Take a drive across Lake Washington from Seattle, and you’ll find yourself in the upscale city of Bellevue, one of the trendiest suburbs on the Eastside and the fifth largest city in Washington state.
Bellevue, Washington, is also considered one of the best mid-sized cities in America, and residents and visitors alike will find a delightful variety of things to do in Bellevue.
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What Makes Bellevue Washington Unique?
Bellevue is unlike almost any other city in the state. While Bellevue is a hub for multi-million (and billion) dollar companies, it’s also known as “a city in a park.” Its woodsy neighborhoods and network of nature trails add to its small-town feel. With nearly 100 parks, it’s an ideal place for families to raise their kids.
It’s not just residents who enjoy the city. Bellevue, Washington, offers plenty to draw people in for the day or even as a vacation destination.
Sheila Freeman of Visit Bellevue tells us, “Bellevue’s safety and cleanliness make it a perfect location for families to relax and enjoy the natural beauty and culture of the Pacific Northwest.
“Bellevue has 92 miles of multi-use hiking trails, over 2,000 acres of forest and natural areas, and seven beaches, making it an idyllic place to connect back with nature and each other.”
Bellevue’s population is 145,300, and according to Census.gov, the median household income in 2020 was $129,497. Compare that to the national average of $67,521, and it’s easy to understand why the city sees demand for high-end amenities.
Census.gov also reveals that almost 70% of adults living in Bellevue, Washington have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, and the median value of a house is a whopping $887,700.
What does that mean for vacationers?
Bellevue businesses cater to families with discretionary income to spend. The demographics make it a prime location for many family activities, including performing arts, cultural centers and museums, outdoor adventures, and more. The variety of high-quality entertainment, shopping, and outings available make Bellevue, Washington a terrific place to visit.
What is there to do in Bellevue? Plenty!
9 Things to Do in Bellevue Washington
You can stroll through a park in the morning, spend the afternoon shopping in eclectic boutiques, and wrap up the evening toasting a meal made by an award-winning chef.
Here’s a look at a few ways you could spend time in Bellevue, Washington.
1. Kayak at Meydenbauer Bay
New to kayaking? Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced kayaker, you can book an excursion with the highly experienced REI crew at Meydenbauer Bay. They have everything you need and can safely guide you across the Bay and along the shoreline of Lake Washington.
Spend a few hours enjoying time out on the water, and consider booking a dusk or dawn kayak tour for something truly special.
2. Bellevue Downtown Park
If you’d rather stick to solid ground, this 21-acre park is an ideal location to spend time outdoors while staying in Downtown Bellevue. This park is especially popular with families looking for open spaces to play in. Bring a picnic and enjoy the beautifully manicured 10-acre lawn area or sit and be mesmerized by the 240-foot wide waterfall that cascades peacefully into a pond.
Bellevue Park has a half-mile promenade perfect for taking an afternoon stroll. Weather permitting, you’ll also get a peak at Mt. Rainier and an ideal view of Bellevue’s skyline. You’ll find that urban life and mother nature co-exist perfectly here.
3. Soar Through the Trees With Bellevue Zip Tour
Bellevue, Washington may be home to some of the finest shopping in the state , but it also has its own zipline course.
This seven-line course takes you up to 80 feet in the air. You’ll speed up to 35 miles per hour on lines as long as 458 feet.
The staff is experienced, and safety is a priority, but they also make sure you have a great time. Whether you come with your family, coworkers, or a group of friends, you’ll have a blast soaring through the trees on this aerial runway.
4. Bellevue Botanical Garden
Since its opening in 1992, the Bellevue Botanical Garden has been a welcome oasis from the hustle of city life. More than 300,000 people a year visit the Garden, making it one of the city’s most popular locations.
The 53-acre botanical garden is free to visit and is open from dawn till dusk every day of the year. Bring your camera, and enjoy the beauty of the surroundings in the garden.
5. Splurge at World Class Restaurants
Foodies will delight in the variety of eating options available in Bellevue, Washington. If breakfast is your jam, anything you order at The Lakehouse is sure to please. Award-winning Chef Jason Wilson created a menu that guests describe as “next level.”
Interested in out-of-this-world cocktails and one-of-a-kind appetizers? Head to Ascend, a Prime Steak & Sushi restaurant on the 31st floor of the Lincoln Square South building. If their menus aren’t entertainment enough, the floor-to-ceiling windows provide sweeping views unmatched elsewhere in the city.
Margarita Ibbott of Downshifting Pro says this about Ascend: “What a great night of cocktails and appetizers. My “Cloud Nine” cocktail was like drinking a puffy cloud, and it paired perfectly with the happy-hour wagyu beef sliders and salmon ceviche hand rolls. The star of the show, however, was the unobstructed views of Seattle, the Olympic Mountains, the Cascade Mountain Range, and Lake Washington. Come just before sunset and be amazed.”
Eques breakfast buffet in the Hyatt Regency hotel is another culinary delight worth adding to your itinerary, as is Fogo de Chão for dinner. Then, wrap up the evening with a nightcap on the balcony at The Porch. With hundreds of restaurants to choose from in Bellevue, you won’t go hungry while you’re there!
6. Lodge in Luxury
According to Visit Bellevue, there are 5,400 hotel rooms in the city, with more than half located in Downtown Bellevue. You can choose a 4-star hotel right in the heart of town with easy walking access to shopping, dining, and nightlife. Or, you can stay at a relaxing retreat in the suburbs if that’s your lodging preference.
If modern luxury appeals to you, the W Bellevue, the Westin Bellevue, and the Hyatt Regency hotels are part of the downtown Bellevue Collection. Here, you’ll be within easy walking distance of everything you could need during your stay.
7. Shop Till You Drop
Bellevue, Washington is the go-to place for shopping in the northwest. You’ll find hundreds of famous department stores, high-end retailers, and one-of-a-kind boutiques in the city.
The Bellevue Collection offers more than 200 well-known stores within its complex, and Bellevue Square Mall brings shoppers from all over the Puget Sound region to its stores. The Shops at the Bravern offer additional options; if that wasn’t enough, Old Bellevue provides even more. You’ll find brands including Macy’s, Tiffany & Co., Neiman Marcus, Tory Burch, and Jimmy Choo, among many others.
8. Snowflake Lane’s Holiday Parade
One of the most popular things to do in Bellevue, Washington, happens every night at 7:00 pm during the Christmas season. The Bellevue Collection hosts Snowflake Lane, a holiday parade complete with falling snow that brings visitors in from all over the state.
This year, Snowflake Lane runs each evening from November 25, 2022, until December 24, 2022. There is no cost to attend, and you’ll want to come early to find a good spot on the sidewalk. Come ready to be entertained by dancers, drummers, and holiday floats in what is a favorite tradition for many families.
9. Pick From the Arts Calendar
There’s so much more to do in Bellevue, Washington, worth mentioning. You’ll want to check the event calendar for the Performing Arts Center and see what exhibits are showing at the Bellevue Art Museum while you’re at it.
Vacation, Staycation, or Base Camp at Bellevue, Washington for a Great Getaway
Bellevue, Washington, is only 12 miles from Sea-Tac International Airport and seven miles from downtown Seattle. It is centrally located between three national parks and is less than a three-hour drive from anywhere in Western Washington. This location makes Bellevue a natural choice as a base camp while you explore different areas in the Evergreen State.
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