If you are looking for a break from the loud playgrounds and busy water parks, the Bellevue Botanical Garden may offer up the mellower respite you desire. With its 53-acres of cultivated gardens, restored woodlands, and natural wetlands, little explorers will have plenty to discover and enjoy. And with a new Visitor Center, this beautiful, serene experience can be an educational one too.
Where to Start?
Begin your visit at the Visitor Center, with its interactive displays, Education Center, and courtyard gardens. You may even want to pop into the Trillium Store, filled to the brim with garden-themed gifts and keepsakes, including a cool selection of kids’ books, toys, and gardening tools.
Be sure to pick up the “Stop! Look! Listen! A Treasure Hunt for Children” pamphlet, a fun and easy activity for kids to help them explore the vast gardens and find special hidden surprises. Can you find the stone lanterns? How about the baby tree growing on a tree? What sounds can you hear in the Garden?
Which Trail to Choose?
Depending on how much you and your crew feel like walking, you could stick to the inner Garden loops, which wind through several picturesque, smaller gardens and structures, or go big and do the half-mile Tateuchi Loop Trail, which covers the perimeter of the entire property, as well as the smaller ones within. Psst! The trails are all either paved or gravel-covered, so you’ll definitely want to wear comfy walking shoes.
Not to Miss
See the Rock Garden’s wildflowers and the native plants at the Nature Discovery Gardens, go over the awesome suspension bridge at the Ravine Experience, and enter the traditional Japanese gate into the Yao Garden, which honors the sister city relationship between Bellevue and Yao, Japan.
Learning in the Garden
This is the Eastside after all, so the Garden has an interactive aspect! Your little horticulturist might find it pretty cool to use a mobile device to “tap or scan” the markers throughout the Garden, and learn more details about the plants.
Take a Load Off
Need some down time for a snack or picnic lunch? The Garden has a courtyard with tables and chairs, a pretty lawn, as well as many benches in hidden little coves, that are perfect for whatever yummy food you’ve brought with you. And no worries about restrooms — the Visitor Center has a large, modern facility.
Good to Know:
Every Saturday and Sunday (through October), you can take the fam on a guided tour through the Garden and delight your senses with its ever-changing colors, fragrances, and textures. If you’re expecting out-of-town guests, you can also arrange a free guided tour of the Garden for your group. Weekend tours start at 2 p.m. Who knows… your kiddo may even happen upon a gnome’s house!
Bellevue Botanical Garden
12001 Main St.
Bellevue, Wa 98005
Hours: Open daily from dawn to dusk; Visitor Center open 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission: Free. Check online for classes, lectures, and events; some may require registration and/or a fee.
Mark your calendars: The Bellevue Botanical Garden is home to Garden d’Lights during the holiday season. This blossoming, winter wonderland is a must-see for kids and parents alike.
Have you been to the Bellevue Botanical Garden? Share your experience in the Comments.
– Myriam Gabriel-Pollock
Photos by MGPollock