There’s no shortage of main streets, culture, dining hot spots, and leafy waterside trails worth exploring just outside Seattle’s borders in its surrounding communities. One of these places just east of the city is Bellevue, which definitely merits a day trip.
Bellevue is just a short drive across Lake Washington, along the longest floating bridge in the world. The city is a green wonderland with nearly 100 parks dotting its landscape between lakes Washington and Sammamish, offering a downtown neighborhood with plenty to do.
Start with a trip to the Bellevue Arts Museum
. The curiously shaped, red-toned aluminum and glass building features numerous rotating exhibitions, the majority of which celebrate Northwest crafts and design artists. Don’t miss a trip to the roof, where the elliptical Court of Light explores architect Steven Holl’s interest in the seasonal change of light.
A short walk from the museum is The Bellevue Collection
, where 250 restaurants, major stores and chic boutiques draw those who like to window shop and people watch. The downtown core is extremely walkable, something that becomes obvious when exploring Bellevue Square, which is peppered with boutiques and shoe shops, high-design home furnishings stores, art galleries and more.
In November and December, Snowflake Lane, a favorite local holiday celebration, fills the streets with live toy soldiers, carolers and sparkling light displays. Come summertime, Bellevue’s beauty takes over.
Toward the dinner hour, downtown Bellevue starts to bustle as locals and visitors head out for the evening. The area offers more than 140 restaurants and cafes, happy hour hot spots, billiards and bowling lanes, upscale cinemas and performing arts.
Just outside of town is one of the most breathtaking golf courses in the country at the Golf Club at Newcastle
. It’s common to lose sight of a golf ball here, taking in panoramic views of Mount Rainier, the Olympic and Cascade Mountains and Lake Washington.
Or, take a short drive to Snoqualmie Falls, a breathtaking waterfall that at 268-feet is a hundred feet higher than Niagara Falls. The Historic District has many restaurants and shops to enjoy, while a ride on an antique train at the Snoqualmie Depot will delight visitors of all ages. The area also holds many opportunities for outdoor activities including parks and over 30 miles of family-friendly trails.