, booths, kids interactive activities, live bands, and more Pacific Northwest waterfront fun!

Don’t miss: getting a glimpse of the Blue Angels from our local parks here in Bellevue, especially if you’d rather avoid the larger crowds. You can dine in downtown Bellevue (or pack a picnic) and visit Medina Beach Park or the new Evergreen Point Park & Ride that weekend for a more peaceful afternoon watching the Blue Angels soar overhead.

AUGUST 20: Taste of Main – Main Street, Bellevue [Tickets starting at $15]

Taste-of-Main---Courtesy-Detlef-Schrempf-Foundation-(5)Buy a “passport” to Taste of Main and spend the day sauntering through Bellevue’s historic Main Street District tasting hors d’oeuvres from local chef-owned restaurants, local wines, spirits, chocolates and more! Not only will you try the best of Bellevue’s food and wine, you’ll also be supporting local children’s charities while you’re at it!

Don’t miss: discovering other local gems and boutiques on Main Street. While the opportunities to taste food and wine are endless, there are also independent designer shops like Jarbo and La Ree Boutique, cooking classes at Whisk, and many other local shops to explore.

Written by – Rachel Burch

Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: Bellevue Arts Fair via Bellevue Arts Museum, Strawberry Shortcake via Eastside Heritage Center, Bellevue Family Fourth via Bellevue Parks & Community Services/Colin Walker, Sidewalk Chalk Artist via Bellevue Arts Museum, Seafair Boats via Rod Mar, Taste of Main via Detlef Schrempf Foundation


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Channel Your Inner Olympian in Bellevue


In anticipation of the Summer Olympics, which kick off in Brazil with an opening ceremony on Aug. 5, we’ve compiled a list of sports and activities that will allow you to channel your inner athlete—or cheer on your favorite competitors—in and around Bellevue.

We’ve ranked each pursuit as either gold, silver or bronze, depending on how many opportunities you’ll have to watch or participate. Even if you never get to pose on a podium, you can still break a sweat with the best.

Let the games begin!


Gold-medal sports feature numerous opportunities to be both spectator and participant at venues throughout the Pacific Northwest.



The Seattle Basketball Pro-Am summer league draws current and former professional and collegiate ballers to Seattle Pacific University’s Royal Brougham Pavilion. Watch your favorite local players—like Jamal Crawford (whose foundation the league benefits), Nate Robinson, Isaiah Thomas and Spencer Hawes—compete in a laid-back, family-friendly and affordable environment ($5 for adults, kids 17 and younger are free).

The Seattle Storm, winners of two WNBA championships, lost star forward Lauren Jackson to retirement earlier this year, but welcomed back team leader Sue Bird, along with newly drafted UConn Huskies star Breanna Stewart. Games take place at KeyArena through September.

There are also plenty of local courts where you can hone your own hoop skills, or mix it up with other ballers during a pick-up game. You’ll almost always find action at Hidden Valley Sports Park; the Crossroads Community Center has some of the nicest courts in town; and the Lewis Creek Park courts come with a stellar view.

AVP Beach Volleyball 2

Beach Volleyball

Perhaps more than any other Olympic sport, beach volleyball screams summer. Soft sand meets hard bodies in two-on-two showdowns with spectacular views. You can watch some of the world’s most talented players at the AVP Seattle Open (June 2-5) at Lake Sammamish State Park in nearby Issaquah, while enjoying live music and great food.

If watching the pros has you hankering for a pick-up game of your own, head across the bridge to West Seattle, where you’ll find blistering local competition, from juniors to semi-pro, at Alki Beach. There’s even a camp (July 29) with 2004 Olympian and UCLA head sand coach Stein Metzger that’s open to adults.


Canoeing, Kayaking and Rowing

Carillon_Point_Waterfront_Adventures-Jean-Marcus_Strole_Photography-32There are bodies of water just about everywhere you look in the Puget Sound area, and most of them offer opportunities to row. You can rent canoes and/or kayaks in Bellevue at Cascade PaddleSports at Enatai Beach; in Kirkland at The Woodmark Hotel; in Issaquah at Issaquah Paddle Sports at Lake Sammamish State Park; and in Seattle at Northwest Outdoor Center on Lake Union.

Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) isn’t an Olympic sport just yet, but it could very well be in the future. Get a glimpse of the rapidly growing sport at the Round the Rock Stand Up Paddle Race (Sept. 17) that invites paddlers to travel 13 miles starting from Newcastle Beach Park in Bellevue.


Sammamish River Trail 4- Sharon LintonThe Pacific Northwest is one of the most bike-friendly regions in the country, and there is no shortage of paved paths and bike lanes to tackle on two wheels. Visit the Cascade Bicycle Club website for bike maps, plus information on tips, tours, rides and rentals.

The club is instrumental in organizing the annual Seattle to Portland (STP) ride, the largest multi-day bicycle event in the Northwest. This year’s race takes place July 16-17, and will draw 10,000 participants to a 200-plus-mile ride through scenic valleys, forests and farmlands.

You can enjoy the drama of competitive track cycling at the Jerry Baker Velodrome at Marymoor Park in Redmond. The track’s Friday night races are the highlight of the week, and feature the fastest riders, great local beer and wine, food trucks, and hundreds of enthusiastic spectators.


Golf Club at Newcastle HEROIt may rain here a bit more than it does in other parts of the country, but that just means that we can boast about lush green golf courses come summer. There are dozens of local public and private courses that cater to golfers of every level, including the Bellevue Golf Course, the Crossroads Par 3 Golf Course and the Golf Club at Newcastle. Visit the Northwest Golf Guide for a comprehensive list.

If your swing could benefit from some tips from the pros, catch all the action at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 9-12) at Sahalee Country Club. Three-time winner Inbee Park will be going for a four-peat at this year’s tournament, one of the LPGA tour’s five majors.

Later this summer, the men will compete at the Boeing Classic at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, which features a whole week of charity events and clinics, plus a three-day (Aug. 26-28) PGA tournament that draws top-tier golfers like Scott Dunlap, John Riegger and defending champion Billy Andrade with a $2 million purse.


Silver-medal sports feature opportunities to channel your inner Olympian by participating.


BELLE_P103_pool_with_families_kids_65856_medWho says hotel pools are just for looks? If you’re staying overnight, why not take advantage of that lovely heated pool for an invigorating lap swim? You can also swim indoors at the Bellevue Aquatic Center, but if you prefer fresh water to chlorinated, slip on your suit, grab your goggles and head to one of our many swimming beaches.



tennis-614183_1920Tennis enthusiasts will “love” the Robinswood Tennis Center, one of the best public facilities in the region. In addition to indoor and outdoor courts, you’ll find lessons, a pro shop, racquet and ball machine rentals, even restringing services if you get a little too, um, enthusiastic at the net. You’ll also find outdoor courts at more than a dozen city parks.



Track & Field

Columbia Winery Charity RunRunning is one of our region’s favorite pastimes, and Seattle and the Eastside are home to dozens of summer races and fun runs, including the Furry 5K (June 12); the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Seattle (June 18), the Michelob Ultra Seafair Pirate Run (July 30), Mud & Chocolate (Aug. 14) and the Columbia Winery Charity Run & Walk (Aug. 20).

It isn’t local, but if you’re in the Pacific Northwest for business in July, and don’t have to rush home, consider a trip to Eugene, Oregon for the U.S. Olympic Team Track & Field Trials. You can get there in about an hour by plane, four and a half hours by car or seven hours by train.


Bronze-medal sports feature opportunities to cheer on current, former and someday Olympians.


Watch the Olympic gymnastics events on TV this summer, then go see a live encore from your favorite performers, like Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles and Aly Raisman, at the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions at KeyArena (Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m.). Tickets go on sale to the public June 23 at 10 a.m.


1_soundersSeattle is home to both men’s and women’s professional soccer teams, so if you can’t travel to Brazil to cheer on the national teams, you can still enjoy “the beautiful game” right here. The Sounders FC men’s team hosts matches at Century Link Field, while the Seattle Reign FC women’s team welcome challengers to Memorial Stadium.



Written by – Monica Fischer

Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: Runner at Sunset via Pixabay, Crossroads Community Center Basketball Court via Bellevue Parks & Community Services, Beach Volleyball via AVP Beach Volleyball, Kayaking on Lake Washington via The Woodmark, Cycling on Sammamish River Trail via Sharon Linton, Golf Course View via The Golf Club at Newcastle, Indoor Pool via the Hyatt Regency Bellevue, Tennis Shot via Pixabay, Runners via Columbia Winery Charity Run & Walk, Sounders Game via Gregory Mauch Photography

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