Seattle may be on your bucket list; right there next to flying in a hot air balloon and learning a new language, but you might have to extend your list after learning about these ideal towns right outside of Seattle. From the hippy center of the universe, to a nordic maritime village, and a quaint country town, there are hidden gems with so much to explore just outside of Seattle.
Bellevue is known for the thriving business and tech scene and the museums are absolutely enthralling. The Bellevue Botanical Garden takes the emerald city’s flourishing biodiversity and built an urban refuge highlighting Northwest plants. This 53 acre garden hold wetlands and woodlands in addition to the flora of their garden displays. Nearby, the Bellevue Arts Museum features collaborations, workshops and rotating exhibitions of fine art. After touring the museum, head to the downtown area to dine at your choice of 5-star restaurants or venture out to taste new cuisines from around the world. As one of the most diverse neighborhoods, it is no surprise that the restaurants here vary from ramen bars and refined vietnamese dishes to middle-eastern classics and global infusion. Head over to the massive Bellevue Downtown Park and enjoy the views of Seattle and Mt. Rainer, or catch one of the local events celebrating the vibrant northwest lifestyle.
Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood is reminiscent of a maritime scandinavian village with its architecture, but hosts a trendy assortment of craft breweries, vintage record stores, and laid-back bars. This is the place to go shopping for home decor and one of a kind furniture to unique apparel to long lost books and treasures galore. Walk around the urban center to find dozens of hole-in-the-wall boutiques and hidden galleries. While you’re here, a tour at the Nordic History Museum is a must. Learn about scandinavian heritage with collections showcasing their culture and history. When hunger strikes, wander into any of the intimate restaurants along the downtown. Most restaurants hold only a select amount of seats and deliver stunning entrees where each component is chef curated to provide you with a dining experience like no other.
This lake-front town just north of Bellevue is an upscale neighborhood with boutique shops and award-winning restaurants. Grab a coffee at one of the several coffee shops serving locally roasted espresso and walk across the parks bordering Lake Washington. Head out on your own watercraft or take a cruise around the lake to watch sailboaters and kayakers meander around and gaze upon the stunning architecture around the lake. Grab lunch at one of Kirkland’s premier waterfront restaurants and dine on the best northwest cuisine in the state paired with local wines. Kirkland’s close proximity to Woodinville’s famed wine region makes it the perfect place to sample the best wineries from the area. From vintage blends to new wineries at the forefront of the next breakthrough, you can sample them all in this wonderful neighborhood.
Any trip to Seattle isn’t complete without a stop at the famed Fremont Troll. Most people don’t know that just down the street lies a small hippy paradise filled with quirky buildings, alley murals, and vegan restaurants. Find bohemian shops, indie record stores, and book emporiums that will draw you in and never let you go. There is art on every corner of this neighborhood, from public statues, to art galleries, and little painted flowers in between the cracks of the bricks. Stop by one of their eclectic restaurants featuring a wide variety of fusion creations and locally sourced entrees. Wherever you eat, make sure to save some room for Theo Chocolate. The chocolate factory, located in the heart of Fremont, is a favorite for tourists and locals alike. Take the educational tour and sample their latest creations, or grab a bar or two and enjoy as you walk along the park.
Carnation is the most underrated town around Seattle. There are no touristy landmarks but the downtown is absolutely charming. Nestled into the Snoqualmie Valley, beauty encompasses the town and recreation is abundant. Drive through the Willamette wine country and flourishing evergreen forests to find a peaceful escape. Once in town, head out on one of the several mountain bike trails, paddle around serene lakes, or tour the different farms. Berry picking in the summertime is always a treat and once you are finished recreating in the woods, you can explore the downtown. Grab lunch at one of the great cafes, stroll through the stores and art shops, and enjoy the small-town feel of this little slice of heaven.
While each of these towns hold their own character, the greater Seattle culture is alive in all of them. So while in town, dine on some fresh pacific northwest salmon, spend some time outdoors in our lush evergreen forests, and shop the quirky hidden shops speckled all over the area. You can visit all 5 neighborhoods in one epic, bucket list-accomplishing trip, or visit time and time again to experience these different neighborhoods and towns one at a time.
Planning a trip to Seattle? Book a stay at Meritage Meadows, a refined bed & breakfast in the heart of Washington’s beautiful wine country.