From Upscale to Everyday: Shopping in Bellevue

Just across from Lake Washington is the upscale city of Bellevue. Bellevue and Seattle each have their own distinct atmosphere as well as a number of facets that distinguish them from one another. While Seattle has no shortage of shopping areas, Bellevue is an all-around excellent shopping destination for a few reasons. One, parking is almost always plentiful and free in Bellevue. Two, the shopping scene in Bellevue is led by Bellevue Square, a large mall filled with a variety of stores, but there are a number of other shopping centers and malls in the area too. Where Seattle’s main shopping areas are downtown and open-air, Bellevue’s are mostly indoor, which works well for winter or rainy weather.

If you’ve got kids who need to get out of the house, Bellevue’s shopping centers more often than not are great places to take them. Bellevue Square and Crossroads, especially, have plenty of kids activities.

There are a number of other malls in the Seattle and Bellevue area, too.

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    Bellevue Square
    ••• Inside Bellevue Square. Ming-yen Hsu

    Bellevue Square is Bellevue’s premier shopping destination. It’s part of the Bellevue Collection along with Lincoln Square and Bellevue Place, but Bellevue Square stands out for its sheer size as one of the largest shopping malls in the Seattle area. Stores include mall staples such as Nordstrom and Macy’s, as well as Pottery Barn, Tiffany & Co, Anthropologie, Armani Exchange, bebe and more. There are also plenty of places to dine, from food court-type spots to sit-down restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory. With 6000 free parking spaces in a covered parking garage, finding parking is rarely an issue (though, you may have to be patient as you wind your way up the garage). There’s also valet parking available. Bellevue Square is also a great place to take the kids on a rainy day. There are complimentary strollers available and a play area for kids on the top floor.

    Location: 575 Bellevue Way NE (parking garage entrance is off of 100th Avenue NE)

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    Part of the wider Bellevue Collection, Lincoln Square and Bellevue Place are much smaller than Bellevue Square. Each has its own parking garage (with a set number of hours free with validation on weekdays), and are connected via skybridges to each other and to Bellevue Square. Lincoln Square is a mixed-use tower complete with residential space, but shoppers will find upscale retailers, restaurants and some things to do, including a movie theater, bowling alley, a Parlor Live comedy club and a Chihuly chandelier.

    Bellevue Place by contrast is not so much a shopping destination, but there are some restaurants and retail spaces on the ground floor.

    Lincoln Square: 700 Bellevue Way NE
    Bellevue Place: 10500 NE 8th St

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    The Shops at The Bravern

    The Bravern is an open-air shopping center that’s great for sunny days, enjoying the festive décor during the holidays, or upscale shopping. The stores here tend toward higher end and include Neiman Marcus, Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Jimmy Choo. The Bravern is also a fine dining destination with one of the Seattle area’s best steak houses—John Howie Steak—as well as Trophy Cupcakes and Wild Ginger. It isn’t as lively or crowded as Bellevue Square by far, and some shoppers find the quiet atmosphere a little too quiet. However, if you’re out to wander and window shop or looking for a top brand name, the lack of crowds is quite pleasant. There’s both valet and self-parking, and the self-parking spaces do require validation.

    Location: 11111 NE 8th Street

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    Where Bellevue Square is large and more upscale than your average mall, Crossroads aims to be more of an average, everyday mall or shopping center. It’s not anchored by the usual mall offenders (no JCPenney, no Macy’s, and in fact no large clothing stores), but instead has a grocery store, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Bed Bath & Beyond, Pier 1 Imports, Daiso Japan and Half Price Books. One thing that does help Crossroads stand out is its food court as Bellevue Square and The Bravern don’t have food courts. In fact, the Crossroads food court seems to take up most of the mall interior! The shopping area is centered around this large food court, called the International Public Market, which is filled with small, casual eateries that reflect world cuisine—Piroshki Piroshki, Papaya Vietnamese, Boba Express, Ebru Mediterranean Grill and more. There’s also plenty to do for kids, including a Wiggleworks, cheap vintage-style rides and a public library right inside the mall.

    Location: 15600 NE 8th Street