Bellevue Botanical Garden

Stroll through this urban refuge, which features an eclectic mix of Alpine, American and Japanese plants.

Breathe easy at the Bellevue Botanical Garden, a verdant oasis near the center of bustling Bellevue. Wander around 53 acres (21 hectares) of cultivated gardens, woodlands and wetlands for an invigorating escape from the urban rush.

Plan your excursion at the Bellevue Botanical Garden Visitor Center, which provides maps and restrooms. The gathering point for daily guided tours is just south of the center’s entry breezeway. Browse the goods on offer at the adjacent Trillium Store, which sells a selection of gardening manuals, seasonal soap and scented candles.

Amble through the Alpine Rock Garden to see a gorgeous representation of a mountain environment. Admire the colorful splashes of wildflowers and hemlock set against the backdrop of granite outcrops. The Native Discovery Garden contains local plant species from the Pacific Northwest.

Inspect intriguing plants and garden setups at the Waterwise Garden, which is built to showcase plants that can help conserve resources. Learn about practices and planting techniques designed to minimize water wastage.

During summer, head to the Fuchsia Garden and marvel at the vivid colors of its flower displays. Continue to the Dahlia Display during summer and fall to witness kaleidoscopic blossoms in full bloom. For a contemplative experience, venture to the Japanese-style Yao Garden. Here, viburnum and hydrangea displays and Japanese lanterns help create a peaceful space.

Look for majestic red cedars and big leaf maples as you walk the Lost Meadow Trail. This loop meanders through 10 acres (4 hectares) of woodlands and takes around 10 minutes. For another walking route through the diverse shrubbery, follow the pretty perennial borders. Spot deciduous trees and hedges that form a boundary with the woodlands beyond.

The gardens are at their liveliest during the annual Garden d’Lights festival, which begins just after Thanksgiving and lasts until after Christmas. During this celebration, 3-D plant and animal sculptures are made from bundled Christmas lights and displayed throughout the garden.

Find the Bellevue Botanical Garden just east of downtown, accessible via car or bus. The gardens are open daily and free to enter. Tours of the garden are also free, although donations are encouraged.