Bellevue is Seattle’s eastside sister. For all the humbleness of Seattle, Bellevue sits across the water in all its shiny, ostentatious glory. While Bellevue was first settled only a year after Seattle was, by William Meydenbauer, it was not until the building of the floating bridges nearly a century later that the suburb came into its own.

The second largest city in the state, Bellevue has ceased to be the little sibling and grown to be more like the opposite personality twin of Seattle. Located east of Seattle, the two cities are separated by Lake Washington, within which is Mercer Island and Meydenbauer Bay. To the east of Bellevue is Issaquah, to the north are Kirkland and Redmond, while to the south is Renton. Within Bellevue is a small piece of unincorporated King County known as Eastgate. Bellevue, as the new, fancy suburb, is of course filled with modern highways. While State Route 520 marks the northern boundaries of the city, Interstate 90 cuts through the southern half of Bellevue, running from the lake, east to Issaquah and beyond. Interstate 405 is the main road in the area, running north-south through the center of Bellevue.

In the center of Bellevue is a cluster of high-rise buildings that house much of the area’s commerce. While neighboring Redmond is the main home of software giant Microsoft, much of Bellevue’s commercial real estate is taken up by various outposts of the local company. In addition, vendors, competitors and various forms of hangers on pepper the area; cashing in on their piece of Microsoft action.

Many Microsoft employees, back to even the early days, have made their homes in Bellevue for proximity to the business and to stay out of the traffic snarl that is crossing the lake on a daily basis. With the influx of money from these Microsofties, as they’re known, Bellevue is home to some of the wealthiest zip codes in the country, including that which houses Microsoft founder and one of the countries richest people, Bill Gates.

An outcome of Bellevue’s wealth is that it is a bit of a shopping mecca. Bellevue Square is at Bellevue’s downtown center and is a classic mall, filled with many of the traditional mall shops. Nearby, the newly opened Bravern caters to the ultra-luxury market, while elsewhere in town are the Factoria Mall and Crossroads Mall.

Bellevue is recognized on the national level as an extremely pleasant place to live and the education system is a great part of that. With multiple nationally recognized high schools in the academic realm, it is also home to a nationally ranked high school football team many years. There are a number of schools located here including private schools and an excellent and varied public school system. In terms of higher education, Bellevue Community College has recently been re-categorized as Bellevue College as it continues to grow.

Other factors in Bellevue’s draw to residents are the community’s arts and parks. Bellevue Art Museum is well known for excellent exhibits and the arts festival in early summer draws in vendors and craftspeople from all over the country. The main park, Downtown Park, serves as a resting point for shoppers and business people alike, while various other parks around the city offer sports courts and hiking trails through the foothills.