Top 5 Bellevue Lakes: Explore the Best Lakes Near Bellevue
Imagine stepping out on the back patio at the end of a long work day and gazing across the waters of Lake Washington towards the stunning Seattle skyline. Anyone moving to Bellevue enjoys proximity to major lakes to the east and west and several smaller lakes within and near the city limits. Homes next to the water are coveted pieces of real estate here, as are downtown Bellevue condos that look out over Lake Washington. Here are some of the best lakes near Bellevue and tips on how to best enjoy them.
Lake Sammamish is a large body of water that borders almost the entire eastern side of the city of Bellevue. Visitors can access the lake via three great area parks:
- Idylwood Park
- Marymoor Park
- Lake Sammamish State Park
Idylwood Park is outside the northeast boundary of Bellevue, in the Viewpoint neighborhood. This park has a beach on the lakeshore—one of Bellevue's best beaches—along with a bathhouse and restrooms. There's a convenient personal watercraft launch for people who want to take their canoe, kayak, or paddle board out on Lake Sammamish. On-site canoe rentals are available, and there are some sand volleyball courts as well.
Marymoor Park is along the north shore of the lake in the city of Redmond. It has 640 acres of green space, easy water access, a confined off-leash dog park, a rock climbing wall, and other activities. There is a small fee to park at Marymoor.
Lake Sammamish State Park is southeast of Bellevue, near the Newport and North Issaquah neighborhoods. This 531-acre day-use park offers thousands of feet of beachfront, though visitors must purchase a day-use or annual pass to enter the park. Leashed dogs are welcome, but not at any of the swimming beaches. Boating, swimming, water skiing, family picnics, and freshwater fishing are available at Lake Sammamish State Park.
Lake Washington borders the west side of Bellevue and stretches from the city of Kenmore in the north to the Bryn Mawr neighborhood and city of Renton in the south. This body of water is vast and features the two largest floating bridges in the world. The lake surrounds Mercer Island, which is in the waters between Bellevue and Seattle.
Sportfishing is one of the main recreational activities on Lake Washington. Species that anglers can catch with a Washington Fish & Game license include black crappie, cutthroat trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and multiple species of salmon. Several public fishing piers can be accessed by driving north from Bellevue into Kirkland, including one at Waverly Park and another at Marina Park.
Other Lake Washington activities include seaplane tours on small planes that take off from and land on the water. One option is a narrated Mount Rainier Seaplane Tour. Cruises on Lake Washington are another way to see the shoreline of Bellevue and other sights in the Greater Seattle area.
Homebuyers can find some of the most spectacular waterfront homes in Seattle overlooking Lake Washington; on the eastern side of the lake, Bellevue's luxury homes for sale offer tremendous vantage points, too.
Lake Union is in the north-central part of Seattle and offers some of the most rewarding activities in the entire metro area. The areas surrounding the lake represent some of Seattle's best waterfront neighborhoods. Fresh seafood and waterfront dining options are plentiful along the southeastern edge of the lake, and the houseboats featured in the film "Sleepless in Seattle" can be viewed from lake cruises. Kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding are inexpensive ways to get out on the lake and see the sights around this body of water.
Lake Union Park, on the southern edge of the water, is a great place to start a day of adventures. The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) is on the park's waterfront. The Center for Wooden Boats is another lakeside museum that offers boat rentals. The South Lake Union Spraypark is excellent for getting wet and cooling off during the summer without going out on the lake, while Ride the Ducks of Seattle has interesting boats that head out on the water and provide guided tours of the area. Seaplane tours also take off and land on Lake Union throughout the day.
Green Lake is a landlocked lake in the northern part of Seattle, between the Phinney Ridge and Roosevelt neighborhoods. Green Lake Park is considered one of the best parks in Seattle. The park surrounds the lake, creating a natural green space in the middle of an urban/suburban region. Numerous parking lots in Green Lake Park allow easy access to the local walking trails, an off-leash dog park, and the lake itself.
Water activities on Green Lake include swimming, fishing, and using personal watercraft like canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. Another option is simply hanging out and enjoying the day at one of the beaches. Bring some food for a picnic, or use one of the barbecue grills if available. The basketball, soccer, tennis, and baseball/softball facilities are primarily located on the lake's northeast side.
A flat, 2.8-mile paved walking path surrounds the lake. Watching birds and waterfowl along the path is easy since the entire area is a nature preserve for them. Thousands of locals visit the park daily since it is truly an oasis in the middle of the city. Arrive early to ensure finding a parking spot because Green Lake Park is extremely popular.
Phantom Lake is a landlocked body of water on the east side of Bellevue, just inland from Sammamish Lake. It's in a residential neighborhood (of the same name) with waterfront homes and parks, with a lovely 2.4-mile trail surrounding the lake. The Phantom Lake Loop is a paved pathway—10 feet wide in most places—providing plenty of space for people who want to walk, jog, or bike along the water. The main parking lot for Phantom Lake Park—one of Bellevue's best parks—is off 156th Avenue SE. Parking is also available near the lake's northeast side at Robinsglen Nature Park.
The main parking lot off 156th is where the kiosk for Phantom Lake boating permits is available. Up to 12 non-motorized personal watercraft are allowed on the lake at any time. A free boating permit is required to take a watercraft out on the lake. Permits are only valid for three hours after they are issued and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Boating is not permitted on the lake before sunrise or after sunset.
Fishing is another activity that locals can enjoy at Phantom Lake. Shoreline access is just north of the main parking lot and a public dock, and fishing from a personal watercraft is also allowed. There are several species of lake fish available in Phantom Lake.
Homes in Phantom Lake provide the best access to the lake, of course, but its central location makes it close to every part of Bellevue.
Enjoy the Water in Bellevue, WA
Life in an area with easy access to lakes and bodies of water is a major stress reliever for many people. There are many things to do in Bellevue, and the community is genuinely privileged with some of the most beautiful lakes in Washington State, which provide year-round activities and stunning views for the locals to enjoy.