Bellevue, Washington, across the lake from Seattle, is known for its upscale atmosphere, affluent communities, and abundant resources. But you don’t have to have a pocket full of cash or a wallet full of credit cards to enjoy Bellevue and its surrounding areas. In fact, there are several things to do in Bellevue and its neighboring communities when you’re on a tight budget. Here are a few to get you started.

Bellevue Botanical Gardens is a wooded wonderland tucked within an urban setting, the perfect respite for nature lovers. The venue, featuring 13 distinct gardens, restored woodlands, and wetlands, is a beautiful place to take a walk, sit and read a book, or enjoy relaxing hobbies like crocheting or knitting in an inspiring atmosphere. Or, bring along the camera for personal use to capture life in full bloom.  While you’re visiting the garden, stop in at the Trillium store, grab a cup of the good stuff at the Copper Kettle Coffee Bar, or check out the visitor’s center to inquire about plant sales, summer concerts, art exhibits, community celebrations, and holiday festivities. The visitor’s center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additionally, the Bellevue Botanical Gardens offers educational opportunities such as a living lab, programs for children, classes, and lectures. Parking is also free. The Bellevue Botanical Gardens, open from dawn to dusk daily, is located at 12001 Main Street, Bellevue, Washington 98005. For more information, call 425-452-2750.

Mercer Slough Nature Park is staple in the Bellevue community. The park features more than seven miles of trails for hiking, biking, and walking. There are wildlife habitats, wetlands, historic sites, and an education center as well as picnic areas. You can even engage in a free, guided ranger walk. Mercer Slough Nature Park is located at 1625 118th Avenue in Bellevue, Washington 90012. For additional information, call 425-452-2565.

Kelsey Creek Farm is another dip into a country setting in the heart of downtown Bellevue. Step away from the city vibe and slip back in time to the farm that dates back to the 1930s.  Owned and operated by the City of Bellevue Parks and Recreation, the farm features an array of animals including pigs, ponies, chickens, goats, sheep, ducks, and more. There’s no entrance fee, and no need to make a reservation. The playground and picnic areas are open daily from sun-up to sun-down. Visit between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to view the animals in their pastures. The farm also offers fee-based special classes, workshops, and learning opportunities. Each fall, the Kelsey Creek Farm Fair celebrates the season with an array of activities for all ages. There’s no entrance fee for the fall fair, but fees may apply for some of the activities. The picturesque Kelsey Creek Farm is located at 410 130 Pl SE in Bellevue, Washington 98008. For additional information, call 425-452-7688.

Summertime entertains Bellevue with free movies in the park. Several parks participate, some of which include free pre-movie entertainment, and free popcorn! Movies are appropriate for all ages, shown on inflatable screens with state-of-the-art projectors. The free movies in the park events are sponsored by Bellevue Parks and Community Services.

Bellevue Arts Museum is the place to be on the first Friday of every month. First Fridays offer free admission, extended hours, and an array of special lectures, tours, programs, and presentations. The museum features a sculpture garden, community education gallery raising awareness for certain causes, and hands-on craft centers for kids throughout the museum. You can support the museum by becoming a member with an annual fee, which gives you access to events and opportunities that are free for members. Kids six and under always enter free of charge. But if you’re not a member and can’t attend on a first Friday, admission for adults is just $12, or $30 for families. Parking is also free in a garage below the museum. The Bellevue Arts Museum is located at 510 Bellevue Way NE in Bellevue, Washington 98004. For more information, call 425-519-0770.

The Bellevue Aquatic Center is a great way to make a splash year-round in an indoor swimming facility. The center features two pools – a therapy pool and a lap pool. For less than ten bucks a pop, enjoy open swim sessions, lap swims, deep water exercise, or masters swim team. Another option is to pay a one-time fee for a three-month pass for unlimited pool use during open swim sessions. For residents who aren’t necessarily bound by a tight budget, private and semi-private swim lessons are also available. The Bellevue Aquatic Center is located at 601 143rd Avenue NE in Bellevue, Washington 98007. For additional information, call 425-452-4444.

The Bellevue Library, part of the King County Public Library System, offers way more than just books. Libraries aren’t what they used to be – and this one is jam-packed with classes, workshops, activities, computers and printers with Wi-Fi, fax machines, meeting rooms, and even a bicycle repair station. Oh, and books. Definitely books. The Bellevue Library is located at 1111 110th Avenue NE in Bellevue, Washington 98004. For more information, call 425-450-1765.

Bellevue Square dominates good taste with upscale shopping in 180 high-end retail stores that have become one of the premier shopping destinations in the country. Bellevue Square also features bustling nightlife, parks and green spaces, restaurants, and celebrations of art. You don’t need to drop a dime to enjoy the plethora of things to do at Bellevue Square. It’s the place to see and be seen. Window shop ‘til your heart’s content; breathe in the aromas of incredible foods, and enjoy the sights of the parks and green spaces. Downtown Park spans 20 acres and houses a 240-ft-wide waterfall, play areas, and formal gardens all with stunning backdrops of the Washington landscape. Other parks in Bellevue Square include Mercer Slough Nature Park, the Bellevue Botanical Gardens, and Meydenbauer Beach Park. Bellevue Square is located at 575 Bellevue Way NE in Bellevue, Washington 98004.

Redmond Town Center is another mixed-use hot spot for shopping (more than 110 stores!), dining, entertainment, events, and more in an outdoor experience. Redmond Town Center is located at 7525 166th Ave NE, Redmond, WA 98052. Redmond Town Center can be reached by phone at 425-869-2640.

You can’t miss a visit to Pioneer Square, known as Seattle’s original neighborhood, established in 1852. The area is chock full of restaurants, shops, King Street Station renovated train station, and more. There are three parks in Pioneer Square including one with a European vibe, one imbued with history, and one featuring gardens and waterfalls. The area also has a calendar of community events, including First Thursdays, a free self-guided art walk. Pioneer Square is located south of downtown Seattle. For more information, call 206-667-0687.

Olympic Sculpture Park is just 15 minutes from Bellevue in Seattle, Washington. In an artistic juxtaposition of industrial areas and green spaces spanning nine acres, the venue features awe-inspiring, larger-than-life sculptures in a waterfront park with stunning views and an all-new pop-up cafe. The park is open year-round and admission is free, but parking fees apply. The Olympic Sculpture Park, owned and maintained by the Seattle Art Museum, is located at 2901 Western Avenue in Seattle, Washington 98121. For additional information, call 206-654-3100.

Also in nearby Seattle is the neighborhood of Fremont, also known as the center of the universe, or “The Artists’ Republic of Fremont.” Bridge trolls, rockets, sculptures, and statues converge in a creatively explosive atmosphere. The community, full of frequent surprises, is free to explore, but supported by local businesses belonging to the Fremont Chamber of Commerce. Take a free ankle-express tour or drive through the neighborhood at no charge, or stop in for a bite to eat at one of the area restaurants or browse for souvenirs in one of the local shops. The Fremont Chamber of Commerce is located at 309 N 36th Street Suite 200 in Seattle, Washington 98103. For more information, call 206-632-1500.

Seventeen minutes from Bellevue in Redmond is the Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. The park consists of forests, streams, cliffs, caves, wetlands, and other diverse habitats perfectly suited for hiking along four distinct trails. Cougar Mountain is also the perfect perch from which to take in a bird’s eye view of Bellevue, Seattle, Lake Sammamish, the Cascades, and other scenic gems. The Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, spanning more than 3,000 acres, is open from 8 a.m. through sunset each day. Cougar Mountain is located at 18201 SE Cougar Mountain Drive in Renton, Washington 98059. For more information, call 425-643-5306.

Also about fifteen minutes from Bellevue and connected to Cougar Mountain National Wildlife Park is Squak Mountain State Park. Forested trails, creeks, and ravines twist through more than 1500 acres. Take a self-guided interperative walk, gobble up a picnic lunch, take a hike, exercise your horse, or enjoy an adventure of wildlife and bird watching. The park is open from 6:30 a.m. through dusk in the summer, and from 8 a.m. through dusk in the winter. Squak Mountain State Park is located at 201430 SE May Valley Road in Issaquah, Washington 98027. For more information, call 425-455-7010.

Seattle Center is a must see for residents of Bellevue and beyond. The center is a celebration of arts, festivals, films, lectures, and a wide array of additional events and activities. Meander through gardens, explore six distinct fountains, stroll along the Seattle Center Tree Walk, and more. The center spans 74 acres and features the Space Needle, a 605-ft tall landmark. Seattle Center is located at 305 Harrison Street in Seattle, Washington 98109. For more information, call 206-684-7200.

Farmer’s Markets are a favorite hangout for residents and visitors alike. Not only are the farmer’s markets superb places to pick up fresh fruits, vegetables, plants, and flowers, but you can also grab a bite from local vendors, and socialize with your Washington neighbors. There are farmer’s markets in Bellevue, Issaquah, Kirkland, Redmond, Mercer Island, and more.

There are even places you can entertain your dog without spending a penny. Bellevue and its surrounding locations have several dog parks including Marymoor Dog Park in Redmond, Jasper’s Dog Park in Kirkland, Beaver Lake Dog Park in Sammamish, and Cedar River Dog Park in Renton.

Bellevue is also known to throw one heck of a party! The city has a calendar of events that feature parades, festivals, concerts, celebrations, and annual traditions for all to enjoy.

The city is home to several community centers for an array of options for entertainment, activities, and fitness.

South Bellevue Community Center is located at 14509 Newport Way and can be reached by phone at 425-452-4240.

North Bellevue Community Center is located at 4063 148th Avenue NE and can be reached by phone at 425-452-7681.

Highland Community Center is located at 14224 Bel-Red Road and an be reached by phone at 425-452-7686.

Crossroads Community Center is located at 16000 NE 10th Street and can be reached by phone at 425-452-4874.

Bellevue Family YMCA is located at 14230 Bel-Red Road and can be reached by phone at 425-746-9900.

Bellevue Parks and Recreation offer a total of 2,700 acres of parks and green spaces. There are 92 places listed under their parks that include community parks, neighborhood parks, community centers, beaches, and more. There’s always something new to explore in one of the area parks.

Bellevue is called “Beautiful View” for good reason. There are several vantage points throughout the city that are perfect for watching awe-inspiring sunsets.

Bellevue is also in proximity to Rattlesnake Mountain, Poo-Poo Point, Tiger Mountain, Lake Sammamish State Park, and Lake Union.

For those who remember the musical genius of Jimi Hendrix and want to pay tribute, his gravesite is at Greenwood Memorial Park in nearby Renton, Washington.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a fashionista, a foodie, photographer, animal lover, or an art connoisseur, there’s something for you to do in and around Bellevue without emptying your pockets. Whether you’re scouting the area on your own or traveling with your crew, there’s something for all ages, backgrounds, and interests.

This information is provided courtesy of The Eastside Real Estate Team. Keep us in mind for all your real estate needs. Call us today at 425-200-4093.

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