Bellevue, Washington is Seattle’s neighbor to the east. While its overall vibe is much different than Seattle’s, savvy travelers who venture to the Eastside will discover that Bellevue offers quite a bit to visitors and residents alike.
Come to Bellevue for a day of endless shopping, or spend it reconnecting with nature at one of the many green spaces tucked away along Lake Washington. Bring a date here for a luxurious dinner or take a day trip from Seattle with your family for kid-friendly excursions.
Bellevue, Washington is on my list of the best places to go in Washington State for a reason. Now we’ll do a deep dive into what there is to do there!
Table of Contents
- 19 Best Things to Do in Bellevue
- Unwind at Bellevue Downtown Park
- Wander through Bellevue Botanical Garden
- Watch Sunsets at Meydenbauer Bay Park
- Go Zip Lining at the Bellevue Zip Tour
- Experience the Bellevue Collection
- Check out the Charming Old Bellevue
- Visit the Bellevue Arts Museum
- Have A Playdate at KidsQuest Children’s Museum
- Shop Luxury Brands at The Bravern
- Splurge on an Upscale Restaurant
- Explore the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie Forest
- Watch Animals at Kelsey Creek Park and Farm
- Play Board Games at Mox Boarding House
- Eat Food and Go Climbing at Crossroads
- Pick Blueberries at Larsen Lake Blueberry Farm
- Swim and Fish at Chism Beach Park
- Try out Paragliding at Poo Poo Point
- Wander Through Mercer Slough Nature Park
- Take A Walk at Newcastle Beach Park
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19 Best Things to Do in Bellevue
Unwind at Bellevue Downtown Park
Downtown Park is gorgeous, meticulously kept green space in the heart of Bellevue’s downtown area. On an average visit, you’ll find people playing lawn games, walking their dogs, exercising, or enjoying a community event like the city’s free outdoor movie series in the summertime.
There’s enough space here to relax by yourself or meet up with friends. The park also has a good-sized children’s play area and a calming horizontal waterfall that flows into a pond brimming with ducks.
Wander through Bellevue Botanical Garden
Entrance to the Bellevue Botanical Garden is completely free so nature lovers should come here to check out the vibrant and varied vegetation of the cultivated gardens. You can enter and wander at your leisure from dawn to dusk.
Be sure to take a break at the Copper Kettle Coffee bar to refuel with a latte and a baked good and pop into the Trillium Store before you go to snag a garden-themed gift. Visit the Bellevue Botanical Garden in late November or December to see the stunning Garden D’Lights, a festive and beautiful light show.
Watch Sunsets at Meydenbauer Bay Park
Meydenbauer Bay Park is a small park on the water with a tiny beach area and grand sunset views. It’s within walking distance of Downtown, which makes it a good escape from the busyness of the city.
Enjoy the gardens, read a book, or walk out along the dock to admire the view. In the summertime, you can go to the nearby REI Boathouse for canoe and kayak rentals. Whether or not you’re able to get out on the water, the laid-back nature and beauty of this gem of a park make it one of the best things to do in Bellevue.
Go Zip Lining at the Bellevue Zip Tour
Prefer to be in the air rather than on the ground? At the Bellevue Zip Tour and Challenge Course, you can soar through the trees 80 feet above the forest floor, test your wits and balance on an aerial course, or try your strength on the climbing wall.
This is one of the best things to do in Bellevue for both adrenaline junkies or anyone who wants to get over a fear of heights. While there, don’t forget to marvel at the beautiful forest around you and any glimpses of Mount Baker and Glacier Peak you might catch.
👉 Pro Tip: Keep in mind the zip tour is open seasonally between April to October, so make sure you plan accordingly if this is a must-do on your visit.
Experience the Bellevue Collection
Of all the places to shop in Bellevue, Bellevue Square, Lincoln Square, and Bellevue Place are probably the best for most people. These shopping complexes comprise a huge district in the downtown area collectively termed the Bellevue Collection.
The largest and most popular of the trio is Bellevue Square where you’ll find a majority of shops from apparel to home decor to electronics. The Collection also has numerous restaurants, entertainment venues, and Bellevue’s best hotels in the area. The Bellevue Collection is one of Bellevue’s top attractions and it’s one of the best things to do in Bellevue if you’re set on shopping.
🛎️ Need a Hotel? Many of Bellevue’s best hotels are in the Bellevue Collection, and I listed my top picks in my article about where to stay during a trip to Seattle.
Check out the Charming Old Bellevue
In the heart of Bellevue, right across the way from Bellevue Square and Bellevue Downtown Park is Old Bellevue, a strip of small businesses and dining spots along Main Street that Bellevue residents love. Shops include Belle Pastry and Fran’s Chocolate, two must-visit spots for those with a sweet tooth.
Go to Hedge and Vine for home goods and wine, or take a cooking class at Whisk. Prefer to let someone else do the cooking for you? Order some delicious Vietnamese dishes with a Pacific Northwest twist at Monsoon Bellevue.
Visit the Bellevue Arts Museum
Initially, an art fair, the Bellevue Arts Museum (or BAM) transitioned into a permanent museum in 1975. It still stays connected to its roots by continuing to host one of the biggest art fairs in the Pacific Northwest during the summer.
The museum features mostly local artists and has rotating exhibits, meaning you’ll see a unique variety of art on any return visits. With an interesting rotation, a museum store stocked with goods from local makers, and plenty of great food nearby, the Bellevue Arts Museum is a sweet spot to spend a day in Bellevue.
👉 Pro Tip: Planning to spend some time around downtown Bellevue? Bring a receipt from any store in the Bellevue Collection to knock a couple of bucks off your museum admission!
Have A Playdate at KidsQuest Children’s Museum
Need a fun place to take your kids on a rainy day? The KidsQuest Children’s Museum will keep kids ages 10 and under entertained for hours. With clever and interactive learning activities, kids are guaranteed a fun time playing with their parents and peers in an imaginative environment. There’s plenty to do indoors, but there’s also an outdoor space for moments when the sun decides to peek through on those cloudy gray days.
👉 Pro Tip: Due to the ongoing health crisis, reservations are required in advance (you can make them here). Book before you go, and stay even later during the extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays!
Shop Luxury Brands at The Bravern
All signs point to Bellevue if you want to do some shopping on your visit. If your tastes tend toward designer and luxury brands, head to The Shops at The Bravern. This posh, European-style shopping complex includes stores like Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton, and dining options that range from steak to cupcakes. Utilize the valet parking here to ensure you get in and out without a hitch.
Splurge on an Upscale Restaurant
Bellevue has no shortage of restaurants, particularly if you want an upscale dining experience. Choose from tons of different cuisines ranging from seafood to steak to hot pot. If you’re craving Italian food, hit up Carmine’s for decadent pasta dishes and delightful cocktails. Try out John Howie Steak for a variety of tender, juicy meats.
The absolute best in Bellevue dining? Go to Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar, whose dreamy seafood dishes and great service will justify the splurge.
Explore the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie Forest
Outdoor activities abound on the Eastside, and Bellevue’s proximity to the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is one of the reasons for this. There are hundreds of trails throughout the forest to suit nearly every level of hiker.
But you’re not limited to hikes. Wildlife watching, river rafting, biking, and taking scenic drives are also ways to traverse this popular part of the state. If you’re in Bellevue, you’re in a prime location to get exploring.
📚 Related Reading: Exploring the Mount-Baker Snoqualmie Forest is one of the best stuff to do in Washington state. Check out my article to see what else made the list!
Watch Animals at Kelsey Creek Park and Farm
As soon as you see the picturesque white barns, you’ll understand the draw to Kelsey Creek Park and Farm. This 150-acre park consists of forests, meadows, and natural wetlands that you can explore via the many trails and bridges throughout.
The farm has a variety of animals including sheep, goats, pigs, ponies, and chickens for viewing and educational purposes. Pack a picnic and spend a delightful afternoon here for some all-ages fun.
Play Board Games at Mox Boarding House
Mox Boarding House is great for pretty much everyone. From families to couples to groups of friends, this board game cafe is one of the best things to do in Bellevue for fun. Peruse their enormous selection of games and see what interests you.
Rent a game from their rental library and set up in their cafe to play while you enjoy some delicious food, beer, wine, or cocktails. This board game lover’s haven is a great place for a rainy day or to spend time with a chosen few.
Eat Food and Go Climbing at Crossroads
As far as shopping goes, Crossroads is less luxurious than the Bravern and smaller than Bellevue Square, but still worth a visit. The mall hosts communal events like the weekly farmer’s market in the summertime and live music every weekend.
Alongside retail shops that range from bookstores to pottery and home goods, Crossroads has great dining options in their public market area full of delicious international foods. Don’t skip a visit to Stone Gardens too, an amazing climbing gym that’s great for some exercise after your day of shopping.
Pick Blueberries at Larsen Lake Blueberry Farm
The whole family will enjoy Larsen Lake Blueberry Farm, particularly during blueberry picking season. Rent one of the buckets and pick as much as you can! There are hundreds of blueberry bushes with several varieties to choose from, so you won’t run out of options.
Outside of the blueberry season, a produce stand is open regularly, so you can still get your fill of delicious fruits and veggies. After getting your produce, take a peaceful walk around the pond or sit back and relax while observing the birdlife.
Swim and Fish at Chism Beach Park
This small, sandy beach is a hidden gem. Chism Beach Park is a local favorite nestled in a forest-y area on Lake Washington. It offers great views of the Seattle skyline, tons of picnic areas, a playground, and houses Bellevue’s oldest remaining structure, Burrows Cabin.
With enough space for people to spread out and lounge, and swimming and fishing opportunities in the summertime, Chism Beach Park is a perfect destination for people who want some family fun.
Try out Paragliding at Poo Poo Point
📍 Address: 11400 Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast, Issaquah, WA 98027 | Website | Phone: (206) 387-3477 | Cost: $275 Tandem Flight
Head south toward Issaquah about 20 minutes from Bellevue center and yet another adventure awaits. Visitors can go paragliding from Poo Poo Point (yes, that’s what it’s actually called!) atop Tiger Mountain.
Seattle Paragliding will provide you with everything you need to do this tandem flight and will even record the flight so you can keep it forever. You’ll hike or take a shuttle up the mountain and then launch, experiencing views of the mountains, forests, and city that you’ll never forget.
📚 Related Reading: More interested in the hike to Poo Poo Point hike than the flight from it? Get the details in my Hikes Near Seattle article!
Wander Through Mercer Slough Nature Park
Enjoyed Bellevue Botanical Garden? Nature-lovers should head to Mercer Slough Nature Park next. You can explore this Lake Washington wetland via three hiking trails or the river that runs through it.
Take binoculars and watch for blue herons, bald eagles, beavers, and otters, and bring a guidebook to identify plants native to the Pacific Northwest in this natural area. Just be sure to pack bug spray and watch out for mosquitoes which can be an annoyance in the area.
Take A Walk at Newcastle Beach Park
📍 Address: 4400 Lake Washington Blvd SE, Bellevue, WA 98006 | Phone: (425) 452-6914 | Hours: 6 am – 9 pm daily
While it’s a little further away from the most other things to do in Bellevue, Newcastle Beach Park deserves a definite place on this list. This cute hangout spot is the perfect setting for a picnic, Barbecue, a frisbee game, or a peaceful evening by the water.
The sunsets from the park are dazzling. While it’s busiest in warmer months, it’s nice to go in the fall when it comes alight with color, and if it snows in the wintertime, the park becomes a winter wonderland.
That’s it for this breakdown of the best things to do in Bellevue! Is there anything I missed? What are you most excited to do? Let me know in the comments!
Oh, and before you go, be sure to check out my full guide to where to stay in Seattle!