Named for the French term for ‘beautiful view,’ Washington’s fifth-largest city is afforded a clear vantage of Mount Rainier, and is situated on about 30 square miles of land between Lake Washington to the west and Lake Sammamish to the east. While downtown is dotted with glistening high-rises, most of the surrounding areas are suburban and strikingly green. The more than 133,000 residents are well educated and have access to some of the best school districts in the country.
Over the last few decades, Bellevue has transformed from a quiet bedroom community into a commercial hub. More people work in the city than live in it, thanks in part to companies like Microsoft, Expedia and Puget Sound Energy, which have headquarters in the area. Retail and service sectors are also quite large, giving the economy some diversity. The population is also becoming more diverse. More than a third of residents were born outside of the U.S., and 50 languages are spoken by children in the public schools.
Bellevue is close to all of the major attractions of northwest Washington, with Seattle ten miles to the west and the Cascade Mountains to the east. The city is bisected by Interstate 405, which runs north and south, and Interstate 90, which connects Bellevue to Mercer Island and Seattle. The city is divided into several neighborhoods, including the commercial district of Factoria to the south, Eastgate, which sits along Cougar Mountain to the southeast, and Bridle Trails to the north along its namesake park. Residents generally rely on cars to get around the outskirts of town, though there are local and regional buses. A voter-approved project to extend light rail from Seattle across Lake Washington to Bellevue and Redmond is in the final design phase, with service anticipated to start in 2023.
The geography of the region makes outdoor activities a must. Dozens of parks showcase the best attractions of the area, from serene beaches and swimming spaces along the lakes, to trails in the forests of the Issaquah Alps, to the ski slopes around Snoqualmie. The region’s grape-growing ability also has its perks. Nearby Woodinville Wine Country is home to more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms. Local produce takes center stage during the summer and fall months, as farmers markets and produce stands fill with fruits and veggies.