Rising summer temperatures require refreshing swimming holes. Bookended by two picturesque lakes, Bellevue — also known as the “City in the Park” — has an abundance of stunningly scenic, recreation-filled parks that beckon beachgoers.  

Meydenbauer Bay Park 

Bellevue’s latest recreation area, Meydenbauer Bay Park opened in 2019, a stunning refresh for the historic bay that has been visited for millennia. 

Here, an eye-catching, arcing pedestrian pier guides visitors 260 feet over the water into the bay, creating a protected swimming area off the park’s extensive shoreline. Rinse off afterwards in the beach house showers, then prepare for more exhilarating exploration. 

Dramatic scenery and mesmerizing sunsets can be taken in from the terrace boasting picnic tables and a children’s play area. Parkgoers can enjoy a bit of education on the area and all of the history and awe-inspiring ecosystems it envelopes in an outdoor classroom, relax next to the trickling ravine, or take in the mesmerizing woodlands cascading down the hillside. Glide through the waters by renting kayaks, paddleboards, or canoes from the REI Boathouse here or launch your own nonmotorized watercraft effortlessly. 

Save the gas and avoid parking by traveling here on the East Link’s 2 Line to the Bellevue Downtown station, then revel in the sites along the mile-long journey to this sublime beach. 

Enatai Beach Park 

Watersport excursions at Enatai Beach Park are enticing, especially with the convenience of canoe, kayak, and paddleboard rentals onsite at the REI Boathouse. 

Paddle from Enatai past picturesque parks and through the Mercer Slough Nature Park’s water trails, immersing yourself in the exquisite natural environs of this urban preserve that’s teeming with life. As you course through the waters, wildlife and natural wonders captivate your attention. Great blue herons, beavers, bald eagles, and water lilies can be spotted in surrounding Enatai Beach Park. Stunning views of Mount Rainier serve as a beacon along your aquatic journey.  

If paddling isn’t your preference, swimmers can safely slide into the water near the floating pier, and fish are abundant in the waters of Lake Washington. 

Emerging from the lake, refuel at one of the park’s picnic tables and bask in the breathtaking views. 

This beach park serves as a gateway to the Lake to Lake Trail, a picturesque path through more than 800 acres of parklands connecting Lake Washington to Lake Sammamish. Just off Interstate 90 and south of Beaux Arts Village, Enatai Beach Park can be easily accessed via the East Link light rail’s new 2 Line, though parking is also plentiful. 

Newcastle Beach Park 

When you imagine an idyllic summer day with the family, the setting could easily be Newcastle Beach Park. Natural wetlands welcome water excursions, as Newcastle Beach Park also offers access to Mercer Slough, but the secluded sandy beach embraced by soaring trees is oh-so inviting also. 

A floating swimmers dock is ideal for basking in the sun or diving into the cool lake, perhaps after taking in the forest scenery along the paved nature trail loop, or playtime in the park’s colorful playground. The largest beach park in Bellevue, Newcastle is geared towards group events, with room for up to 150 people within the abundant picnic areas, including a covered expanse with a barbecue that can be reserved. 

A haven for recreation and relaxation, lounge on a bench and enjoy the radiant sunset over the lake after playing disc golf or frisbee on the park’s lush, emerald green knolls. Head to the vast, 300-foot dock to launch non-motorized vessels, fish, or simply lounge like it’s your job. 

Photo Credit: Ge Gao

Lake Sammamish State Park 

Tranquility is bestowed upon all who immerse themselves in Washington’s wondrous landscape found throughout Lake Sammamish State Park. A vast Pacific Northwest paradise, the state park occupies 512 acres, including nearly 7,000 feet of spectacular Lake Sammamish waterfront. 

Children may never want to leave the park’s million-dollar playground with its geodesic dome, mushroom house with toadstool steps, zip line, and boredom-busting playset all atop safe rubber surfacing. After playtime on the weekends, park rangers teach kids about conservation, native species in the park, and how to be environmental stewards. 

A region of cultural significance, for generations Lake Sammamish served as a gathering place for several indigenous tribes who relished the wetlands and deciduous forest habitat that’s long been home to myriad birds, fish, and wildlife. Birdwatchers can join the Eastside Audubon Society as they seek winged wonders ranging from waterfowl to woodpeckers to bald eagles, to name just a few. 

Recreation seekers have endless options here, the park rich with soccer fields, volleyball courts, two swimming beaches, campsites and hiking trails. Every fisherman’s dream, the park creeks are crowded with salmon, and the lake itself touts largemouth bass, perch, trout, and shellfish. 

Watch light, fog, and clouds dance around you while meandering along the park’s paved, 11-mile pathway, which erupts with color each fall. Also, there’s no need to leave any family member home when visiting Lake Sammamish State Park — leashed dogs are welcome here. 

Chism Beach Park 

Spectacular sunset viewing and exceptional vistas of the Seattle skyline await visitors at Chism Beach Park. Amid the southwest Bellevue park’s secluded and serene 18 acres are numerous picnic tables perfect for group events or more intimate gatherings, a small playground for family fun, and a sandy shoreline. Swimming areas here are hospitable to all skill sets, whether you’re a doggy paddler or water pro. Fishing can be done off the dock if seeking a different form of relaxation, while benches provide respite when strolling through the verdant landscape dotted with colorful hydrangeas.  

Capped on either end by residential areas, Chism Beach Park is a popular spot for swimming each summer, with a floating dock to dive from and lifeguards looking after anyone enjoying a dip. Nonmotorized watercraft can also be launched from the park when swimmers aren’t present. 

Within Chism Beach Park, visitors can also bask in Bellevue history at the Burrows Cabin, a log house built in 1883 by Civil War veteran Albert Burrows. 

Photo Credit: Stuart Heath