Bellevue Botanical Garden
Just east of downtown Bellevue, this garden was deeded to the city to create a park in 1984, but with the significant effort that had gone into developing the house and land as a garden an effort was made to retain the developed part of the property.
Thus, after several years of development efforts, the Bellevue Botanical Garden was opened to the public in 1992. Occasional significant additions to the garden have been made as time has gone on. A significant land acquisition was made of nearby forest land, and this continues to be developed as an addition to the gardens.
Today, there are some 53 acres of land that make up the gardens, which does not include the surrounding city park land, especially to the east. There are a number of trails that wander through the gardens, and you are likely to find a number of local bird species here.
While exotic species have been used in a number of locations in the gardens, there are also substantial efforts to create the gardens as a display area for local species as well. For example, the Yao Garden was developed entirely as a Japanese style garden only using local plants. The rock garden and the Waterwise Garden use a number of local plants as well. One section of the garden maintains natural-style Pacific Northwest forest land.
The visitor's center was converted from the property's home, which was built in 1957 and designed by Paul Kirk. The home was designed to use the gardens to maximum advantage, and thus there are large windows all around. There is now a small garden store and accessible restrooms inside the visitor's center.
Most of the time, entry to the gardens is free of charge. However, during December the gardens are heavily decorated with lights and during this "Garden d'Lights" show in the evenings there is an admissions price.
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- Arts and Culture
Bellevue Art Museum
It is a bit difficult to describe this museum in any detail, as many of their showings are only open for a period, and then get replaced by something else. All I can tell you is, check the web site schedule and you may well find something interesting on show here. However, despite not being able to give you much detail about what may or may not be on display at any given time, it is certainly a thing to do in Bellevue - especially if you are faced with a rainy day and need to find something to do indoors.
The normal hours are Tuesday - Sunday: 11am - 5pm, and admission is $10. The museum is free on the First Friday of the month from 11am to 8pm.
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- Arts and Culture
There are not a lot of late night places open on the eastside but there is a nice place to go and shoot pool now with the opening of The Parlor Billiards and Spirits. There are 42 tables on which to shoot pool on. The wait when we went on a busy friday night was not long, only 15 minutes. That allowed us to check out the full bar and drink up. There are a lot of tv's along the walls tuned into sports. The price was a little bit above average but it is an upscale place.
The Trail Network
As part of its park system, Bellevue has constructed a series of trails that connect the various parks. Some of these link to regional biking and walking trails that will, if someone is so inclined, take the adventurous bike rider or trail walker all the way to Seattle (6 miles or so) or Issaquah (6 miles or so in the opposite direction). The Seattle to Issaquah (and beyond) trail is called the "Mountains to Sound Greenway" but there are a number of other trails in the Bellevue area that branch off of this main trail.
Some of the trails are through some fairly quiet neighborhoods.
The bad news is that a number of the trails are much too close to interstate highways and other busy roads for them to be pleasant throughfares for any sort of long distance enjoyment. These sections of the trails are reasonably busy commuter routes, and you will see bicycle commuters using the trails. However, as close as the trails are to a number of the busy roads, it is hard to really enjoy using a number of them due to the sheer amount of noise from the highways. Also, due to the proximity of the trails to elevated sections of the highways, you need to watch out for falling or flying trash that people have thrown from their cars.
Yet, despite all that, it is possible to enjoy sections of these trails, and they do provide a nice set of connections between the various parks in Bellevue, and to other cities in the region.
The trails are very well marked, with most major trail intersections featuring signs that give directions and distances to various locations.
Boardwalks can be very slippery and dangerous for walkers, and especially bad for bikers. However, many of the board walks here have been treated with a surface treatment to prevent the wet weather from making them slippery.
The web site below provides a link to the Parks and Community Services section of the city of Bellevue web site. From there it is possible to find parks information and trails information from links on the web page.
- Hiking and Walking
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