Stroll along storied streets to find independent shops and restaurants in buildings that evoke the history of the area.
Old Bellevue is the name given to the streets south of Downtown Park in Bellevue, Seattle’s largest suburb. Imagine that you have stepped back in time while wandering down Main Street, where historic shopfronts and shaded sidewalks lined with cast-iron lamps create an appealing old-world atmosphere. The area is full of unique shops and charming restaurants, making it a popular destination for a day out away from busier parts of Seattle.
Bellevue used to be a small town surrounded by farmland; very few people lived on the east side of Lake Washington before the 20th century. A farming boom in the 1900s saw the population expand rapidly, with even more people moving in after a bridge to Seattle was built in 1940. Despite this period of rapid growth, Old Bellevue has retained many of its original features.
Amble along Main Street and visit local businesses. Find elegant jewelry and trendy clothing in small boutiques, housed in buildings with early 20th-century façades. More modern developments host children’s toy stores as well as specialist sport shops. Treat yourself to a massage or facial at one of the area’s spas and salons.
Take a break from shopping at a pastry shop or café. Alternatively, settle in for dinner in one of the cozy restaurants, many of which have outdoor seating. Choose between cuisine from Japan, America and Europe. Several chocolatiers can also be found in the area.
Unwind in the green surrounds of Downtown Park, which has 21 acres (8 hectares) of grassy lawns and shaded paths. Look for the waterfall that tumbles from the canal and let the kids run around in the park’s play area. The park also features a formal rose garden for a tranquil escape from city life.
The heart of Old Bellevue is Main Street, which is served by several bus stops. Drivers will find several parking lots in the area, some of which operate valet services. Visit in the evening to enjoy its restaurants in a charming, old-world ambiance.