Have you ever wanted to go to Germany before? Experience the beer-drinking feats of Oktoberfest, snack on some Bavarian sausages, and wear some lederhosen? If you’ve ever had an inkling to experience a taste of Bavaria, and a trip to Germany isn’t in your books any time soon, there is a place for you that isn’t too far from Vancouver! This place is Leavenworth, Washington.
Photo from Leavenworth Summer
Leavenworth is a town located in the Puget Sound, Washington, and is about 150 km east of Everett. The history of Leavenworth does not begin with a Bavarian heritage, but one that is full of the Native American tradition of the Yakima, Chinook, and Wenatachi tribes. Leavenworth then became an early pioneer settlement that saw a boom and eventual, bust. The town suffered a few decades of economic hardship till in the 1960s, the community’s leaders decided to re-brand Leavenworth and take advantage of their alpine background. They turned their downtown core into a Bavarian-inspired town, and tourism flourished.
From Vancouver, it is about a 4 hour trip depending on traffic and border waiting times. The most direct route from Vancouver is to use Highway 2 towards Stevens Pass. If you’d like to visit Seattle and other central Washington stops along the way, you could also take Highway 97 which will allow you to make Leavenworth a last stop before heading back to Vancouver.
The town center on Front St. is where all the Bavarian action is happening. The architecture is all distinctly Bavarian themed and there are several attractions that keep it old world.
Photo from Joe Lourenco
There is a traditional handcrafted maypole in the town square that features dancers performing at certain times of the day.
Photo from Women World
If you like beer, there is a beer wagon that you can features lederhosen folk in which you can take your photo with. There are also numerous restaurants, bars, and even a brewery that all feature imported German beer or locally-crated German-inspired beer! Icicle Brewery is a fantastic stop for those who love craft beer while also enjoying small plates and morsels.
The hills are also alive with the sound of music as a Glockenspiel plays music every 15 minutes. Carillon bells are also playing music throughout the day in Leavenworth, head east towards the festhall to listen on. If you’d like to really listen to the sound of music, the Leavenworth Summer Theater puts on a product of the Sound of Music every summer!
Photo from Leavenworth
In addition to converting the town of Leavenworth into a Bavarian themed village, the town’s leaders also created numerous festivals in order to foster the Bavarian atmosphere. The next big events that are coming up include the Autumn Leaf Festival and Parade from September 26 – 28 which celebrates the changing colors of leaves, and Oktoberfest which runs on each weekend during October.
The Bavarian-themed area of Leavenworth is actually quite small. It takes only about 15 minutes to walk from one end of the downtown core to the other. If you exhaust all things Bavarian to engage in, Leavenworth is located in the beautiful Puget Sound area that has no shortage of nature activities.
Photo from Panoramio
Waterfront Park is located a short walk away from downtown Leavenworth which makes it a good place to soak in natural sites if you are pressed for time. The Wenatchee River runs along Waterfront Park and there are several trails that can take you further along to Blackbird Island or to Enchantment Park. A fantastic place for those who like to wander.
Photo from Josh Cadd
The loop around Icicle Gorge is 4 km, but there is very little change in elevation which makes it an easy and leisurely hike. The hike around Icicle Gorge takes you through different nature formations from wooded areas, river views, and mountain views making it a fantastic hike for those waiting even more seclusion from village life.
There is no shortage of Bavarian delights to eat when in Leavenworth! From brats, beers, and more beer, if you are craving old world food, this town has it!
Munchen Haus (709 Front St)
Photo from Blue Sky Whitewater
Munchen Haus is a quaint outdoor-seating restaurant hat is fantastic for a casual feast with delicious Bavarian food. They are known for their brats and sausages, so make sure you order one (with a beer, of course!) when you head on over. They have an assortment of sausages that cater to everyone (even the vegetarian!)We love the currywurst! Truly a taste of Germany.
Andreas Keller (829 Front St)
Photo from Alex Juy
First opened in 1989, Andreas Keller makes traditional, hearty meals that feature old-world flavor. From dishes such as spatzle (handmade egg noodles), schnitzel (pork cutlet), and bavarian-style pretzels, this is the place to go for a nice meal in Leavenworth. If the food doesn’t make you feel like you’ve been transported to Germany, there is also an accordion player in the restaurant that will do so!
The Gingerbread Factory (828 Commercial St)
Photo from Cake Spy
As the name suggests, the Gingerbread Factory makes gingerbread cookies! These gingerbread cookies are baked in house and are supremely tasty. The staff are very friendly and creative when it comes to hand-decorating your cookie! Make sure you stop by and grab a cookie before you leave Leavenworth!
Leavenworth makes a great place for a day-trip if you leave Vancouver early and want to see multiple sites in the central Washington area.
Photo from Pamela Poland
If you’d like to stay for a weekend Bavarian getaway, there are numerous hotels and resort sites to stay at. For a romantic getaway, the Mountain Home Lodge looks like a fantstic place to stay as it is located a bit further from the town center and nestled into the alpine scenery surrounding Leavenworth. For accommodations closer to the town square and more Bavarian-themed, the Bavarian Lodge should be exactly what you are looking for!
We often see deals on social shopping sites such as Groupon, Social Shopper, or Dealfind for resorts and hotels in Leavenworth and the surrounding Wenatchee area, so keep your eyes peeled for weekend getaway deals!
Have any of your experienced the Bavarian nature of Leavenworth? Are there other sites we should see in central Washington along the way? Leave us a comment and let us know!