Why do active couples want to spend a romantic weekend in Bellevue, Washington? It could be to discover the restorative power of the great outdoors or explore a visionary city on the cutting edge of art and technology. Perhaps they just want to relax and unwind while they rest and recharge.
We think that we found the perfect itinerary for a long weekend getaway to Bellevue with swanky rooms, delicious food, and the joie de vivre that make Bellevue unique. What’s more, you won’t even need your car from the moment you arrive Friday afternoon until you depart on Sunday.
Check Into Your Hotel and Park Your Car for the Weekend
The first thing you’ll love about Bellevue is how grown up and walkable the 410-acre downtown is. You’ll find excellent hotels and endless entertainment at the water’s edge, but perhaps no place more than the Bellevue Collection – the region’s premier shopping, dining and entertainment center. You’ll find 200 retailers, 50 dining options, and three luxury hotels – Hyatt Regency Bellevue, The Westin Bellevue, and W Bellevue.
We were torn between the swanky fun of W Bellevue and the modern elegance of The Westin Bellevue. In the end, we went with the Westin and discovered understated luxury combined with spacious comfort. It has everything you could ask for from a luxury hotel, including complimentary self-parking Friday and Saturday nights.
Lay Low or Get the Lay of the Land
After you get situated, you’ll have time to either lay low or get the lay of the land. Friday afternoon is the perfect time to chart out your culinary tour of Bellevue. Even though it’s simple, we loved grabbing a quick dish at the Teriyaki Bowl (Pro-Tip – their Spicy Chicken Bowl is legit so so good, and such a generous portion I’d consider sharing!) and having more time to explore. Luckily, we found the Happy Hour at SUITE Restaurant & Lounge. It runs 4-6 PM Monday through Saturday and features 1/2 price Specialty Cocktails, all drafts $5, and food items starting at $5. Friday afternoon is also the perfect time to grab your cone or bowl of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream before the weekend rush.
We also got to experience an incredible massage at Truce Spa (located conveniently on the 3rd floor of the Westin). From the first moment we arrived, it felt like we walked into a quiet little corner of the world where you could leave your worries behind. The space was impeccably clean with the refined elegance of a city day spa. They offer top-tier products delivered with technical proficiency to relax your mind and heal your body.
Walk to Dinner and Drinks
As night falls and your hunger awakens, take the glass sky bridge over to a world of possibilities. We recommend dinner at Ascend Prime Steak and Sushi as a sexy and sophisticated way to start a weekend. You ascend not only to the 31st floor but to a land of unbridled imagination. A floor-to-ceiling panoramic view greets you in the dining room, with the root balls from native trees suspended from the ceiling and aged prime steak grilling on an open wood fire. All of this ambiance is nothing compared to the food.
We could only muster enough room for the Wagyu Beef Cheek Bao Sliders and Salmon Ceviche Hand Rolls off the happy hour menu, but everything looked and smelled amazing. Of course, we had to have the Kamehameha, which might be my new favorite tropical drink, and their Cloud Nine, with Absolut vodka and homemade vanilla syrup. Next time, we will have to save space for their Magic Mushroom desert. It’s a white chocolate cherry mousse with mocha crumb and matcha shortbread that sits on a chocolate pot de crème with a honey meringue mushroom. It looks like it’s straight from Alice and Wonderland, or perhaps just the key that lets you enter – almost too beautiful to eat but too delicious to leave.
After Dinner Cocktails
We considered going to Civility and Unrest for their classic speakeasy vibe, but we wanted that Bellevue juxtaposition of modern elegance and Pacific Northwest Nature, so we popped into the Living Room Bar and The Porch for after-dinner drinks. They were amazing, but to be fair, everything was amazing, not just the drinks. The Living Room Bar felt like you were walking into a hip, jet-setter’s living room. Everything was sleek and modern while being relaxed and comfortable at the same time. We ordered Smoke Signals, one of their special smoking craft cocktails, and settled into our seats in The Porch, the open-air “patio” to the Living Room Bar.
We sipped our cocktails and felt the rhythms of the Bellevue nightlife flow around us. Young, hip couples slid up to the bar and then immersed themselves in a low din of conversation. The drinks were crisp and strong enough that we appreciated that all we needed to do to return to our room was to cross the sky bridge.
Saturday Mornings at the Lakehouse and Lake Washington
Saturdays are made for playing at the lake, and it’s no exception in beautiful Bellevue. For breakfast, I recommend The Lakehouse. Not only because it’s refined, farm-to-table cuisine in a fun and chic farmhouse atmosphere, but it also captures the essence of what Saturdays are supposed to be about. Executive chef and James Beard award winner Jason Wilson started an innovative mental health program for the employees. Their wellness page best describes this program for hospitality professionals working a demanding, high-pressure, and mentally strenuous career.
One of the first of its kind in the region, the program is designed in conjunction with mental health professionals and provides support, resources, and voluntary one-on-one coaching structured to optimize and promote emotional balance and holistic well-being.
After giving back to those who are taking care of you, take a little time for your own mental health break and go kayaking on Lake Washington. REI kayaking launches from Meydenbauer Bay Park Boathouse, immediately adjacent to downtown Bellevue. What I enjoyed the most about this trip was the juxtaposition of the outdoors and high-tech innovation. For example, you can see former Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold’s T-Rex House with a fully articulated T-Rex skeleton in a massive bay window. Or there’s the tech-exec Charles Simonyi’s Windows 2000 house, which has the most windows of any home on the lake.
Enjoy an Urban Afternoon
Bellevue is a vibrant, modern city you’ll want to explore after your paddle. Maybe you scouted some hot spots already, or maybe you’ll just want to wander and see where the city takes you. Either way, you’ll see why I think that Bellevue is the Pacific Northwest’s answer to Manhattan.
Bellevue Downtown Park is a 21-acre oasis with gardens, a waterfall, and even a beach. The Bellevue Arts Museum echoes the community’s visionary promise of a brighter and inclusive world. If you’re up for a walk, it’s only a mile or so to the Bellevue Botanical Garden, where you can discover the emerald allure of the Pacific Northwest. If shopping’s your bag, there are over 200 stores adjacent to your hotel in the Bellevue Collection. Bellevue also features an ultra-luxury shopping experience at The Shops at Bravern, including shops from brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Prada.
The perfect pairing for an urban afternoon is Central Bar. They offer small plates of Northwest fare and regional offerings. You can escape the city and immerse yourself in it at the same time.
Saturday Night Fogo and Fun
Be sure to rest up after returning from your day on the town because Saturday nights in Bellevue are extraordinary. Every Saturday night is a Festivus with feasts, feats of strength, and airing of grievances.
Dinner at Fogo de Chao can be described in one way – meat-a palooza!! Come hungry, but definitely try the seafood, it’s so fresh! Be sure not to forget to try their sides, especially their delicious warm Pao de Queijo cheese bread, so unique and delicious. If you’re not carefully controlling yourself with plate after plate of delicious meat, this dinner can quickly become a feat of strength and airing grievances all in one sitting!
You want to pace yourself for friendly competition at Forum Social House Games / Top Golf. Reserve mini-golf tickets and try to land a putt in one of their unique holes or reserve a Top Golf Swing Suite, which includes plush seating, privacy curtains, and food and cocktail service right to your comfortable suite. You can virtually throw a touchdown pass, sink a hole in one, or smash zombies in the face with dodgeballs. I personally recommend airing grievances while smashing zombies!
Sunday Funday in Bellevue is more than just a socially accepted reason for day drinking. In fact, if you’re driving out of town afterward, this might be an entirely clean and sober day of rest. My go-to Sunday brunch is at Eques, located nearby in Hyatt Regency Bellevue. They have a high-end breakfast buffet that reminded me of a European continental breakfast with delicious fresh bread and meats, but their Tiramisu Pancakes and Crab Benedict from their a la carte menu are not to be missed!
As you’re leaving Bellevue, there’s one more way to enjoy its location on the edge of the wild – ziplining. Bellevue Zipline Tour offers a fun little tour through the treetops, including seven zip lines and two suspension bridges. What I found particularly neat is that all this outdoor recreation is only 6-miles away from one of the best European breakfasts I have had in America.
Wrapping up a Romantic Weekend in Bellevue
The items on this itinerary are only suggestions. You can mix and match, pick and choose to your heart’s content. But you’ll soon realize as you’re planning your own Bellevue getaway, everything listed here (except the zip lines) is within a mile of downtown. This intersection between urban and adventure, outdoors and upscale, is what makes Bellevue so unique.
I don’t think there’s anyplace else on Earth where you can kayak past a T-Rex and then eat at a James Beard Award-Winning restaurant without ever getting in your car. In the end, those are precisely the experience active couples are looking for on their romantic getaways.
Disclosure: A big thank you to Visit Bellevue for hosting us, setting up a fantastic itinerary, and allowing us to utilize a few select images (photo credit in hover-text).
As always, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own, and we only recommend brands and destinations that we 100% stand behind.
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