Bellevue is the ideal gateway for exploring the vast beauty and fascinating attractions of the Pacific Northwest. Side trips, day trips, and post-meeting excursions are all easily arranged, and the fact that Bellevue is set in such an enticingly attractive region of the country can help boost attendance, engagement, and excitement about meetings held here.
Whale watching excursions on Puget Sound are a spectacular way of introducing groups to Bellevue’s natural beauty. Take in the views during a 1.5-hour scenic drive to Mt. Rainier National Park. Bellevue is the ideal gateway for exploring the vast beauty and fascinating attractions of the Pacific Northwest. Side trips, day trips, and post-meeting excursions are all easily arranged, and the fact that Bellevue is set in such an enticingly attractive region of the country can help boost attendance, engagement, and excitement about meetings held here.
A boat tour of scenic Lake Washington or Puget Sound is a great introduction to the area’s natural beauty. A company called Puget Sound Express offers half-day whale watching cruises aboard a high-speed 63-foot Chilkat Express, which is billed as the fastest passenger vessel on the West Coast. Departing from Edmonds Marina, which sits just north of Bellevue, the cruise heads to the San Juan Islands for opportunities to view orcas, humpbacks, and other marine life. The tours are operated by husband and wife team Pete and Sherri Hanke, and guests are also treated to Sherri’s homemade blueberry buckle coffee cake, a local favorite that’s baked on board, using her grandmother’s recipe from a farm in nearby Woodinville.
Also noteworthy are the whale watching excursions offered by San Juan Safaris, which offers private tours for groups of up to 100, with ample opportunities to spot whales, seals, sea lions and even eagles, with marine naturalists on board to explain the living conditions of the local wildlife. Planners can choose from vessels including the 49 passenger, 55-foot Sea Lion, the 24-passenger, 35-foot Kestrel, and 26-passenger, 42-foot Sea Hawk. The company’s new boasts a new Whale Watch Headquarters just North of Bellevue at Friday Harbor.
For land-based natural beauty, groups can arrange many tours and excursions, a popular nearby trip to Snoqualmie Falls, a 268-foot waterfall that attracts more than 1.5 million visitors every year. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its importance to the local Snoqualmie people, it’s a postcard-perfect destination set among the evergreens of the western Cascade mountains. It’s easy to combine a visit to the falls with Woodinville Wine Country, which is home to more than 100 wine tasting rooms, many of which have private group facilities and activity options.
Bellevue is home to an amazing three National Parks within an hour of each direction, the most popular Mount Rainier National Park is another must-see for nature lovers; hiking and climbing are especially rewarding in the park, which is centered around a volcano that soars 14,410 feet above sea level and is home to more glaciers than any other peak in the contiguous United States. Other National Parks include the North Cascades NP & Olympic NP. Winter sports enthusiasts can find lots of excitement at Crystal Mountain Resort, with an average snowfall of over 400 inches a year and 2,600 acres of terrain. In the Summer, take a gondola to the 6,872-foot summit—even if you don’t like to strap on boots— for stunning views of Mt. Rainier. Adventurous types can make their way downhill on 57 designated trails.
Of course, Bellevue’s location just outside of Seattle makes it especially easy to explore the many attractions in Washington’s largest city. Among the top attractions just a few minutes from Bellevue are the Space Needle, the 605-foot tower that offers spectacular views; the Museum of Pop Culture, which is housed in a Frank Gehry-designed building; the Pacific Science Center, which has a tropical butterfly house and a planetarium; and Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, a museum that showcases the work of Dale Chihuly and Pike Place Market.