Your bucket-list guide to fun, food, and culture

Lake Washington’s largest freshwater wetland offers plenty of education and recreation for all ages. From May to September, snag a canoe from Cascade Paddlesports’ convenient location at Enatai Beach Park to begin your aquatic adventure through the slough. This 2.6-mile water trail drops straight into the heart of the 320-acre park—paddle through water lilies and keep an eye out for turtles, herons, jays, and even the occasional eagle. During the summer, guided tours can be organized for the family (stop at the park’s U-pick blueberry fields after the tour to end the day on a sweet note). The Environmental Education Center is a point of collaboration between Bellevue and the Pacific Science Center (Seattle), where wetland ecology is the central topic. Enjoy the slough as a family with special programs like guided night walks that allow participants to call owls, learn about nocturnal animals, and enjoy hands-on sensory activities. If the grownups are looking for some alone time, try Parents Day Out, a supervised drop-off program that keeps kids occupied and learning with a day exploring the slough.

Drink Local Cocktails

Lot No. 3 buzzes even on a Monday night—the cocktails are exceptional, particularly anything whiskey-based. A horseshoe-shaped bar corrals the faithful around a solidly knowledgeable bartender whose middle name might be “Craft.” The bourbon-forward Young Buck pairs nicely with a side of chicken and waffles. Or if you like it neat, stop in on a Wednesday for half-price whiskey pours.

Monsoon Bellevue boasts the largest bottle collection on the Eastside with close to 700 choices. Bar manager Jon Christiansen has even procured discontinued Japanese whiskies and other hard-to-find spirits. He is committed to fresh everything—syrups, garnishes, and juices are made in-house. For a truly special experience, try one of the barrel-aged cocktails like the smoky Mezadone made with mescal, poppy, riesling, and Madeira.
Under the deft hand of bar manager Dan Yeisley, 99 Park’s bar program has blossomed into a well of finely crafted options. The Ginger’s A Peach is the beverage equivalent of a gummy peach ring candy—only refreshing instead of cloying—while the Beso De Fuego packs a spicy punch from a few drops of Scrappy’s firewater tempered by grapefruit, lime, and tamarind.
Prime 21 Lounge is billed as a “bar within a bar” located inside Daniel’s Broiler. If the views don’t have you swooning, the carefully curated selection of bourbons, scotches, and rums will undoubtedly do the trick. The menu consists solely of spirit-based drinks, though beer, wine, and appetizers are available from the bar kitchen.

Civility & Unrest, located in the Lincoln Square Expansion, opened June 15, 2017 bringing a “speakeasy feel and serious approach to the exploration of cocktail culture.”
At Bake’s Place, drinks are accompanied with a side of live music featuring local musicians and national acts, and don’t miss the large outdoor patio during the warmer months.

Have Some Farm Fun

A few minutes from busy downtown Bellevue sits Kelsey Creek Farm, a city-owned space perfect for families or adults looking to take a stroll away from the city. The 1930s-era farm houses ponies, sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens, pigs, and more. Kelsey Creek Farm has picnic tables, a picnic shelter, and a playground, all free for public use (no reservations required). The farm offers tours where you can interact with the animals and classes that teach kids about farm work, pioneer life, and animal care and handling.

Take a Spa Day

Be sure to schedule a little “you time” while traveling. Bellevue is home to plenty of world-class spas that will help you recover from jetlag, fight off fatigue, and put you in the perfect mind and body space for your vacation. Seeking luxury? Yuan Spa’s unique Body Renewal Package is a five-and-a-half-hour experience that will leave you walking on air. Enjoy a Mai Tai pedicure or other special treatments from Recoop Spa. Book a traditional Hawaiian lomi lomi massage at Gene Juarez Salon and Spa or a rejuvenating facial at SkinSpirit. Float away your worries at Float Bellevue, a flotation therapy spa where you lay in an enclosed tank full of Epsom salt solution. Or try halotherapy, the art of healing using salt, in the salt room at Salt Mine Arium.

Eat an Insane Sundae

Vivo 53 is known for its wood-fired pizzas with toothsome crusts and its freshly made pastas, but you can’t leave this restaurant without trying an Insane Sundae. These larger-than-life desserts are stacked with Willy Wonka-levels of sweet toppings. Don’t miss the Candy Esplosione with M&Ms, rotating ice cream, chocolate pretzels, rock candy, chocolate peanut butter brownie, Heath Bar, swirl lollipop, whipped cream, and chocolate drizzle. The menu says “It’s like licking a unicorn!” so how can you say no?

Visit Bellevue Botanical Garden

Bellevue Botanical Garden is open 365 days a year so visitors can enjoy its 50-acre splendor in every season. Grab a coffee from the locally owned Copper Kettle Coffee Bar and explore the grounds. Bask in the colors of the Fuschia Garden, meditate in the traditional Japanese Yao Garden, and stroll the Lost Meadow Trail. Annual events include Art in the Garden featuring garden-based glasswork during summer and Garden d’Lights, a winter holiday tradition with more than a million lights illuminating the night. Regular lectures, classes, and docent-led tours enhance the experience.

To see the other 71 Bellevue Must-do’s check out the 2017 Bellevue Visitor Guide or check back to this blog later in the summer.

Photo Credits – Top to Bottom: Mercer Slough kayaking via David Johanson Vasquez, cocktail bar at Lot No. 3 via Heavy Restaurant GroupKelsey Creek Farm via Bellevue Parks and Community Services, spa lobby via Recoop Spa, Spumoni Sundae via Vivo 53, garden walkway via Bellevue Botanical Garden