Sure, the Eastside is known for behemoth tech companies with on-campus cafeterias. But Redmond, Kirkland and Bellevue workers can also use their lunch hour to explore the Eastside’s fun, natural and innovative diversions, including outdoor hikes, quirky VR breaks and yes, stand-up paddleboard yoga.
Ready to go? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Rent a canoe, learn about freshwater wetlands in the interpretive center and select a short hike from seven miles of trails at Mercer Slough Nature Park, Bellevue’s in-city nature respite.
Wetsuit or business suit? Captain a boat to explore Lake Washington at midday. The recently opened REI boathouses at Enatai Beach Park and Meydenbauer Bay Park rent canoes, kayaks, pedal boats and stand-up paddleboards by the hour, Wednesdays–Sundays.
For a more cultivated experience, visit Bellevue Botanical Garden’s 53 acres, taking a trail through restored woodlands, and a tapestry hedge, a fuchsia garden and a glen of rhododendrons. Fuel up with a midday coffee, sandwich or salad at the on-site Copper Kettle.
On Wednesdays, don those waterproof yoga pants for a noontime PaddleFlow Yoga session at Juanita Beach Park in Kirkland. No previous experience is required for this mix of yoga, Pilates and stand-up paddleboarding — although a good sense of balance probably wouldn’t hurt.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane … nope, it’s a bird. Spy a heron, bald eagle, cedar waxwing or one of more than 200 other varieties of birds that frequent the Audubon Society’s BirdLoop at Marymoor Park. Print a copy of the society’s brochure and bird checklist for the richest experience.
Sail through the firs and madronas at 35 mph, 80 feet above the forest floor. Bellevue Zip Tour offers seven zip lines and two swaying suspension bridges, along with two short hikes. For the lunch hour, zips are typically only available on Fridays, but gather a few co-workers together and you may be able to reserve a weekday spot.
Bring fresh flowers back to the office, straight from Crossroads Farmers Market. This weekday market is open at noon on Tuesdays, and offers live music, plus dozens of vendors selling everything from Russian crepes to handmade caramels to hardy kiwis. June through September.
Ditch the office earpods and head outside for downtown Bellevue’s “Live at Lunch” summer series, featuring 10 weeks of live music on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays, from noon to 1:30 p.m. Kicks off July 9.
Hungry for something entirely different? Fill up on sculptures, paintings, multimedia exhibits and more from Bellevue Art Museum’s galleries of rotating art collections. Frugal lunch tip: The first Friday of every month is free.
Relax or escape
It’s the opposite of a power lunch. Book a 50-minute stay at Salt Mine Arium, a relaxing space filled with hundreds of radiant orange and pink Himalayan salt bricks. Proponents say the therapy can help those with skin ailments and allergy symptoms — but spending an hour in a mellow glow room probably couldn’t hurt anyone.
Instant stress reduction! Pay the $10 entry, then pet a kitty, with a complimentary coffee or cold beverage in hand — or play a feline-themed board game — at The Whole Cat and Kaboodle’s Café Cocoa, a low-key lounge where adoptable kitties roam freely. The seating area is located within a pet store selling toys, food and more.
For some midday magic, ask a co-worker to Conundroom’s escape rooms, which feature a new “School of Magic” fantasy-themed adventure. Conundroom’s Odyssey VR arcade offers 30 games to play in your one-hour session, ranging from “Space Pirate” to “Job Simulator.” So yes, even the workaholics can enjoy a lunch break.
While we no longer live in a “Mad Men” era of two-martini lunches, you may be able to sneak off for quick wine tasting in Woodinville wine country, where most tasting rooms open at 11 a.m. or noon. Or go ahead and take a Friday afternoon off — we won’t tell — and leave the driving to the Cellar Hopper, which offers a “hop-on, hop-off” shuttle service between the various districts, tasting rooms and points of interest.