Small-town atmosphere, kid-friendly amenities
The lowdown. When you think "pedestrian hot spot," you don't exactly think downtown Bellevue. It has sidewalks, of course, but blocks are long and traffic whizzes by on six-lane thoroughfares. Old Bellevue, however, the city's main commercial strip until Bellevue Way (then Lincoln Avenue) was paved in 1928, is small-scale and stroller-friendly. Squint and you can imagine what the streetscape looked like during the 1950s. The historic area is a part of town that non-Eastsiders who focus on Bellevue Square may not be familiar with, and the recent addition of a pair of unique family-oriented businesses makes it a good destination for a day out.
Play. Downtown Park is a short walk away, a 20-acre greenspace with a backdrop of high-rises and a decidedly urban feel. From Main Street, stroll one block north on 102nd Avenue Northeast to the park, which features a circular gravel promenade, reflecting pool and waterfall, and a well-maintained playground (west of 102nd Avenue on Northeast 1st Street) with a castle theme. A parking lot fronts the playground if driving is a must. For more information, visit www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/page.asp?view=1960. Bellevue Arts Museum, located across from Bellevue Square at 510 Bellevue Way (425-519-0770, www.bellevuearts.org), offers regular family days and other opportunities for kids and parents to visit the galleries and create art together.
Eat. Bustling La Cocina del Puerco (corner of 103rd Avenue and Main Street, 425-455-1151) offers outdoor seating and a taco or quesadilla child's plate for kids 10 and under ($3.25-$4.25). Regular menu items range in price from $6.99-$8.99 and include chicken or pork tamales, chiles rellenos and carnitas. For dessert or a special treat, buy a perfect palmier or an astonishingly good raspberry jam sandwich cookie (both $1.50) from Belle Pastry (10246 Main Street, 425-289-0015) and eat them in the bakery's hushed interior -- or take them in a white bakery box to go.
Get there. Old Bellevue lies south of Bellevue Square along Main Street between Bellevue Way and 100th Avenue Northeast. For a map of the area, visit www.bellevuedowntown.org