Looking for cool & unique things to do in Leavenworth, WA? This Leavenworth Travel Guide will give you all the best travel tips for visiting Washington’s Bavarian Village.
If you haven’t taken a holiday to Leavenworth in Washington State, it’s probably time you put it high up on your list of places to visit in the USA.
“Why?” you ask. What’s the big attraction at Leavenworth?
Besides being stunningly beautiful, this German village in Washington state offers so much to do regardless of the season you visit.
But before we dive into what to do in Leavenworth WA, let’s get to know where it’s located.
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- Where is Leavenworth Washington?
- Why there is a Bavarian village in the middle of Washington State?
- Where to Stay in Leavenworth WA
- Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
- When is the Best Time to Visit Leavenworth WA?
- Things to do in Leavenworth, Washington
- Where to Eat in Leavenworth, Washington
- Getting around Leavenworth
Where is Leavenworth Washington?
Leavenworth is a Bavarian style village located in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.
It is a Bavarian town in Washington state, about two and a half hours drive from Seattle, or a four-hour stunning train trip. It is a beautiful German town near Seattle.
You’ll love to experience the Bavarian way of life outside of Europe!
We loved the train trip that follows the coast from Seattle for an hour or two, and then heads inland, up into the very picturesque Cascade Mountains.
Definitely, the train to Leavenworth is the best idea!
Why there is a Bavarian village in the middle of Washington State?
If you’ve been asking yourself why there is a Bavarian town in Washington, here is the answer!
In 1903 a large sawmill was built and Leavenworth became a thriving logging town.
In the early 1900s it was also the headquarters of the Great Northern Railway, but when the railroad rerouted its track to Wenatchee in the 1920s the town’s economy suffered severely.
In the 1960s, the townsfolk decided something had to be done if they wanted the town to survive and a committee was formed to research options to revive their town.
Because of the location of the town in the mountains, it was decided they would reinvent the town with a Bavarian theme.
The entire town worked together and completely renovated the downtown area and created some Bavarian style festivals to attract the crowds. It has worked brilliantly well!
Today, Leavenworth attracts about two million visitors a year.
You don’t need to fly all the way to Europe to experience the Bavarian way of life (but if you do, make sure you book your accommodation in Munich beforehand!)
Where to Stay in Leavenworth WA
There are plenty of places to stay in Leavenworth from luxurious five-star Bavarian style hotels to cabins in the woods and riverside lodges.
If you don’t have a car, one of the best downtown Leavenworth hotels options is the Howard Johnson by Wyndham.
The location was a few minutes walk to the township and we had a kitchen in our apartment so we could cook a meal if we had had a big day and didn’t feel like dining out.
Most of the lodges and hotels have a Bavarian theme and many are situated in, or very close to, the township.
The Bavarian Lodge is a very popular choice as it’s right in the township. It has a heated pool, two hot tubs and a great pub on site.
For large and or family groups The Riverside Cabins is right on the river.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
I always travel with insurance, even if I travel within my own country.
No matter how well you plan and research a trip, there are always things that can happen beyond your control. I had to use it several times and it saved my trip!
When is the Best Time to Visit Leavenworth WA?
Anytime is great to visit this Bavarian town near Seattle of Leavenworth! However, it depends on what you want to do!
Do you want to participate in winter activities, summer activities or admire the spring flowers? By answering this question, you’ll discover the best time to visit this German city in Washington state.
Keep reading and you will know what to do in Leavenworth in different seasons of the year, so you can choose when to go depending on what suits you more.
Things to do in Leavenworth, Washington
Things to do in Leavenworth in Winter
If you are an enthusiastic winter sports fan, there are two major ski resorts – Mission Ridge and Stevens Pass-, and some local ones for skiing and snowboarding and plenty of trails for cross country skiing or snowshoeing.
Whether you prefer skiing or snowshoeing, participating in winter sports is one of the best things to do in winter in Leavenworth.
There is also a sledding hill on Front Street Park and a bigger sledding hill on Waterfront Park if you prefer sledding.
For the romantics amongst you, there are sleigh rides and horse drawn carriages to take you around town.
If you’re really fit and keen, do a one and a half to two-hour hike on your snowshoes up to the Scenic Hot Springs where there are three hot tubs in a wilderness setting that seat a maximum of 10 people, but it’s on private property and you need to make a reservation before you go.
There is the well known and very popular Christmas lighting ceremony and in January they have an Ice Festival.
And, of course, plenty of gluhwein (mulled wine) and bratwurst sausages to keep you fuelled!
Other things to do in winter in this Leavenworth Bavarian village include going on a sleigh ride, browsing Nutcracker Museum, or enjoying the Bavarian-style Christmas decorations especially if you can’t visit the Christmas markets in Europe.
Things to do in Leavenworth in Summer
Some of the fun activities in Leavenworth you can enjoy in summer include paddle boarding on Icicle Creek or renting a tube and just lay back and float down the river.
For the more daring, there’s adrenalin pumping white water rafting on the Wenatchee River.
Stretch your legs on the Icicle Creek Nature Trail or the Icicle Loop Trail which is a good two and a half hour family trail. This is truly one of the best things to do in summer in Leavenworth, a German town in Washington.
We were amazed to come across a couple of deer on the trail who weren’t the slightest bit afraid of us. They just carried on grazing and completely ignored us.
However, when we got to the bear and bobcat warning signs we decided to turn back. We are kiwis from New Zealand and had no idea what to do if we came across the animals!
There’s great mountain biking at Stevens Pass and plenty of hiking or walking trails.
Blackbird Island, just over a small walking bridge from town, has a pleasant mile or so of tracks for strolling or jogging which is one of the fun things to do in Leavenworth!
Take a visit to the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery which has walking and biking trails, horseback and sleigh rides, and in September, the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival.
There are plenty of great picnic locations all around Leavenworth.
The annual Leavenworth Summer Theatre program is an absolute must-do if you enjoy live theatre outdoors, under the sky, on a warm summer’s night. One of the most romantic things to do in Leavenworth.
What to do in Leavenworth in Spring
Leavenworth is one of the best family spring destinations! In spring, you will enjoy the wildflowers and in the fall the very colorful fall leaves.
Leavenworth is a huge organic pear growing area and April is pear month in Leavenworth. The wineries, breweries, and restaurants all feature pears in their menus or drinks.
Don’t forget to visit the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. This is a family run enterprise and you need to book ahead. You can feed the reindeer and in spring or early summer see the very cute baby reindeer.
Here’s a unique experience! Visit the family friendly, largest nutcracker museum in the USA.
There are over 7,000 nutcrackers on display with some that date back 500 years and a little shop where you can collect a souvenir or two.
Where to Eat in Leavenworth, Washington
Our favorite café was Munchen-Haus Bavarian Grill and beer garden in the center of town.
This is an authentic Bavarian grill and beer garden with a great selection of delicious Bratwurst sausages, exotic mustards, sauerkraut and beers.
Other local favorites are the upmarket Watershed Cafe Leavenworth with its locally sourced food and wines, Mozart’s Leavenworth Steakhouse if you’re a steak fan, El Chavo for Mexican food, and Rudloofs for their Bavarian pizzas to go complete with sauerkraut, sweet bell peppers, and bratwurst. Yummy!
A big family attraction is the Gingerbread Factory. “The little bakery with the big heart” is its slogan.
This is a bakery and café set in a Bavarian style house selling gingerbread houses and cookies and an assortment of wraps and salads and expresso coffee. One of the best restaurants in Leavenworth.
There are wineries in abundance with 20 tasting rooms in Front Street alone. The Eagle Creek and Icicle Ridge wineries are worth a visit.
Icicle Brewing Company is a rustic pub serving locally sourced share plates & snacks, with weekend brewery tours available.
Getting around Leavenworth
We spent most of our time walking around Leavenworth looking at cuckoo clocks and lederhosen.
We took the public bus to Wenatchee to have a look around there also. There is the major car hire companies in town, and a taxi and shuttle service.
As you can see, there’s so much to see and do in and around Leavenworth that we strongly recommend it as a great holiday destination.
Hope you liked this Leavenworth travel guide and the best things to do in Leavenworth. It’s a great day trip from Seattle!
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