Leavenworth is a small Bavarian-style village nestled in the Cascade Mountains of Washington. However, this quaint town was not always a German-inspired destination. After a fall in the logging and sawmill business in the early 1900s, Leavenworth was left merely a ghost town until town leaders came together in 1960.
To attract visitors, the city renovated the town to mimic German Bavaria complete with the alpine hills. Today, Leavenworth is a year-round destination attracting visitors to its charming Bavarian-style and Winter Wonderland festivities.
Related: How to Travel During the Pandemic
How To Get To Leavenworth
The best way to reach Leavenworth is via road trip. Which makes the whole trip even more exciting! The closest airport is the Seattle-Tacoma airport, about 2 hours away from Leavenworth. If you are visiting during the snowy months, be sure to have traction tires or chains with you! The drive is windy and passes through the Cascade Mountains.
- Est. time: 2 – 2.15hour drive via I-90E & US-97 N I 135 mi
- Est time: 4.5 hour drive via 1-5 N, I-90 E & US-97 N I 288 mi
From Vancouver BC:
- Est. time: 4 hour drive via I-5S & US-2 I 214 mi
Where to Stay
Low: Icicle Village Resort
The Icicle Village Resort is the perfect getaway for families! It’s a short walk from downtown with a restaurant onsite and a miniature golf course. How fun! Their Alpine Spa is one of the best in town and you can bring all of your furry friends along as they are pet friendly!
Mid: Bavarian Lodge
The Bavarian Lodge is in the heart of town! This is where we stayed and it was an amazing experience! The hotel is absolutely stunning and extremely picturesque, straight out of a fairytale! It’s clean, the staff are friendly and there is a pub on site. It’s the perfect middle price-wise and the location is unbeatable.
High: Post Hotel
If you’re looking for a luxurious experience, this is your hotel! I thought about booking at the Post Hotel but the location and charm of the Bavarian Lodge won me over. Next time I visit, I might opt to stay here. The Post Hotel is an adult-only spa resort with onsite dining and an inclusive spa experience. Your stay includes the use of the Enzian putting course and use of bicycle, snowshoe + cross country ski rentals.
Things to Do in Leavenworth
Washington state produces wonderful wines and there are plenty of tasting rooms to try some in Leavenworth. We opted to visit Eagle Creek Winery, located 5 miles outside of town, instead of their tasting room and me oh my, it exceeded our expectations.
The winery itself is stunning with charming outdoor seating and views galore. Don’t even get me started on their wines! The cherry on top was the staff. They were incredibly kind, attentive, took their time, and kept us laughing! I would recommend visiting the winery or their tasting room in Leavenworth, D’Vinery.
Tasting Rooms in Leavenworth:
- Patterson Cellars
- A Taste of Icicle Ridge
- Ryan Patrick Wines
The Bavarian Village is filled with small local shops and boutiques. I love to shop local and always make it a point when I’m traveling. Whether you’re looking for gifts, souvenirs, or unique clothing boutiques with items handmade in Leavenworth, you’ll find it here!
Four shops you can’t miss:
The Cheesemonger’s shop
Talk about cheese galore. The cheesemonger’s shop offers a wide selection of imported and domestic cheeses of various flavors and textures. In addition to cheese, the shop offers a little piece of Europe through a variety of gourmet food items. If you’re a cheese lover or want to explore their international goods, this is a must stop!
From cheese galore, to chocolate galore! A classic European chocolate shop with handmade small-batch chocolates perfect to savor with wine, after a meal, or to make a sweet gift. The passion extends past chocolates and shines through the hospitality at Schocolat as they strive to make each experience special.
Who doesn’t want to pretend it’s Christmas any time of the year?! The year-round Christmas shop is full of unforgettable gifts and home decor to bring the spirit of Christmas to your home! You can choose to personalize a gift and take a little piece of the Bavarian village with you.
The Gingerbread Factory
Located in the heart of Leavenworth, The Gingerbread Factory first opened its doors in 1988! In addition to all things gingerbread, the bakery offers coffee, shakes, ice cream, and a variety of foods. The real stand out for me is the traditional German gingerbread cookie heart necklace – the Lebkuchen Hearts!
The cascade mountains are home to endless breathtaking hikes and there are plenty near Leavenworth. Keep in mind that you are in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and bears are definitely a thing. That may sound silly but I did not prepare myself! Although I come from the area, I live near a major city; so bears were never a topic of discussion nor have I ever encountered one.
My goal is not to scare you, but be aware of your surroundings and stay prepared. Heavily trafficked trails will not pose a problem. The black bears in the area are curious creatures and as long as you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you.
Length: 4.5 mi I Easy
Icicle Ridge Trail
Length: 5.5mi I Moderate
Colchuk Lake via Stuart Lake Trail
Length: 9 mi I Hard
The Enchantments Trail
Length: 23.6 mi I Hard
The clear blue lake is located roughly 30 minutes from Leavenworth making it the perfect day trip! There is ample beach access, paddleboards/kayaks available for rent, and plenty of biking/hiking trails. If you’re interested in visiting the lake, plan ahead. Our weather prognosis showed warm weather in July and when we arrived the wind gusts nearly swept us away! We only stayed a short time to eat our lunch and enjoy the views before we headed back to town.
January – Bavarian Icefest
April – Taste Leavenworth & The Ale Fest
May – Maifest
June – Bavarian Bike + Brew, International Accordion Celebration and Farmers Market
July – Kinderfest
October – Oktoberfest
November – Christkindlmarkt
December – Christmas lighting festival
The three best spas in Leavenworth:
Blackbird island includes a two miles trail that is located near the heart of the town. I started my mornings with a run/walk around the island that is heavily trafficked. You will see people enjoying their morning cup of joe, people floating down the Wenatchee River, and families enjoying the trail with their little ones. You can also catch a beautiful view of the post hotel!
Although Leavenworth is a year-round destination, visiting the Bavarian village during the holidays is magical. It feels like you’ve been transported to a snowy small town in the heart of the Bavarian Alps. Visiting during the holidays is perfect for families, couples, girls trips, and solo travelers. From the sleigh rides, tree lighting festivals, Chriskindlmarkt, sledding, and tubing – there is something for every visitor. Also, the reindeer farm and nutcracker museum are open year-round, but they are extra special during the holidays.
Where to Eat
Leavenworth is full of delicious local restaurants serving traditional Bavarian foods. I’m not a huge sausage fan myself so you may have to test out a couple of places to find the best one; however, Munchen Haus definitely has the best pretzels!
Here are my top picks:
Yodelin – The BEST place we ate in Leavenworth. This rustic-style restaurant offers incredible views of the mountains while serving signature bone broth soups, salads, and burgers. Their mission focuses on eco-friendliness and the staff was so kind!
Munchen Haus – Best pretzels and endless mustard options. Plus, they serve local beers and german sausages in a charming courtyard.
Arganaout Espresso – One stop walk up shop for breakfast! Their buttery biscuits are made fresh in the mornings; however, they sell out quickly so order early!
Blewett Brewing Company – Delicious pizzas and small-batch brews! A few locals recommended it over Rudolf’s Pizza which we also heard great things about.
Louis Cafe – Traditional American breakfast and lunch with outdoor seating options.
Danish Bakery – Quick stop for pastries, pretzels, and sweetbreads.
J5 Coffee – Small espresso bar perfect for morning coffee or an afternoon pick me up. I always appreciate when a coffee shop has plenty of milk alternatives and they sure do!
Viadolce Gelato – Traditional Italian Gelateria shop with fresh gelato and sorbet.
Additional highly rated restaurants in Leavenworth:
Leavenworth Sausage Garten – Offers house-made sausages, plenty of mustards to choose from, and local beers.
Rhein Haus – Traditional German plates and beers with plenty of outdoor seating.
Andreas Keller – Bavarian menu with imported draft beers and live music!
Watershed Cafe – Farm to table dining with a menu that changes daily.
Mana Restaurant – Multi-course culinary experience with local and organic ingredients.
Leavenworth Wrap Up:
Whether you’re visiting in the Winter, Summer, Fall, or Spring, Leavenworth will leave you with an unforgettable experience. The true Bavarian charm makes this small town one of Washington’s hidden gems! I would love to visit in the Winter to experience the true Winter wonderland festivities.
Save me for later!