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12 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Bellevue, WA

Written by Brad Lane
Mar 10, 2020

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Just east of Seattle across the waters of the massive Lake Washington, Bellevue is the third-largest city in Washington. Despite not always being the first city associated with King County, it continues to be a staple of Pacific Northwest culture. Whether you are looking for first-rate shopping and dining experiences or a children's museum that will appeal to the whole family, Bellevue offers plenty of things to do.

The city also offers beautiful scenery and abundant outdoor space, making it rich with natural and urban resources for you to explore throughout the year. Bellevue Downtown Park is a rewarding place to visit, as is the stunning Bellevue Botanical Garden. Water is also a central attraction of Bellevue, and the city provides plenty of places to swim, kayak, or simply enjoy the view.

Discover more great places to visit with our list of the top attractions and things to do in Bellevue.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Bellevue Downtown Park

Bellevue Downtown Park
Bellevue Downtown Park

First conceived in 1983, the 21 acres comprising the Downtown Park in Bellevue have provided a central open space among the urban crawl for more than three decades. The park continues today to be a vital part of the Bellevue community. Hosting a huge number of community events, including annual Fourth of July fireworks and a summer series of outdoor movies, the park also provides an unstructured moment away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Bellevue Downtown Park is a great place to visit for a stroll on the manicured promenade, with views of a scenic 240-foot-wide waterfall. The manicured green space is also a stellar spot for a picnic overlooking the downtown skyline and distant Mount Rainier. The Inspiration Playground at the park is quite the sight to see and provides an engaging place for kids to climb and explore the art-inspired play space.

Address: 10201 NE 4th Street, Bellevue, Washington

2. Bellevue Arts Museum

Bellevue Arts Museum
Bellevue Arts Museum | Jules Antonio / photo modified

Referred to simply as BAM, the Bellevue Arts Museum hosts an impressive display of artworks from regional and international artists. Located among the bustling streets of the Bellevue downtown district, only a few blocks away from Downtown Park, BAM provides rotating exhibits that display masterful art pieces. BAM also give visitors a glimpse at the artistic process with behind-the-scenes looks at how the art was created.

Self-guided tours are available Wednesday through Sunday when the BAM is open, and trained curators also offer private tours. The museum also hosts several educational workshops for kids, teens, and adults. On the first Friday of each month, admission is free, and the museum hosts special lectures and presentations.

Address: 510 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, Washington

Official site: https://www.bellevuearts.org/

3. Bellevue Botanical Garden

Bellevue Botanical Garden
Bellevue Botanical Garden

Though Bellevue isn't lacking in natural attractions, perhaps the most concentrated view of Pacific Northwest flora can be found in the 53 acres encompassing the Bellevue Botanical Garden. Located on Main Street, this urban display of botanical beauty is open daily from dusk to dawn. The Bellevue Botanical Garden gives locals and tourists the opportunity to tour native plant species and learn a bit more about their environment.

Special places to visit at Bellevue Botanical Garden include the decorative Rock Garden and seasonal Dahlia Display. Besides simply walking among the many gardens and displays, the best way to use this natural space is by participating in the classes and tours the garden provides throughout the year.

A special Garden d' Lights occurs every winter and features over a half-million lights carefully placed throughout the area.

Address: 12001 Main Street, Bellevue, Washington

Official site: http://www.bellevuebotanical.org/

4. Mercer Slough Nature Park

Mercer Slough Nature Park
Mercer Slough Nature Park

Serving as one of Bellevue's largest city parks, Mercer Slough Nature Park contains more than 320 acres to explore throughout the year. The park features more than seven miles of trails that allow you to explore the wetland environment this nature park encompasses. The park also features a 2.6-mile water trail that you can canoe through the park.

Connected by the different trailheads, Mercer Slough Nature Park also hosts an on-site blueberry farm, which sells seasonal produce. The Winters House Visitor Center is a 1929 Mission-style mansion at the park and is on the National Historic Register.

Besides the wetland scenery, perhaps Mercer Slough's biggest tourist attraction is the collaborative Environmental Education Center hosted by the city of Bellevue and the Pacific Science Center. This hands-on facility provides classes, programs, and exhibits to enrich your Mercer Slough sightseeing experience.

Address: 1625 118th Ave. SE, Bellevue, Washington

5. Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park

Trail at Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park
Trail at Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park

Less than 10 miles southeast of Bellevue, Cougar Mountain offers a wild space to explore next to the city. Encompassing over 3,000 acres, the park also has over 35 miles of maintained trails to navigate. Mountain bikes aren't allowed at Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, but some trails support horse riding. Many of the trails lead to stunning views of Lake Sammamish and the Cascade Mountains.

Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park connects to Squak Mountain State Park. Users can access Squak Mountain via Cougar-Squak Corridor Park. This narrow park and valley adjoin the two public spaces, collectively known as the Issaquah Alps, and provide more than 15,000 acres of forest to explore. For quick escapes into nature from Bellevue, look no farther than the Issaquah Alps.

Address: 18201 SE Cougar Mountain Drive, Renton, Washington

6. Lake Sammamish

Lake Sammamish
Lake Sammamish

While Lake Sammamish may seem like a puddle compared to the far-spreading waters of Lake Washington to the west, this body of water provides important recreational opportunities for Bellevue residents and its connected communities. On the north end of Lake Sammamish, Marymoor Park is connected to the city of Redmond and provides awesome outdoor concerts throughout the year. A public water-skiing slalom course is also on the north end of the lake.

In Bellevue, on the eastern shore of Lake Sammamish, Vasa Park Resort provides picnic areas; boat launches; and a perfect spot to swim, with diving boards and waterslides. Vasa Park is also a popular spot to pitch a tent or park an RV. On the southern shore, Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah offers outdoor adventures throughout the year.

Address: 3560 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy SE, Bellevue, Washington

7. KidsQuest Children's Museum

KidsQuest Children's Museum
KidsQuest Children's Museum | Nicholas Wang / photo modified

The KidsQuest Children's Museum is every child's dream come true. This family friendly play space features a two-story Atrium Climber for kids to climb in, on, and around, plus eight other interactive exhibits designed to encourage development in children.

Focusing on the key areas of science, technology, engineering, art, and math, the KidsQuest Children's Museum isn't about sitting down at a desk and writing on the blackboard. Instead, this educational institution focuses on hands-on interaction with the different moving parts of life. KidsQuest is specifically designed for children ages 0-10 and features more than 650 programs offered throughout the year. Available programming includes summer camps and whole-family science workshops.

Address: 1116 108th Ave NE, Bellevue, Washington

Official site: http://www.kidsquestmuseum.org/

8. Meydenbauer Beach Park

Meydenbauer Beach Park
Meydenbauer Beach Park

The Meydenbauer Beach Park is not only a hidden gem of natural space in Bellevue, it also serves as a significant point in the city's history. Located on Meydenbauer Bay, on the shores of Lake Washington (King County's largest freshwater lake), this area was once the landing site for ferries running from Seattle. This historic ferry spot was pivotal in the development of Bellevue.

Nowadays, the Meydenbauer Beach Park is tucked away in a residential neighborhood. It provides a place for locals and tourists to get some sand between their toes or spread out the blanket for a picnic. Meydenbauer Beach Park is also a popular place to swim in the summer months, when the water is warm enough and lifeguards are on duty.

Address: 419 98th Ave NE, Bellevue, Washington

9. The Bellevue Collection

Snowflake Lane at Bellevue Square
Snowflake Lane at Bellevue Square | GoToVan / photo modified

The Bellevue Collection is three distinct shopping areas in the Bellevue downtown district. These shopping areas provide a dense concentration of shopping, dining, and overnight accommodations. Alongside unique and name-brand shopping opportunities, the Bellevue Collection also offers seasonal events that tend to draw a crowd.

The Bellevue Collection includes the Bellevue Square shopping mall with more than 200 retail locations. Lincoln Square is another distinct area filled with several cultural dining destinations. The third shopping area, Bellevue Place has some of the best places to stay the night, including the four-star Hyatt Regency Bellevue. The Bellevue Collection hosts everything you need in a few blocks to keep yourself busy for many long weekends.

This part of town is especially festive during the holiday season. The Bellevue Collection organizes Snowflake Lane throughout December. This family fun celebration is outside the Bellevue Square shopping mall, where the street is alive with glittering lights, electronic animations, and always falling snow.

Address: 575 Bellevue Square, Bellevue, Washington

Official site: http://bellevuecollection.com/

10. Bellevue Zip Tour

For a unique way to explore a natural side of Bellevue, the Bellevue Zip Tour will have you speeding among Douglas firs and broadleaf maples as you explore the scenery from above. Consisting of 6.5 ziplines, ranging from 70 to 450 feet, and operating every season except the winter, the Bellevue Zip Tour is owned by the city of Bellevue and can be found just west of the South Bellevue Community Center. Whether you are looking for a fun time for the whole family or a great place for a group getaway, the Bellevue Zip Tour provides a fast-flying way to see some Pacific Northwest nature from a new perspective.

Address: 450 110th Ave. NE, Bellevue, Washington

Official site: http://www.bellevueziptour.com/

11. Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park

The mighty Mount Rainier can be seen from Bellevue on clear days. The massive national park surrounding this iconic mountain of Washington is accessible from the city with a 60-mile drive. The park is a great place to visit for a day trip, and the many campgrounds at Mount Rainier National Park also facilitate memorable overnight adventures.

Mount Rainier National Park features waterfalls, mountain meadows, and stunning hiking trails. The Northwest Carbon River Entrance is the closest to Bellevue, though the Southwest Nisqually Entrance tends to be the more popular route. Accessible with a two-hour drive, the Nisqually entrance features more amenities, like a visitor center, and is open throughout the year.

Official site: https://www.nps.gov/mora/index.htm

12. Day Trip to Seattle

Seattle skyline
Seattle skyline

It's only a 15-minute drive to the Emerald City from Bellevue, or a 30-minute bus ride. If you are visiting Bellevue and have some extra time on your hands, it's well worth the trip to check out this cultural capital of the Pacific Northwest. Between iconic tourist spots like the Space Needle and Pike Place Market, and more off-the-beaten path adventures like Bill Speidel's Underground Tour, Seattle warrants some extended travel.

For summer fun, the best beaches in Seattle are a great place to cool off. Other top attractions of the city include the Chihuly Garden and Glass and the Museum of Flight. For an overnight trip to Seattle, our guide to where to stay in Seattle offers accommodations for every type of traveler.

Where to Stay in Bellevue for Sightseeing

Bellevue has several quality hotels to choose from. Some of the best hotels in Bellevue are in the heart of downtown near Bellevue Downtown Park. Other places to stay are east of the downtown district and lining the 405. Hotels in Bellevue range from four-star accommodations oozing with style to budget-friendly options that don't skimp on quality or service.

  • The Best Luxury Hotel in Bellevue: One of the best four-star hotels in Bellevue is the Hyatt Regency Bellevue. Connected to Bellevue Square via skywalk, and a block from Bellevue Downtown Park, this upscale establishment features stylish rooms and suites. Visitors often appreciate the resort-like amenities of the hotel, including the expansive breakfast bar and fully equipped fitness studio.
  • The Best Mid-Range Hotel in Bellevue: Popular with families and business travel, the Silver Cloud Inn features comfortable accommodations at an affordable price. Near a quiet neighborhood park, Silver Cloud Inn is also located within walking distance to restaurants and dining in downtown. The comfortable aesthetics of the lobby and common spaces of the hotel extend into the rooms, where guests are known to get a good night's sleep.
  • The Best Budget Hotel in Bellevue: Bellevue offers several budget hotels. Not all the most affordable hotels in Bellevue offer the same quality of service. The Extended Stay America, located just east of downtown across the 405, offers both an exceptional value and a first-class stay. Great for extended vacations or one-night budget accommodations, the Extended Stay is often the first choice for a budget-friendly stay.

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