Extend your trip and explore Bellevue and Seattle!
Bellevue, WA is a vibrant city full of places to visit--especially if you like the outdoors! As well, it's just 20 minutes from Seattle, which is accessible by car and public transportation. Below you'll find more information on many of the places you can explore, locally and further afield!
We list public transportation routes below for most destinations--but if you'd prefer to rent a car, AAFCS is proud to partner with Hertz Rent-A-Car this year, and you can learn more about the deal they're offering to conference attendees here!
It's easy to get around Bellevue by bus, if you feel like going a bit further away than the walkable area around the hotel! The Hyatt Regency Bellevue is just a short half mile walk from the Bellevue Transit Center, which will allow you to catch a bus to most anywhere in the city, and there are stops closer to the hotel as well, depending on your route. Check bus schedules here.
Shopping and Dining
- The Hyatt Regency Bellevue, our conference hotel, is located in Bellevue Place, along with multiple restaurants and shopping outlets, and is also connected to Lincoln Square and Bellevue Square by sky bridges! Head over and shop, eat lunch or dinner, take in a movie, or go bowling--just a few minutes' walk away.
Bellevue has many options for those who love the outdoors! Be sure to bring your walking shoes or hiking boots!
- Bellevue's Downtown Park, where we'll be holding this year's "AAFCS Completes the Circle" Fun Run/Walk, is just a few blocks away, and it's great for a walk, run, or just sitting and people- or bird-watching!
- Chism Beach Park is just 1.6 miles away and wonderful for a summer swim or picnic! Take some time exploring Bellevue and grab a bubble tea at Drive-Thru Boba or a frozen yogurt at Yogurtland on your walk over, or hop on the bus at Bellevue Way Northeast (the 550, 241, or 249) and take a half hour trip down to SE 16th St. Remember to check bus schedules here rather than depending on our recommendations--schedules may change!
- Kelsey Creek Farm Park is just 20 minutes away via the 271 bus, which you can catch just a short walk from the hotel. This family destination allows you to tour the farm, viewing the many animals, and you can also take a tour or class!
- The Lake to Lake Greenway Trail connects Lake Sammamish to Lake Washington, and can be accessed from many of Bellevue's beautiful parks! Stroll along through multiple types of ecosystems and see much of the wildlife the area has to offer! You can pick up the trail at Downtown Park and do the shorter end of the trail over to Lake Washington, or head in the other direction and explore Mercer Slough Nature Park, Wilburton Hill Park, and more--10 parks in all! There is also a bike route, and several companies in Bellevue rent bikes, the closest being Gregg's Bellevue Cycle, just a few blocks from the hotel next to Downtown Park.
- If you're not able to join us for the Tour Bellevue Educational Excursion on Wednesday, head over to the Bellevue Botanical Garden. The garden is free, and beautiful at any time of day! It is accessible via the 279 bus or B Line, plus a 15-minute walk.
- The Bellevue Arts Museum, focusing on craft and design along with art and sculpture, is well worth a visit! Be sure to check out the "Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair" exhibition, running from late May through mid-August. And the museum is just a block away from the hotel!
- Information on more local attractions coming soon!
You can learn more about Bellevue from our blog post about our trip, here!
Click here to learn more about this great city at the website of Visit Bellevue!
Stay tuned--more information coming daily!
It's easy to get into Seattle from Bellevue--the conference hotel is just a short half mile walk away from the Bellevue Transit Center, where you can catch buses to all over! The 550 Express bus runs every 5-8 minutes, and brings you into Seattle to Convention Place Station, where you can catch a bus to most areas of the city, or head to one of the other stations in the Transit Tunnel to do so. This takes less than a half hour! You can also plan your trip here--we'll list the closest stop to each attraction below. Seattle is very walkable--though hilly--so you can also head out from there on foot!
There are many options for getting around Seattle--there's a free circulator bus, light rail, streetcar, and of course their bus system! Learn more about your options here. Or, for a more scenic and leisurely way to travel the city, try the Water Taxi!
Stay tuned for more information on other neighborhoods, transportation, shopping, and more--updated daily!
The piers along Elliott Bay offer many attractions--we have several listed below, or just stroll along the water and enjoy the weather! All of the listed attractions are easily walkable from each other--and if you're willing to get a bit more exercise, you can walk up to Seattle Center from here! Closest stop: Westlake Station.
- Pike Place Market is iconic. Join us for one of our two educational excursions to tour the market--or if you aren't available at those times, visit Pike Place on your own! Stroll through the arcade visiting local vendors and artisans, and check out the stores--some of which have been there since the beginning! You can also visit the first Starbucks--located right across from the Market!
- The Seattle Aquarium is located just a half mile from Pike Place Market along the pier. Get up close and personal with tide pool life at "Life on the Edge," witness octopus feedings at noon and 4pm, check out the sea life of the Puget Sound from the Underwater Dome, visit with the adorable otters and seals, or check out a virtual trip to the Pacific Coral Reef!
- Just a bit further to the south along the pier is the Seattle Great Wheel. Hop on this 175-foot-tall enclosed Ferris Wheel for an expansive and gorgeous view of the city and the Elliott Bay!
- The Seattle Art Museum is just a few blocks inland from the Aquarium and Great Wheel. With all kinds of art from all over the world, you could spend days here and never get bored. Make sure to check out their Pacific Northwest and Native American collections!
- As well as holding many attractions, the piers are of course also a departure point for boats and ferries! Hop on a ferry over to Bainbridge Island--they depart every 50 minutes for most of the day, and if you're driving you can park below to ride over. Bainbridge has something for everyone--wineries and breweries offering tours; outdoor activities like hiking, biking and kayaking; shopping; art galleries; and of course restaurants. A favorite stop of one of our staff members is Churchmouse Yarns and Teas! You don't have to be a fiber artist to stop in--their tea selection is worth the visit. If that's not your thing, try some ice cream at Mora Iced Creamery, keep an eye out for books by local authors at Eagle Harbor Book Co., or grab a bite at the Streamliner Diner or Harbour Public House! If you have an extra day or two, consider staying over!
- One of Seattle's current culinary stars is Tom Douglas--and a few blocks from the water is one of his restaurants, Dahlia Lounge. Serving lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, it's well worth squeezing into your schedule, if you want a treat! Or if your time is limited, stop by for happy hour from 4:30-6:00pm!
- The Asian Art Museum, a campus of the Seattle Art Museum, is located north from the piers, though a bit further away from the water--right next to the Olympic Sculpture Park--also worth a visit!
- More information coming soon--Downtown Seattle has so much to offer!
The Seattle Center offers access to quite a few of Seattle's best museums on one very walkable campus. You'll have the chance to visit a few of those museums as part of our two educational excursions--the Global Perspectives on Wellness and Textiles excursion will bring you to the Gates Foundation, and the Chihuly Garden & Glass, with optional Space Needle visit will of course take you to those locations--but if you're not able to join us for those, it's easy to get there from Bellevue and you could spend days exploring. The Seattle Center is accessible via the Seattle Center Monorail from Westlake Station, which you can access by bus from Bellevue. There is also plenty of parking in nearby garages.
- The Space Needle is iconic--and well worth a visit for its gorgeous views of the city, and plenty of info about its history. Your ticket will likely need to be purchased in advance and is timed--so make sure to make plans before you go! Tip: bring your smartphone to take advantage of some neat interactive features!
- Chihuly Garden and Glass is a fairly new museum showcasing the amazing work of glass artist Dale Chihuly. Not only will you enjoy his work both inside and out in the garden, you'll also have the chance to watch a short film about how the pieces are put together, and view his inspiration sketches. It also has a fantastic café! Buy your ticket with your Space Needle ticket and save!
- The EMP Museum is dedicated to all sorts of popular culture--formerly music-based, it now holds the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame and exhibits on horror films and Hello Kitty, as well as Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana! This distinctive museum has something for everyone.
- The Pacific Science Center "brings science to life" with lots of interactive exhibits--designed to inspire "a lifelong interest in science, math and technology." Teachers will leave with new ideas on how to engage their students--and everyone will have fun exploring its many exhibits! The museum also holds an IMAX theater, great for whatever blockbuster will be on the big screen in June! While we're there, the museum will be hosting several traveling exhibits, including "The Art of the Brick," a collection of artwork made solely from LEGO bricks!
- If you'll have kids with you, make sure to spend some time at the Seattle Children's Museum! With interactive play areas, education programs, and more, the museum is designed to "bring to life the joy of discovery for children and their families through fun, creative, hands-on exploration of the world around them."
- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center is a short walk away from the main Seattle Center campus, and would make a great addition to your trip. See what the Gates Foundation is doing to help fund new inventions that are making life better all around the world.
- While many of the museums have cafés, you can head over to the Seattle Armory for more selection, often at lower prices! This space has many different restaurants along with general seating.
- This is just a small taste of what Seattle Center has to offer--check out a listing here of everything located in the area, and check back for special events happening in June!
Ballard is one of Seattle's great historic little neighborhoods--with one of the best restaurant scenes, and lots of places to visit.
- The Ballard Farmers Market, held on Sundays, is a great opportunity to check out this quaint neighborhood and see what the state of Washington has to offer!
- Café Besalu offers some of the best pastries in Seattle, and is a great place to grab a coffee and croissant before wandering around the neighborhood. Lines are often long--but we promise it's worth it!
- The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, better known as the Ballard Locks, are a great place to visit, whether you just want to watch the boats navigate the locks--the link between the salt water of the Puget Sound and the fresh water of the Ship Canal--or whether you'd like to see the fish ladder, where salmon make that same change from salt to fresh!
- The Carl S. English, Jr. Botanical Garden is on the grounds of the Locks, and a great place to spend a few quiet hours. The Garden offers 570 species and 1,500 varieties of plant, spread over 7 acres.
- The Woodland Park Zoo lies near Ballard, bridging three different neighborhoods. Easily accessed by public transportation, the zoo holds over 1,000 animals from almost 300 species. Looking for a preview? Check out their live animal web cams!
- The Zoo also holds the Woodland Park Rose Garden, one of the US's All-America Rose Selections Test Gardens!
Artsy Fremont is another of Seattle's diverse neighborhoods, with lots of landmarks you may recognize! The self-proclaimed "Center of the Universe," this is a great neighborhood to stroll through on a nice day!
- The Fremont Troll, located (as you'd expect) under the Aurora bridge in Fremont, is a fun photo op. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the Troll, so feel free to climb on up and put your arm around him! Seattle's Nordic Heritage inspired this sculpture, built in 1989. You may recognize the Troll from "10 Things I Hate About You."
- Theo Chocolate Factory offers tours, which must be booked in advance. The company's mission is to encourage connections around the world, connecting to help support customers and suppliers. All of their chocolate is Fair Trade, Fair for Life, and organic. If you don't have time for a tour, stop by their retail store to bring home some delicious treats!
- Near Fremont, in Tangletown, is mkt, a small restaurant, open for dinner, whose menu is dedicated to Northwest products! If you plan to head there, make sure to make reservations in advance--but we hear it's worth the time and money!
The University of Washington's campus lies within the city, and there are many attractions on campus and nearby!
- The University of Washington Botanic Gardens include two centers--the Center for Urban Horticulture, just off-campus, and the Washington Park Arboretum, located over the bridge. Both have free admission and are open daily.
- The University also hosts a Medicinal Herb Garden as part of the Department of Biology! It is open to the public every day.
- The Burke Museum is also on the university campus! The museum focuses on natural history and Northwest culture, and is the oldest museum in the state of Washington. Exhibits vary, from archaelogy to geology to evolution, and when we're in town, the "Wild Nearby" exhibit, featuring multi-sensory experiences that will transport visitors to the North Cascades ecosystem will have opened! Their collections are studied by researchers, students, and more!
- Molly Moon's Ice Cream is a Seattle favorite! There are 5 locations in the city, with one in U Village, a shopping center near the University. They partner with "local farmers and producers" for the ingredients for their unique ice creams, and offer seasonal flavors along with the standards. They also offer vegan options!
Seattle is home to many fantastic theaters and music venues, located all over the city. While some of the theaters will be finished with their seasons while we're there, many will still be performing! Take a look at the offerings below and buy your tickets in advance!
- The Book-It Repertory Company, dedicated to bringing works of literature to the stage, will be performing The Brothers K. Parts One and Two, based of course on Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamozov, from from June 16th-26th, if you're coming in early or looking for something to do on the day after conference. The Center Theatre, where this company performs, is located at the Seattle Center.
- The Vera Project is an all-ages, volunteer-driven music and arts venue. They have performances year-round and should have some great offerings in June! They are also located at the Seattle Center.
- The Seattle Symphony, located downtown just a few blocks from Pike Place Market, has multiple events scheduled for June, and may be adding more!
- There are more live music venues than we can list--take a look at this listing of "The Best Live Music Venues in Seattle"and think about booking tickets!
Seattle is home to many professional sports teams, the main three being the Seahawks (football), Mariners (baseball), and Sounders (soccer). While the football season will be over when we're in Bellevue, both the Mariners and Sounders have one or more games when we're in town! Both stadiums are accessible by public transit.
- The Seattle Mariners baseball team have home games on June 24-30th, with a break on Monday the 27th. Click on the link to pick a date and buy tickets! Click here to learn the best ways to get to the stadium!
- The Seattle Sounders soccer team are playing a home game on Saturday, June 25th. Click here to learn the best ways to get to the stadium!
There are a million things to do outside in and around Seattle--these are just a few suggestions that are close to the city! Take a look at the "outdoors" page on Visit Seattle's website for more ideas.
- Eat lunch at Agua Verde Café and Paddle Club, (a Mexican restaurant that's a staff fave--try the mangodilla!), then rent a kayak or paddle board and explore Seattle's waterways--head over to Lake Union or paddle through the Arboretum!
- Carkeek Park is just nine miles from downtown, and accessible by bus from Bellevue or downtown Seattle. Head out on a hike for gorgeous views of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains, picnic with friends, sit on the beach, or visit the Environmental Learning Center!
More information coming soon--this is just the beginning of what we have to share!
Click here to check out Visit Seattle's website, with even more information about the Emerald City!
Tacoma is just an hour's drive from Bellevue! Renting a car is the easiest way to get there, but the city is accessible by bus (Bellevue -> Seattle, Seattle -> Tacoma), and the bus system within Tacoma is also extensive! And they also have a light rail!
- The Tacoma Museum of Glass gives you a chance to see the work of multiple glass artists (unlike Chihuly Garden & Glass, one of our Saturday Excursions, which focuses on one artist)! You can watch glassmaking live--and if you're bringing your kids, they can visit the Education Studio and have a chance to design a piece of glass sculpture.
- Another great option with kids is the Tacoma Children's Museum. Your kids will get the chance to play at the water tables (don't worry, there are rubber smocks available!), in the wooden "ship", in the "Woods", and more, and make beautiful art in Becka's Studio!
- The Tacoma Art Museum is one of the premier museums for Western American Art in the world. Head over to learn more about the culture of the Pacific Northwest through art--and make sure to check out the temporary exhibition of Edvard Munch's work!
- Point Defiance is just a few minutes from Tacoma proper, and offers many fantastic hiking trails through the woods, (which staff member Sara can attest to!), as well as beautiful specialty gardens and a waterfront on the Puget Sound where you can enjoy the beach or rent kayaks and head out on the water! The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium has much to offer, with walruses, sharks, penguins, and seals, along with Arctic, Asian Forest, Rocky Shores, and Red Wolf Woods sections--and more!
- If you're a fan of cars, America's Car Museum is a must-see. It houses the largest privately owned collection of vehicles and related memoribilia in the world, and you'll have a chance to explore the many cars they have on display, along with all sorts of automotive artifacts, historical information, and more! Take pictures with the cars, try out your racing skills in the Speed Zone, or enjoy a short film or two about different kinds of cars! The museum is great for kids too, with lots of child-focused activities.
- If you don't have the chance to pick up a Mariners game in Seattle, why not head to a Rainiers game, the Mariners' Triple A affiliate!
- Ice Cream Social offers some of the best ice cream in the area. They take advantage of local ingredients and local vendors to focus on quality and flavor!
- If you're a tea connoisseur, Mad Hat Tea is the place to visit! They offer their own blends, and if you're not going to make it to Tacoma, you can order online!
- Legendary Doughnuts offers unique, award-winning doughnuts!
- The Pacific Northwest is of course famous for their coffee--and Valhalla Coffee and Bluebeard Coffee are some of the best Tacoma has to offer!
- Learn more about Tacoma via their travel bureau here!
Looking to extend your visit to the Pacific Northwest? Why not take advantage of the location to visit picturesque Alaska, via a Princess cruise! You'll depart Seattle on Sunday, June 26th, and spend 7 days aboard the beautiful Ruby Princess, visiting Ketchikan, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau and Skagway Alaska, as well as Victoria, British Columbia in Canada! While group rates have expired, Princess still offers some great deals--join AAFCS and encourage your friends and family to join you aboard. Contact Carol Gregory at Montecito Village Travel, 805-686-8721 or firstname.lastname@example.org, to ensure you receive the best rate available. There is limited space available--book now!
More information coming soon on Vancouver, BC, wine country, the San Juan Islands, and more!