Wanderings: Bellevue Washington
Wanderings: Bellevue, Washington
This coastal city is a fanciful kingdom of skyscrapers, eateries and lavish public art.
By Kathy Chin Leong
The monolithic skyscrapers of Bellevue, Washington, resemble metallic legos stacked so high you think they'll topple in the slightest breeze. While the sheer size of the stair-stepped towers dominates the skyline, don't let that alarm you. Linger for a spell, and you'll see Bellevue's softer side, a side that extends a gentle hand with public art, sublime eateries, bucolic parks, lakes and mountains.Incorporated in 1953, Bellevue is less than half the size of Seattle at approximately 36 square miles.What began as a sleepy-eyed suburb sandwiched between Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish has become a feisty metropolis with an explosion in retail, lodging and high-tech construction. More than 60 percent of Bellevue's 134,000 residents hold college degrees and work for household-name companies such as Microsoft and Expedia.
Meanwhile, shopaholics flock to Bellevue to find the Pacific Northwest's largest retail mecca downtown. Certainly, Jimmy Choo and Salvatore Ferragamo are favorites in these parts.
"When I first came on board 25 years ago, our motto for Bellevue was ‘clean, safe and new,'" says Stacy Graven, executive director of Visit Bellevue Washington. While it may not sound sexy, after two decades of exponential growth, "we can still say it is clean, safe and new," Graven says.
Today's Bellevue is pedestrian-friendly and free from both graffiti and crime. "We are the city without the gritty," comments one resident. Bistros, museums and outdoor recreation are easily accessible from downtown lodging options. For starters, the Westin hotel offers 337 elegant rooms in the heart of the city. With an emphasis on wellness, the high-rise property features a top-of-the-line workout facility, a full-service spa and high-nutrient, gourmet dining.
Down the street reigns the Hyatt Regency, which recently completed a $185-million upgrade, including a new guest tower. Its 730-plus guestrooms are connected to the Bellevue Collection, a shopping-and-dining enclave undergoing an expansion.
Bellevue's pulsating tech economy draws...
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