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The cities on the east side of Lake Washington are collectively called “the Eastside” by Seattle area residents. Bellevue is generally thought of as the downtown center of the Eastside and serves as the commercial, business, cultural, and retail core for the area, often even drawing Seattle residents over the bridge for work or play. It is consistently ranked as one of the top places to live in the United States.
The recent growth in Downtown Bellevue rivals that of its “Westside” neighbor. Dozens of new office and condominium towers have been added since the 1990’s and now the landscape is filled with them. Many major corporations, including Microsoft, Eddie Bauer, Symetra, and Paccar have set up shop in downtown Bellevue in recent years. The influx of downtown residents and employees has irrevocably pushed Bellevue out of its sleepy suburban image and created a vibrant urban option (and partner) to Seattle. Key downtown locations include Bellevue Square Mall for national high-end stores and restaurants, Meydenbauer Center for events, conventions and live performances, and the Bellevue Art Museum.
Homes in Bellevue, and the Eastside in general, tend to be much larger and newer than homes in Seattle. Multi-level homes with two and three car garages are the norm. There are a few neighborhoods such as Eastgate and Lake Hills that were developed in the 1950’s and 60’s with smaller, less expensive ramblers. However most Bellevue neighborhoods developed since 1990 have homes well over 2500 square feet and priced accordingly. Bellevue area condos also run the range from older, smaller, and less expensive to fabulously grand new penthouses.
Notable Bellevue neighborhoods include the Glendale private golf estates, Enatai elite beach community, Tam O’Shanter small country club neighborhood, and the multi-ethnic, multi-lingual Crossroads neighborhood centered around a combined shopping mall-community center with a library, police and fire stations, a branch of city hall, and performance stages in addition to retail, restaurants, and a seasonal farmer’s market.
Bellevue Parks and Recreation is an award winning parks management program with nearly 100 facilities including playgrounds, ball fields, skate parks, golf courses, community centers, and Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish beaches. A few favorites are: Mercer Slough – Nature Park, Kayaking, Larson Lake Blueberry Farm, Office Park, Pacific Science Center programs, hiking trails; Bellevue Botanical Garden; and Kelsey Creek– farm animals, barns and pastures, historic cabin, play and picnic areas.
No matter which neighborhood you choose, Bellevue offers great schools and parks, beautiful homes, excellent shopping, two lakes to play in, and an easy drive to Seattle or up to the mountains.