How to Spend the Ultimate Summer Weekend in Issaquah, WA: Our Top Outdoor Activities, Restaurants, and More

Whether you’re interested in hiking, biking, water sports, or other summer fun, Issaquah makes the perfect hub for family friendly outdoor adventure!

With a plethora of outdoor activities for all ages located a mere 5-30 minutes from downtown Issaquah, it’s easy to fill a weekend in this charming mountainside town. In this piece we’ll share not just our top outdoor experiences, but our favorite local food finds, and affordable, family friendly lodging. Read on to discover why we LOVE to stay and play in beautiful Issaquah, WA!


Summer sunset on Lake Sammamish

Outdoor Activities for All Ages

First things first – what to do for fun! Situated at the base of three small mountains (referred to by locals as the “Issaquah Alps”), along the perimeter of gorgeous Lake Sammamish, and with incredibly easy access to the more remote Cascade Mountain trails down the I-90 East corridor, Issaquah truly makes the perfect basecamp for a summer weekend of outdoor activity.

Foggy morning Issaquah views

Hiking

With hundreds of local trails it’s hard to choose just our top few! We’ve shared a handful of local favorites in and around Issaquah below, but be sure to check out our Five Beginner Friendly Waterfall Hikes post as well for even more ideas.

Panoramic View from the North Launch Pad on Top of Poo Poo Point

Best Bang For Your Buck: A shorter hike with some of the best views offered by the Issaquah Alps can be found by hiking a little less than 4 miles round trip on the Chirico Trail, up to Poo Poo Point and back. Over the course of about 1,500 feet in elevation gain, hikers will make their way through the forests of Tiger Mountain, up to the North Launch pad (used by paragliders that frequently use Poo Poo Point as a take-off spot for flights).

Best Hike for Young Kids (In Issaquah): While Chirico Trail makes a great out and back for families with older kiddos, those with littler legs will appreciate the gentle terrain and lower elevation gain on some of Tiger Mountain’s Tradition Plateau hikes. The .7 mile Bus Trail takes hikers by a mysterious and creepy broken down bus from ages ago, and the 3.4 mile Tradition Plateau Loop is a nice loop for some lake views. The 1 mile Swamp Trail is a fun hike for youngsters, with signs along the trail to tell a story about the animals found in our local forests, but while it’s a short distance we have found this route slightly confusing to navigate.

Best Hike for Young Kids (Near Issaquah): Hands down our FAVORITE local hike for young kids in the Greater Seattle area is the Oxbow Loop Trail. We’ve done this 2 mile loop with our 3 year old several times and the stunning mountain views never disappoint. There is very little elevation gain, and the drive out to the remote trailhead in nearby North Bend provides additional mountain views and big adventure on a smaller hike.

Favorite Trail On Squak Mountain: For a little more distance, head to the other side of Issaquah to Squak Mountain’s Margaret’s Way Trail. At 6.5 miles round trip and 1500 ft of elevation gain, this hike combines steeper sections with more gradual slopes through thick forests. Follow signs to “Debbie’s Viewpoint” at the end of the trail for an additional .7 mile of hiking and views of Mt. Rainier and gorgeous green hillsides.

Stunning Mt. Rainier views from the top of Tiger Mountain

Best Middle Distance Hike with a View: Another option for a middle distance hike with phenomenal Mt. Rainier views is Tiger Mountain’s Tiger #1 via Fred’s Corner Trail. At 7 miles round trip and a bit heftier 2400 ft of elevation gain, this hike requires a bit more navigation, and some extra oomph for a challenging last mile to the top.

Granite Lake in North Bend

For Serenity and Alpine Lake Views: If taking a short drive out of town for some longer distance and more remote challenges sounds more your style, give Granite Creek Trail to Granite Lakes in the North Bend area a try. This trail leads you to gorgeous tucked away views of Granite Lakes on an 8.8 mile out and back type trail.

Favorite Trail For A Big Challenge: While Mt. Si is a popular and very highly trafficked local favorite for a more challenging adventure, neighboring Mt. Tenerriffe (also in North Bend) offers jaw dropping summit views in reward for 13 miles of hard work. Definitely a hike recommended for experienced hikers only, those with a love for challenge ought to add Mt. Tenerriffe to their PNW hiking bucket list.

Duthie Hill Bootcamp Loop Trail
All ages mountain biking trails found at Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park

Mountain Biking

If you’re looking to head off road on two wheels, Issaquah, WA and surrounding mountain bike destinations make the ultimate all-ages playground.

A mere 10-15 minutes from just about anywhere in Issaquah you’ll find:

Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park – Arguably one of the top mountain biking destinations in the state, the 120 acre Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park offers over six miles of intertwined trails for adventurous riders. With a variety of cross-country trails, free ride trails, jumps, and more, all ages and abilities of mountain bike fans will be happy here.

The forest playground of Duthie Hill Park

Grand Ridge Trail System – Right across the road from Duthie Hill’s main parking lot you’ll find one access point to the 26-mile Grand Ridge Trail system. With multiple access points in downtown Issaquah and Issaquah Highlands as well, this enormous trail system offers a great cross-country workout and hill climbing challenge.

Tiger Mountain East – One of Seattle’s most popular mountain biking destinations, the Tiger East trail system begins with a one way climbing trail from the parking lot leading about 3/4 of the way up to the summit. From there, riders can explore the trail system, head on down the mountain with true downhill options, or continue on to the summit for some additional elevation gain.

Water Sports

A gem of Seattle’s Eastside, the beautiful Lake Sammamish State Park is a must-visit destination during any stay in Issaquah. Whether to take a quick swim after a long day of hiking or riding, or to spend a day paddling on the water. This 500+ acre park offers two large swim beaches, onsite paddle sport rentals from Issaquah Paddle Sports, a huge playground, and plenty of grassy areas for large family gatherings, BBQs, and sports. Just a couple miles down the road from the main State Park entrance is the boat launch for motorized watersports and fishing access.

Paragliding

No list of adventurous outdoor activities in Issaquah would be complete without a shout out to our friends at Seattle Paragliding! If flying down the mountainside sounds more your style, they’ve got you covered. We have yet to work up the nerve to try one of their tandem, no-experience-necessary flight from the top of Tiger Mountain, but thrill-seeking friends tell us this is a once in a lifetime experience!


Fuel Your Fun

All good adventures start and end with food – are we right, or are we right? After your day of fun, be sure to visit one of our favorite spots in Issaquah to refuel!

Formula Brewing – Tap Room, Beer Garden & Wood Fired Pizza

Formula Brewing, Issaquah’s first brewery and beer garden, is the spot to be for any beer loving visitor to Seattle’s Eastside. Their taps include an ever-rotating selection of “true to style” brews, and a friendly, relaxing setting for all ages. They offer a huge, open indoor and outdoor seating areas, and in addition to their beers (we’ve never tried one we didn’t like!) they offer some of the best wood fired pizzas we’ve ever had. With crusts that have a slight crunch on the bottom, but still a good bit of chew, our mouth is watering just thinking about our last visit!

PS: They are walking distance to Issaquah’s two signature hotels!

Chinoise Sushi Bar & Asian Grill

Chinoise is a local Asian fusion restaurant serving up gourmet Pan-Pacific Rim cuisine. Located in the Issaquah Highlands area, Chinoise is owned by Chef Thoa Nguyen, winner of the popular Food Network cooking TV show “Beat Bobby Flay.” With a huge menu of wok fare, noodle and rice entrees, sushi and other seafood specials, there is something for everything at Chinoise. We’d highly recommend trying some of the signature craft cocktails as well! We tried the mango mojito and lychee martini – both were incredibly delicious and fresh, as you can see by the whole lychee garnish in the photo!

Orenji Sushi & Noodles

Don’t let the quaint exterior of Orenji fool you – some of the best Sushi and ramen around can be found at locally owned Orenji’s. Here you’ll find reasonable prices on unique sushi rolls, sashimi, and nigiri, as well as one of the best bowls of ramen we’ve had. Located right down the street from Lake Sammamish State Park, they make a great spot for a grab and go dinner in the park.

Levitate Gastropub

Focused on locally sourced, scratch made food and cocktails, Levitate Gastropub offers modern American cuisine in a hip, family-friendly environment in the historic Downtown Issaquah area. We love their outdoor patio for family friendly dining, and hands down they have the best fish and chips in town.

Cold brews and a hot pretzel from Black Duck Cask & Bottle

Black Duck Cask and Bottle

Looking to leave the littles at home and head for a night out? The Black Duck Cask & Bottle offers an ages 21+ gastropub experience with 17 local taps, a rustic “open air garage” type restaurant and a gourmet twist on traditional pub fare. They’re located at the historic Gilman Village shopping center which makes for a fun place to wander and shop before or after your day of play.


Where to Stay

When you’re finally ready to wind down for the day, head to one of Issaquah’s signature hotels for a place to stay! Both properties are located just minutes from Lake Sammamish, Issaquah Alps hiking, and I-90 freeway access for exploring the Eastside region.

Hilton Garden Inn Issaquah: For the premium Hilton experience, visit Hilton Garden Inn Issaquah located at 1800 NW Gilman Blvd, Issaquah, WA, 98027. Accommodations include access to an indoor pool, 24 hour fitness center, and full-service Trailhead Kitchen and Bar. Click here to check out their special summer rates!

Marriott Springhill Suites Issaquah: Offering roomy suites and an indoor pool, the Springhill Suites in Issaquah is located at 1185 NW Maple Street, Issaquah, WA, 98027.  

This post was graciously sponsored by the City of Issaquah. All opinions are our own.

Seven Fun Treats to Try in Bellevue and Beyond

Whether you’re a traditionalist looking for a chocolate chip cookie fix, or into sampling the latest sweet tooth trend, this list has something for any foodie looking to try some of the Eastside’s best treats. Without further adieu, we present seven fun foodie treats you can find on Seattle’s Eastside.


The Cookie from Metropolitan Market

Appropriately named “The Cookie,” this giant chocolate chip cookie from gourmet grocer Metropolitan Market is not only loaded with chocolate and walnuts, it’s served warm and fresh off a hot plate. Every .Single. Time. You may want a napkin (or three) while enjoying this ooey gooey goodness.

You can find a Metropolitan Market near you in Sammamish, Kirkland, and Mercer Island.


Gourmet Ice Cream from Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream

The gourmet ice cream at Molly Moon’s is some of the finest you’ll try – ingredients are sourced locally from the beautiful Pacific Northwest as shown in their seasonal flavor selections, and their small batches are made on the daily. We’ve never met a Molly Moon’s flavor we didn’t like, and with flavors like honey lavender and cold brew coffee, cookie dough and melted chocolate, there’s something for everyone. Our favorite combo is pretty much anything with their hardshell chocolate on top.

Molly Moon’s has two Eastside locations: Redmond and Bellevue.


Baked Goods from The North Bend Bakery

The perfect compliment to any hike located down the I-90 East corridor, The North Bend Bakery serves up fresh baked cookies, doughnuts, pies and more, just like Granny used to make. They’re situated right in the shadow of big Mt. Si in Downtown North Bend, and are a must visit during a day-trip to the greater Snoqualmie Valley or Pass.


Bubble Waffles from Happy Lemon

If understated sweets are more your style, the bubble waffles from Happy Lemon are sure to make YOU happy. Bubble waffles are an egg based waffle with an almost custardy taste. Lightly crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, they make a perfect breakfast or anytime treat. Happy Lemon offers vanilla or chocolate flavors, or a swirl of the two.

Happy Lemon has Eastside locations in both Issaquah and Bellevue.


Cookie Dough Cups from Sugar & Spoon

Every cookie dough lover’s dream – Sugar & Spoon scoops up a variety of edible (no raw egg) cookie dough, with optional add-ons like ice cream, chocolate chips, cookie chunks and more. It is soooo darn good, and sooo sweet. We recommend sharing with a friend.

Since Sugar and Spoon operate out of a food truck, you’ll find them popping up all over the Eastside! Check out their website for upcoming locations and times.


Almond Croissant from Belle Pastry

A twist on the classis croissant breakfast pastry, the almond croissant is filled with a sweet almond paste, and topped with toasted almonds and powdered sugar, making for a delicious sweet treat. The best one we’ve tried can be found at Belle Pastry, located in Bellevue’s charming downtown Old Main St. district.


An Old Fashioned Float from Triple XXX Rootbeer

Like something out of a feel good movie from the fifties, the giant rootbeer floats at downtown Issaquah’s historic Triple XXX Rootbeer are a must try at least once. We recommend spending a warm summer night on their patio sipping one of these special treats.

Check out Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-In’s hours, menu and more at http://triplexrootbeer.com.


Looking for more ways to satiate your sweet tooth? Check out our favorite Eastside Doughnut Shops next!

Five Spring Experiences that are Must-Haves on Seattle’s Eastside

While the old adage “April showers bring May flowers” certainly rings true in the Pacific Northwest, the departure of Winter still brings more days of favorable weather for getting back to some of the outdoor activities our beautiful area is known for. Come March (March 20th to be exact) Spring officially arrives, just after the beginning of daylight savings, happening March 14th this year. If you’re looking for ways to enjoy Spring’s welcoming combination of more sunny skies, and longer hours of daylight, you’ve come to the right place! Below we share five of our favorite ways to spend a sunny Spring weekend on Seattle’s Greater Eastside.


1. Visit Bellevue Botanical Garden’s Beautiful Blooms

After taking us over three decades to make our first visit, now that we’ve experienced the magic of Bellevue’s Botanical Garden we’ve been back several times in just a few short months. This 53 acre retreat is free to visit year round, but is particularly gorgeous Spring through Fall.

The Garden includes shady hikes through a tree lined forest, a gorgeous Japanese inspired Yao Garden, Rhododendron Glen and more. Located just a couple minute drive from Downtown Bellevue, Bellevue Botanical Garden has a lovely little coffee bar onsite, and makes the perfect spot for an afternoon walk with a friend, a quiet space to journal, or a kid-friendly urban hike with the family.

To learn more, check out their website: https://bellevuebotanical.org/


2. Get the Camping Gear Out on a Shakedown Trip

Did you know that the Eastside has a hidden gem of a campground, right in our local Snoqualmie Valley? The Tolt McDonald campground is a little known retreat located downtown Carnation, just along the shores of where the Snoqualmie and Tolt Rivers meet. With easy access to any of the Eastside cities, and super low elevation, this site makes for a great early season camping trip close to home. Whether you’re looking to acclimate young new campers to the fun of spending a weekend outdoors, or test out some new gear before heading out on a longer adventure, be sure to check out Tolt McDonald.

The campground opens in April, and offers walking distance access to a variety of hiking, walking, and biking trails, a large playground, downtown Carnation in case you need your Starbucks (JOKING!) and river based activities. Temperatures do still get a bit chilly at night in Spring, so we recommend packing accordingly, and possibly waiting until later in Spring if you’re a new camper (May and June are great months to head out!).

You can learn more and make reservations here: https://www.kingcounty.gov/services/parks-recreation/parks/parks-and-natural-lands/popular-parks/toltmacdonald.aspx


The Mercer Slough, a great beginner friendly place to kayak, accessible from Enatai Beach in Bellevue

3. Head Out on the Water

Although it’s a little early to head to Washington’s signature lakes for a swim (unless you’re willing to don a wetsuit!), Spring is a great time to hit the lakes for some fishing, boating, or stand-up paddle boarding (SUP).

Beaver Lake, Pine Lake, and Lake Sammamish are all great spots to fish from shore for those just “diving” into the hobby of fishing.

Beaver Lake offers the perfect place for fishermen of all ages to drop a line

If you’re interested in heading out onto the water, local outdoor retailer REI offers kayak, canoe, and SUP classes and rentals to take out on Lake Washington and the Mercer Slough, out of Bellevue’s Enatai and Meydenbauer Beaches. Issaquah Paddle Sports, located at Lake Sammamish State Park, offers boat rentals to take out on Lake Sammamish.

For more information on some of our favorite local beaches, check out this link: https://discovertheeastside.com/2020/07/06/an-eastside-beach-for-every-week-of-summer/


Spending a sunny day on the Sammamish River Trail

4. Walk, Run, or Ride Down the Lake Sammamish/Sammamish River Trail

If you’ve been feeling a bit cooped up this winter, the regional Lake Sammamish and Sammamish River Trails offer plenty of distance to stretch the legs. Combined, the trails run from Issaquah to Redmond, and on to Woodinville, for miles of mixed paved and gravel enjoyment. There are plenty of access points and places to park throughout the combined 20+ miles of trails, as well as plenty of opportunity to make a day of your outing. One of our favorites is starting at Redmond’s Marymoor Park, and riding out to Woodinville Wine Country for food and hydration 😉

Lake Sammamish Trail Info: https://www.kingcounty.gov/services/parks-recreation/parks/trails/regional-trails/popular-trails/east-lake-samm.aspx

Sammamish River Trail Info: https://www.kingcounty.gov/services/parks-recreation/parks/trails/regional-trails/popular-trails/samm-river.aspx


5. Visit Woodinville Wine Country

Speaking of Woodinville….Located on the Northern point of Seattle’s Eastside suburbs in the heart of the Sammamish River Valley, is scenic Woodinville, Washington. Home to over 100 wineries and tasting rooms, and surrounded by gorgeous hillsides and farmlands, Woodinville offers a world-class wine tasting experience to residents and visitors alike. Wine connoisseurs can easily spend a day, weekend, or week exploring here, and Spring makes an incredible time to visit this lovely wine country.

Whether you’re planning your own outing, or looking to schedule a guided tour, https://woodinvillewinecountry.com/ is a great resource to start planning your adventure.

Fondue For Two: A Melting Pot Night In

As Winter weather has set in, and the Covid curse has still been putting a damper on some of our favorite indoor (and outdoor) winter activities, finding ways to keep things fun and interesting has been more of a challenge as of late, and this past month has been a stretch of our creativity for sure. When The Melting Pot reached out to see if we’d be interested in testing out their new fondue to-go offerings we jumped at the opportunity – food and fondue-tainment? Yes please! We’re so excited to share the great experience we had this past month dipping and dining for a fun date-night-in.

The Melting Pot, located right in the heart of Downtown Bellevue, WA, is a fondue restaurant with close to 100 locations nationwide. They were formed in 1975 (before us!) yet this was our first experience with the franchise. If you’re not familiar with fondue, it’s a fun interactive dining experience based on dipping various foods into sauces and dips kept tableside in hot pots (think bread dipped into melted cheese, or fruit dipped into gooey chocolate – YUM!). Typically, a hot plate or candle setup is used to keep the melted goods warm at the table, as is the case with The Melting Pot’s in-house experience, but at home, we simply warmed the sauces on the stovetop to make sure they were extra hot (you could also microwave), poured into bowls, and promptly let the dipping begin!

The Melting Pot Menu & Our Order

The Melting Pot recently launched their take-out based options, and the ordering and pickup-up process was a breeze. Our review is based specifically on their takeout offerings, as in-house dining was unavailable at the time we gave them a try.

One of the things we we’re most excited about with their menu, was that there are truly options that would please any dietary preferences – meat-eaters, gluten free-ers, and plant-based diners alike will find menu options that provide a well-rounded dining experience. They are the only fondue restaurant we know of on the Eastside, and we can’t wait to try their in-house experience someday.

For this write-up we tested the “four course fondue for two” take-out package, which came with the following:

Course 1: Appetizer

Fresh bread cubes and a mix of raw and roasted veggies, dipped in a signature cheese fondue dip. One of the selling points of this meal was the availability of a non-dairy based cheese sauce. Unfortunately, dairy doesn’t love me back, so after years of being dairy-denied, being able to experience a vegan cheese dip was so fun! The Wisconsin cheddar, and quattro formaggio dip options sounded soooo good but alas, I will have to live vicariously.

Course 2: Salad

The four course meal comes with the choice of several salad options – we chose the California and we’re super happy with this pick. It included spring greens, candied pecans, tomatoes, gorgonzola for my dairy eating counterpart, and a lovely raspberry walnut vinaigrette.

Course 3: Entrée

For the entrée course, each person gets to choose several skewer or other entrée items. We sampled the shrimp skewers (our favorite!), wild mushroom sacchetti, veggie pot stickers, and vegan polpettes (vegan meat ball). We actually had to double check the menu as we were convinced the polpettes were made of actual meat!

Course 4: Dessert

Our favorite course of the night was definitely the dessert. We stuck with the pure dark chocolate fondue (also dairy free!) and it was heavenly. A variety of fresh fruits were provided for dipping along with a ton of different mini-desserts (think cookie bites, brownie bites, and more).

The Fondue For Two Dinner was enough for two very hungry adults for dinner, plus a small lunch left over. People with more moderate appetites would likely have gotten two full dinners and lunches out of the meal. We were really satisfied with the meal, and honestly most enjoyed just how FUN the dining experience was! Our biggest tip for diners experiencing fondue as takeout, is be sure to heat the dips hot enough for optimal taste and experience. After a great first meal, we’re excited to visit with family and friends someday as it would definitely make for an entertaining and interactive group dining experience! For now, cheers to a nice night at home.

Getting to The Melting Pot Bellevue

The Melting Pot is located at 302 108th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98004. It is easy to find and access right off of I-405.

Five Winter Experiences that are Must-Haves on Seattle’s Eastside

Not only does the first official day of winter mark the start of a new season, but the “shortest” day of the year as well (winter solstice). The good news: each day from December 21st, throughout the rest of winter, will bring slightly more daylight (and more time for exploring) in December and beyond! One of the beautiful things about winter in the Pacific Northwest is that despite the increase in dreary days this time of year can bring, mild winters with little snow in the lowlands means there’s still plenty of opportunity for outdoor adventures and fun. While there are countless things to keep you busy this winter – here are five of our favorite ways to enjoy the season on Seattle’s Eastside.

1. Experience the Magic of the Holidays

For those that celebrate Christmas, there is no shortage of holiday magic to be had on Seattle’s Eastside. Be sure to check out some of these local experiences:  

  • Meet Santa: The jolly old fellow may be hiding behind a mask or plexiglass this year, but leave it to him to still find a way into our hearts and photo albums. Bellevue Square and Redmond Town Center are two places you’ll find him this year. For those that prefer an outdoor drive-by Santa experience, head to Issaquah Highlands for Santa Cruises the Highlands December 5th, 13th and 20th.
  • Meet Santa’s Reindeer: From December 1st-23rd the Cougar Mountain Zoo in Issaquah, WA transforms into the Issaquah Reindeer Festival. You’ll find the whole fleet of Santa’s reindeer, socially distanced/outdoor photos with Santa, and other exhibits to experience.
  • Head to the Holiday Train: Catch the Yuletide Express leaving from the Northwest Railway Museum in Snoqualmie. This 25 minute train excursion even includes a small present and cookies from Santa.
  • Pick your perfect Christmas Tree: If you’re heading to a tree farm to hunt for that perfect tree, consider keeping it local on the Eastside and visiting Trinity Tree Farm in Issaquah, or Carnation Tree Farm in Carnation. Be sure to pack your muscle and saw skills, as these are both truly “u-cut” experiences. For those looking for a pre-cut beauty, Molbak’s in Woodinville offers not only Christmas trees, but a stunning display of poinsettias and other holiday foliage and gifts as well – they are one of our favorite holiday spots on the Eastside.

2. See Some Sparkling Lights

Take advantage of the 5pm darkness by taking a holiday lights walk or drive through your own neighborhood, and add one of these awesome local spots for a grand finale:

  • Redmond Lights (Redmond): From December 4th-January 3rd view various light installations in and around Redmond’s Downtown Park
  • Snowflake Lane (Bellevue): November 27th-December 24th there will be music, “snow fall” and glimmering lights along Bellevue Way near Bellevue Square and Lincoln Center malls
  • Keener’s Christmas (Bothell): A private Christmas light display in Bothell open 6-10pm throughout the month of December

3. Play in the Snow!

Though we typically only get one or two small snow storms (if any) each year, just a short drive down I-90 East gets you to the Snoqualmie Pass, a winter wonderland for snow seekers. Whether for a casual snow shoe or sledding excursion, or a full day of skiing or snowboarding at Summit at Snoqualmie, we recommend making at least one trip up to the pass this winter.

*Be sure to check driving conditions before heading out on your journey, travel prepared, and stick to the safe/advised routes.

4. Take a (Lowland) Hike

Though many of our favorite higher elevation hikes are too snowy to hike in the winter, and abundance of lowland hiking options bring great outdoor opportunities year round. Even when snow is not present, do be aware of icy conditions one trails.

Some of our favorite year round hikes for families and all-level hikers include:

Views from Oxbow Loop

Oxbow Loop Trail

At just 1.8 miles roundtrip and virtually no elevation gain, the Oxbow Loop Trail offers a toddler friendly hike with stunning views of the surrounding mountainsides, and Oxbow Lake. The parking area is quite small, but if you continue driving there is a second lot just down the road, with a short trail leading to the main trailhead.

Snoqualmie Valley Trail views

Snoqualmie Valley Trail

If you’re looking for more of a long walk than a traditional “hike” (or trail run/mountain bike ride) check out the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. Winding almost 32 miles from Duvall to North Bend, the Snoqualmie Valley Trail offers agricultural views, river crossings, dense forested stretches, and more.

The trail ultimately connects to the cross-state John Wayne Pioneer Trail in Iron Horse State Park.

Views from the Moss Lake Trail in Carnation, WA

Moss Lake

Located a short drive from downtown Carnation, this 2.5 mile round trip hike is mostly flat, and offers various views of the small lake and preserve. Do be sure to grab one of the maps at the trailhead, as several off-shoot trails can make for confusing navigation.

Snoqualmie Falls Water fall in Snoqualmie, WA
Snoqualmie Falls Water fall in Snoqualmie, WA

Snoqualmie Falls

As mentioned in our favorite waterfalls article, Snoqualmie Falls is a 1.4 mile out and back to one of the most stunning waterfalls in our state. The most highly trafficked trail on our list, this hike is a must for any local’s bucket list.

5. Savor the Flavors of the Season

From all things peppermint, to other warm winter favorites, grabbing a beverage or some food to-go is a fun way to savor the season. We recommend getting out to enjoy some of these favorite spots:

Black Raven Brewing (Woodinville/Redmond): Get in the holiday spirit with Black Raven’s Festivus Holiday Ale. Their signature seasonal brew, Festivus is made with infusions of cranberries, various citrus peel fruit and a brewer’s secret blend of spices. (PS: check out our Eastside Brewery Guide to find more local seasonal brews)

Yi Fang (Bellevue/Redmond): Made in-house and from scratch, the ginger lemon tea from Yi Fang is our new favorite non-coffee winter warmer beverage. It can be ordered plain, as a creamy non-dairy tea latte, and with boba for the bubble tea fans.

Dough Zone Dumpling House (Issaquah/Redmond/Bellevue): Warm your soul and your taste buds with the delicious dumplings from Dough Zone Dumpling House. Their made to order, handmade dumplings can be enjoyed steamed, boiled, or pan fried. We taste tested the steamed zucchini shrimp dumplings and pan-fried chive dumplings and could not get enough.

Huxdotter Coffee (North Bend): Check out their seasonal specials such as a peppermint bark latte or peppermint bark dark mocha after heading out on a brisk hike in the gorgeous Snoqualmie Valley (see above).

Lady Yum (Kirkland/Bellevue): We don’t know quite what it is about the scrumptious macarons at Lady Yum, but these things are heavenly. Check out their holiday flavors: gingerbread lemon, peppermint bark, cherry coconut cordial and more.

Salt & Straw (Kirkland): You do not want to miss the insanely good seasonal flavors from gourmet ice cream shop Salt & Straw! Just a few of the seasonal flavors their new Kirkland location is serving up include spiked eggnog, gingerbread cookie dough, and cocoa & peppermint patties. Be sure to bundle up and grab a scoop before Spring.

Boehm’s Candies (Issaquah): Since 1942 Boehm’s has been hand crafting the most delectable European style chocolates out of their candy factory in Issaquah, WA. They’re open year round, but extra festive during the holiday season with chocolate santas, and seasonal items galore.

The Best Coffee Shops on Seattle’s Eastside: An Ultimate Roundup List

If there’s one major trickle over effect from Seattle into its Eastside suburbs, it’s the local population’s love of Seattle’s signature beverage – the perfect cup of coffee. Lucky for us Eastsiders, you’ll find a coffee shop for every mood and preference worthy of a visit on this list. Our “best of” list currently includes our top 20 favorite coffee shops in Issaquah, Redmond, Bellevue, and Kirkland. As we keep exploring, we’ll continue to expand our list to include our other favorite Eastside cities as well!

Our round up list of the best coffee shops on Seattle’s Eastside focuses on:

  • Independently owned shops and small local chains (sorry Starbucks!)
  • Shops whose primary focus is it’s coffee (versus cafes that also just happen to serve coffee)
  • Shops with a store front (there are lots of great drive through options! But you won’t find them on this list)

To jump right down to your favorite Eastside city just use the quick links below in our table of contents, or scroll on to discover all of the best coffee shops on Seattle’s Eastside.

Table of Contents:


The Best Coffee Shops in Bellevue

If you’re looking for the best coffee in Bellevue, you won’t have to look far! With ten spots that made our favorites list, practically everywhere you turn you’ll find a brew worthy of boasting about. Most of the shops center around Bellevue’s Downtown hub, making for perfect people watching, park dates, and more.

Third Culture Coffee

Located just across the street from Bellevue’s Downtown Park, Third Culture Coffee features ethically sourced single origin coffee from around the world, roasted in Seattle, and brewed with precision. Complimenting their prestigious coffee lineup are quality teas, wine and coffee cocktails.

Location: 80 102nd Avenue Northeast, Bellevue, WA, 98004

Website: https://thirdculturecoffee.com/


Queen B Cafe

Tucked away in Bellevue’s Clyde Hill neighborhood, you’ll find Queen B Cafe along the beautiful shoreline drive through Bellevue’s Lake Washington border. Their impeccable coffee is sourced from the world’s top 2% of coffee growers, and is complemented by a delicious lineup of creative sweet and savory crumpet combinations that have drawn the attention of local press. Beyond “bee-ing” one of the best kept secrets of Bellevue, at Queen B you get coffee for a cause – 100% of proceeds each year are donated to local charities.

Location: 8805 Points Dr NE, Clyde Hill, WA, 98004

Website: https://www.queenbeecafe.com/


Cypress Coffee

With locations in both the Eastgate area of Bellevue and Redmond Ridge, Cypress is an independently owned coffee shop that offers the best of the basics, as well as unique gourmet latte specials. During the winter season, check out their Browned Butter Latte, or Rosemary Vanilla Latte, for flavorful but not overdone favorites.

Location: 3080 148th Ave SE #113, Bellevue, WA, 98007

Website: https://www.cypresscoffeecompany.com/


The Copper Kettle Coffee Bar at Bellevue Botanical Garden

Copper Kettle Coffee Bar

No trip to Bellevue’s gorgeous Botanical Garden is complete without a quick pick-me-up from the Copper Kettle Coffee Bar. Located within the garden’s grounds, Copper Kettle Coffee wins our vote for best coffee shop to meet a friend for an outdoor date. They serve up organic free-trade coffee roasted by Sleepy Monk Coffee in Cannon Beach, Oregon, and delicious pastries from local Macrina bakery. They offer free Wi-Fi and outdoor seating with a view that’s hard to beat.

Location: 12400 Main St, Bellevue, WA, 98005

Website: https://bellevuebotanical.org/garden-cafe/


Woods Coffee’s Bellevue Square location in Bellevue, WA

Woods Coffee

An iconic PNW coffee chain, Woods Coffee features outdoorsy vibes and coffee classics. Your caffeine-free accompaniments will appreciate their caramel apple cider and house-made baked goods, made fresh in their Lynden, WA bakery and shipped to stores daily.

Location: 2002 Bellevue Square, Bellevue, WA, 98004

Website: https://woodscoffee.com/


Fonte Coffee Roasters

Located Downtown Bellevue, Fonte is a must-visit for those with an adventurous palate. In addition to standard favorites and quality drip-coffee, they offer unique globally inspired favorites including a Turkish Latte with cardamom and vanilla, and the Aztec Latte with cocoa, cayenne, black pepper and cinnamon.

Location: 10500 NE 8th St, Bellevue, WA, 98004

Website: https://www.fontecafe.com/


Cafe Cesura

Coming up on their decade anniversary in Bellevue, Cafe Cesura serves up some of the best coffee in Bellevue. Their high ceilings and minimalist decor make for an excellent backdrop to rotating art and a remote work haven. Cafe Cesura takes dairy-free to a whole new level with house-made almond milk, and is home to one of Greater Seattle’s best breakfast sandwiches.

Location: 1015 108th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA, 98004

Website: https://www.cafecesura.com/


The Best Coffee Shops in Kirkland

Competition for the best coffee in Kirkland is stiff, with an abundance of coffee shops old and new that have made themselves at home in this waterfront town.

Zoka

If you’ve never been to Zoka, it is a must visit on the Eastside. They are definitely a the triple threat of our list: they have a gorgeous shop right off the Kirkland waterfront, amazing coffee, and a Magic Bar – their heavenly, house-made mashup of coconut, oats, chocolate, and other worldly goodness that cannot not be mentioned when discussing a visit to Zoka – you’ll thank us later.

Location: 129 Central Way, Kirkland, WA, 98033

Website: https://www.zokacoffee.com/


Kirkland’s Cafe Ladro

Cafe Ladro

With locations all throughout Seattle and the Eastside, Cafe Ladro has secured themselves as a staple in the competitive Seattle coffee scene. With an intentionally friendly atmosphere, superb coffee, and drool worthy baked goods, Cafe Ladro is a must visit on any coffee connoisseur’s bucket list. Their Kirkland location brings laid-back beachy vibes to Kirkland’s Lake Washington waterfront downtown.

Location: 104 Central Way, Kirkland, WA, 98033

Website: https://www.caffeladro.com/


Fall treats from Kirkland’s Urban Coffee Lounge

Urban Coffee Lounge

With two locations in Kirkland, Urban Coffee Lounge is a self-proclaimed coffee shop first and foremost, but their flagship location in Juanita Village serves up beer and wine in addition to their gourmet coffee and delicious food. We recommend pairing a visit with a trip to Juanita Bay Park.

Location: 9744 NE 119th Way, Kirkland, WA, 98034

Website: http://uclkirkland.squarespace.com/


203′ Coffee in Kirkland’s Totem Lake area

203′ Coffee

Located at Kirkland’s renovated Totem Lake area shopping center – The Village at Totem Lake, 203′ Coffee serves us a minimalist menu that they strive to serve to perfection. Try out their house-made lavender syrup in your beverage of choice, or pairing your perfect cup with one of their buttermilk strawberry biscuits.

Location: 12601 120th Ave NE, Kirkland, WA, 98034

Website: https://203degreesfahrenheit.coffee/


Kitanda Espresso & Acai

What began as a small Brazilian store in Seattle in 2004, has since expanded to become a small chain of family owned coffee houses around Seattle and two locations on the Eastside – Kirkland and Redmond. Their menu features the robust flavors of Brazilian coffee sourced from farms in Brazil, and roasted locally in Seattle, and a house favorite the Brazilian Latte – a gourmet espresso and condensed milk beverage. Don’t skip on sampling their other traditional Brazilian favorites as well – hot house-made Brazilian cheese bread that’s naturally gluten-free, and fresh blended Acai bowls.

Location: 12700 NE 124th St #2, Kirkland, WA, 98034

Website: https://www.kitanda.com/


Pastries from Plant Life Meals and Lattes from Issaquah Coffee Company, at Issaquah Coffee Co. in Issaquah, WA

The Best Coffee Shops in Issaquah

When caffeine is calling your name, head to one of these Issaquah coffee shops for a quick pick-me-up. This small but mighty list features three of the best places to grab a coffee in the lovely mountainside town of Issaquah, WA.

Issaquah Coffee Company

For over 10 years, Issaquah Coffee Company owner Mike has been brewing up coffee and community at this quaint coffee house in historic Gilman Village. In addition to their fabulous coffee and tea-based beverages they offer a large selection of pastries and other treats, breakfast wraps, ciabatta melts and more, from local partners such as North Bend Bakery and Homegrown sandwich shop. For the health conscience crowd they serve up plant-based breakfast items from Plant Life Meals, smoothies, and a variety of other vegan and vegetarian options.

Location: 317 NW Gilman #47, Issaquah, WA, 98027

Website: https://www.issaquahcoffee.com/


Issaquah Highlands views from Cafe Ladro Issaquah

Cafe Ladro

With locations all throughout Seattle and the Eastside, Cafe Ladro has secured themselves as a staple in the competitive Seattle coffee scene. With an intentionally friendly atmosphere, superb coffee, and drool worthy baked goods, Cafe Ladro is a must visit on any coffee connoisseur’s bucket list. Their Issaquah location pairs perfectly with the stunning views found in Issaquah’s Highlands neighborhood.

Location: 1200 10th Ave NE, Issaquah, WA, 98029

Website: https://www.caffeladro.com/


Lattes and unique treats from Issaquah’s Q Cafe

Q Cafe

Hidden away in the hillside of Issaquah’s Talus neighborhood, Q Cafe is one of the newest additions to the Eastside. This slightly mysterious “interactive cafe” was a concept developed by local escape room owners, who dreamed of a slightly different coffee shop experience. In addition to the perfect cup of coffee, and a bit of interactive mystery, they offer all-day breakfast, and fresh made pastries that are true works of art.

Location: 188 NW Shy Bear Way, Suite B, Issaquah, WA, 98027

Website: https://www.qcafeseattle.com/


The Best Coffee Shops in Redmond

With several of the best coffee shops in Redmond conveniently located off the Sammamish River Trail, this small outdoorsy tech-town makes the perfect spot to get a fresh brew along with some fresh air.

Victor’s Coffee Co. in Redmond, WA

Victor’s Coffee Co.

A longtime staple in Redmond, Victor’s Celtic coffeehouse opened in 1989, and sticking true to their roots of using coffee as community building, offers no in-house wifi. Leave your laptop at home, bring a friend, and savor a quality cup of joe and conversation.

Location: 7993 Gilman Street, Redmond, WA, 98052

Website: http://www.victorscelticcoffee.com/


SoulFoods Coffee House in Redmond, WA

SoulFood Coffee House

SoulFood Coffee House takes the cake for funky vibes and the most eclectic culture on our list. From live music, to a rotating fair-trade emporium of goods like stones, incense and more, we recommend you come for the coffee, and stay for the soul. Located just off the Sammamish River Trail, SoulFoods makes a fantastic spot to relax after a walk by the river.

Location: 15748 Redmond Way, Redmond, WA, 98052

Website: https://soulfoodcoffeehouse.com/


River Trail Roaster

Also just a stones throw from the Sammamish River Trail in downtown Redmond, you’ll find River Trail Roasters serving up the best organic, fair trade coffee. You can take home a bag of their small batch roasted beans, or a local made quiche, pastry or lunch to accompany your perfect cup of joe. River Trail is our favorite stop for a mid-walk or ride refuel during adventures on the regional trail.

Location: 8397 158th Ave NE, Redmond, WA, 98052

Website: https://www.rivertrailroastersredmond.com/


Kitanda’s Redmond Town Center location

Kitanda Espresso & Acai

What began as a small Brazilian store in Seattle in 2004, has since expanded to become a small chain of family owned coffee houses around Seattle and two locations on the Eastside – Kirkland and Redmond. Their menu features the robust flavors of Brazilian coffee sourced from farms in Brazil, and roasted locally in Seattle, and a house favorite the Brazilian Latte – a gourmet espresso and condensed milk beverage. Don’t skip on sampling their other traditional Brazilian favorites as well – hot house-made Brazilian cheese bread that’s naturally gluten-free, and fresh blended Acai bowls.

Location: 16349 NE 74th St, Redmond, WA,

Website: https://www.kitanda.com/


Cypress Coffee

With locations in both the Eastgate area of Bellevue and Redmond Ridge, Cypress is an independently owned coffee shop that offers the best of the basics, as well as unique gourmet latte specials. During the winter season, check out their Browned Butter Latte, or Rosemary Vanilla Latte, for flavorful but not overdone favorites. Pair your trip to the Redmond Ridge location with a walk through the nearby trails of the Redmond Watershed Preserve.

Location: 22310 NE Marketplace Drive #102, Redmond, WA, 98053

Website: https://www.cypresscoffeecompany.com/


5 Ways to Thaw the “Seattle Freeze” and Meet New Mom-Friends, on Seattle’s Eastside

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my first three years of parenting, it’s that the journey of motherhood is not one to be taken alone. Whether it’s relating about the day’s drama and finding humor in the tough times, or celebrating milestones and savoring childhood’s sweetest moments when times are easy, experiencing motherhood in community with other Moms is one of the best ways to stay healthy, and sane, as a parent.

While the greater Seattle area can be infamous for its “friendship freeze,” and COVID-19 has only added to the challenge of forming new friendships, be deterred not! We’ve rounded up our top five tips to help Moms that are actively seeking out new friendships. Whether you’re an experienced Mom that’s new to the Eastside, or a longtime Eastsider that’s new to being a Mama, this article is for you.

Our list focuses on activities that are still operational and taking precautions during COVID-19. We also always recommend checking the websites below for the latest updates on gatherings, and following appropriate health department recommendations for keeping your meetups safe.

This article was generously sponsored by Fit4Mom Bellevue & Mercer Island.


An outdoor Stroller Strides Mother/Child workout class with FIT4MOM Bellevue & Mercer Island

FIT4MOM Bellevue & Mercer Island

If you’re looking to combine fitness and friendship, make FIT4MOM Bellevue & Mercer Island your first stop. FIT4MOM is the nation’s leading prenatal and postnatal fitness program, providing fitness classes (many of which your baby or toddler can attend with you!) and a network of moms to support every stage of motherhood. They offer small, safe and socially distanced outdoor, indoor and online fitness classes, as well as additional playgroup and meetup opportunities. Best of all – your first class is free! From pregnancy, through postpartum and beyond, their fitness and wellness programs help make moms strong in body, mind, and spirit.

Learn More: https://bellevue.fit4mom.com/


PEPS

PEPS, or “Program for Early Parent Support,” is a Seattle based non-profit focused on bringing together parents that are sharing a similar phase of life. Their support group style meetups are primarily for parents in their first year of parenthood, and group meetings are typically fairly structured with themed conversations around feeding, sleeping, child development and more. While they are one of the pricier programs on the list, the organization has a strong history of quality programming in the area, and is a great option for someone looking for structured conversation and socialization combined with parenting education. All program meetups are currently virtual (as of time of publishing).

Learn More: https://www.peps.org/programs


MOPS

Moms of Preschoolers or “MOPS” is a Christian based non-profit organization, that is open to ALL Moms and whose mission is to gather and support Moms at all phases of motherhood. Their laidback meetup groups provide opportunity for Moms to create deep connections in their immediate community, with monthly and bi-monthly meetups that Moms and their kiddos attend together. Local MOPS groups are currently offering both virtual and in-person options.

Learn More: https://www.mops.org/



Facebook Groups

A great option for those that prefer a less structured approach to friendship making are the active local Facebook groups. They make an easy way for Moms of kids of any age to connect, ask questions, find resources/recommendations and more.

Check out some of these groups, local to the Eastside:

Sammamish/Issaquah Moms Forum https://www.facebook.com/groups/286595224862895

Kirkland Moms Network https://www.facebook.com/groups/288544047831262/

Moms of Bellevue https://www.facebook.com/groups/1177955409032741/


Peanut

If you’re tech-savvy and looking to try something a little different, check out the Peanut App. Peanut is a social networking app for women to meet, chat, and learn from other women that are in the early stages of motherhood. It has been referred to as the “Tinder for Moms” and while the number of overall users is less than one of the larger social networking platforms, is an awesome tool for connecting directly with other local Moms.   

Learn More: https://www.peanut-app.io/

Five Incredible Places to Stay for a Getaway on Seattle’s Eastside

While there’s an abundance of fabulous lodging throughout Bellevue and beyond, these five unique finds will each bring a slightly different experience to your visit, and are some of the best places to stay on Seattle’s Eastside. Whether you prefer to rest within the tree tops, overlooking a waterfall, or atop a luxury skyrise, if you’re looking to make memories you’ll not soon forget, consider spending a night or a weekend in these incredible overnight accommodations.


The Temple tree house at TreeHouse Point in Issaquah, WA

1. TreeHouse Point (Issaquah)

A childhood dream come true, any wanderlust adult will revel in the opportunity to spend a night in the whimsical tree house accommodations at TreeHouse Point in Issaquah, Washington. Consisting of six furnished, heated tree houses, TreeHouse Point is the perfect somewhat-rustic escape from the everyday. With the Issaquah Alps and Cascade Mountains at it’s (elevated) doorstep, an abundance of outdoor adventure is perfectly poised to accompany your stay.

While their overnight packages are limited to those ages 13 and up (unless doing a full property rental for a private event), they do offer pre-scheduled tours for all ages.

Things to do in Issaquah: Learn more about the top attractions in Issaquah at visitissaquahwa.com

For More Information on Staying at TreeHouse Point: http://www.treehousepoint.com/


City views and patio seating at the W Bellevue in Bellevue, Washington

2. W Bellevue (Bellevue)

If your idea of elevated accommodations resonates more with a high rise than a tree top, head over to W Bellevue in Bellevue, Washington. This luxury boutique hotel located in the heart of Downtown Bellevue offers unrivaled access to high end shopping, couture cocktails, and fine dining in the intimate “little big city.” The hotel is home to 220 rooms and 25 suites that boast modern décor and stunning city and lake views.

Other amenities include a top of the line onsite fitness center, in-house dining with a Northwest flair, and easy access to Downtown Seattle.

Things to do in Bellevue: Learn more about the top attractions in Bellevue at visitbellevuewa.com

For More Information: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/bvuwh-w-bellevue/


Lake Washington views from the Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland, WA

3. Woodmark Hotel (Kirkland)

When you’re looking for lakeside living at it’s finest, be sure to book a stay at Kirkland, Washington’s Woodmark Hotel. From impeccable waterfront views, to their luxurious Still Spa, the Woodmark makes the perfect place to relax and unwind. With 100 rooms, and a kid and pet-friendly policy, a stay at the Woodmark is something the whole family can get on board with.

During summer, guests have easy access to a variety of water sports readily available on Lake Washington. Those looking for adventure year-round should consider a scenic seaplane tour of Seattle and beyond.

Things to do in Kirkland: Learn more about the top attractions in Kirkland at explorekirkland.com

For More Information: https://www.thewoodmark.com/


Willows Lodge in Woodinville, WA (Photo by Sammy Todd Dyess)

4. Willows Lodge (Woodinville)

If waking up in the middle of wine country sounds too good to be true, you have yet to meet Willows Lodge. This stunning lodge with a signature northwest style is located in the heart of Woodinville’s wine district, with over 100 wineries and tasting rooms in the surrounding area, many of which are within walking distance of the lodge.

Also home to a top-end spa and world-class locally-sourced dining at the Barking Frog, the 84 room Willows Lodge in Woodinville, Washington makes for a must-have getaway. Each of their guest rooms feature fireplaces and soaking tubs, the perfect way to end a day of exploring.

Things to do in Woodinville: Learn more about Woodinville Wine Country at woodinvillewinecountry.com

For More Information: https://www.willowslodge.com/


The Salish Lodge & Spa in Snoqualmie, WA

5. Salish Lodge & Spa (Snoqualmie)

Located at the top of the majestic Snoqualmie Falls, the Salish Lodge & Spa in Snoqualmie, Washington is a quintessential Pacific Northwest retreat. Within the property you’ll find an 86 guest room lodge, two dining options, and a full service spa. Both dining options feature jaw-dropping views of the Falls and Snoqualmie River below, and fabulous entrees featuring locally sourced and inspired fare.

Just steps from the entry, guests will find themselves at a variety of viewpoints atop the falls, and access to a trailhead leading to a 1.4 mile round trip hike down to a lower viewing area. Travel a few miles further to find an abundance of hikes throughout North Bend and the Snoqualmie Pass region, as well as the Summit at Snoqualmie Ski Resort.

Things to do in Snoqualmie: Learn more about the top attractions in the greater Snoqualmie Valley at savorsnoqualmievalley.org

For More Information: https://www.salishlodge.com/

Five Beginner Friendly Waterfall Hikes on Seattle’s Eastside

An iconic part of Pacific Northwest scenery, the waterfalls found on Seattle’s Eastside have to be one of nature’s best gifts. If you’re looking for a way to find some peace and calm, head out on one of these hikes, located less than an hour from about anywhere on the Eastside!


Cherry Creek Falls in Duvall, WA

1. Cherry Creek Falls (Duvall)

Distance & Elevation: 5 Miles Round Trip, 450 ft. Elevation Gain

Description: By far the longest of the waterfall hikes on our list, the hike to Cherry Creek Falls is still a moderate, beginner friendly endeavor, that leads you through the site of an early 1900’s logging camp, to the base of the gorgeous 25 foot falls.

Know Before You Go: The hike does require a creek crossing, so boots or water friendly shoes are recommended. There are no public restrooms, so “go before you go.” Lastly, please respect the nearby local private properties when parking and starting the hike.

For More Information: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/cherry-creek-falls


Snoqualmie Falls in Snoqualmie, WA

2. Snoqualmie Falls (Snoqualmie)

Distance & Elevation: 1.4 Miles Round Trip, 250 ft. Elevation Gain

Description: Arriving at the falls, you’ll have several opportunities to immediately view the massive Snoqualmie Falls waterfall from the ADA accessible viewing areas surrounding the Salish Lodge and Spa, which sits at the very top of the Falls. A three-quarterish mile long interpretive trail will lead you down to a lower view point, for fuller views of the massive 268 ft drop of the Snoqualmie River. It’s no wonder this breathtaking natural wonder is a top attraction in the Seattle region.

Know Before You Go: Though not a strenuous distance or elevation, the hike starts from the elevated parking lot with a descent down to base of the Falls, meaning you’ll have to hike UP on the way back home. This hike is also the busiest on our list, so avoiding peak hours is recommended.

For More Information: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/snoqualmie-falls


Franklin Falls in North Bend, WA

3. Franklin Falls (North Bend)

Distance & Elevation: 2 Miles Round Trip, 400 ft. Elevation Gain

Description: The hike to Franklin Falls leads you to the third tier in a trio of falls (the first two are not visible), that falls 70 ft. from the ledge above. One of our favorite easier hikes for both adults and kids, we love that you can walk all the way to the waterfall’s pool for an up close experience.

Know Before You Go: The spray from the waterfall can freeze during lower temperatures, making the final rocky steps down to the base of the falls quite slippery. Even without going to the base you can still get a nice view.

For More Information: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/franklin-falls


Weeks Falls in North Bend, WA

4. Weeks Falls (North Bend)

Distance & Elevation: 1.6 Miles Round Trip, Elevation Gain Negligible

Description: The hike to Weeks Falls makes a great outdoor adventure, even for the youngest of hikers. It is also the least traveled on our list, and could be considered more of a short wander through the woods than a full on hike. A short interpretive trail leads to a small concrete overlook of the 30 ft. falls, and several side trails lead down to the river for various view points.

Know Before You Go: (Important!) The driving directions we found online did not seem to be accurate (they took us to Twin Falls instead). We would recommend using the following directions to navigate to the destination – From I-90 East take Exit 38 and follow the signs to Olallie State Park. Park in the main State Park lot when you first enter, or the second lot on the left. Follow the short trail that parallels the river to reach the falls lookout.

For More Information: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/weeks-falls


Twin Falls in North Bend, WA

5. Twin Falls (North Bend)

Distance & Elevation: 2.6 Miles Round Trip, 500 ft. Elevation Gain

Description: Several peekaboo views and a main viewing platform offer multiple viewpoints of the serene set of “Twin Falls” on this out and back hike. With a little more varied terrain, this hike offers more of a workout, without being too strenuous. The hike can be extended past the main falls, and continued on to the John Wayne Trail for a longer outing.

Know Before You Go: Another of the more popular hikes on our list, we do recommend going early to avoid crowds.

For More Information: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/twin-falls-state-park

An Eastside Cities Comparison Part III : Moving to Seattle’s Eastside

If you’ve read our Eastside Cities Comparison Parts One and Two, you’re well aware by now that Seattle’s Eastside is an amazing place to live. In our opinion, the worst part about moving to the Eastside is having to choose just one of it’s wonderful cities to call home!

While the decision about where is best for any given person to live is just that, a personal decision, our hope is to offer some resources that will guide new and prospective residents in finding a location that suits them best. If you haven’t yet checked out the first two parts in the series that provide an overview of the Eastside, and some related stats, be sure to give those a read first.

This third and final installment in the series provides more information and specifics on each of our Eastside cities, including:

  • Pros and cons
  • A description and “fast facts”
  • Must see attractions and local highlights
  • Helpful links such as neighborhood maps, school district websites, and more
  • Links to some of the top Facebook groups, where prospective residents can seek opinions of current residents, connect with local parents, find childcare, and stay up to date on events and happenings around the Eastside

A note about the “pros and cons listed for each city”: We include both data based items, and those that are opinion based in nature, based on our 30+ years of residence and the collective opinions of those surveyed for this piece, so please take as such. They are also expressed from one Eastside city relative to the others (versus being compared to broader parts of the County or State). As many of the pros and cons are shared throughout the Eastside region, we have compiled those in an opening section, to lay some foundation for more detailed information on each city below.

A final note: as our site continues to grow, so will the content and cities we cover. For now, we’ve included content for people looking to move to Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, Sammamish, and Issaquah.

Living on the Eastside

Over the past decade, people have been moving to the Eastside in record numbers, and for good reason. Below we recap some of the top “pros” of living on the Eastside, and a few of the “cons” that exist, and are widely applicable throughout the region.

Pros of Living on Seattle’s Eastside:

  • Gorgeous Landscape – the rainfall, moderate temperatures, hilly terrain and presence of evergreens make for lush green scenery year round
  • Access to Outdoors – An abundance of lakes, mountains, and local parks and trails provide tons of opportunities to spend time outdoors
  • Top Notch School Districts – Both public and private schools on the Eastside offer high quality education
  • Low Crime Rates – Crime Rates across the Eastside range from 1.4-5.9x LOWER than National averages

Cons of Living on Seattle’s Eastside:

  • High Cost of Living – Cost of homes in the greater Seattle area tend to be some of the highest in the country, but luckily so do the incomes
  • Traffic – Traffic continues to be a chief complaint among residents, and a concern actively being addressed by the addition of a light rail system and other efforts
  • Lack of Infrastructure – The local infrastructure (roads, school capacity, parking, etc.) still seems to be catching up with the massive population growth of the past couple decades
  • Weather – Though the weather and seasons are also one of the best things about the pacific northwest in general, the greater Seattle area does have frequent cloud cover and rain, that can make outdoor activities less enjoyable

Ready to learn more about moving to, and living on, Seattle’s Eastside? Despite some of the downfalls of living in the greater Seattle area, it is still one of the best places to live, hence the huge population growth! If ou’re looking to call the Eastside home, read on for more information on each of the cities that make up the Eastside’s “main hub.”

Living in Redmond, Washington

Pros of Living in Redmond:

  • Quantity and quality of the local city parks and trails and access to them
  • One of the Eastside’s more diverse populations in both age, ethnicity, and family make-up
  • Easy access to Woodinville Wine Country and Bellevue’s shopping and dining scene
  • Close to Microsoft Campus (pro for those employed at Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters)
  • Peaceful, “small town” feel

Cons of Living in Redmond:

  • Further from Seatac Airport and Snoqualmie Pass
  • Traffic through downtown Redmond can be heavy during commuting hours, worsened by an abundance of stop lights on the main thoroughfare
  • Parking downtown around the eateries and shops can be hard to find
  • Minimal immediate access to water based activities

Ready to learn more about moving to, and living in, Redmond? For our ultimate guide of helpful links, fast facts, top attractions and more in Redmond, WA, check out: www.discovertheeastside.com/cities/redmond

Living in Kirkland, Washington

Pros of Living in Kirkland:

  • An abundance of waterfront access to beaches, boating and other activities on Lake Washington
  • Gorgeous lakefront views
  • A small, but lively waterfront downtown that offers a growing dining and bar scene, and appeals to both the younger and middle-aged crowds
  • Relatively easy access to Seattle via SR-520

Cons of Living in Kirkland:

  • Further from Seatac Airport and Snoqualmie Pass
  • Traffic through downtown Kirkland can be heavy during commuting hours
  • More likely to need to utilize I-405 and SR-520 which have optional and required tolls

Ready to learn more about moving to, and living in, Kirkland? For our ultimate guide of helpful links, fast facts, top attractions and more in Kirkland, WA, check out: www.discovertheeastside.com/cities/kirkland

Living in Bellevue, Washington

Pros of Living in Bellevue:

  • Quick and easy access to Seatac Airport, Snoqualmie Pass, and Downtown Seattle
  • An abundance of retail, restaurants, and nightlife
  • A bigger city feel, without the crime rates that often accompany big cities
  • The most ethnically diverse city on Seattle’s Eastside (based on 2018 census data)
  • The most parks/playgrounds on the Eastside

Cons of Living in Bellevue:

  • Second highest median home cost and highest average rent on the Eastside
  • Traffic during peak commuting hours can make getting in and out our Bellevue slow
  • Ongoing construction can create additional commuting challenges and detract from the aesthetics of the beautiful skyline

Ready to learn more about moving to, and living in, Bellevue? For our ultimate guide of helpful links, fast facts, top attractions and more in Bellevue, WA, check out: www.discovertheeastside.com/cities/bellevue

Living in Sammamish, Washington

Pros of Living in Sammamish:

  • Access to 3 different lakes and an abundance of city parks and local trails
  • The lowest crime rates of all the Eastside
  • Quiet “small town” feel with a well funded city budget
  • Low level of traffic since it is not a typical destination for non-residents

Cons of Living in Sammamish:

  • Being on a plateau without direct freeway access adds about 10-15 minutes to your drive anywhere that requires freeway travel
  • Lack of variety and quantity in dining and indoor recreation options inside the city itself
  • Highest median home price on the Eastside (based on 2018 US Census data)
  • No major employers within city limits

Ready to learn more about moving to, and living in, Sammamish? For our ultimate guide of helpful links, fast facts, top attractions and more in Sammamish, WA, check out: www.discovertheeastside.com/cities/sammamish

Living in Issaquah, Washington

Pros of Living in Issaquah:

  • Closest Eastside access to trails in the Cascade Mountains and the Snoqualmie Pass Ski Resort
  • Immediate access to the Issaquah Alps for hiking and mountain biking
  • Beautiful mountain scenery
  • Small town, community feel
  • Home to Lake Sammamish State Park and Boat Launch

Cons of Living in Issaquah:

  • High traffic during peak commuting hours
  • Not as many major employers as the larger Eastside cities

Ready to learn more about moving to, and living in, Issaquah? For our ultimate guide of helpful links, fast facts, top attractions and more in Issaquah, WA, check out: www.discovertheeastside.com/cities/issaquah