Whether you want to show off the city to out-of-town guests or just have fun with your own family, here are some don't-miss Bellevue attractions many with interesting history...
Whether you want to show off the city to out-of-town guests or just have fun with your own family, here are some don’t-miss Bellevue attractions many with interesting history behind them:
1. Old Main Street:
Bellevue’s first downtown continues to be vibrant. Restaurants, boutiques, antique and art shops line Main from 100th Avenue Northeast to Bellevue Way Northeast.
Of interest are the 1930 Lakeside Drugs building that served as civil-defense headquarters during World War II (10215 Main St.), Wright’s Barber Shop, built in 1930 and now the Bellevue Barber Shop (10251 Main St.), and Bellevue Fire Station No. 1, built in 1945 and used by the Fire Department until 1972 (14 102nd Ave. N.E.).
Also, the former offices of the American Pacific Whaling Fleet at 9905 N.E. Lake Washington Blvd. (until 1941 Bellevue had one of the last active whaling ports in the country) and the Meydenbauer Yacht Club, 9927 Meydenbauer Way S.E., that contains the original 1933 Wildwood Park Dance Hall. Neither building is open to the public.
2. First Baptist Church:
When the church was built in 1905, it was at 100th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 10th Street. It was moved to its present location at 257 100th Ave. N.E. around 1919. Currently called Ground Zero, the building serves as a teen center.
3. Bellevue Downtown Park:
This 20-acre expanse next door to Bellevue Square between Northeast Fourth and Northeast Second streets, has a waterfall and popular half-mile circular walkway.
A World War I monument is tucked under trees in the center of the lawn, and you can see the foundation footprint of an early elementary school.
4. Bellevue Square:
Opened in 1946, it was one of the first shopping centers on the West Coast. Today’s remodeled two-story mall contains more than 200 stores, located on Bellevue Way between Northeast Eighth and Fourth streets.
It retains two remnants of the original Square: a wishing well near the east entrance to Nordstrom and Forest Deity, a carving from a tree stump done by revered Northwest artist Dudley Carter in 1947. The artwork stands between the west parking garage and the northwest entrance on Northeast Eighth.
5. Bellevue Art Museum:
Steven Holl, known internationally for his innovative work, designed the striking building. which opened in 2001. The museum, which offers contemporary art exhibits and classes, first opened in 1975 in a former funeral parlor and wedding chapel, and was later housed on the third floor of Bellevue Square. Information: 425-519-0770.
6. Meydenbauer Center:
Local arts groups, including the Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra, perform in The Theatre here. Traditional home and bridal shows, conventions, meetings and large banquets meet in convention-center rooms.
Note the numerous art pieces from the Bellevue Art Museum collection scattered throughout the various lobby levels.
The center is at Northeast Fourth Street and 112th Avenue Northeast. A planned expansion to the north will include a hotel and shops.
7. Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art: Even non-doll lovers will be in awe of this world-renowned museum’s fascinating collection of toys, dolls and doll accessories; at 1116 108th Ave N.E. Tel: 425-455-1116. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission: $4-$6.
8. Bellevue Botanical Garden:
This 36-acre display of gardens, woodlands, meadows and wetlands atop Wilburton Hill offers the best sunset view of downtown Bellevue.
The 200-foot-tall trees were logged off the hill in the early 1900s, and a small farm was developed on the site in the 1930s. Cal and Harriet Shorts bought the property in 1947 and later donated their home and seven acres of gardens to Bellevue on the condition it would become a park. The Bellevue Botanical Garden Society was formed in 1984; five years later the city set aside additional land to expand it.
From Thanksgiving to New Year’s the gardens are decorated with animals and flowers made out of miniature colored lights. At 12001 Main St., 425-452-2750. Free, but donations are accepted.
9. Crossroads Shopping Center:
This mall at Northeast Eighth Street and 156th Avenue Northeast doubles as Bellevue’s International District, offering ethnic foods, international community events and ongoing chess games that make this a neighborhood gathering place. Features Open Mike Night from 6 to 10 p.m. Fridays and free concerts from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Saturdays.
Look for interesting art around the center, including a life-size concrete sculpture of a Volkswagen near the movie theaters, a family made out of pipe near Half Price Books and a recently added mural of Tuscany outside Starbucks.
10. Highland Community Center:
The timber frame building at 14224 Bellevue-Redmond Road was one of eight community clubhouses built by the federal Works Progress Administration in 1939-40. Today it is part of the Bellevue Parks Department. A skateboard park is in the lower level. Baseball fields, tennis courts and an outdoor dirt-bike track are part of the same complex.
11. Seattle Mormon Temple:
Despite the name, the striking Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple is in Bellevue at 2808 148th Ave. S.E. The temple, one of 114 around the world, was dedicated in November 1980. Although the temple is only open to Mormons in good standing, the gardens are open to the public 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Look for three statues that reflect the LDS belief that the family is the core unit of heaven and earth. Courtship for Eternity depicts a young man and woman courting; the Family Circle shows a mother, father and child; and Joyful Moment is a mother dancing with three children. A fourth statue atop the temple depicts the Mormon angel Moroni.
12. Winters House:
This 1929 Spanish-eclectic-style building, at 2102 Bellevue Way S.E., was built by Frederick and Cecilia Winters in 1929 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The couple operated a nursery and flower-bulb farm along Mercer Slough from 1917 to 1943. Walkways pass by remnants of greenhouses; each spring a few bulbs still blossom in the boggy slough. Bellevue bought the property in 1989; it’s home to Bellevue Historical Society/Eastside Heritage Center and features historical displays in several rooms. Information: 425-452-2752.
13. Wilburton Trestle:
The railroad trestle that crosses Southeast Eighth Street just east of Interstate 405 originally spanned the Mercer Slough. (Much of the slough waters drained when the Montlake Cut opened in 1917 and Lake Washington was lowered.) The 98-foot-tall, 984-foot-long structure was built in 1904 by the Northern Pacific Railroad.