Address: 13434 NE 16th St, Suite 110 98005
Phone: (425) 378-0321
Age: 2 years and up
Cost: $6 per child
Beware 3-2-1 Bounce – it is very addictive to kiddos. Once inside this warehouse filled with various bouncy houses it will be hard to drag your child out. Drop-in play time is available on Mondays and Tuesdays during two morning sessions. This is a perfect way for your child to get any and all excess energy out and ensure a good, long nap that afternoon. Parents are able to jump around with their children too, and for free. Play groups and parties are available.
Bellevue Aquatic Center
Address: 601 143rd Ave. NE Bellevue, WA 98007-4708
Phone: (425) 452-4444
Cost: Under 12- $4; Over 12- $5
This is one jewel of a pool, and yes, I feel that rhyming here is appropriate, since I really love this pool. Here is why it is so great: it is not just one big rectangle pool. In fact, it is actually two pools, and they are both included in the entrance fee. One pool is a big pool like you might expect, with the addition of a big curly slide and a little slide for the kids. The second pool is a warm water pool designed for physical therapy, so it has a gentle sloping ramp that makes it really easy to get into the pool. Plus, since it is so warm, it is actually ok to bring babies into the pool. There is a little bench in the water along one side, so you can bring your baby and sit in the pool with her splashing in your lap. There is also a family bathroom to get ready, but don’t count on this, since some families tend to take their own sweet time, unfortunately. If you are interested in tips on taking your baby into the pool, I recommend a program called Bathtub Babies offered by www.waterbabies.net. It is great. Like this pool!
Bellevue Art Museum
Address: 510 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue WA 98004
Phone: (425) 519-0770
Cost: Under 6 – free; 6 and up – $7
When you’re ready to introduce your child to the world of art, take them to the Bellevue Art Museum. While it may seem like it’s not age appropriate, think again – docents provide tours oriented to children as young as five Tuesday through Friday for groups of ten or more. On Saturday afternoons there’s a free art class offered to the community, and the projects change every two weeks. For a change of pace and something different, buckle your kiddo up in a stroller and soak in the art (and not the rain!).
Bellevue Botanical Garden
Address: 12001 Main Street, Bellevue WA 98005
Phone: (425) 452-2750
Age: All ages
Cost: Free, but donations welcome
I’m not much of a gardener, but even I can appreciate the beauty and art of the Bellevue Botanical Garden. It’s a very peaceful place with wonderful paths that will inspire you to go home and plant something. It’s also a great place to let kids get some fresh air, expose them to various aspects of nature, and encourage exercise by taking a long walk. Or your little one might be like mine and just stare at the gravel on the path and become mesmerized by mud puddles. No matter – you still get some tranquility (until muddy hands are all over your jeans).
Bellevue Community College Athletics
Address: 3000 Landerholm Circle SE, Bellevue, WA 98007-6484.
Sports are cool, right? But seeing the Mariners, Sonics, or Seahawks, can cost a pretty penny. Even college football over at the UW is not cheap. Why not stay on this side of the lake and take the kids to a BCC game? Sure, it isn’t the big leagues, but there are ten different sports they play, and coolest of all, it isn’t just the boys! Grab the kids and go see the big girls play a fastpitch softball game at Robinswood park, or catch the BCC boys playing a basketball game on campus. There is also men’s baseball, women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s tennis, cross country running, golf, and volleyball. Show the kids how fun sports can be and support our local college at the same time! Rah, rah, rah!
Bellevue Indoor Skate Park
Address: 14224 Bel-Red Road Bellevue, WA 98007
Phone: (425) 452-2722
Age: Old enough to skate
Cost: $3 per session (plus one-time $5 for ID card)
I am constantly amazed by the parks and recreation systems supported by Eastside cities. In Bellevue, on top of the beaches and parks, there is this indoor skate park for kids to practice their “grinds” and “kick flips”. There are one-on-one lessons available for everyone, even non-beginners (recommended for skaters under 6) and rentals of pads and boards are available. Everyone needs a helmet to ride the ramps.
Bellevue Square Kids Cove
Address: Bellevue Square Mall
Age: Up to 42 inches tall
Up on the third floor of the Bellevue Square Mall (yes, there is a third floor), is a beautiful playspace for younger kids. Kids Cove is a nautically-themed area of padded climbing structures designed for the preschool and toddler set. A bank of padded seating for caregivers surrounds the area, although there is an open door, and kids can escape, so beware. It is a really nice place to just sit and let your little one run around, all for free.
Bellevue Youth Theater
Address: 16661 Northup Way, Bellevue, WA 98008
Phone: (425) 452-7155
Age: 5 and up, depending on the show
Cost: $8 per ticket
This city-sponsored drama program for young people is very popular. The performances get rave reviews and are very kid-friendly. The shows are both traditional and current, like Anne of Green Gables, Thumbelina, and Rock & Roll High School (is your daughter still singing every word of “High School Musical”? Then this is for her!). The drama program is free for the kids learning to act, one of the few free programs in the country. Plus, you get to support kids while showing your own kids how fun it is to perform.
Craft Time at Lakeshore Learning Store
Address: 11027 NE 4th St. Bellevue, WA 98004
Phone: (425) 462-8076
Age: 3 and up
Saturday come around and you feel like there is another long weekend stretching in front of you with nothing to do? It can feel like a vast wasteland between the morning alarm clock (“Mommmmmmyyyyy, wake up!”) and bedtime (“Mommmmmmyyyy, I don’t want to go to bed!”). Why not drop by the Lakeshore Learning Store for a free craft time? Every Saturday from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm the friendly staff provide the craft supplies for things like collage photo frames. Plus, you get something to hang up on the fridge over that old hand traced turkey that has lost its beak.
Chuck E. Cheese
Address: 2239 148th Ave NE, Bellevue 98007
Phone: (425) 746-5000
I will admit, this one is stimulation overload if you come on a busy weekend. But this one is fun. They have tons of games, little rides for toddlers, and a climbing structure attached to the ceiling so your kids can pretend they are hamsters. All the games and rides are a quarter, and you don’t have to pay an entrance fee. During the morning and early afternoon, it stays pretty quiet, so it is a great place to take toddlers to ride on the little quarter rides and watch the giant robot animals sing songs on stage. It is a nice alternative to the mall on a rainy day.
Community Center Playtime
The local community centers provide a great service: playtime for toddlers. They basically open up the gym and let you use a bunch of toddler toys like little cars and bikes and balls. I went to the Crossroads playtime and it was fun and very cheap. It varies a bit each place, but basically, you need to help pull out the toys and put them away. It is a good way to get some exercise and try new toys on a rainy day.
- Crossroads Community Center , 16000 N.E. 10th St., Bellevue, (425) 452-4874. 9-11:30 a.m., Monday through Friday, $3.
- Highland Community Center , 14224 N.E. Bel-Red Road, Bellevue, (425) 452-7686. 9-11:30 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, $3.
- North Bellevue Community Center , 4063 148th Ave. N.E., Bellevue, (425) 452-7681. Noon-5 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays, $3.
- South Bellevue Community Center , 14509 S.E. Newport Way, Bellevue, (425) 452-4240. 10 a.m.-noon Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and 12:30-2:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, $3.
Address: NE 8th and 156th Ave NE, Bellevue WA 98008
Phone: (425) 644-1111
Age: All ages
Cost: Free – unless you go shopping!
Before I had kids, I have to admit I didn’t think too highly of Crossroads. It just wasn’t my scene. Times have changed, and so has my attitude. Crossroads is my haven, my home away from home. It’s where Calgon takes me when I’m stressed, it’s raining, and my toddler is driving me nuts. There are a lot of great shops to explore – Old Navy, JoAnn’s, Common Folk Kids (which gives a Microsoft Prime card discount on most items), Half Price Books, and Party City. If you’re brave and your child doesn’t clumsily knock things over or rearrange items, you can go to Pier 1, Silver Platters, and Exclusively Art. Hungry? Try the food court – they have just about any kind of food you could crave. There’s a Library Connection complete with story time for preschoolers on Wednesdays. Also on Wednesdays there is a Play & Learn which allows you and your kids to have some creative and free fun (see below). There are usually events on the weekends and some evenings offer free live music by local artists. Oh, and make sure you bring some quarters – Crossroads has some great little coin operated rides like a carousel and a car, and for just $0.25 a ride!
Dizzy’s Bus Stop Drop-In Play
Address: 3205 148th Ave SE, Suite E, Bellevue, WA 98007
Phone: (425) 564-8287
Age: About 10 and under
Cost: $5 per kid for drop-in, $10 per hour for drop-off
You know your kids love going to kiddo gym class, tumbling all over big soft toys, bopping around to fun music, and having a generally good time. The only problem is gym class isn’t scheduled today- plus, you have some errands to do. Well, Dizzy’s is your solution! You can take your kids to their fun tumbling room with lots of cool tumbling structures during the drop-in play time. And those errands you have to do? Why not try the drop-OFF play time? You don’t have to stay while they keep your kids entertained! How great is that?! (Oh, and make sure to check their website for directions, since the location is a little tucked away.)
Address: 4092 Factoria Blvd. SE, Bellevue WA 98006
Phone: (425) 747-7344
Cost: Free – unless you go shopping
If you can’t make it to Crossroads, go to Factoria. Lots of indoor space for your little one to run around and plenty of shops for you to spend money in. There’s a Target, Osh Kosh, Old Navy, and Bath & Body Works, just to name a few stores. Kids Quest Museum is also located there and is a great excuse to get you to Factoria. My only concerns about Factoria: traffic can be a pain in the butt during rush and lunch hours.
Imagination Saturdays at Michael’s Craft Store
Address: Crossroads Mall 15600 NE 8th St. Ste. D-4, Bellevue, WA 98008
Phone: (425) 747-1221
Are you as surprised as I am at all the stuff stores offer for kids to do, just to lure you in? Yeah, we know they are hoping you shop (when it comes to craft stores, I am such a sucker- I love Michael’s and will buy whatever they tell me to buy), but that doesn’t mean you can’t take them up on their fun little crafts for kids. Your kids can make things like turtle-shaped pencil holders and keepsake handprints. You sign up for a half hour session, and the cost of the craft is included in the $2 fee. And just tell yourself, I am not a bad person just because I can’t leave a craft store without buying another kit to make a bedazzled and beaded foam door-hanger in the shape of a high-heeled Victorian boot. I am not bad… I am not bad… just crafty…
Kelsey Creek Farm Park
Address: 410 130th Pl SE, Bellevue WA 98009
Phone: (425) 452-7688
Age: All ages
Kelsey Creek is a favorite weekend destination in my family. It’s not too often when a park entertains everyone, including adults. Complete with quaint barns and animals roaming in fields or pens, there is plenty to see and do here. Barnyard animals are on display daily from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Animals include horses, sheep, goats, pigs, bunnies, chickens,and a cow. There is a playground that is great for small children as well as picnic tables so you can spend a relaxing morning strolling around and top it off with a picnic lunch. Birthday parties can also be held at Kelsey Creek in one of their barns.
KidsQuest Children’s Museum
Address: 4091 Factoria Blvd. SE, Bellevue WA 98006
Phone: (425) 637-8100
Age: Birth to 100 years old
Cost: Under 1 – Free; 1 and up – $7.50; First Friday night of the month from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. – Free
KidsQuest Museum is one of the best places to take your child on the Eastside, hands down. It’s cheap, it’s fun, and it’s educational. What more do you want for your kids? There is an exhibit that is for younger children that is filled with a variety of toys to delight and stimulate your kiddo. Another exhibit is all about water – kids can pour it, paint with it, make music with, and do other exciting tricks that will be sure to soak him! In the PACCAR garage, kids can experience what it’s like to be in a full-size truck cab. This area is dedicated to science and offers a wide range of activities to inspire children. KidsQuest can get very busy, usually when they open, but you can get your hands stamped, tour Factoria, and come back to the museum throughout the day. The museum is also available for birthday parties and offers a membership plan.
Kids Workshops at Home Depot
Address: 325 120th Ave NE, Bellevue 98005
Phone: (425) 451-7351
Age: 5 – 12 yrs (with a parent)
If you have a hubby like mine, one who loves to do projects around the house, then chances are you probably spend a lot of time on the weekends at Home Depot. So much time, in fact, that the cashiers know you and you know who will be working at various times throughout the day. Anyway, why not give your kiddo a break from being dragged from plumbing to power tools and let him (or her!) build something at a Kids Workshop. On the first Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. kids can take part in constructing educational and practical projects, such as birdhouses or bughouses (unlike hubby, who might be converting our garage fridge into a Keggerator).
Lowe’s How-To Clinics for Kids
Address: 11959 Northup Way, Bellevue, WA 98005
Phone: (425) 646-9031
Age: Old enough to use a hammer and up
Build a bird feeder! Make a bug box! You know kids have fun making stuff, and this is a great way for them to get tool-savvy. Several Saturdays a month, Lowe’s offers these free clinics designed for kids. They are about an hour long, and all you need to bring is your thoughtful kids- they provide everything else. And if you have girls, this is a fantastic way to make sure they aren’t afraid of fixing stuff. What better thing to build than confidence?
Address: 1900 132nd Ave. N.E. Bellevue, WA 98005
Phone: (425) 746-7547
Age: 3 and up
Cost: $40 per session, less for a multi-pass
Got a little skier at home, or one you want to introduce to skiing? Why not do it inside, in Bellevue? You heard me right! Mini Mountain has an indoor mountain thing that you can get sessions on with instruction. Learn to ski or snowboard. Heck, you can even have a birthday party here! Skiing in the summer? Priceless!
Mothers Days at the Movies
Address: Lincoln Square Cinemas: 700 Bellevue Way NE Bellevue, Washington 98004
Phone: (425) 450-9100
Age: not-too mobile kids and their parents
Cost: $7.25 per ticket (kids free)
You have to go to the movies as much as you can while your baby can’t get away because once they start walking, all bets are off. At Lincoln Square Cinemas across the street from Bellevue Square, you can go EVERY THURSDAY for a new release movie at 10 am. I recommend that you do go, EVERY THURSDAY! These movies are so great and make you feel adult again. The babies often just sleep through them, but if they cry, who cares? We are all going through the same thing here! Bring on the popcorn!
Play & Learn at Crossroads Mall
Address: NE 8th and 156th Ave NE, Bellevue 98008
Phone: (425) 644-1111
Age: 2 – 5 yrs
I already embarrassed myself with my earlier (and honest) tribute to Crossroads Mall, so I’ll try to keep my enthusiasm to a minimum here. Every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the stage area, kids accompanied by a caregiver can have some free fun. Activities include stories, songs, art, and games.
Address: 2301 140th Ave NE • Bellevue, WA 98005
Phone: (425) 641-2047
Age: 3 and up
Cost: $5 to skate, $1 for regular roller skate rental, $4 for inline skate rental
The last time I went skating here at Skate King was in 1987 at my 7th grade skate party. Back then, it was awesome- brown skates with bright orange wheels and those eraser style stoppers on the front. There was air hockey, video games, licorice and pop at the concession stand, and great music to skate to. Well, I went back, and twenty years later it is still awesome! In fact, it is exactly the same as it was then. Same air hockey, same concession stand, same brown skates. There is even a mural on the wall that still has the Kingdome in it – remember that place that was demolished in 2000? At the afternoon skate, it is a family affair. Moms and dads with no skates are walking around helping their kids learn to skate. The DJ makes sure no one skates too fast, so it is nice and easy going for littler skaters. I would say 3 years old is about the youngest I would do there, but I did see a 2 year old on skates, so it is up to you. The greatest part, it is a cheap afternoon that gets everyone some exercise and good family fun. It is open Wednesday through Sunday. Check the website for public skate times. Totally rad!
Thistle Puppet Theater
Address: 16661 Northup Way Bellevue, WA 98008
Phone: (206) 524-3388
Age: 3-12 years
Cost: $7 child; $9 adult
Not another hour of Dora the Explorer, you beg. No more Boohbah! How about a beautiful puppet show performed in the ancient Japanese style of Bunraku. The performers are dressed head to toe in black, so they disappear into the background and all you see are the amazing puppets. Stories like the Gingerbread Boy, Little Red Riding Hood, and traditional tales like Momotaro, make a great alternative to television that your kids will love.
University Book Store – Story Time for Kids
Address: 990 102nd Ave. NE, Bellevue, WA 98004
Phone: (425) 462-4500
Age: Ideal for kids ages 3 – 7
Join Carolyn each Thursday morning at 11am for a lively hour of stories and art. Animated readings will entertain your children and help them form positive reading habits. Painting and drawing will stimulate their creative minds. Juice and cookies to follow. Call 425.462.4500 for details. Ages 3 – 7.
Address: 15600 NE 8th Street, Bellevue, WA (in Crossroads Mall)
Phone: (425) 641-2186
Ages: Height requirement of 48″ or smaller
Cost: $10 per child, $8 sibling discount
This new fun-filled adventure play place opened up in Crossroads and is designed for kids 48″ or smaller. It features a soft play area that has motion and is designed to help build gross motor skills, balance, coordination, and more. This place fills up quickly and they don’t take reservations, so be sure to plan accordingly!