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East Link 2 Line Opens New Opportunities to Play (and Work) on the Eastside

Your guide to fantastic family adventures at each stop

Krista Tsai

Published on: April 30, 2024

Sound Transit East Link 2 Line
Sound Transit's East Link 2 Line is open! Photo: Krista Tsai

Riding the East Link 2 Line between the Redmond Technology Station and the South Bellevue Station is the newest, greenest and fastest mode of travel on the Eastside. This route cuts through congested areas and also provides unique access to nature and recreational amenities.

Ride with me as I highlight some of the best family-friendly stops at each of the eight new stations along this 6.6-mile route. And don’t forget that kids ride for free!

Redmond Technology Station

While this location serves as a valuable asset for work commuters, especially Microsoft and Nintendo employees, it also offers a lot to the public. A new bike and pedestrian bridge connects the East and West Microsoft campuses across State Route 520 and to the State Route 520 Trail for multi-modal access to the light rail station.

The Café at Redmond Technology Station houses Dote Coffee Bar, where families can savor house made pastries and chocolates, sip on ganache drinking chocolate and get caffeinated on locally roasted coffee.

"Redmond Tech station sound transit link 2 line"
Stroll across the bridge near the Redmond Technology Station. Photo: Krista Tsai

Once fueled up, walk the 3.2-mile-long mixed boardwalk and gravel trails that skirt the city and wrap around the campus. See if your kids can spot the Sasquatch crossing sign! Wander the bases of the Microsoft Treehouses and get a closer look at the one that’s open to the public. There is an older playground nearby at Cascade View Neighborhood Park.

Additional details: Bus transfers at the Overlake Transfer Center to the University District or Seattle are only a short walk away. The new parking garage at this station has space for 300 cars and 44 bikes. An all-terrain stroller is recommended for the trails on Microsoft’s campus.

Overlake Village Station

Using the new pedestrian bridge that crosses SR 520, families can access the 520 Bike Trail. Shop your grocery list or satisfy your hunger in this retail and dining-saturated area. Seek greener spaces in the 2.67-acre Esterra Park, which is open to the public. Jack Sprat Park Café sits at a corner of this park, serving upscale snacks, smoothies, pastries, burgers, sandwiches and more.

"Overlake stations sound transit east link 2 line"
Overlake Station. Photo: Krista Tsai

BelRed Station

After a short 8-minute walk from the station, get your game on at Mox Boarding House; eat, drink and freely test out games from their expansive library. A 10-minute walk will reward you with Mercury’s Coffee, which is one of our favorite local coffee roasters. With this location’s open roasting room, your kids will be entertained by the behind-the-scenes viewing while you wait for your brew.

Additional details: This station has 300 parking spaces.

"Mox boarding house sound transit east link 2 line"
Games and grub at Mox Boarding House. Photo courtesy of Mox Boarding House 

Spring District Station

Explore this modern mixed-use Bellevue neighborhood built strategically with the light-rail plans in mind. Before you exit the station, take a moment to admire the ode to Coast Salish culture in the form of a cut-metal mural by artist Louie Gong. See what creatures your little ones can find amongst the winding design.

As you leave the station, the Spring District’s open green space gathers families for year-round fun that includes outdoor movies, Bellevue Beats and Bites Music Series, animal encounters, farmers markets and more. Bellevue Brewing Company’s outdoor beer garden and first-floor restaurant provide a relaxed family-friendly spot to share a meal. Dote Coffee bar welcomes us once again along the 2 Line, just across the street from the Spring District Station.

"Spring District station band playing sound transit east link 2 line"
You’ll often find family entertainment at the Spring District’s open green space. Photo courtesy of Spring Distirct.

Wilburton Station

Beyond proximity to major hospitals, shopping and dining, you can escape into nature and play at the Bellevue Botanical Garden and Wilburton Hill Park; both are about a mile from the station. My kids’ favorite destination at this stop is walking less than 15 minutes to Dave and Buster’s for some arcade games. Pro tip: If you go on a Wednesday, games are half-off.

"Wilber station sound transit east link 2line"
Biking near Wilburton Station. Photo: Krista Tsai

In June 2024, a bridge will close the gap in connection to the East Rail Trail, crossing the busy Northeast 8th Street in Bellevue, making it safer and easier to bike this extensive trail. The art installation on the bridge is an educational opportunity to honor the history of the Japanese American farming community.

Bellevue Downtown Station

Once you’ve skipped the Bellevue traffic by going underground in the Downtown Bellevue Tunnel and emerged at the Bellevue Downtown Station, there are endless opportunities for places to visit. Some family favorites include walking to KidsQuest Children’s Museum, Bellevue Arts Museum, the Bellevue Library, Bellevue Downtown Park and Inspiration Playground, and shopping and eating at Lincoln Square or The Bellevue Collection. Easily catch a bus transfer by walking a few short minutes from the Bellevue Downtown Station to the Bellevue Transit Center.

"Bellevue downtown station"
Bellevue downtown station. Photo: Krista Tsai

East Main Station

Surrey Downs, one of my family’s favorite parks, sits just above this station. This colorful playground engages kids of all ages and is a great spot to use bikes and scooters. Bellevue Tracks hosts seasonal Wednesday Walks here where families receive a free activity book with activities, coloring pages and scavenger hunts that encourage little feet on a short (under one mile) walk.

"East main station sound transit east link 2 line"
Heading to the park near the East Main Station. Photo: Krista Tsai

South Bellevue Station

Trade the buzzing of traffic for the songs of birds as you immerse yourself into the 320-acre Mercer Slough Nature Park that borders the Park and Ride at the South Bellevue Station. Pick blueberries seasonally at the U-pick Blueberry Farm within the Mercer Slough and shop their produce stand. While you can trek the seven-plus miles of trails here independently, there are many opportunities for enhanced learning.

The Visitor Center at the Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center is open daily from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. and has inviting hands-on educational displays, seasonal books, coloring pages, scavenger hunts to take with you on your walks, nature-inspired toys, and of course, a Park Ranger who is eager to answer any questions. A nearby treehouse is also accessible during open hours for a birds-eye view of the slough. Children can participate in a Junior Ranger program by picking up an activity book and earning a wooden Jr. Ranger badge upon completion. Park Rangers host free weekly educational programs and Pacific Science Center offers camps here as well.

"South Bellevue mercer slough station sound transit link 2 line"
Having fun near the South Bellevue Station. Photo: Krista Tsai

In the summer months, you can get a different view of the Mercer Slough when you explore by boat. A 3-hour canoe trip from Enatai Beach Park through Mercer Slough is open to kids ages 5 and older for $20 per person.

Enatai Beach Park is less than a mile away from the South Bellevue Station. Play at the beach or playground and during the summer months you can also kayak, canoe and paddle board by renting from REI Co-op.

Biking families can access the I-90 Trail easily from this station and there is a large bike room within the parking garage. My son rode this trail at age 6 from Mercer Island’s Luther Burbank Park to Enatai Beach Park; he was in awe of going over the water by bike.

Other details: Mercer Slough is not stroller friendly. I recommend baby or hiking carriers as an alternative. The South Bellevue Park-and-Ride holds up to 1,500 cars and you can park for free for up to 24 hours. Buses also utilize this station, making it an easy spot to transfer to Seattle, the University District or Issaquah.

How to ride the new 2 Line:

  • This new line will run every 10 minutes from 5:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m., seven days a week.
  • Adults ages 19–64 pay a fare depending on the type of trip. One-way fares range from $2.25–$3.50, depending on distance traveled. Day passes are also available. Adults will pay a flat $3 fare by fall of 2024.
  • Youth 18 and younger ride for free on all Sound Transit services.
  • You can pay your fare by using an ORCA card; tap before entering the platform and as you exit a station. Orca cards can be ordered online or purchased or at various in-person locations.
  • You can purchase tickets from the station ticket machines with cash, Visa or Mastercard. Use the Transit GO Ticket app for Touch-free payment.
  • If you transfer between trains and buses, the ORCA card is the only way to pay for transfers.
  • Even though youth ride the transit for free, getting a Youth ORCA card for your child(ren) is encouraged. You can receive a free card by mail after ordering online and uploading a copy of a K–12 student ID, state ID, driver’s license, birth certificate or passport to confirm age. Tapping an ORCA card at a station is only required for free transit when riding the Seattle Center Monorail.
  • Bikes (except cargo, oversized and tandem bikes) and strollers are allowed on trains. Enter train cars with marked bicycle symbols and store bike in the designated area while riding. Strollers can be folded down or stored in designated areas.

The remainder of the East Link that crosses I-90 and includes Judkins Park and Mercer Island Stations are anticipated to open in 2025. For now, we can enjoy this piece of the transit puzzle. Hop on, hop off, enjoy the ride — and your adventures!

More Eastside fun:

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