Bellevue Botanical Garden: Come to the bridge (and stay there to see the interesting sculptures)

Bellevue Botanical Garden: Come to the bridge (and stay there to see the interesting sculptures)

Walk the Suspension Bridge at Ravine Experience, Bellevue Botanical Garden. (All photos by Yasmin Thank you)

If you're looking for a garden fix—and a little hope for better weather—you'll want to take your family to Bellevue Botanical Garden. The park is full of beautiful landscaping and trees, and has sculpture gardens and a suspension bridge. It does not disappoint. With so much to see, it's easy to keep your little legs moving along the paved paths to catch the next sights.

My kids enjoyed themselves so much that “this is so cool!” “Mom, this smells really good” was all I heard on our drive around the park. We highly recommend this park for a day trip and picnic, rain or shine.

Location, location, location

East of downtown Bellevue and connected to Wilburton Park (a must-see with its large playground structures and zip line), the park welcomes you with tree-lined paths, a colorful, moving sculpture, and a waterfall wall. After running to the wall, my kids put their hands in the water and scream about how cold it is.

Garden layout, small doors and waterfalls

Bellevue Botanical Garden's garden is divided into specialty gardens—native, perennial, rock, and aquatic gardens—each showcasing the diversity of plants and flowers that grow in the Pacific Northwest. We turn left and walk down a slope into a lush forest grove, heading for the Native Discovery Garden. Along the way, we used my phone and QR codes posted around the park to learn more about the foliage.

Jump to the other side into the Japanese Garden.

Daffodils and tulips are beginning to emerge from the ground. Rhododendron buds swell from the ends of the stems, dropping the last dried leaves and flowers that have survived most of the winter to the ground. We follow the road to Yao Garden through a traditional Japanese gate. (Yao Garden honors the sister city relationship between Bellevue and Yao, Japan.) We find a Japanese lantern to sit in this peaceful space, taking in the scenery and admiring the maple trees, massive basalt stones, and other greenery.

Upon exiting the garden, we see waterfalls and a strange door built into a stone wall. The door is closed, but we decide it must be a hobbit door and imagine all the beautiful places it leads to. We glimpse another strange sculpture, a chair called “Nature of Sitting.” We take turns sitting on the statue, “I am the king of the garden!” Claim both children.

Bellevue Botanical Garden

Moving on, we pass through the Native Discovery Garden and notice ducks dipping their heads in the puddles and run to see a statue of an owl, about to take flight, with a ferocious look on its face.

Valley experience

The signs point us to the Ravine Experience, which is why we came to the park! There is a 150-foot suspension bridge over a flowing stream, surrounded by native foliage and tall trees. We walk along the bridge swaying under our feet, stopping in the middle to take photos and look at the valley. We hike back and forth several times and eventually return to the Lost Meadow Trail.

Lost Meadow Trail and interactive sculptures

The trail is a 1/3-mile loop through ten acres of woods, meadows, and wetlands. We spot birds and squirrels, balance our way back and forth on moss-covered stone garden hedges, and see numerous sculptures. There are several favorite sculptures – one in particular is “Night Blooming,” a beehive-like structure with an opening so visitors can check out the inside. My kids pretend to be bees and step into the sculpture and find the afternoon light filtering through the small gaps, creating a wonderful photo. We stay for a while, sitting on the floor and looking up.

Inside the “Night Blooming” statue.

Continuing on the road, we see more sculptures. Some we sit in or touch and check. The loop brought us to the front of the park. We were close to Waterwise Garden, Urban Meadow, and Rock Garden. Near the café we see tables and chairs so visitors can rest and a large green garden where visitors can go for a walk. We also see photographers spreading around the place and taking pictures, because it is a special place to take family photos as well.

Latest looks

Back at the parking lot, my kids couldn't resist getting another splash of water at the waterfall wall. We took another look at the “Big Galaxy” statue at the main entrance. The flowers on the path leading to the parking lot have a very pleasant scent, so visitors should stop by these potted plants for another sensory experience.

Like many garden parks, Bellevue Botanical Garden is worth checking out more than once a year, with blooming flowers, changing foliage, and plenty of wildlife passing through. We know we will be back soon for another visit. Maybe next time, the hobbit will be back.

Know before you go

  • Trillium Store, the gift shop, has seasonal hours. Please check the website for latest operating hours.
  • The Copper Kettle Coffee Bar serves sandwiches, snacks, coffee, tea, juices and desserts. Check the website for hours.
  • Supervise children and stay on paths and lawns at all times.
  • Do not enter plant beds or climb rocks.
  • Pets are not allowed. (Service animals only.)
  • Bicycles, skates, scooters or skateboards are not permitted.
  • Parking and entry are free.
  • The trails are stroller friendly.
  • Bathrooms are open.

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