This part of the country is pure, unspoiled eye candy with its majestic snow-capped peaks, deep blue waters, and colorful flowers so vibrant that you'll look for the artist's paintbrush. If you love the outdoors, you've found your next vacation spot.
Chose Affordable Luxury for a Home Base
If you plan on doing a lot of outdoor exploring, a hotel that's affordable and convenient is best. Free WiFi is a great perk for those of us who don't want to wait until we get home to upload those amazing shots. The Coast Bellevue Hotel offers this and more. It's a short drive to the Snoqualmie Falls and some of the best wineries in the nation (I hear California grumbling). The lobby's modern decor is inviting, particularly after a long day of hiking.
Other affordable hotels in the area include the Days Inn Bellevue Seattle Hotel and the Silver Cloud Hotel. You can also visit Hipmunk for a larger list of cheap hotels in Bellevue.
Enjoy History and Hiking
If you're a novice hiker like I am, or you don't have much time, you'll enjoy this easy route through the historic coal mining area. The Coal Creek Trail will take you between 1-3 hours to fully experience. It's 2.8 miles long from beginning to end, or 5.6 miles round trip. Pets and families enjoy this trek.
Start from the Red Town parking lot. Hikers will come across a sealed mind shaft. Some say there's still an aroma of coal in the air. Also along this dirt trail is North Fork Falls. If there hasn't been a good rain recently, the falls can be quite small. There are several benches where you can sit and enjoy the soothing sound of water. Continue on and you'll pass blackberry bushes, bridges that cross streams, as well as a few connecting trails if you're looking for more of an all-day adventure.
Indulge in Outdoor Thrills & Soothing Moments
Get your blood pumping on a zip line at the Bellevue Zip Tour, kayaking at Enatai Beach Park, or try a standup paddle board for a new view of the water. If you're an outdoor enthusiast with an interest in art, you'll love the outdoor installations. City Hall offers a free walking map that lists the art sculptures.
Top off the Day by Dining al Fresco
Bellevue residents and tourists love to dine outdoors. It's so popular that many of the restaurants have created outdoor dining out of very small spaces. Call ahead to make sure you'll get a spot, because everyone here loves a table outdoors.
If you like free-range outdoor dining, remember Saturday mornings (in season) bring the Crossroads Farmer's Market. Food trucks are popular in Bellevue offering cheap, imaginative dishes from curry to pies and a host of others.
Bellevue is a lovely town of arts, shopping, and corporate headquarters, but its real jewel is its surroundings. The beauty of the outdoors and the number of outdoor activities satisfy even the most discerning outdoor enthusiasts. If you've visited Bellevue and have other tips or recommendations, share them in the comments below.
Christina R. Green is a freelance travel writer originally from the East Coast and now living on the sunny Gulf coast of Florida. She loves the Pacific Northwest, kitschy tourist attractions, and literary haunts. If she could figure out a way to drive something the size of an RV, she'd take off and write from the road.