Ahhhh… That was the sound that escaped my lips as I left my house on a Friday afternoon in June to cross over the 520 bridge from Seattle into Bellevue, WA. This mini break was more than necessary; it was essential. I was about to embark on a month-long trip with my boys on the east coast. A little “me time” with a girlfriend, eating and being pampered, was just what the doctor ordered. I wasn’t going far, just 20 minutes from home. If the kids needed me, I could get home quickly, but the important thing was that I wouldn’t be home for 18 hours. This night would be all about me.
My friend Gen and I had a jam-packed schedule, but not one that would overwhelm us. I started off by myself with a tour through the Bellevue Art Museum. Even though I live so close, somehow I had never made it over. I was an art major, there was really no excuse for this.
I hadn’t been to an art museum by myself in years. I forgot how much I enjoyed just standing in front of a piece and absorbing what the artist had in mind, and my own thoughts on what the artwork meant. The museum was small enough that I saw all of the exhibits in about an hour before closing, just in time to meet Gen for dinner at KORAL Bar & Kitchen.
Now if you like cocktails that don’t taste like cocktails, then you have come to the right place. Our waitress, who also happened to be gluten-intolerant and lactose intolerant just like Gen and runs her own food blog, deposited a mojito and a Raspberry Drop (see more below) in front of us to kick off our moms only dinner. For the first time in weeks we both savored our cocktails, perused the menu at our leisure, and then enjoyed a lengthy, multi-course dinner. So long that our friend Nicole, who had an event to attend that night in Bellevue, was able to pop over for a cocktail and a little gossip. When was the last time any parent had that kind of time? After a killer steak and toffee pudding for dessert, Gen and I were ready to collapse in our Heavenly Bed at the Westin, just 2 blocks down from the restaurant.
With an evening free of children and nothing but time on our hands you would think we would have gone out, but no, we went to bed. We had an early spa appointment the next morning. We were going to get every last drop of uninterrupted sleep that we could.
Our morning kicked off in the best possible way. Who wouldn’t want to crawl out of bed to hop down to the spa for a massage? Do you really even have to wake up? We certainly didn’t. I’ll admit that when I found out we would bet getting a couples massage I was a little hesitant. I’d never had a couples massage with my husband, let alone a friend. There was nothing to worry about. Our massage therapists knew just how to set the tone of our room. At no point did Gen’s massage disrupt my own. I quickly relaxed into the table and let my own therapist whisk me away to bliss.
Now how do you top a massage after you wake up? Well you take your time getting showered and ready with no little people walking in on you of course! And then you find some food. A lot of food in our case. We started with breakfast at Cypress, lunch at Wild Ginger, and an early happy hour at Lot No. 3. We basically went on an eating tour. In between bites we shopped our way through the Bravern , the Bellevue Farmers Market, and the Bellevue Collection shops. No strollers to push, no high chairs at the table, no whining about when we are leaving a store; it was divine.
Parent’s, specifically stay-at-home moms and dads, know how hard it is to carve out a little me time to do the shopping you so desperately need to do for yourself (buying a new shirt is not a bad thing, especially if the last one you bought was pre-kids ladies!) Always remember that you deserve to remember who you are, to pamper yourself, and to fuel the relationships you have outside of your children. Encourage your fellow parents to join you and get the break they need too. A night away from home won’t break the bank, but it will rejuvenate your spirit to tackle another day of spills, screams, and endless games of Candy land.
- Check into The Westin in Bellevue
- Explore the latest exhibits at the Bellevue Art Museum
- Enjoy drinks and dinner with the girls at KORAL Bar & Kitchen
- Kick back in your hotel room watching movies and chatting into the wee hours
- Wake up
- Pop down to Truce Spa in your robe (appointment necessary)
- Early breakfast at your hotel or one of the local coffee shops
- Pick up a bit of local produce at the Bellevue Farmers Market (Saturday only)
- Walk around downtown Bellevue enjoying the sculptures of the Bellevue Art Walk
- Head to the Bravern for a dim sum lunch at Wild Ginger
- Start your afternoon of shopping at the Bravern (Anthropologie!)
- Fuel up on a little sweet treat at Trophy Cupcakes or Cupcake Royale
- Continue your shopping spree at the Bellevue Collection
- Happy hour at Lot No. 3 (if you get there for brunch you can have the malt waffles!)
- Head home for dinner with the family
The Westin Bellevue, 600 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, WA. As you check yourself into one of Bellevue’s most luxurious and well-located hotels, make sure you look around at all the details. The fruit infused water will keep you hydrated as you explore the city, but the Heavenly Bed will make your muscles melt and you may just decide to stay put for a leisurely morning or evening in front of a good movie. Our corner suite (room 1628) looked out over the city and Lake Washington, giving us one of the best sunset views I’ve seen in a while. Even the bathroom had a gorgeous view. You can soak away your cares as you watch the clouds roll by. The staff didn’t blink an eye when my friend and I requested an extra robe (there was only one in the room upon arrival), an extra blanket and pillows (we are both pillow hogs).
Cypress Lounge offers a quick and filling breakfast. It is pricey, but if you are looking for something in your hotel that can get you out the door and exploring, Cypress fits the bill. You may have to track down a waitress so you can get a drink order and your bill, but you can always go to the bar to order your coffee or juice to get your morning started.
Truce Spa will wipe away the stress as you begin your day with a massage, facial, scrub or wrap. The staff is attentive and listened to my friend and I as we gave feedback on the pressure during our couples massage. Yes, two friends sharing a couples massage. I thought it was a little strange too, but as soon as you are in the room and on the table you forget anyone else is there. Both massage therapists were quiet and conscious of each other in the room. When my massage was complete I had to remember where I was. I may have dozed off for a minute or two.
KORAL Bar & Kitchen, 900 Bellevue Way NE #100. Sit back and let your taste buds do the talking as you dive into this menu of endless possibilities. We kicked off our night of mom fun with mojitos and a Raspberry drop (Stoli vodka, lemon raspberry liquor and a sugar rim. Yes, it’s as dangerous as it sounds.) Truffle fries, Dungeness crab chowder with huge chunks of crab and an Ahi tuna crudo opened our stomachs for the main event- Wagyu beef and King Salmon with balsamic tomatoes and summer squash. No meal would be complete without their signature Sticky Toffee Pudding with Olympic Mountain’s Salted Caramel ice cream. You may need a wheel barrel to roll yourself out after this kind of meal. If Chef Simon is around, ask if you can get a peek at his arm tattoo. This man wears his love for all things pig. Favorite bites: Dungeness Crab Chowder, Wagyu beef and Sticky Truffle Pudding with Olympia Mountain’s Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Lot No. 3, 460 106th Ave NE. You will not be at a loss as to what to eat at this decked out man’s cave (leather couches and gorgeous metal bar to boot!). The service can be a little cold at times, but don’t let this put you off. The food comes out fast and is worth it. Treat yourself to one of their signature Bloody Mary’s or a grapefruit mimosa, and do not forget a few Salted Pretzel Caramels for dessert. Favorite bites: Plate O’ Bacon, Pretzel, Pulled Chicken Salad, Grilled Cheese, and chicken and waffles (not available at lunch) or malt waffles for brunch.
Cupcake Royale, 21 Bellevue Way NE. Pop into this stand alone location past the Bellevue Collection to grab a few of your favorites or get a little crazy and taste a new flavor. They changed their cake batter recipe a few years back making a delicious moist cupcake that every girl will dream about. Don’t forget to check out the monthly special. Favorite bites: Salted Caramel Chocolate and Vanilla Lavender.
Trophy Cupcake, 700 110th Ave NE #260. The Bravern’s sweet spot will have you licking your fingers to savor every sweet buttercream bite. Make sure you ask about their monthly specials. Also be aware that not all cupcakes are available every day of the week. Each day has its’ own set of cupcakes for you to enjoy. Memorize the schedule or you may be disappointed. Favorite bites: Chocolate Graham Cracker and Chocolate Chip Mint
Sushi Maru, 205 105th Ave NE. If you are looking for a cheap, quick bite head to this conveyor belt sushi joint. Most rolls have a base of California roll with various fish and sauces on top depending on the roll. The eggrolls and gyoza are good, and don’t forget to check the menu and ask for a roll if you don’t see it on the belt. Favorite bites: seared salmon and cucumber salad.
Wild Ginger, 11020 NE 6th St. Ste 90. Although Din Tai Fung may dominate Bellevue’s dim sum scene, Wild Ginger can still hold it’s own. Sample the baked or steamed hum bao (pork dumplings), baby bok choy, and radish cake if you are a dim sum newbie, or get a little more daring with Duck Sol or Mochi Pork. Not in the mood for dim sum? No problem! Do not miss out on the Wild Ginger Fragrant Duck or Seven Flavor Beef. A vegan menu is also available. The staff is friendly and attentive, and the space is gigantic, making it easy to grab a table on a quiet Saturday afternoon for lunch or brunch. Favorite bites: Steamed Hum Bao and Wild Ginger Fragrant Duck
Bellevue Art Walk. Grab your map at the Meydenbauer Center and take a tour of some of Bellevue’s most impressive art collection. Residents may take it for granted that they see sculptures by Virginia Weisel, John Geise and Dale Chihuly everyday, but you will be overwhelmed by the scale of some of these pieces you trip over as you walk around downtown. The walk stretches from NE 12th Street down to Main Street, and 100 Avenue NE all the way to 112th Avenue NE. The map and walk are free. What are you waiting for? Chat with your friends as you stroll through one of the more impressive public art exhibits in the area.
Bellevue Farmers Market, NE 6th Street & Compass Plaza (106th Ave NE). The Bellevue Farmers Market isn’t just on Thursday afternoons, there is also a nice sized market in downtown Bellevue every Saturday from June through November, 10am-3pm. Load up on berries, produce, bread, sweet treats, cheese and meats.
Bellevue Art Museum, 510 Bellevue Way NE. Meet the museum that you can conquer in a short amount of time if you choose, or spend the day absorbing the collection. This downtown Bellevue museum has no permanent collection, so you are always sure to see something new every time you visit. Their gift shop is also one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. Recent exhibits of note include Maneki Neko: Japan’s Beckoning Cats from Talisman to Pop Icon (ends August 4, 2013) and the award-winning Pacific Northwest artist exhibition titled Patti Warashina: Wit and Wisdom (now through October 26, 2013). Admission is reasonable enough to make it worth a stop with a friend as you kick off a night of food and culture, or wind down a weekend with a little artistic reflection.
The Bravern, 11111 NE 8th St #5. Looking for a few designer brands? Look no farther than the shops at The Bravern, Bellevue’s high-end shopping destination. Home to the area’s only Neiman Marcus, several restaurants, Trophy Cupcake, and my favorite, Anthropologie, you are sure to find something you love.
Bellevue Collection, 575 Bellevue Square. While not everyone is on a rock star budget, you can still find great shops to fill your home and closets with wares at affordable prices. From Free People to Forever 21, LEGOs to Disney, and everything in between, you may wear out your credit card before you are done. One of the best maternity shops in the area, Bump Maternity, is housed in Bellevue Square, along with Nordstrom’s legendary shoe collection. Pace yourself ladies; it will still be there tomorrow.
Many thanks to Visit Bellevue for hosting us on our moms night off in June. As always my opinions are my own; when they aren’t you will be the first to know.