Explore the Northwest

Leavenworth, Washington

Explore the Northwest

Washington's Slice of Bavaria Dazzles Visitors With Year-Round Fun Activities

sleeding in leavenworth washington's town square

We all may think we know Leavenworth, the Bavarian-themed town that overflows with flowers and flowered dirndls, Black Forest decor, dining and oompah music. Certainly, all this is true of this picturesque mountain town wedged into a deep valley between Cascade Range peaks. Yet Leavenworth offers so much more.

Surrounded by 8,000-foot mountains, Leavenworth is a great recreation base for camping, hiking, horseback riding, river rafting and more during the warm months. Yet it’s in wintertime that the village simply shines. Snowdrifts blanket Front Street Park, twinkling lights festoon decorative balconies, chalet-style roofs and trees, glowing storefronts draw shoppers inside and sidewalks are filled with families in a festive mood.

Lodging in Leavenworth includes a variety of AAA Diamond rated hotels and inns. Remember to check road conditions and tire/snow chain restrictions for mountain passes in the winter. Make sure to check out these scenic and scrumptious stops en route to Leavenworth, or leave the car at home and take Amtrak's Empire Builder train to Leavenworth's Icicle Station, about 1.5 miles northeast of downtown. Shuttle service between the station and area hotels is available through Leavenworth Shuttle.

SKIING AND SNOW PLAY

nordic skiing in Leavenworth, washington

While wintertime celebrations draw crowds on festival weekends, Leavenworth’s outdoor appeal draws outdoors adventure seekers throughout the year. The town is an ideal basecamp for Nordic and downhill skiers, as well as families looking for a snowy outing, with groomed cross-country trails, downhill ski slopes (with a rope tow) and a tubing park at the Leavenworth Ski Hill.

For cross-country skiers, the 8-km (nearly 5-mile) Icicle River Nordic Trail offers gorgeous mountain views as it traverses woods and meadows alongside the river. The 5-km (3-mile) Icicle River Snowshoe Adventure Trail takes in the same gorgeous scenery as it winds through woods and over bridges. The 8-km (nearly 5-mile) Golf Course Trail offers exhilarating downhill runs with speedy hills and sweeping curves, and if you’re looking for grander adventures, Plain Valley Nordic Ski Trails has about 15 miles of groomed trail less than 30 minutes from Leavenworth.

Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort (with 36 runs and 2,250 feet of vertical rise) near Wenatchee is only about 35 miles away from Leavenworth, while Stevens Pass (52 runs and 1,800 vertical feet on two mountains) is a similar distance in the opposite direction. 

There is plenty to do with the snowsuit set, from snow play to making furry friends at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm on the edge of town (reservations are recommended and, in some cases, required) to indulging in treats at the Gingerbread Factory.

Dining

brats at munchen haus in leavenworth, washington

Food always tastes best after a day outdoors, and Leavenworth has an abundance of restaurants serving up hearty goulashes and sausages.

The massive Rhein Haus (a satellite of the original Seattle restaurant) makes its own sausages and pretzels and has three bars, multiple levels and a deck overlooking Front Street, the best seat in town for mountain-viewing and people-watching.  

Yodelin Broth, with a deck overlooking the Wenatchee River, opened in 2018 featuring bone-broth noodle soups such as Moonlight, made with wild salmon-miso bone broth, Vashon Island tofu, “power” greens, oyster mushrooms and edamame. 

And the chef-owned Watershed Café bases its reputation on locally sourced foods with a menu featuring the likes of slow-roasted Kurobuta porkchop with potato croquettes and turnip salad. You'll find Northwest flavors like Hama Hama shellfish from the Hood Canal, meat and prodice from Chelan County farmers and really, really local ingredients such as “Kevin Easley’s neighbor’s blackberries.”

Festivals and the arts

Festival in Leavenworth

At its core, downtown Leavenworth is a highly entertaining place for those of any adventure level to spend time.

Its Front Street shops, filled with Bavarian knickknacks and outdoors gear, are fun to wander through for gifts and eye candy. Front Street Park, with its vintage gazebo, is the centerpiece of year-round festivities in this town known nationally for its remarkable slate of festivals

The area is also haven for artists, and you can reap the benefit of their creativity at the summertime Icicle Creek Chamber Music Festival and Leavenworth Summer Theater.

SPring and Summer Fun

Whitewater rafting in Leavenworth

Surrounded by the beauty of Cascade Range peaks and the seemingly endless carpet of the Wenatchee National Forest, and with the enviable sunny days of the east side of the mountains, Leavenworth is a world-class recreational mecca. More than 700 miles of hiking, biking and horseback trails can be found here, as well as whitewater rafting.

While most of the hiking is straight up to amazing spectacles such as the famous Enchantments (well worth the effort if you’re in top shape), one of the best hiking spots is relatively flat and family friendly, with gorgeous views of rapids and small waterfalls: The Icicle Gorge Trail is a loop that parallels the Icicle River for 4 miles. Shaded by forest, it’s ideal for a hot day, but gorgeous for spring blossoms and fall colors, too.

April through October, the Zipline Park at Mountain Springs Lodge offers speedy thrills, while bicyclists of all skill levels can try an exciting new way to ride on the banked curves, rollers and berms at Bike Pump Park at Enchantment Park, the only paved track of its kind on the West Coast.

—Written by Leslie Forsberg

 

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The Essentials

From Seattle: About 120 miles
From Spokane​: About 1820 miles 
Best for: Oktoberfest and Christmas festivities, outdoors recreation and dining in the mountains
Don't miss:
2019 Christmas Lighting Festival, December 6-8, 13-15 and 20-22
2020 Bavarian Icefest, January 18
2020 Oktoberfest, October 2-3, 9-10 and 16-17

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