In the eastern part of the Cascade Mountains, there’s a cute little Bavarian Village called Leavenworth. This place is just gorgeous with German architecture sitting on a mountainous backdrop. It’s about a two and a half hour drive east of Seattle and is a longtime favorite for locals and tourists alike. I have memories of visiting this town with family as long as I can remember. Throughout the year, the city puts on some amazing festivals that bring out gigantic crowds. Oktoberfest and the Christmas Tree Lighting Festival are some of the more popular festivals in Leavenworth. This city should be on the bucket list for anyone who visits the Pacific Northwest region.
During busy summer weekends and festivals, it can be a nightmare to find somewhere to stay that is right in the city. You’ll need to start planning months ahead if you want to find a room at one of the hotels in the main city center area. Airbnb does have some options, but it can be pretty expensive if you don’t have a large group to split it with. I would recommend renting a cabin just outside the city. I recently rented a cabin from vrbo.com that was just a 15 minute drive away from the city. It was close enough to drive into town, but far enough away to enjoy the quiet nature scenery we were in.
The shopping in Leavenworth is phenomenal. There are so many cute shops and boutiques to explore, you’ll be sure to come away with some fun items. A longtime favorite is the hat shop, a store dedicated to finding interesting ways to cover your head. You’ll also find Kris Kringl where it’s Christmas 365 days a year, a wood shop, a Simply Living Farm, a pet shop, and much more. My personal favorite is the Cheesemonger’s Shop with their fantastic cheese options from all over the world.
Beer and Wine Tasting:
A German town wouldn’t be complete without a good beer selection. The Icicle Brewing Company is a popular choice that offers some tasty options for beer. You can purchase a sampler if you can’t decide which tap to try, but my ultimate favorite is the Colchuck Raspberry Wheat.
You’ll also find a ton of wine tasting rooms, so just find one and start drinking (it’s 5 o’clock somewhere right?). Some of the popular ones include the Bavarian Cellars, La Toscana, and Monaco’s. Honestly they’re all pretty great local choices, so you can’t go wrong here.
Food and Dining:
You absolutely must try a bratwurst in Leavenworth. It’s the food staple of the area and they have some pretty de3licious options for you to try. My favorite is Munchen Haus off of Front Street. They have a bunch of mustard selections for you to sample and a bar in the back so you don’t have to wait in line. If you’re not into sausages, you’ll also find Italian at Visconti’s, Mexican at Los Camperos, waffles at Sandy’s and lots of other options to choose from.
Near Leavenworth, there are a lot of outdoor options for you to participate in. During the winter, Stevens Pass Skiing and Snowboarding is just west of Leavenworth along HWY 2. You’ll find fun slopes and ski rentals available. Snowmobile and snow shoe rentals are also close by and popular during this time of year. In the summer months you can find rafting, golfing, and lots of hiking in the area. Some popular hiking trails in the area include the Icicle Gorge Trail head, the Stuart Lake Trail head, and the Beverly Turnpike Trail. Needless to say, you’ll have lots to do and explore outside of the city that will satisfy your adventurous cravings.
Getting to Leavenworth:
You can take either HWY 2 or I-90 to Leavenworth. HWY 2 is a little rougher on your car as it climbs elevation quicker, but it is usually the fastest route. Make sure to plan ahead because both of these routes have unexpected closures pretty often from tree falls and mudslides caused by storms. There was an avalanche warning last time I tried to leave Leavenworth on HWY 2, so we ended up having to take I-90 home. Both routes are usually cleared off pretty well. However, it’s always recommended to have the proper vehicle and chains in case of unexpected snow storms or mud slides.
Have fun in the wonderful Bavarian City. Leavenworth is definitely a must for any traveler and adventurer because there’s something spectacular for everyone. Let me know what your favorite thing to do in Leavenworth is in the comments below!