Insider 4-25-2017

The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful places you can vacation during the summer. With Lock & Load GameFest 2017 happening right in the middle of July, we want to help you get the most out of what Bellevue and Seattle have to offer during your visit. Since moving here last September, I’ve had no end of joy going out exploring and taking advantage of what this gorgeous slice of America has to offer. Whether you’re traveling alone, with friends, or with family for this Lock & Load, let me spotlight some rad local options you might be unaware of.

If adventure is what you crave (as any Indiana Jones-type does), The Bellevue Zip Tour is a fairly unique experience. Located just ten minutes from downtown Bellevue, the tour allows you to fly high above the town on several zip lines or to cross sky-high bridges overlooking the city and majestic waterfront. I’m told Hungerford did this recently for his birthday, living out one of his dreams to be just like Batman—sans the crime fighting (I hope).

And as long as we’re outdoors, I can’t recommend Snoqualmie Falls enough for those of you who love fresh air. Since September, I’ve gone five times due to how awe-inspiring it is. Located not too far east of Bellevue, it's an amazing place to hike and observe a powerful natural wonder. For those of you who haven’t had the chance to see a waterfall in person, this is one of the better ones, and the only cost is time to travel. The trails are reasonable—not too steep—and there are great observation points that allow you to take in the view.

If outdoorsy activities just aren’t for you, then check out the MoPOP (Museum of Pop Culture)! With exhibits from Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction to the Indie Game Revolution, there’s something to tickle any fancy of pop culture. This year is especially awesome: July 1st brings a David Bowie exhibit, which follows a Jim Henson exhibit opening May 20th. Talk about childhood being on display! Attached to the MoPOP is the Sci-Fi Museum where your Prime Directive will be checking out sights such as the Star Trek exhibit and the interactive starship identifier. A short distance from these two wonderful visits is the Pacific Science Center and outdoor carnival near the water. Make a day out of learning then relax over the water.

Once your imagination soars with Sci-Fi, see how things really took off from the past to now with Seattle’s Museum of Flight! Whether you’re a down to earth person or head in the clouds, you can always find something fascinating by humanity taking to the skies. Filled with aircraft and spacecraft, it is the largest, independent non-profit museum of its kind. I’ve spent hours just marveling at the designs and getting lost in the artistry that takes us off this earth.

When I’m not losing myself in art or science, I like to venture down to the waterfront, stare out across the infinite, then make my way to Pike Place Market for the myriad of sights to take in. Turns out, the original Starbucks is there, as are the famous tossers of fish, and the MarketFront expansion in June promises more vendors and more space for activities!

The last major activity I’d recommend would be the Kubota Gardens. They’re a horticultural innovation that blends Japanese garden design with Northwest flora, all sprawled across twenty acres of land. It’s a nice place to unwind, spend a few hours, and simply get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It gives you a strong sense of self, walking through these gardens—I know it helps reinvigorate me for whatever else may be on the docket (like, say, participating in a major tournament).

If you haven’t booked yet, the Hotel Blocks for Lock & Load are still available! All of the hotels are within walking distance of downtown Bellevue, which offers countless opportunities for shopping, food, and nightlife, and it’s all a short bus or cab ride from downtown Seattle. Treat yourself by taking the time to make Lock & Load GameFest 2017 your summer vacation destination this year and enjoy the Northwest’s best season.