Located two hours east of Seattle you’ll come upon this quaint Bavarian village nestled in the Cascade Mountains. Full of big pretzels, steins galore, kitsch shopping, and friendly locals… Leavenworth is the perfect day trip to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. While you may feel as though you’ve been transported to an authentic German town, the truth is… Leavenworth has no ties to Germany. The town was hit hard by the Great Depression and had never recovered by the ’60s. Locals got together and thought up a plan to make Leavenworth seem as though it was a Bavarian town to attract tourists. They knew if they didn’t do that, Leavenworth would cease to exist. Turns out, what they did work! Leavenworth now sees 2+ million visitors per year.
As far as “German Villages” go, having visited Germany before and spending time in the city of Munich, Leavenworth puts up a good fight. It even hosts its own Oktoberfest! Aside from the German feel of Leavenworth, there are tons of outdoor activities offered as well. Tube the river, zip line, or hike. Whether yelling “PROST” in a beer hall or hiking some of the most gorgeous hikes in Washington, there’s something for everyone in Leavenworth. And that is what makes this little town so special.
What to Do in Washington’s Bavarian Village
The town of Leavenworth doesn’t have its own airport, the closest to it is the Pangborn Memorial Airport, 30-miles east in East Wenatchee. The next closest (and cheaper option) is the SeaTac Airport located in Seattle, 126-miles west. If you choose to come from Seattle I recommend renting a car and driving to Leavenworth. The drive from Seattle will take you anywhere from 2-3 hours.
The drive from Seattle to Leavenworth is scenic. Twisting through mountains, big trees shading the highways, rickety old bridges to drive past. Take your time and get out at one of the many viewpoints or visit one of the coffee stands lining the road. Each time I visit Leavenworth I am in awe all the way into town, and highly recommend driving this yourself.
Pst… another perk to driving is being able to freely drive to the outdoor activities surrounding Leavenworth such as zip-lining, hiking, and more!
Where to Stay: The Bavarian Lodge
Located smack in the center of Leavenworth, this kitsch hotel is one that I’ve stayed at time and time again. With an unbeatable location, fresh baked cookies on arrival, and a pool/hot tub to dive into after a long day of drinking stein… it’s an affordable and comfortable place to be.
If you’ve rented a car and are driving into Leavenworth, the Bavarian Lodge has a big parking garage. The parking fee is included in the hotel price, so no need to worry about finding a safe spot!
Exploring the Town of Leavenworth
As a whole, Leavenworth is only 1.4 square miles and home to nearly 2,000 residents. That being said, it’s a very small town that can be explored in one day. If you’re wanting to get to know the ins and outs of Leavenworth itself stick to the main street – Front Street. Here you’ll find plenty of restaurants, breweries, wine tasting rooms, and kitsch shops selling tourist goods.
Some of my favorite stops on Front Street include
Rhein Haus for beer steins and giant pretzels
Icicle Brewing Company for a variety of beer
Ryan Patrick for wine tasting
Andreas Keller for a kitsch German dinner including servers dressed in lederhosen and live music on specified nights
Exploring the Surrounding Areas of Leavenworth
If you’re staying in Leavenworth for more than one day or you’re looking for more than just popping in and out of the stores on Front Street, participate in numerous outdoor activities surrounding Leavenworth.
If you’ve chosen to make the drive up from Seattle stop north of Leavenworth at Mountain Springs Lodge. Here you can partake in different zipline courses through Leavenworth Ziplines. Mountain Springs also offers horse rides, fly fishing, and in the winter sleigh rides and snowmobile tours.
If you’re looking for hikes, Leavenworth is home to some of Washington’s best hikes. Here you’ll find the hikes to both two wildly popular hikes in Washington; Colchuk Lake and The Enchantments. If you’re looking for more information on these hikes, check out AllTrails.
If you want more of a relaxing experience and you’re visiting Leavenworth when the weather is warm, instead opt to float down the Wenatchee River. If you don’t have your own tubes, there are two rental companies you can rent from – Blue Sky Outfitters Inc and Osprey Rafting. For more information on renting tubes and floating down Wenatchee check out this website.
So you see, it’s easy to spend 24-hours in this Bavarian Village. Whether you’re participating in activities or eating and drinking your way through town, you won’t be disappointed in this beautiful town. Whether or not you find yourself visiting Seattle, make this town a priority. Prost to you Leavenworth!
Do you prefer visuals over words? Head over to my Instagram page/highlight reel for a visual look at Leavenworth.