Tom Peterson channels his passion for cycling and experience as a competitive racer into running his shop. Hoping to create a hub for cyclists of all experience levels, he’s gathered a team of cycling enthusiasts and seasoned mechanics to assist customers and perform a range of services that include repairs, tune-ups, and custom bike building. Their inventory of products from brands such as Shimano, Bianchi, Garmin, and 3T helps cyclists gear up for rides or find the perfect gift for their bike’s birthday.
An osprey hovers 30 feet in the air over Lake Washington, virtually silent until it spots something beneath the water's surface. Quickly, it folds its wings and plunges into the water, emerging seconds later with a fish ripped firmly between its talons. Nearby, Cascade Canoe & Kayak Centers' founder, Dan Henderson, floats by silently. This slice of the pristine outdoors happens to be his workplace, but none of it would have happened if his mother hadn't forced him to take a canoeing lesson in 1972. Despite his initial reluctance, Mr. Henderson took to the water like a robot to a magnet store. He went on to race whitewater canoes and flat-water Olympic-style canoes, eventually earning four medals as a member of the U.S. national team. Later, Mr. Henderson became a coach and set out to train a new crop of water athletes. To this end, Cascade Canoe & Kayak Centers serves as the natural continuation of Mr. Henderson's journey: a place to, in his words, "share paddling with the community in a manner that is fun and safe."
Under the leadership of expert guides—many of whom learned their trade directly under Dan Henderson's wing—visitors embark on day trips into inlets and bays, paddling in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains or tailgating orca whales. The staff also leads canoe and kayak classes that aim to take novices from beginner to expert. Their efforts have proved fruitful, as three of Cascade Canoe & Kayak Centers' students have made it to international-level competitions.
In 2005, a group of avid badminton players finally pinpointed their favorite part of the game: community. Springing from this insight, they opened Bellevue Badminton Club, inviting members to mingle or hide from exes behind their rackets on 11 courts open 24/7. The club’s coaches, including Israel's 1998 national champion and a seven-time national collegiate title winner, lead private lessons and classes. For juniors and adults alike, classes range from laid-back to competitive based on pupils' abilities and goals.
When learners vacate the courts, members and nonmembers have free rein to play drop-in matches or trace outlines of each other in chalk. Round-robin doubles and singles leagues cultivate atmospheres of amiable competition, enabled by top-shelf Yonex equipment found at the pro shop.
With a specialty in martial arts, the instructors at Bellevue School of Arts work closely with kids in pre-kindergarten through middle school to improve all aspects of their development. The after-school and summer programs give youth the opportunity to develop focus, self-esteem, and discipline during engaging activities. With more than 150 students currently enrolled, they offer a traditional, individualized and coordinated curriculum from grade to grade, with an emphasis on core subjects that range from piano lessons and fine arts to Chinese and tae kwon do. Tutoring services are also available to help kids with their homework during the school year and mischief lessons during the summer.
As avid golfers themselves, Pro Golf Discount’s staff members boast a wealth of experience and professional equipment advice. They are eager to direct shoppers through stores full of golfing merchandise from brands such as TaylorMade, Nike, and Callaway, pointing out the differences between the quality products. They lead lefties to their expansive selection of left-handed equipment, and discuss the advantages of their specialty women's gear with ladies. The master club fitters evaluate clients’ swings with advanced Launch Monitors and the Foresight Sports GC2 golf-simulation system, enabling them to recommend equipment that is suited to the customer's specific needs.
Most of the locations host golf lessons within their onsite golf theater hitting cages, where top golfers dish out expert tips and techniques. The Tacoma, Bellevue, Lynnwood and Bellingham locations feature repair centers, where technicians can spruce up clubs in preparation for upcoming tournaments or a golf vacation.
To get some fresh air, Bellevue residents could take a stroll around their neighborhood. Or they could head to one of the nearly 100 parks in the area for a game of baseball, a tennis match, or a lesson on botanicals. The extensive park system beckons locals to take advantage of the wide array of green spaces and activities in the area, many of which are free. It also holds regular events and leads programs that range from nature film viewings to crime prevention forums aimed at addressing delinquent squirrels.