Regional Escape: Get a Taste of a European Bavarian Village in the Beautiful Mountain Town of Leavenworth!

Holy Schnitzel! The charming, little Bavarian village of Leavenworth, WA., nestled in the heart of the Cascade Mountains in Central Washington, is a great escape anytime of the year, but it is usually at its best in late fall, winter and spring.

Like a lot fun and exciting places in the Pacific Northwest, and around the country for that matter, Leavenworth has been discovered. Some 2 million people a year visit this once out-of-the- way enclave from all corners of the globe. But with a little planning, a dash of adventure and a slice of spontaneity, you can escape the crowds and discover what this unique locale has to offer.

Leavenworth, WA image courtesy of (1)
Leavenworth, WA image courtesy of (1)

Our most recent visit was during this past holiday season. The town was lit up with multi-colored lights, hanging from buildings and trees – both the festive fir type and the deciduous variety – along with being festooned to windowsills, railings, and even the occasional car.

The lights are a mainstay – in one form or another – for most of the year, a characteristic that helps reinforce Leavenworth’s European flavor. It wasn’t always thus, though. Leavenworth was a logging and railroad town until the 1960s when most of the once prestigious stands of Ponderosa Pine began to disappear and nearby mills shuttered.

As hard times began to sink into the bones of the alpine village, some local leaders looked around and saw a golden opportunity. They realized that the surrounding mountains looked a lot like a scene out of a Bavarian postcard. Not long after, they decided to remake Leavenworth’s downtown into a European-themed town, with a Bavarian twist. The rest, of course, is history.

Leavenworth is now a year-round tourism and recreational paradise. There are fun events happening every month, such as Winter Karneval and Oktoberfest, not to mention shopping in hundreds of boutiques, as well as sipping local wines and ciders, and noshing on traditional German food like Schnitzel, Bratwurst and Pretzels at dozens of restaurants, eateries and bakeries.

While rubbing shoulders with hundreds – er, perhaps thousands – of other tourists weaving in and out of downtown shops can be entertaining, exciting, and educational (the people watching, for sure!), we have discovered over the years that there’s much to do just outside Leavenworth’s main commercial core.

Depending on the season, there are places to ski, hike, bike, walk and even take a roller coaster ride, minutes from all the hustle and bustle. There are also bus tours, carriage rides, farm and wildlife tours and much more.

Relatively new to Leavenworth is an Adventure Park, on the west edge of town, that features four main attractions: the Tumwater Twister Alpine Coaster, the Alpine Ascent Climbing Wall, the Bavarian Bungee Bounce Trampoline, and the Gems of The Enchantments Mining Sluice. The 8,500 square foot Guest Service Center includes a viewing area, party space, food, and merchandise.

We ventured over to it from the Time Share where we were staying and soon discovered how popular those rides are – even on a dark, cold and rainy night a week or so before Christmas. It was a testament to just how popular Leavenworth is, and how family-oriented it can be. There were kids, parents and teenagers milling about, standing in lines, and chatting it up.

What we like to do, especially if there is snow on the ground, is to walk along the Wenatchee River, which flows just below Commercial Street. There’s a beautiful trail that wends its way past Riverfront Park and Blackbird Island and ends up at the Barn Beach Preserve.

Even in winter – along this roughly mile-long expanse – you’ll see plenty of birds, beautiful trees – including the iconic Ponderosa Pine – and perhaps some wildlife. What makes the walk that much more interesting are the number of kiosks that explains, both the water fowl you may be eyeing as well’s the area’s fascinating history.

In winter, you can strap on your cross-country skis or snowshoes (several places rent them) and trek along the grounds of the nearby Leavenworth Golf Course (stay off the greens!), or at the end of Icicle Creek Road, a few miles out of town. Depending on the depth of the snow, there are nearby parks within the city’s limits, where you can enjoy the same activities.

In the spring and summer, there is biking (again, you can rent from a local outfitter) on area roads, as well as hiking – and camping – in the close-by Alpine Wilderness Area. However, nothing beats the unrivaled beauty of Leavenworth in the Spring. The snow is melting, and the fabulous foliage of the Cascades has begun to blossom. This is when this small Bavarian Village begins to shine, and spring is the time to add superb springtime activities to your itinerary. From watching the birds come to life to walking the Blackbird Island to celebrating around the Mai pole in Downtown.

No matter what season you choose, Leavenworth is definitely worth the 2.5-to-3-hour drive from Bainbridge and West Puget Sound (excluding the ferry), either on I-90 and over Blewett Pass, or the more scenic route over State Highway 2. Once you walk the streets, take in the nightly vibe, or just absorb the majestic scenery, you’ll be glad you made the trek.

For more information on Leavenworth, including its many attractions and list of events, visit, Home – Leavenworth Washington

If you’d like to read more articles from The Island Wanderer Blog website, click here, to subscribe to The Island Wanderer Blog, click here.

ADVERTISE WITH US! We offer exceptional rates and packages for advertisers, to learn more, contact us at Contact Us | THE ISLAND WANDERER



Scroll to Top