Trip Planner— Bellevue, Kirkland and Woodinville

Bellevue has a big-city buzz all its own.
written by Sheila Miller

YOU’VE SPENT TIME IN SEATTLE.  You’ve watched them throw the fish, marveled at the view from the top of the Space Needle, maybe even caught a sunny day when the city lights up and everyone’s in short sleeves.

Now it’s time to do the surprisingly nearby, and chic, suburbs. We picked Bellevue, Kirkland and Woodinville for our foray into the bedroom communities that make up the region.



Bellevue Art Museum
The Bellevue Arts Museum has constantly rotating exhibits.

In Bellevue, start your day at Third Culture Coffee. This spot, which opened in 2017, is already wildly popular thanks to its ethically sourced coffee and tea from around the world. If you seek a caffeine buzz that’s a little international, try an Indian filter coffee poured hot with condensed milk or a New Orleans iced coffee thick with chicory.

Properly caffeinated, a good stop for a bit of culture is the Bellevue Arts Museum. The museum started as an art fair, and didn’t have a permanent home until 2001. The light-filled space contains a constantly rotating set of exhibits, and the museum takes an open-minded approach to the styles and types of art it features—a recent exhibit included a re-creation of a band’s van intricately crafted entirely from cardboard.

If you’ve got a good weather day, check out the Bellevue Botanical Garden. The 53-acre public park is free and open from dawn until dusk, and in it are a variety of gardens, from a contemplative Japanese-style space to an area filled with rhododendrons.

Finally, refresh with a beer from one of Bellevue’s breweries—Bellevue Brewing Company has great beer with the added bonus of an extensive menu that offers an idea of the right beer to pair with the meal. Another option is Resonate Brewery & Pizzeria, which is a gem hidden away in a strip mall neighborhood. Go looking for it and leave satisfied. And remember, there’s always Tavern Hall, a great beer spot that also happens to have great bar food (loaded fries, shishito peppers, grilled cheese).



You know Kirkland as the namesake of Costco’s store brand. It’s a lot more than that. Located on the shores of Lake Washington, this city has five waterfront parks with beach access. You can rent a boat or go on a boat tour along the lake, or kayak or standup paddle on a nice day.

Lady Yum makes macarons seem necessary.

Beyond the water, the city has a lot to offer. Head downtown to browse through the shops that line the main drags.

Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop is filled with candies you remember from your childhood, plus a ton more you’ve never seen. Purpose Boutique combines shopping with philanthropy, as portions of your purchase are donated to an anti-trafficking organization. Or try Ragamoffyn’s Women’s Consignment Store, where you can find high-end and designer clothing cast off and ready for you to step into. Asher Goods has stylish men’s goods, and Boo Boo Barkery & Boutique has everything you didn’t know your dog needed.

Flatstick Pub is a great stop if you’re looking to add a little athleticism to your beer drinking. There are twenty-four Washington beers on tap, plus an indoor nine-hole mini-golf course with hazards and obstacles. 

No stop in Kirkland is complete without a macaron at Lady Yum. With fifteen regular flavors (salted caramel, s’mores, honey lavender, to name a few) and about five rotating seasonal or monthly flavors, there’s a treat for even the most discerning palates. Bonus—grab a glass of champagne and stay awhile. After all, macarons are best when eaten immediately (and in large quantities).

For dinner, Volterra is the place to eat. The restaurant and its chef, Don Curtiss, were made famous by a wild boar tenderloin in a 

Kirkland has five waterfront parks with beach access, perfect for kayaking on Lake Washington.

gorgonzola sauce. But the entire Tuscan menu and exceptional wine list in this charming restaurant are worth trying. Don’t sleep on the pork jowls or the lobster risotto, either.

After all that delicious food, you’ll need a little exercise. Head for the Cross Kirkland Corridor, a new-ish gravel trail, running a little less than 6 miles. It was once a rail line, and today it’s a 10-foot-wide crushed gravel trail that connects the
entire city.

While on the trail, there’s good news—a delightful brewery backs right up to it. Run, walk or ride your bike until you hit Chainline Brewing’s backyard deck, then belly up for a beer or two at this unassuming spot. Currently, the brewery is tucked into an office park which hides its beautiful barrel system picked up from a hotel lobby setup in Japan (really). Soon, the brewery will operate a twenty-barrel system just a few blocks away. Chainline is a little different from your average Pacific Northwest brewery in that it focuses on lagers and pilsners—though like any brewery in Oregon or Washington you’ll definitely find an IPA on tap.



Woodinville Warehouse District is ground zero for winemaking in the area.

Woodinville is about a lot more than wine, but let’s just say the wine makes the stop momentous.

It is vital that you make time to eat at The Commons Kitchen and Bar. You will likely have to wait for a table, as this is a popular spot. Trust me, it’s worth it—the bacon is crispy, the pastries are flaky, the juice is fresh squeezed. After brunch, my husband and I debated whether it’d be weird to go back for dinner that night and also breakfast the following day.

In Woodinville, wine tasting begins after breakfast. In fact, wine tasting before noon isn’t considered gauche. Unlike places like Oregon’s Willamette Valley or Sonoma and Napa in California, which often have you traversing long country roads between wineries, Woodinville brings the wine to you. In the Hollywood District, there are nearly three dozen wine tasting rooms, many in the same buildings. The Warehouse District is where the magic actually happens—that is, where much of the wine gets made and bottled and shipped. During busy times of the year, you can see wineries sharing equipment or its people lending each other a hand.

Your best bet is to focus your efforts in the Hollywood District, where you can grab bites and sips at a variety of storefronts, all within walking distance. Begin at Guardian Cellars, founded by a police officer with a love of wine. Bordeaux-style blends here have names like Gun Metal and Alibi, and they’re delicious. Around the corner, sit on the heated patio at Patterson Cellars and try some truly spectacular wines, including a Sangiovese that tastes much more expensive than its price tag. Head chef Javin Bakke has also created experiences with food that are totally over the top—pair your wine flight with a tray of cheese, fruits and crostini, or charcuterie and roasted veggies. Better yet, match them up with jcoco chocolates for dessert. Other tasting rooms, including William Church Wines, àMaurice Cellars and Gorman Winery, offer equal delight.

There’s nothing wrong with going old school and checking out Chateau Ste. Michelle, the state’s oldest winery complete with a chateau and beautiful grounds that make you feel like you’re in a more traditional setting for wine-tasting.

If your taste buds are wined out, there’s Woodinville Whiskey Company right up the road and Métier Brewing, a special place making very special beer.

For dinner, check out Barking Frog or The Herbfarm, both on the grounds of The Willows Lodge. At Barking Frog, you’ll find a comfortable but upscale restaurant with wooden beams and rustic style, but the food is anything but casual—it’s local and modern. The Herbfarm offers nine-course dinners filled with foraged and fresh ingredients and wine pairings. Make sure to stay over at The Willows Lodge for a grand finale you didn’t know you needed. 






Tavern Hall

Lady Yum

Barking Frog

The Herbfarm

The Commons Kitchen + Bar


The Willows

Heathman Hotel Kirkland


Third Culture Coffee

Bellevue Art Museum

Bellevue Botanical Garden

Flatstick Pub

Chainline Brewing

Patterson Cellars

Guardian Cellars


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