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Hot Summer (Date) Nights for Busy Parents

From steals to splurges, three perfect pairings to rekindle the romance

Kate Missine

Published on: June 29, 2023

Bellevue Downtown Park. Photo courtesy of The Bellevue Collection
Bellevue Downtown Park. Photo courtesy of The Bellevue Collection

Editor's note: This article was sponsored by The Bellevue Collection.

Let’s get real, parents: When was your last date night? For too many of us, the answer is “Way too long ago” — if we can even remember what a date night is. Between chaotic schedules and ever-ballooning costs, it’s no wonder we keep punting romantic outings down the to-do list.

Fear not! We’ve got you covered with our handpicked trio of date-night ideas for every budget. Whether you’re prioritizing a daytime date, wanting to splurge just a little, or hoping to go all out for a special occasion, these perfect activity pairings around downtown Bellevue will have you laughing, reconnecting, and rekindling that romance. So, schedule the sitter and get ready for your summer date night!

‘Steal’ away

Who said date night needs to be at night? For a fun, casual option that won’t break the bank — or interfere with bedtime routines — steal away for a daytime rendezvous on a romantic picnic for two in downtown Bellevue.

"Photo courtesy of Lady Yum"
Photo courtesy of Lady Yum

Your first stop for a packable yet date-worthy meal is Tavern Hall. Grab a hearty flatbread and salad to share, along with a warm hearth-baked pretzel and dips (white cheddar–jalapeño and bacon-onion are our picks). On your way out, swing by Lady Yum to snag some light-as-air macarons in flavors such as raspberry-chardonnay and honey-lavender — they’ll be a sweet finish to the meal yet won’t leave you weighed down for the afternoon.

With the essentials in hand, just hop across the street to Bellevue Downtown Park and choose your favorite shady spot. (Tip: This is your chance to avoid the playground — make use of it!) Got extra time to stretch your legs after lunch? Head over to Bellevue Botanical Garden for a stroll down the pretty paths to check out what’s in bloom.

An affordable outing

Reconnecting over a playful activity makes for great bonding, and a low-key game of bowling fits the (not overly spendy) bill. Get on a roll at Lucky Strike Lanes & Power Play at Lincoln Square North, a glammed-up entertainment mecca offering bowling and billiards along with snacks and drinks. (Don’t forget your socks for those snazzy bowling shoes!) The alley switches to 21 and older after 8 p.m., so plan for late-night play to make it a truly kid-free experience.

"A man on a ladder in front of a large wall of liquor bottles at Central Bar + Restaurant"
Central Bar + Restaurant. Photo courtesy of The Bellevue Collection 

Fuel up before your game at Central Bar + Restaurant, located at Lincoln Square South behind Bellevue Arts Museum (reservations are recommended). This restaurant serves modern versions of familiar favorites, such as filet mignon, pasta and fresh seafood, in a vibrant space — we love the outdoor patio. Don’t miss out on the divine Dungeness crab cakes for your appetizer and a warm and gooey skillet cookie for dessert! For libations, hit up the bar and ask for the “Dealer’s Choice.” You call your partner’s favorite spirit, and the bartender will surprise them by creating a one-of-a-kind, personalized cocktail.

The urge to splurge

"nice restaurant, the Water Grill, with leather booth seats and large mounted fish on the wall, "
Photo courtesy of Water Grill 

Celebrating a special milestone, or just really need a lavish night out? Time to treat yourselves to a well-deserved date with major luxury factor. Start off with a dinner to remember at Water Grill, a swanky yet unfussy space that’s all about the seafood. Dig into the freshest seasonal catches you’ll find in the area. We suggest a shareable iced shellfish platter, followed by a whole chargrilled fish. Toast to your time away with one of the restaurant’s inventive cocktails, such as the Campfire Sling, a yummy concoction flavored with chocolate bitters and scorched orange oil.

Follow up dinner with a night at the movies. You won’t have to put up with kicked seats or sticky armrests at Lincoln Square South’s Cinemark Reserve, which is what movie theaters want to be when they grow up: an adults-only affair featuring massive screens, a full-service menu and luxe recliners to sink into as you watch. Choose your seat in advance when buying tickets for optimal viewing. Order drinks and dessert from the comfort of your lounger with seat-side service. We love the zesty cranberry-ginger paloma. All that’s left to do is agree on the movie choice!

Pick a date-night pairing that suits your pairing (and budget) and make downtown Bellevue the scene of your next romantic adventure.

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