Did you know there's a Bavarian village in Washington State? Located just 2.5 hours east of Seattle is the city of Leavenworth, where the town center is completely modeled in the European tradition. As a result of its design, Leavenworth is a popular year-round destination for locals and visitors to Washington. Visit in the summer to enjoy many nearby hiking trails or whitewater rafting. Venture out in the fall for the annual Oktoberfest, or wait until snowfall for the impressive Christmas decor. As Seattle residents, we have been to Leavenworth on numerous occasions and experienced it during all seasons. No matter what time of year, there's always a reason to enjoy Leavenworth.
Getting from Seattle to Leavenworth
There are several ways to get to Leavenworth from Seattle. You can get there for pretty cheap by taking an Amtrak train or Greyhound bus. Both of these routes will take you to the heart of the faux-Bavarian village of Leavenworth. But if you intend to explore the great outdoors and hike or camp, it's recommended that you drive to Leavenworth as you will need a vehicle to reach trailheads.
If you drive, bear in mind that there are two paths to Leavenworth: one route is via Highway 2, and the other is via I-90 freeway. Both routes take about the same amount of time, but the I-90 route is arguably more scenic. For the full experience, consider driving one route on your way in, and take the other route back to Seattle.
Where to Stay in Leavenworth
Since the town is largely a tourist attraction, Leavenworth accommodations of every kind are ample. There are standard hotels and motels, rustic lodges, bed and breakfasts, cabins, and even RV parks and campsites. With that said, it is a popular destination, so lodging fills up during peak times of year such as Christmas, summer breaks, and Oktoberfest. So plan accordingly.
For a truly Leavenworth experience, it's hard to go wrong with one of the picturesque lodges on the main drag of town. They are within walking distance of the town's main square, and many offer on-site parking and breakfast, some even with the majestic alpenhorn.
Things to Do in Leavenworth
Activities in the area depend largely on the season you visit, but there are definitely year-round attractions as well. Most of these activities in the village of Leavenworth are all within walking distance of each other on flat sidewalks.
Front Street Park
This is the heart of Leavenworth. Featuring a gazebo and lawn, Front Street Park activities vary according to the season. The centerpiece Christmas tree lives here in the winter, and children love sledding down the lawn's hill. In the summer, art festivals and performing bands fill the lawn to entertain families and travelers having picnics.
Eat German Fare
The town appears authentically Bavarian in every way, including its food options. From München Haus and Bavarian Bistro & Bar to King Ludwig's Restaurant, it's not hard to find an eatery that will make you feel like you're actually in Germany. There are also restaurants serving Italian, American, and even Asian options if you need more variety.
What's a German town without a beer garden? All of the restaurant mentioned above have stellar German beer options. We'd also recommend the outdoor Leavenworth Sausage Garten and the indoor beer hall Der Hinterhof to the list if you're going for a rustic beer garten experience.
Since this town is located within the Leavenworth Valley Wine Country, it's only logical that there's a ton of local wineries. Many offer tasting rooms in the downtown area of Leavenworth. You can also hop on a guided limo wine tour or drive yourself out to the beautiful nearby wineries. Some notable Washington wineries include Bordeaux Cellars, Icicle Ridge Winery, and Baroness Cellars.
Eat Local Fruit
Within Leavenworth and alongside many roads leading to it are the bounty of local farmers. Visit a fruit stand and get some freshly picked famous Washington apples, pears, and other goodies.
Go Christmas Shopping
Scattered among Leavenworth's many beer gartens and restaurants are lots of specialty retail shops. Many play on the theme of the town's most popular time of year: Christmas. This is one of few places where you can buy nutcrackers and holiday ornaments at just about any time.
You don't have to wander far from downtown Leavenworth to get a taste of nature. Just look up to admire the towering nearby mountains that nestle the town. Or stroll a few blocks away from town for a leisurely stroll on a path alongside the nearby Wenatchee River.
Located just off of Highway 2, which runs through town, is the 18-hole Icicle Junction mini golf course. Pretty much anyone who's been to Leavenworth will probably admit they've tried their hand at this course. It's a fun activity for all ages, although it's best enjoyed in the warmer summer months.
Hiking and Camping
Given the natural beauty surrounding the town, it's no surprise that many people come out this far to hike or camp. One of our favorite nearby destinations for nature is Eightmile Lake. You can do this moderate hike in a half-day trip, or spend the night camping.
White Water Rafting
White water rafting is one of those things we have yet to check off our bucket lists, but there are ample opportunities to do so in Leavenworth. Many outfitters cater to individual levels and even throw in a lunch. Check out Osprey Rafting, BlueSky Outfitters, or Alpine Adventures.
Leavenworth is popular in both the summer and winter months of the year. Snowfall is heavy in this part of the state, and it's not unusual to get snowed in. So bring your skis, snowboard, or snowshoes along and trek outdoors to enjoy the winter wonderland. Leavenworth Ski Hill is the closest to enjoy winter sports action, although it's on the small side. You can also go a bit further by car and get to nearby Stevens Pass Mountain Resort or Mission Ridge Resort for longer trails.
If you make a trip out to Washington State, be sure to plan a visit out east to Leavenworth. The natural beauty is well worth the drive out and will give you a full taste of Northwest life.
Have you visited Leavenworth? What are some of your recommendations? Let us know in the comments below!